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Soulmates

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Chapter 1 - Prologue

“You know, I got married at nineteen” my mom tells me, causing me to roll my eyes. I don’t know how many times she needs to keep telling me that.

“I know that mom” I say annoyed. “This isn’t the first time you have told me.”

“You are twenty-seven Kelley” my mom says in a sad tone. “You are eight years older than I was when I got married but you don’t even have someone special never mind an engagement ring.”

“Thank you for reminding me mother” I sarcastically reply.

“I am just saying that time is not too favourable, I am not suggesting that you should’ve married at nineteen but I did think you would be married by now” my mom tells me. “You don’t seem like you want to settle down, which is fine if that’s what you truly want, but all you did when you were a little girl was dream about your perfect wedding.”

“I do want to settle down, I want the same as what you and dad have” I admit truthfully. My parents have this amazing relationship and are so solid as a partnership. Sure they have had their ups and downs but they worked hard to get through it and I really admire them for it.

“Then you can have it, you are an amazing woman Kelley” my mom says with a smile. “Anyone would be lucky to have you.”

“Thanks” I say.

“You just need to put some effort into finding the person you are going to marry” my mom adds making me once again roll my eyes like a child. “Like I said before, time is not on our side. Your grandma desperately wants to see you walk down the aisle and after her heart scare earlier this year she is more concerned that she won’t see her precious Kelley take her vows.”

“I get that mom but just because I want to get married doesn’t mean I am not willing to wait for the right person” I explain before I take a seat at the kitchen table. “You met your soulmate in high school so it made perfect sense that you got married so early but I haven’t met mine and to be honest I don’t even know if I am close to meeting mine.”

“What about David from college?” my mom asks to which I can’t help but laugh at.

“He was just a phase mom, we all know if I get married it will be to a woman” I say. “The only reason you liked David was because his dad owned a wine company and you got a bottle of wine every time he came to visit.”

“I suppose, my favourite person you dated has to be Hannah” my mom says with a big smile. “Hannah was the best why did that not work out honey?” mom questions. “You only give me a vague answer of ‘we didn’t suit each other’ but never tell me how you concluded that.”

“Hannah was a nice woman and we had fun together but we were the total opposite of one another” I reply with a small smile. I did really like Hannah and if the circumstances were different then maybe she and I would have went the distance. “I know opposites attract but we were far too different.”

“Sometimes being totally different does work in your favour though” my mom reasons. “Look at your dad and I, we are different in so many ways but it works.” My mom places a comforting hand on my knee as she sits down next to me. “Your dad was this quiet, hardworking guy and I was a really loud cheerleader who didn’t know when to shut the hell up. Your dad had a vision for the future whereas I didn’t even have a clue what I was having for dinner that night.”

“You and dad are… you’re soulmates no matter how different you are” I say.

“Your soulmate is out there honey, just go and find her” my mom explains before kissing my cheek. “You never know, it could be Hannah or it could be the last person you would ever expect” she adds. “Don’t go out determined to find your soulmate, just make sure you are open to letting her find you.”

“Ok” I say. Who knew visiting your family before you head back to Olympic training camp included a very deep and somewhat awkward conversation with your mom about your ‘soulmate’. I only believe in soulmates because of my parents’ relationship but I also believe that some people may not have a soulmate and I may just be one of them. My grandma O’Hara means a lot to me, obviously I’ve always dreamt of her at my wedding but if it doesn’t happen then it’s not the end of the world. Maybe I am not meant to be with anyone but I’m ok with that, well I’m not actually but after the mess between Hannah and me then I can’t fake a relationship with someone.

“Anyway, your dad will be home soon and I know he is looking forward to seeing his little princess” my mom tells me with a grin on her face.

“I am twenty-seven, I wish he would stop calling me that” I say acting offended.

“You would be upset if he didn’t call you that sweetheart.”

“No comment” I reply with a smile. “When are Erin and Jerry getting here, I miss them?”

“They will be here in a couple of hours so while we wait you can help me prepare the food for tonight, I’ve invited a lot of people who are desperate to see you. We never get to see you these days.”

“I know mom but that’s part of being a professional soccer player” I say. “Once the Olympics are over then you will see a lot more of me, I promise.”

“I know sweetie” my mom then kisses my cheek again before she pulls me over towards the fridge. “You are on chopping duty honey.”

/

We’re finally here. I’m in Rio for my second Olympics and I couldn’t be more excited, we have a great team and a great spirit. I really believe we are going to take that gold again, I can feel it.

“Ok, dinner is at six and the team meeting thereafter” Dawns shouts above the noise. “I suggest you all head to your rooms and get settled in, from here on out it will be all business until we get the gold. See you all at dinner.” And with that we are all dismissed.

“Kriegs?” I shout quietly since Ali was the closest to me.

“Yeah?” Ali answers with a grin.

“Who am I rooming with?” I ask. “I wasn’t paying attention, I was distracted as usual” I say before Ali and I both laugh.

“You’re with Hope” Ali answers.

“Cool” I say with a smile before I walk towards the elevators with Ali. At the last Olympics, in London, I was roomed with Hope on a number of occasions which turned out to be really great for me. It was my first major tournament in defence so rooming with someone as soccer-smart as Hope helped implicitly. London is where Hope and I formed a friendship, sure we are not best friends but we are definitely friendly and I am grateful for her for helping me become the defender I am today.

Hope and I sort of lost touch after London, we still spoke and hung out during camp but outside of camp we rarely communicated. I don’t know why but London was so unique and special, I opened up to Hope in ways that I would never imagine opening up to my best friends; Alex and Tobin. It feels incredibly weird now that I let myself go that deep, I told Hope things that I’ve never told anyone yet Hope is the person on the team that I communicate with the least. It is so strange how I could be that raw with someone but yet we never became friends as such, in London I wouldn’t think twice about talking about my deepest secrets with Hope but now she is just a friendly teammate. Nothing happened between Hope and I, we never had an argument or anything to break the bond we made in London. I guess we just drifted or London was so special that we were completely different people for those two and a half weeks. I really don’t understand how that tournament done that to me, was it meant to be a symbol or something. I really don’t know.

“Kelley!” I hear behind me before I hear a few chuckles.

“What?” I say confused.

“You’ve just walked right by your room” Alex explains before laughing. “Tobin was shouting at you to stop but you kept walking right ahead. You looked like you were on a mission.”

“I’m sorry, I was just lost in my own thoughts” I reply. I really hope four years from now I won’t look back on this Olympic experience with as much confusion. The journey to winning gold in London never confused me, only my personal journey throughout. What was so special about London? What was so special about Hope and me in London? How could I act like that with her back then but yet feel so distanced from her now? Maybe those are not the right questions, maybe the question is; what is so special about Hope Solo, other than her playing ability I mean.

“Are you ok Kelley?” I hear Christen’s voice this time breaking me from my thoughts.

“I’m fine” I reply. “Just fine.”

“Ok then, see you at dinner I guess?” Christen says and I nod with a smile. “Come on Tobes, I need your help with that thing.”

“What thing… oh yeah, that thing” Tobin says before looking at Alex and me. “See you at dinner.” With that Tobin is dragged away by christen.

“I am going to head to my room to unpack but if you want we could hang out at bit before dinner” Alex suggests. “I thought you, Tobin and I could explore the hotel before dinner but it looks like Tobin is otherwise engaged.”

“Looks like it” I say with a laugh. “Give me an hour to shower and unpack and then we can explore.”

“Ok, I will see you back here in an hour” Alex says before she walks off to her room and I enter mine.

/

“Hey” I say loudly when I enter the room.

“Hi” Hope says from her spot on one of the beds. “I hope you don’t mind that I took this bed, you usually like the one next to the window so I left that free for you.”

“Thanks” I reply with a smile. “What are your plans before dinner?”

“Once I have finished unpacking I think I am just going to read my book” Hope answers.

“You are welcome to come exploring with Alex and I if you want” I offer.

“Thanks but I am quite happy with my book” Hope declines politely.

“It’s funny how we are roomed together again, we haven’t roomed together properly since the last Olympics” I say as I sit on my bed.

“We’ve roomed together dozens of times since then” Hope says looking confused.

“Yeah but I meant properly” I say but Hope still looks confused. “It’s only really been for a night or two since then where you would get up before I was awake and when I would get back to the room at night you would be sound asleep.”

“Right” Hope says.

“I find it different rooming with someone at a big tournament from any other time during camp” I explain. “We never roomed together at the world cup so the last major tournament we roomed together at was the Olympics and now here we are again.”

“I guess” Hope says. Hope isn’t one who likes to talk too much, not as much as me anyway. I over talk sometimes.

“Do you ever look back to London and find it strange?” I ask.

“I suppose, British people live slightly differently from us but I wouldn’t say London is a strange place” Hope responds. “Just different.”

“I didn’t mean the city being strange” I say with a small laugh. “I meant the way you and I were in London.”

“I don’t follow” Hope says looking thoroughly confused. “What do you mean, our team dynamic or something?”

“Not exactly” I answer. “I meant how we were around one another, how you and I acted with one another.” Hope just looks blankly at me, I am usually quite good at figuring people out but I am really struggling to work Hope out. I can’t decide if she is genuinely confused or just a really good actor. “I told you things that no one else knows, every night I would bare all my feelings to you and you would listen to me and reassure me about stuff.”

“Yeah” Hope says.

“We are not like that now and we weren’t before London” I say, trying to get Hope to say more so I can judge her stance on London.

“I know” Hope says and then she just looks at me. This is probably one of the times I wish that Hope was a talkative person because I am really struggling here trying to hold this conversation on my own.

“What was so special about London that made us so different around each other?” I question. “I don’t understand how we could be that close in London but so far away now.”

“I don’t understand it either” Hope says like it isn’t really important.

“Why did you open up to me in London?” I ask. “What was so special about London? Why couldn’t we talk like that after the Olympics?”

“I am not very good with words or feelings Kelley” Hope says. “It takes a lot for me to let someone in, I am very reserved and opening up to someone scares me to death. I hate being vulnerable.”

“I know that” I say gently with a comforting smile. “In London, you did let me in but as soon as the Olympics finished it was like our friendship did too.”

“We are still friends” Hope says.

“Barely, we hardly talk to one another unless it is necessary” I say. “Why did you open up to me back then?”

“Because I trusted you” Hope says.

“Do you not trust me now? Did you not trust me after the Olympics?” I ask without pausing. “Why did you trust me in London and then suddenly act like you didn’t know me as soon as we touched down in the US.”

“We were in a bubble in London Kel” Hope starts. “All we had was each other and the rest of the team but when we got home, we both had our own lives to go back to. You had other people to talk to about stuff, I wasn’t needed anymore.”

“If you are trying to insinuate that I only opened up to you because I had no other choice then you are wrong” I say getting annoyed. “I didn’t use you Hope, I wouldn’t use you like that just because I didn’t have anyone else to talk to.”

“I didn’t mean that, I just meant…”

“The things I told you about, I had never spoke to anyone else about them before” I say. “I didn’t talk to you about those things because you were the only person available Hope, I did it because I made a connection with you and I trusted you.”

“I’m sorry, I guess I didn’t understand that” Hope says looking a little sad. “This is exactly the reason I don’t get close to people, I always fuck things up.”

“No you don’t” I say as I stand up and then sit next to Hope on her bed. “I guess I didn’t understand either, I should have made it more obvious that I wanted our friendship to continue after London.”

“We both had other things going on in our lives back then and I guess over time we never had the chance to be what we were in London” Hope says.

“This is going to sound really weird but sometimes I wish we could be back there again” I say. “In London” I clarify. “I liked it when I could talk to you, it was like I wasn’t alone because I wasn’t the only one with fears, and you had fears too. I could tell you something and I wasn’t embarrassed.”

“Sometimes I wish I could go back too” Hope says in a whisper. “But the thought that I could be so open with someone I barely knew scares the shit out of me, I hardly knew you before London yet after London you knew everything about me.”

“We are so opposite to each other yet I have a connection with you that I have never had with anyone else” I say.

“You are my total opposite but for some reason I have a deeper connection with you than I do with my own family, with my husband for that matter” Hope tells me.

“You are not my soulmate are you?” I ask jokingly to try and lighten the mood.

“I don’t think so” Hope says with a laugh. “I’m sorry that we didn’t continue our friendship.”

“Me too” I answer. “I want you to know that I haven’t and I won’t tell anyone about what we told each other, I won’t ever disclose any of the stuff you told me back in London.”

“I know you won’t, I still trust you Kel” Hope says with a smile. “Just because we became distant doesn’t mean that my trust in you went with it, what we tell each other stays between us.”

“Ok” I say with a nod. “Friends?” I ask as I hold out my pinkie causing Hope to roll her eyes playfully before she intertwines her pinkie with mine.

“Friends” Hope says.

Chapter Text

First training session down, many more to go. My body is aching, but that’s a good thing. If I am in pain then I know I have worked hard. When I get back to my room I decide to go for a shower and then I watch a movie before dinner.

“How was training roomie?” I ask as Hope enters the room.

“It was okay, I could have done better though” Hope answers. “There is always room for improvement.”

“I was wondering if you wanted to watch a movie with me before dinner.” I ask.

“Sure, can I go for a shower first?” Hope asks and I nod.

Twenty minutes later Hope appears from the bathroom and I sigh in relief, finally we can start the movie. I tend to get bored easily so the twenty minutes Hope took felt more like twenty hours. It probably didn’t help that Christen wasn’t answering any of my texts so I was left to amuse myself which is never easy when you are stuck in a small hotel room with limited things you can do.

“Don’t tell me you are still into all those silly romantic movies” Hope says tutting. “That’s bad O’Hara.”

“If I remember correctly that when we watched ‘The Vow’ before our semi-final against Canada in 2012 you cried like a baby” I say with a knowing look.

“No way” Hope says defiantly. “I was not crying at all, the moisture that escaped my eyes was because I was bored to tears.”

“I am very proud that I am the only one to ever make Hope Solo cry” I say smugly.

“Making someone cry is not something to be proud of O’Hara” Hope says before she sits down on her bed. “Are we going to watch this movie or not?”

“We are” I reply before pressing play and then I sit next to Hope on her bed.

“Is your own bed not good enough or something?” Hope asks as she stares down at me.

“My bed is fine, I just wanted to make sure you had a shoulder to cry on in case you wanted to blub again” I say cheekily resulting in Hope hitting my shoulder. “I didn’t want you sitting all the way over here crying on your own.”

“You really don’t know what personal space is do you?” Hope asks with a smile.

“Nope” I respond with a smile before I lay my head on Hope’s shoulder. “Besides you used to love hugging me.” Hope just stares at me, feigning an angry face. “Don’t worry, that little fact will remain between the two of us.”

“Good” Hope says before pulling me closer to her. I am then suddenly reminded of London.

...

“Hey Hope” I say before I jump up on Hope’s back for a piggyback.

“Jeez, you are like a big kid” Hope says as she catches me and secures me on her back. “You would think you were four not twenty-four.”

“You would wouldn’t you.”

“What do you want?” Hope questions while moving around the room with me on her back.

“Why do I need to want something Hopey?”

“I don’t suppose you jumped on my back just because you felt like it” Hope responds. “And don’t call me Hopey.”

“Sorry” I apologise. “I want you to watch a movie with me.”

“Ok” Hope agrees.

“A romantic one” I add.

“No way… I’m busy now” Hope says and I can’t help but laugh.

“How can you suddenly turn from free too busy in three seconds?” I manage to get out through my laughter.

“I meant I am too busy for a romantic movie” Hope says before tickling me and causing me to fall off of her and onto the bed.

“Please watch ‘The Vow’ with me” I plead while giving Hope my best puppy dog eyes. “If you do then I will give you a massage.”

“Why would I want a massage Kel?” Hope asks.

“I know you don’t like people invading your personal space but I also know that your back is still sore and you would really benefit from a super KO massage” I say with a grin.

“No thanks, I think getting a massage from a teammate is a little too weird for me” Hope says. “But if it will shut you up then we can watch the movie.”

“Thank you thank you thank you” I say excitedly before kissing Hope’s cheek.

... 

“We are ten minutes into the movie now so shall I grab you a tissue” I ask with a smirk. “Ten minutes in is when you normally cry isn’t it?”

“Any more of your nonsense and I will roll you off this bed KO” Hope states in an annoyed tone but I know she isn’t really annoyed.

“Oh I’m getting the KO treatment am I?” I question. “You only call me KO or O’Hara if you are annoyed with me or teasing me.”

“The kid’s observant” Hope says with a smile. “That bodes well for our next game since we have a big test ahead of us. Perception is what we will need on the field.”

“I am more than just an annoying roommate and teammate you know.”

“I know you are” Hope says sincerely.

“I can’t believe we have spent almost four years barely talking but yet we are picking up exactly where we left off in London” I say fondly. “We are teasing each other like we haven’t just missed out on four years of each other’s lives.”

“I missed you” Hope says shyly. “When I am around you I feel relaxed and I feel like I can be myself not the woman the public perceive me to be.”

“I missed you too” I respond before looking at Hope. “You bring out the best in me. I feel like we have such a strong connection that even four years distanced from one another wouldn’t break.”

“I never knew I could be this close to someone, heck I didn’t feel this close to Jerramy” Hope admits.

“I don’t know what it is that bonds us Hope but I don’t care because I know you will always be there for me and I will be there for you” I explain.

“Amen to that” Hope replies before once again pulling me in so that we can cuddle together. Us cuddling alone turns out to be a regular thing over the next few days which is actually pretty comforting to me.

/

“Game one down, five to go” I say as I look for a high five from Hope who then hits my hand.

“You played well today Kel, I was really impressed with your patience when you weren’t getting forward as much as you would have liked” Hope compliments me with a gentle smile.

“I just feel that when it comes down to it, my defending lets me down” I admit.

“You are not as bad as you think Kel, there are a few areas that you could tighten up but that’s it” Hope assures me. “If we go over some stuff together then I promise you won’t be feeling like this again.”

“Thanks Hope.”

“It’s ok” Hope replies. “So, twenty-eight tomorrow?”

“Yup, another year older and yet I am still single” I say sadly.

“You are still young Kel, there are plenty of people out there dying for a date with you” Hope tells me. “At least you are not as old as me.”

“Thirty-five isn’t that old” I say before Hope gently punches me.

“You are supposed to say thirty-five isn’t ‘old’ not ‘isn’t that old’. That implies it is a little old” Hope informs me.

“You could be Mal’s mom” I say before bursting into laughter.

“Fuck off” Hope says before heading into the bathroom, I can see the smile on her face though. “I guess you won’t be receiving your birthday present from me.” Hope reappears with a wrapped gift.

“I think you will find I will” I say smugly. “We have been here before Solo, I remember our conversation in London when you teased me and refused to give me my birthday gift then.”

“I remember it too” Hope smiles before she gives me the gift. “Wait until tomorrow, ok?”

“Ok, I promise” I say in a childlike voice.

“Good.”

“It’s funny how I probably remember nearly every one of our conversations from four years ago” I say with a nostalgic smile.

“Me too” Hope replies before she lies down on her bed.

“Do you remember we spent nearly six hours talking about Jerramy and Hannah?” I ask while looking over at Hope who laughs slightly.

“Yeah, we were up until three am” Hope says. “It seems like it was a waste of time though because now we are both split up from both of them.”

“I was never with Jerramy and you were never with Hannah in the first place” I say.

“You know what I mean, smartass” Hope says as she shakes her head. “Thank god the coaches didn’t find out or we would have been in trouble, practice was a six the next morning.”

“I know” I respond, thinking back to that night.

... 

“Hey… who are you texting?” I ask Hope as she types furiously on her phone.

“It was just my mom, she was just texting to say good game” Hope replies before she finishes texting and then sits her phone down next to her.

“I thought it was maybe Jerramy” I say, referencing Hope’s new boyfriend.

“He text me earlier” Hope says. “It’s kinda weird because we’ve only been on a few dates but now I’ve left the country so I don’t really know how serious we are, if we are serious at all.”

“There’s no pressure, just let things flow” I say. “The worst thing you can do is make things more complicated than they need to be.”

“I guess, have you spoke to Hannah tonight?” Hope asks me causing me to feel a little sad.

“Nope” I say popping the ‘p’. I shouldn’t be mad at Hannah just because she didn’t congratulate me on our win, she was probably just busy.

“You seem upset” Hope says before she moves and comes to lie next to me on my bed.

“Wow… observant?” I say sarcastically before Hope just stares at me, her blue eyes piercing through my eyes. “Sorry.”

“Talk to me, maybe I can help” Hope says and I take a deep breath.

“You know how I told you that things were rocky between Hannah and me?” I ask to which Hope hums in response. “Well things got a lot rockier last night, we had a fight?”

“Ok” Hope says in that gentle tone she uses when she is trying to convey that she isn’t pushing me to elaborate but if I want to say more then she will listen.

“We just want different things Hope” I complain. “She wants to settle down whereas I am twenty-four and not ready at all.”

“You are not twenty-four until Saturday” Hope says causing me to laugh.

“So I’m twenty-three and not ready to settle down yet, I love her but I am not ready for such a big commitment” I say truthfully. “I am a soccer player who travels all around the world and she’s a big city lawyer who wants us to buy a house and lay down our future in the one place.”

“Have you talked to her about your differences?” Hope asks gently. “Does she know how you actually feel or have you been going along with her plans so you don’t upset her?”

“She knows I am nowhere near ready for marriage and I know deep down she knows that we both want different things” I say as I look up at Hope. “Do you think our relationship will last?”

“It’s not my business to give my opinion on that Kel” Hope says before she wipes a stray tear from my face. “Relationships are complicated and it is clear that you both like one another so it is up to the two of you to decide if it is worth the fight.”

“I can’t lose her, she means everything to me” I admit before more tears slide from my eyes. “The way I feel about her is nothing like I have ever felt before, if I lose her then I may never feel like this again.”

“Just be truthful with her then, tell her how you feel” Hope tells me but it isn’t that simple.

“What if she doesn’t like what I have to say, what if she breaks up with me?” I ask, suddenly feeling panic rise in my throat.

“Then she isn’t worth your time” Hope states simply. “You are an amazing woman Kelley and you deserve the best in life. If it works out with Hannah then brilliant but if it doesn’t then don’t worry, there is probably a queue of people who would love to be with you and treat you the way you deserve.”

“You are an amazing person too Hope, I really hope Jerramy knows that” I say before I kiss Hope on the cheek causing her to blush slightly. “Thank you for being there for me.” Hope just shrugs it off like it was nothing but to me it wasn’t nothing, Hope is the type of person I desperately need in my life.

... 

“I am glad we had that conversation back then, it really helped me” I say truthfully.

“It helped me too” Hope says before she looks at me. “It was that conversation that was ringing in my head when I decided to end things with Jerramy.” I squeeze Hope’s hand in comfort, Jerramy and her only split this year so it must still be raw for her. “I always thought that I didn’t deserve to be happy so I just stayed with Jerramy because it was better than being alone but then one day after a fight with Jerramy I realised that being alone was probably going to make me happier than feeling suffocated in a loveless marriage so I ended things.” I don’t say anything because I know Hope wants to say more so instead I just smile gently and let Hope carry on. “I will never forget what you said to me that night ‘You are Hope Solo, you may be seen as the big bad goalkeeper but to me you will always be the gentle giant who deserves to be loved and who deserves to be treated like the inspiring person she is’.”

“I meant it Hope, when I said that Jerramy better appreciate you and love you for who you are, I meant it” I state honestly. “You don’t always have to be in a relationship to be happy.”

“To begin with he did make me happy and I did want to marry him” Hope explains. “We had an amazing couple of years together but then the cracks began to show, it was that old saying again; we wanted different things.”

“Ah… the curse” I say with a small chuckle.

“He wanted kids and a house in the suburbs and I wanted to keep playing” Hope says. “I knew that if I got pregnant then that would be the end of my national career, I don’t know how long I have got left on the national team but I do know that these Olympics could potentially be the beginning of the end.” I nod my head before I squeeze Hope’s hand again. “I do want those things but not yet but Jerramy couldn’t understand that.”

“Clearly he wasn’t worth it then” I say supportively. “You will get your dream Hope, who knows maybe your soulmate is right around the corner.”

“Why do you keep mentioning soulmates?” Hope asks with a raised eyebrow and a small smile.

“When I was back home before we came to camp I had this slightly weird conversation with my mom” I start. “I have always believed in soulmates because of my parents, they are the definition of soulmates” I explain. “It got me thinking about how my soulmate could be out there, if I have one that is, and now I can’t stop thinking about my grandma’s words.”

“What were they?”

“Do you believe in destiny Kelley?” my grandma asked and I nodded my head. “Then you will understand that you are destined to meet your soulmate, if you believe in destiny then you are halfway to meeting your soulmate.”

“I don’t know if I believe in all that philosophical stuff” Hope says. “I want to because it makes me believe that there is someone out there and it gives me hope, I just don’t want to get my hopes up in case there isn’t someone for me. Maybe Jerramy was as good as it got for me.”

“Are you kidding me?” I ask in disbelief. “You have got a soulmate Hope, I am sure of it.”

“How can you be so sure?” Hope timidly responds.

“You are inspiring, lovable, amazing and any other positive word out there” I state. “Your soulmate is one lucky bastard to have you in their life, you are like an angel to me Hope – sent here to make other people’s lives better.”

“That’s a bit much” Hope says as her cheeks turn pink.

“It’s just the truth” I say with a smile and a shrug. “When you meet your soulmate you will understand how truly amazing you really are, I just hope they don’t keep you waiting too long. You deserve not only the world but the moon and the stars also.”

“Ok Kel, that’s enough” Hope says through a nervous laugh. “Don’t get sappy on me.”

“It is true though, you deserve nothing but the best” I sincerely say.

“Does all your friends get the benefit of your sappy shit?” Hope questions with a playful smile.

“No… actually” I say contemplating it. “I don’t think I would ever be brave enough to get this deep with anyone else, strangely enough you are the only person I feel comfortable talking to about this sort of thing.”

“Oh” Hope says, clearly a little surprised.

“You’re special Hope” I say as I smile at the inspiring woman in front of me. “I think I am going to keep you around.”

“I may keep you around too kid” Hope replies.

“I am not a kid anymore Hope, I am all grown up” I smirk.

“You will always be the kid who came up to me all those years ago and almost suffocated me into a hug” Hope tells me before she starts making a fool of me. “Hi, I’m Kelley. It is really nice to meet you Hope Solo, can I call you Hope or would you prefer Solo. I can call you either, it doesn’t bother me…”

“Shut up, I did not sound like that” I protest.

“Kelley you did, you wouldn’t shut up” Hope laughs. “HAO had to practically muzzle you and even then you kept talking.”

“Keep making fun of me all you want, at least I wasn’t sick in the neighbours’ pool and blamed it on the dog” I fire back.

“You said you wouldn’t bring that up again, I confessed that to you in confidence” Hope says.

“Relax, I am not going to tell anyone” I state. “We all done stupid things when we were eighteen and drunk.”

“Yeah, I know some of your stories O’Hara” Hope says and I laugh, remembering the look Hope gave me when I told her about some of my most embarrassing moments.

/

“Hey” I say cheerfully as I sit down at a table with Pinoe, Alex, Tobin, Becky, Carli and Kling.

“What’s up O’Hara?” Pinoe replies.

“Not much” I answer. “How are things with you, how’s the knee?”

“The knee’s good and so am I” Rapinoe answers me. “Some of us are having a movie night tonight if you are interested?”

“Depends on what the movie is” I reply. “I only watch scary movies” I say but I end up saying it at the wrong moment; just as Hope sat down next to Becky.

“Ha… yeah right” Hope says with a cheeky laugh.

“Yes right” I say while throwing a glare at the keeper. “So what’s the movie?”

“Finding Dory” Pinoe replies with a tone of unhappiness. “I was outvoted by most of the group.”

“Ok, count me in” I say before I look at Hope. “Are you interested Hope?” I ask but the keeper shakes her head.

“Hope only watches Romantic movies” Pinoe answers out loud for her.

“Thank you for that Megan” Hope answers in an annoyed tone, I guess someone has been lying to me. She was making a fool of me for liking romantic movies and it turns out they are her favorite, we will see about that later when I confront her about mocking me.

“No trouble Solo” Megan replies with a sickly sweet smile.

Chapter Text

“What’s up with you?” Hope asks me when she enters the hotel room. “You look upset.”

“I’m fine” I reply plainly.

“You don’t look fine Kel” Hope observes. “You can talk to me if you want.”

“I don’t know, I guess I just feel lonely” I explain. “Everyone has someone and I don’t. Alex talks to Servando every day, Tobin and Christen are whatever they are, Ali and Ash have each other…”

“Not everyone Kel” Hope says. “I don’t have anyone.”

“Yeah but you are so strong Hope, I’m not” I reply. “The last time we were at an Olympics I had a girlfriend and at the world cup I was dating Ann but now I feel like my personal life has gone backwards, I guess I just miss talking and sharing my experience with someone special.”

“Come here Kel” Hope says as she pulls me into a hug. “Relationships don’t define people honey, you can be happy without one. As long as you surround yourself with people who make you happy and you have fun with then you will be fine. I am nothing like Hannah or Ann but I am here for you if you need to offload or just hang out.”

“You are a really good friend Hope.”

“I learn from the best” Hope replies before she squeezes me tighter and then releases me from the hug. Just because I don’t have someone special in my life doesn’t mean I can’t be happy. I am at the Olympics with some of my best friends so instead of moping I should be embracing the experience.

“Do you want to go for a walk later?” I ask Hope. Tomorrow is our second match, normally the night before a match I go for a gentle walk on my own to get my muscles moving but tonight I think I want some company.

“Sure” Hope answers with a smile. I love it when Hope smiles, she doesn’t seem to smile a lot so when she does it is like it brightens up my day. I am not implying she is unhappy all the time, she is just really deep and passionate about soccer so she is always so serious.

When I think back to London and the first time Hope and I ever spent time together I can’t help but feel amazed at how wrong my opinion was of her. We got roomed together on the very first night and from then on I saw a completely different person to who I thought Hope Solo was. She was goofy and funny but she was also caring and kind.

She would stay up late and strategize with me or listen when I complained about something, she would leave me small notes if she left the room when I was showering so I would know where she went, she would save me a place at the breakfast table…

“Kelley” Hope says. “Are you even listening?”

“Sorry, I was daydreaming” I apologise. “What were you trying to ask me?”

“It was nothing important, I just wanted to know if you had seen my reading glasses.”

“Last time I saw them they were beside your book.”

“That makes sense” Hopes says with a chuckle. “Thanks Kel.”

/

“How are you feeling about tomorrow?” Hope asks as we stroll along the walkway out of our hotel.

“Ok actually” I answer. “I mean it will be slightly different since I am playing left back tomorrow but I will be fine, I got the best goalkeeper in the world behind me.”

“The keeper is pretty good” Hope says with a smile.

“She is” I reply back. “How are you feeling? You must be used to all these big matches, you could win them with your eyes closed.”

“I can be as confident and as experienced as I want but it still doesn’t prevent those few jitters in the locker room before the game” Hope says. “Once I am standing in the tunnel then all the nerves disappear.”

“Have you ever wondered what your life would be like if you had never played soccer?” I ask as we then move to walk along a park area and we sit on a set of kid’s swings.

“Yeah, I always thought that if I didn’t have soccer then my life would go one of two ways” Hope starts. “I would either have went to college and got a big job in the city working for some large organisation that reaps benefits for me or I would have ended up still living in the same town where I grew up working a job that I didn’t like but had to because I was too lazy to apply for college.”

“I definitely think it would have been the former” I tell Hope and she smiles gently.

“I would like to think so” Hope agrees. “What about you O’Hara? What would KO’s life been like without soccer?”

“I was always interested in science at school, specifically physics, so I think I would have went down that route somehow” I respond, swinging back and forth on the swing. “I don’t know whether I would be a scientist or teaching science but I definitely think I would have ended up in LA somewhere doing something science related.”

“You are pretty smart despite how you act like a five year old sometimes” Hope tells me before I punch her on the shoulder. “It’s true, you are sitting on children’s swing right now.”

“Does it annoy you when I act like a big kid or a dork?” I ask out of curiosity.

“No, of course not” Hope answers quickly. “I like that about you, that’s what makes you special.”

“Oh my god, Hope Solo thinks I’m special” I say mocking Hope.

“I am being serious Kelley” Hope says in a serious tone. “I like that you can just make me smile with your silly antics, it helps me relax.”

“You are too serious and intense sometimes Hope and I understand that it’s your job but you do have a fun side” I tell her. “I’ve seen it many times, especially when you are drunk.”

“Yeah” Hope says with a small chuckle.

“Come on Solo, time to go back to the hotel” I say as I stand up and hold out my hand. “We have a game tomorrow and we all know I need my beauty sleep before a big game” I finish and then I pull Hope off of the swing.

“We can’t have you looking ugly in the game” Hope says with a smirk. “Although it could scare the opponents’ away so it would be easier to win.”

“Oh you’ve got jokes I see” I smirk back. “Let’s see if you are as smug in the morning when I take the last of the oatmeal so you can’t have any for breakfast.”

“You don’t even like oatmeal Kel” Hope states, raising her eyebrow.

“I know but I may just be that spiteful” I say with a shrug and walk off before Hope pulls me back.

“I would be careful if I was you, I wouldn’t want to get Hope Solo angry” Hope tells me.

“Honey there is no way you could get angry at me, I am way too cute” I say in feigning an angelic tone.

“Ha… yeah right” Hope laughs before walking off leaving me to chase behind her.

“Admit it, this face is super cute” I say as I catch up to Hope.

“If you say so” Hope says, clearly amused.

“I have been told from a very reliable source that I have the cutest face in all of America” I say, throwing Hope a wink.

“I wouldn’t say your reflection in the mirror is a reliable source Kel but if believing that makes you happy then who am I to say otherwise” Hope shrugs before winking at me this time.

“Wow, Solo has some sass” I say before I get the biggest fright of my life.

“Did you just say Solo has a nice ass?” I hear from beside me, making me nearly jump out of my skin.

“Jesus Tobin, what are you doing hiding in a bush” I say before I punch her arm. “What on earth were you doing in that bush?”

“We went for a walk and got lost” Tobin answers before I narrow my eyes suspiciously at her.

“We?” I question.

“Me… I meant me… I got lost” Tobin stutters out before scratching the back of her neck, something I know she does when she is uncomfortable.

“Oh right, well at least you have found your way now” Hope says to Tobin before she looks at me. “I am going to head into the hotel, I will see you in our room” Hope tells me before she disappears inside.

“So eh…” Tobin starts nervously but I can’t help but laugh at how weird she is being.

“Why are you acting so strange?” I ask.

“I’m… not” Tobin says while staring at her shoes.

“Are you coming inside then?”

“Yeah, I will be in in a minute” Tobin informs me before turning to look at the bush she just came from. “You go ahead, I will be there in…”

“Tobin I got it” I hear and before I know it Press is coming out of the bushes making me once again jump out of my skin.

“Are you trying to give me a heart attack Press?” I ask rhetorically. “And what have you found?”

“What?” Christen asks confused.

“You just shouted ‘Tobin I got it’ as you came out of the bushes so what have you got?” I question staring at christen.

“Nothing” Christen answers with a nervous chuckle.

“You must have been talking about something.”

“It was nothing Kelley” Christen answers.

“Chris lost a button on her top, it kinda flew off when we were…” Tobin interjects before christen glares at her. “I think it is obvious that we are trying to hide something here Chris so there is no need to prolong this anymore.”

“I don’t really know what is going on with you two but whatever it is, everyone is cool with it” I tell the pair. “If you two are together or just dating then I want you to know that the team is behind you.”

“Thanks” they both reply politely.

“Let’s get inside, it is getting cold out here” I say before I pull both women inside.

/

“Are you ok?” Alex asks me after our second match and our second win.

“Yeah… why?” I ask with a smile.

“I don’t know, you just seem different” Alex says. “If there is something bothering you then you can talk to me.”

“I know that Alex” I say giving my best friend a hug. “I am happy, I am in a really good place at the moment.” I don’t really understand where Alex is coming from because to be honest I have never felt more content than I am just now. That little blip I had yesterday about feeling lonely is completely gone now.

“Good, you just spend a lot of time in your hotel room that I just thought maybe something with troubling you” Alex says. “Usually you would hang out with us but you seem to be locked in your room quite a bit.”

“I’m sorry, I didn’t realise” I apologise, it is probably because I am spending time with Hope. “I am good though, don’t worry about me.”

“I am here if you need me.”

“I know” I reply before hugging Alex again. “How about we have a games night, take everyone’s mind off of our next upcoming game?”

“That sounds like a plan, you tell the gals on this floor and I will get the ones from the floor above” Alex dictates. “I cannot wait to get revenge on Tobin for beating me at Uno the other day, wipe the smirk off her face.”

“I hate it when Tobin wins at everything, she is so smug” I say, thinking back to when Tobin would win almost anything she played.

“You are telling me, imagine sitting on a bus next to her for hours while she brags about it” Alex tells me before we both start laughing.

“You will be glad you don’t have to sit next to her now, Christen can deal with her bragging” I say, earning a nod from Alex.

“Talking about moving bus seats, how come you have started sitting next to Hope now?” Alex asks. “I have told you before that Hope likes her own space to think and process things, I hope you aren’t distracting her.”

“Jeez Alex, you are talking to me like I am kid” I say, slightly offended.

“Sorry, I didn’t mean anything by it” Alex says. “I just didn’t think you two were that friendly?”

“Well we are” I say defensively, almost too defensively. “We’re friends.”

“Ok… then” Alex drawls out. “Let’s go and tell everyone about the games night.”

“Ok” I say getting excited again. In case you haven’t noticed, when it comes to doing activities and playing games I am like a five year old.

/

“Someone trade places with me please” I hear Moe say loudly. “I don’t want to play Chess anymore, I want in on the UNO group.”

“You are just mad because I am beating you” Tobin tells Moe with a smug face.

“We’ve already got eight playing UNO” Alex says.

“Ok” Moe says before I see her scanning the room until her eyes land on me. “Want to trade places KO, you can play chess and I will play monopoly for you?”

“I am not playing against Tobin” I state.

“This is so unfair, why am I stuck with Tobin” Moe complains. “I hate you, all of you.”

“Why don’t I give Hope a call and see if she will come down and play?” I suggest. “I know she likes chess so she can play against Tobin.”

“Hope says she isn’t coming” Carli tells me but I just wave it off.

“She will come down if I ask” I say.

“I doubt you could persuade her any better than me?” Carli replies and being who I am, I never back down from a challenge.

“Wait and see” I say smugly before I leave the noisy room to make the phone call in the hallway.

After three rings Hope finally answers.

“Hi Kel” Hope greets.

“I really need your help Hope, I am in Alex’s room and I’ve really hurt myself” I say as I feign a panicked voice. “I’ve twisted my ankle and I…”

“Wait there, I am on my way” Hope says before she hangs up.

“She’s on her way” I announce to the group when I re-enter the room. I just hope Hope isn’t too angry with me for lying.

“Really?” Carli asks and I nod proudly.

It is not even a minute later when Hope bursts into the room with our trainer and Dawn in tow.

“How bad is it?” Dawn asks seriously as she approaches me. “How did you manage it, please don’t tell me it was some silly game.”

“I … eh, I…” I stutter out. I am speechless right now, how the heck did I not realise that Hope would bring reinforcements.

“What’s going on?” Ali asks, clearly voicing everyone’s confusion.

“Kelley twisted her ankle and called Hope” Dawn says before she stares at Kelley’s ankles trying to decipher what one is apparently injured.

“What… when?” Christen asks. “Kelley has been here the whole night playing games with us and by the way she was dancing with Crystal earlier then I would say her ankles are more than fine.”

“Thanks Christen” I say as I glare at my friend.

“Hold up…” Hope says and by the tone of her voice I know I am in trouble.

“Kelley, start explaining please” Dawn says in that motherly tone she uses that reminds me of my own mom giving Erin and I a row when we were younger. “Is your ankle injured because they both look ok?”

“My ankles are fine, I lied” I say before I look at Hope. “I didn’t realise you would bring anyone with you.”

“You told me that you hurt your ankle and we are in the middle of a major competition, what did you expect me to do?” Hope says, clearly annoyed.

“I’m sorry, I just wanted you to come down and hang out with us” I say.

“We are leaving now” Dawn says as she points to herself and the trainer. “Please ladies, don’t do anything silly.” With that the two of them leave the room.

“I am going to go now too” Hope says as she looks at me.

“Hope I’m sorry, I just wanted you to come and help us beat Tobin” I say, regretting my dramatic phone call.

“Then you should have asked Kel not make up some silly excuse like we are in high school” Hope tells me.

“Carli said you wouldn’t come” I reply but I can see by the look in Hope’s eyes that maybe if I asked then I would have had a different answer.

“You could have still asked.”

“I’m sorry” I apologise again.

“Enjoy your night” Hope says genuinely to everyone else.

“You may as well stay since you are here now, even if it was under false pretences” JJ says to Hope. “We all know that you are pretty good at chess and Tobin hasn’t been beaten since she let Christen win at our last camp, letting someone win isn’t classed as a loss.”

“She didn’t let me win” Christen states. “I won fair and square… right Tobes?” Tobin just shrugs at her, showing off her signature smile. “I can’t believe you made me believe I actually won, I am really annoyed now.”

“I told you that chess book wouldn’t help you beat her Press” I say.

“What chess book?” Tobin asks, looking between Press and me. “I just thought you were a really good beginner, I didn’t realise you cheated.”

“Thanks Kelley” Press says glaring at me.

“Put your foot in it again KO, you may as well go for a hat-trick now that you have offended both Christen and Hope” Kling says before laughing.

“Can we all forget the last ten minutes please… pretend they didn’t happen” I say.

“You are lucky you are so likeable” Alex tells me before everyone starts laughing.

“What’s a fun games night without KO putting her foot in it somehow” Pinoe says through her laughter. “If she isn’t unintentionally telling everyone what cards Ash had during poker she is stealing HAO’s money at monopoly or she is changing words on the scrabble board to make poor Moe think she is losing her mind…”

“I think that is quite enough Pinoe, they all get your point” I interrupt. “Can we all go back to our games now?”

/

“Are you mad at me?” I ask when Hope and I enter our room.

“No… not mad” Hope answers before turning to look at me. “I am more annoyed than anything else, I genuinely thought you were injured.”

“It wasn’t my finest hour” I say with a sigh. “I am sorry you know, I just wanted you to join in with us. I don’t like the thought of you feeling alone or left out.”

“That’s sweet of you Kel but I like being on my own sometimes, it helps me process things in my mind and mentally prepare for the next game” Hope tells me.

“I will be more respectful of your decisions in the future” I say earning me a small hug from Hope. “I missed you tonight when you weren’t there.”

“It was only a couple of hours Kel” Hope says with a soft chuckle.

“So, I can still miss you” I respond. “I like when you are around me, I like the way you make me feel. I feel calmer and at peace when you are there, I don’t know why.”

“It’s because I am awesome.”

“I wouldn’t go as far as awesome but you’re ok” I say with a smile. “Plus you’re kinda cute so that helps.”

Chapter Text

“Great job today ladies” Jill praises us in the locker room after we won our third match, a two nothing win over Colombia. “We were slow to start but picked the tempo up in the second half, you all done well and we will use this match as a learning curve for the quarter finals.”

“After breakfast tomorrow there will be a quick team meeting and then you can all carry on with your recovery exercises” Dawn tells us before we are dismissed to get changed.

“Hey Hope?” I ask when I approach the keeper. “Are you going straight to our room when we get back to the hotel?”

“No, I am going to Carli’s room for a while.”

“I’ve left my key in the room so can I borrow yours?”

“Sure.”

“Thanks Solo, I won’t be going anywhere tonight so I will let you in the room when you get back.”

“Ok.”

“Your book is under my mattress by the way” I say with a smirk.

“I am going to kill you KO.” I would feel more threatened if Hope didn’t have an amused grin on her face.

“Only if you can catch me first” I answer before running off like a child. This morning Hope couldn’t find her book anywhere so she had to settle with watching a movie with me before we went to training. What she didn’t know at the time was that I hid her book so I could deliberately get her to watch a movie with me.

“Keep one eye open tonight O’Hara” Hope shouts across the room. “You never know what could happen when you are sleeping.”

“I am quaking in my cleats.”

/

As soon as I get back to my hotel room I decide to call my mom.

“Hello.”

“Hey mom, it’s me” I reply after my mom answered the phone. “How are you?”

“I am fine sweetheart, how are you doing?” my mom asks. “We watched the game tonight, you played brilliantly. I am so proud of you.”

“Thanks mom, how is everyone else?”

“Everyone is well, we are just sad that we can’t be there with you.”

“Its ok mom, I am just glad you got to see me on TV.”

“We will try to arrange something so we can come out and see you, your dad is going to take some time off work” my mom tells me before we both get lost in all the chit chat and catching up and end up talking for well over an hour.

“It was nice speaking to you mom, I love you.”

“I love you too honey” my mom responds. “Erin wants to talk to you, I will speak to you soon.”

“Bye mom.” Before I know it Erin is on the phone.

“Guess what sis?”

“What?”

“I said guess.”

“You’re pregnant?”

“No, don’t be silly. I would tell you that in person, guess again.”

“I don’t know Erin, I can’t be bothered playing this game because knowing you it could go on forever” I sigh.

“I will give you a clue, I ran into an ex. Guess who?”

“Jason?”

“Not one of my exes, one of yours” Erin clarifies. “I met her at Target.”

“Oh Ann… how is she?” I ask. “I haven’t spoken to her in a while.” It was a mutual decision between Ann and me to break up because we hit at bit of a dead end in our relationship so it was good that we could remain friends. We were friends before we started dating and it is not like we were super serious, we were more just a source of comfort for one another.

“Not Ann… Hannah.”

“Oh.”

“Oh indeed, she’s looking really well.” I still don’t really know where I stand on the Hannah situation, she was the most serious relationship I had and there was a time that I thought she would be my future but it didn’t go the way either of us planned. “She’s just moved house and got a new job, she seems to be doing really well.”

“That’s good.”

“She asked about you.”

“Did she?” I question. All I ever wanted was for Hannah to be happy and it was obvious that I wasn’t making her happy, she wanted a life that I wasn’t ready to give her. Deep down I know she probably didn’t make me as happy as I could have been in the end so breaking up was best for both of us.

“She isn’t seeing anyone at the moment” Erin says before she adds. “Neither are you.”

“Erin we broke up for a reason.”

“A reason that no one seems to know of… including Hannah.”

“We wanted different things, that’s why we broke up” I state in anger. “Why won’t anyone accept that?”

“It is a very feeble reason Kelley.” I can’t help but sigh and shake my head. “I understand that you wanted different things but Hannah was willing to come to a compromise, she absolutely adored you and I believe she still does.”

“Look, I still care about her but there is no going back” I say with finality. “I hated that I had to break up with her after we went through so much together but I couldn’t see any other option.”

“Couldn’t or wouldn’t?”

“I am getting angry with you right now, why can’t you just leave things as they are.”

“I’m sorry but the woman is clearly still in love with you and I know you were in love with her.”

“I was in love with her but I’ve moved on now, I don’t feel that way about her anymore” I say. “I didn’t mean to break her heart or break my own for that matter but it was for the best.”

“Ok, I won’t keep going on about it.”

“Thank you.”

“I love you and only want the best for you.”

“I love you too Erin…” I say, getting cut off with a knock at the door. “Hold on, I need to answer the door.”

“Ok.”

I open the door and Hope comes inside.

“Hey Kel” Hope says as she goes over to sit on her bed. “Oh sorry, do you want to finish your call in private?”

“It’s fine, it’s only my sister” I reply to Hope before I go back to talking to Erin. “Sorry about that Erin.”

“Who was at the door?”

“Just someone hot and cute.”

“Are you seriously picking up random women and inviting them back to your hotel room?”

“Lose the judgemental tone sis, it was Hope; my roommate” I say with a laugh. “And no, I am not picking up women and inviting them back.”

“So getting back together with Hannah is a no… then?”

“Yes Erin, it’s a no.” She just told me she would let it go but yet here she is bringing it up again.

“I should probably cancel my lunch with her then, it could get awkward since I alluded to the fact that you would consider getting back together with her” Erin says nervously.

“Erin… butt out of my love life.”

“Like I said earlier, I only want the best for you honey.” I take a deep breath.

“I know that but there are boundaries, let me figure out my own love life.”

“I’m sorry” Erin apologises.

“I forgive you” I say with another sigh. “I’m going to go just now because I have plans with Hope.” I ignore the confused look Hope gives me, I only made it up because I have had enough of Erin’s chatter about my private life.

“Ok but can I just say one more thing?”

“What?”

“What if Hannah is your soulmate?”

“I’m hanging up Erin” I state, the displeasure evident in my tone.

“Don’t hang up, I’m serious.”

“You are worse than mom, Hannah is not my soulmate.”

“You don’t know that for sure though, we don’t pick our soulmates. They find us.”

“Goodbye Erin, I love you” I say before hanging up on her. I then let out a dissatisfied groan before throwing myself onto the bed and screaming into my pillow.

“Wanna talk about it?” Hope asks.

“My sister is so fucking frustrating, sorry I didn’t mean to swear.” I then pull myself up off the bed and approach Hope’s bed. “I need a hug, can I get one please?”

“Of course, you know which room Alex and Tobin are in” Hope tells me with a cheeky smile before she shrugs. “I am sure one of them would love to hug you.”

“Can you give me a hug please?”

“I don’t do hugging.”

“You do if KO is involved” I say before a menacing smirk comes across my face. “If you don’t hug me then you won’t see your book again…ever.”

“That’s ok, I never liked the book anyway” Hope says as she stands up and makes her way to her luggage and pulls out another book. “It’s not like I don’t have other books.”

“Fine, no hug for me then” I say as I give Hope the best pouty face I can muster.

“Why do you do this to me?” Hope says in a childlike voice before pulling me into a hug. Hope will tell you that she hates hugging but to be honest with you she gives the best hugs, they make me feel warm and safe. “Is that better?”

“Much better, I really needed that” I say seriously before Hope and I both sit down on her bed. “Erin kept asking me about Hannah, she met Hannah the other day and apparently Hannah still has feelings for me.”

“Oh right, do you still have feelings for her?”

“No, at least not in a romantic sort of way. I still care about her, she was a part of my life for so long” I answer. “I broke up with her because it was the mature thing to do.”

“Was it what you wanted though?”

“Yes and no, more yes” I answer and then I move to lean against the headboard. “We had a good relationship for the most part and it was sad to end that but neither one of us were getting what we wanted from the relationship.”

“I empathize with you there” Hope adds, clearly she has been through a similar situation.

“It wasn’t just because we wanted different things, it was more complex than that” I start. “I almost cheated on Hannah when we were back in London and that’s when I realised our relationship had changed.”

Hope nods, indicating that she is listening to me. I like how Hope just listens and she doesn’t judge me, I think that’s why I find it so easy to open up to her.

“I felt the desire to kiss someone else so I knew my heart wasn’t in my relationship anymore” I say. “No matter how much time Hannah and I spent apart not once did I ever think about another woman let alone kissing them but I did that night.”

Hope places a comforting hand on my knee and allows me to continue.

“We had just won gold and the staff threw us that amazing party, do you remember?”

“I remember” Hope answers with a smile. “We were all so happy.”

“There was this woman and I wanted to kiss her, I don’t know if it was the alcohol or not but regardless of that, I have never had the urge to kiss someone else no matter how drunk I was. Hannah was my girlfriend and I was always one hundred percent committed to her so why was that night different?”

“You just got lost in the moment.”

“It was more than that Hope, I don’t condone cheating at all and for me to think so selfishly that night must have meant something” I reply before I look at Hope. “It was a sign, I am sure of it. It was a sign letting me know that my relationship was fading and my love for Hannah was slowly dissolving.”

“You didn’t kiss the woman though, did you?”

“No, I didn’t kiss anyone. There was only one person I nearly kissed.” I can just picture the moment now, everyone buzzing as the alcohol courses through their bodies, Hope coming over to me and pulling me into a hug and then me, catching myself staring at Hope’s lips as she pulls out of the hug and before I know it I am leaning in towards Hope and suddenly we are interrupted. If we hadn’t been interrupted there would be no doubt that I would have kissed Hope, I guess it is a blessing that it didn’t happen because I don’t suppose Hope would have been too pleased. I wouldn’t have been pleased either not only because of Hannah but because Hope was my friend and neither one of us felt more than friendship for the other. I am so glad Hope never noticed me leaning in, how embarrassing it would have been.

“There you go then, your resolve must have been strong enough to stop yourself.” Hope looks at me and then squeezes my hand.

“I didn’t kiss her because Becky unintentionally came over just before I could not because I stopped myself” I respond. “The problem for me was that I had no feelings towards this woman yet I almost betrayed my girlfriend because I just wanted to share the moment with someone, I nearly ruined my relationship for nothing. This proves that something wasn’t right and to be honest, I didn’t even have the energy to fight for my relationship.”

“One of the worst things to feel is regret. If you know for sure that it was the right thing to do by breaking up with Hannah then you must stand by that decision” Hope tells me. “You probably regret hurting her but perhaps staying with her would have hurt her more.”

“It was the right thing to do, I know it was” I say with certainty before I feel Hope move to sit beside me. We spend the next few minutes in silence, basking in the comfort of knowing that we can always rely on one another if we need someone to talk to.

“Jerramy and I got divorced a few months ago” Hope says suddenly breaking the silence. “It was finalised in April.”

“Jeez Hope, April?” I ask. “I only found out you were separated last month never mind divorced.”

“I wanted to keep it quiet, I didn’t want my personal life overshadowing an important year for the US team” Hope admits.

“Are you ok?” I ask, turning to look at the woman. “I know you are at peace with the separation but divorce is a different thing, it means everything is final.”

“That’s because it is” Hope answers. “We needed the divorce so that we could be completely free from one another, our happy marriage turned into a loveless marriage that shouldn’t have went on for as long as it did.” I nod my head, allowing Hope to continue if she wants. “I am annoyed and upset not because I am no longer with Jerramy but because I made a mistake, I married someone who wasn’t who I wanted and now I have failed myself by getting divorced.”

“You haven’t failed Hope, this was just a learning curve for you” I say as I squeeze Hope’s hand. “I’ve said it before and I will say it again, you deserve better Hope and I know for a fact that the person you are meant to be with is still out there.”

“I just hate that every time something good happens, something bad happens thereafter” Hope says with a sigh. “When my soccer life is good, my personal life isn’t and vice versa. I just wish they could both be good you know.”

“I understand but sometimes life isn’t that simple.”

“Don’t I know it” Hope says with a scoff. “I want to win this Olympics and be recognised as a gold medal winner not as the goalkeeper who got divorced and once again failed.”

“Everyone can see you are not the person you used to be Hope” I start. “So what you got divorced? You are more than a statistic Hope. You are a human being; a pretty good one at that.”

/

“I hope you are almost finished in that ice bath Solo” I say as I approach the keeper.

“Why?” Hope asks.

“Because I am about to enter and I don’t want all the ice to melt because of how hot I am” I reply with a smirk. “A melted ice bath would be no use to a keeper like you.”

“Wow O’Hara” Hope says with a laugh. “I thought you had more game than that.”

“I’ve got game” I respond. “I am just not wasting it on you.”

“Charming” Hope says before she steps out of the icy water. “It’s all yours O’Hara, I will see you back at the room.”

“See you later Solo” I reply before I watch Hope leave. “Don’t miss me too much” I shout to the keepers retreating figure.

“Mind if I join you?” Tobin asks as she points to the ice bath.

“Of course not.”

“Thanks” Tobin replies before we both step in. “Can I talk to you about something?”

“You know you can” I say with a gentle smile.

“It’s about Christen.” Normally I would tease Tobin mercilessly but I can sense she seems a little nervous so now probably isn’t the best time to tease her.

“What about her?”

“She and I have been seeing each other… well its more serious than that actually” Tobin starts. “I wanted this tournament to be all business you know, come here with one task; get the gold and completely focus on the soccer.” I nod at Tobin’s words. “It’s not just about the soccer though, sure I am still completely focussed on winning and competing but when I am not on the pitch or training all I think about is Christen.”

“Ok.” I was about to tell Tobin how cute I thought that it was but again, this isn’t really the time.

“I am falling in love with her so fast that it scares me Kelley.”

“Why are you scared? Press is an amazing woman.”

“I am scared that I will mess everything up” Tobin admits before looking at me. “This is only my second serious relationship yet it is completely different to the first. It’s a completely different situation and my feelings are different.”

“What makes you think you will mess it up?”

“What if she isn’t there yet, what if I am moving fast but she isn’t?” Tobin asks. “How do I know if she feels the same and this isn’t just something casual?”

“You ask her.”

“Is it that simple?”

“Yeah, it’s that simple” I respond. “Communication is key, I learned the hard way that not being honest with your partner will have a bad repercussion on your relationship.”

“Do you still miss Hannah? Everyone seems to think she was the one that got away.”

“I don’t know if I miss Hannah specifically” I answer truthfully. “I just miss having someone, someone who I have fun with and can spend time with but I have all of you gals so I don’t need a girlfriend at the moment.”

“As long as your happy then nothing else matters.”

“Exactly” I respond. My relationship with Hannah must have looked really serious, I know it was serious but I don’t think I grasped just how many people were rooting for us.

“She makes me really happy” Tobin says with that grin of hers. “I’ve never felt like this before, I feel really comfortable around her and I know I can talk to her about stuff and she’ll listen. She’s not only beautiful on the outside but on the inside as well.”

“You are totally in love dude, look at your little face” I say as I pinch Tobin’s cheeks. “I think that grin is going to stay on your face permanently.”

“Leave me alone.”

“I am so proud of myself right now, if it wasn’t for me pushing you two in the right direction at the end of last year then you wouldn’t be sitting here all in love” I say with a smug grin. “I really should start up a matchmaking business, you and your girl can be my claim to fame.”

“When you enter your next relationship, remind me to tease and annoy you.”

“I wasn’t actually sure if my involvement worked to begin with because no one could be sure if you and Press were actually a thing or not” I say. “You avoided her for a while and then she avoided you, it was like the two of you didn’t know what to do.”

“It was complicated, not only were we experiencing feelings for one another that we hadn’t felt before but we were both teammates and really didn’t know if we could make something work” Tobin admits before looking at me. “I’m older now and I know what I want.”

“Good.” A silence falls upon us so in typical KO fashion I feel the need to fill the silence. “She had a crush on you in college.”

“Who?”

“Press” I answer with a smirk. “She was pretty outgoing in that respect when we were in college if you know what I mean so I am not surprised she had a crush. She was a real wild one with the ladies Tobin, you better watch her.”

“I really don’t know if you are messing with me right now or if you are being truthful” Tobin says suspiciously. “I know we kissed in college.”

“No we didn’t.”

“Not you and me you goof, Christen and I” Tobin says, shaking her head. “I kissed Christen after a match between UNC and you guys.”

“Oh my god really” I say in shock. “But Christen was so nervous and shy, she could barely talk to women that she found attractive never mind kiss one.” Tobin raises her eyebrow at me, giving me a knowing look. “Oh, I see what you did there. She wasn’t really a wild one in college, I lied about what I said before.”

“I didn’t kiss her in college either, I just said that to see your reaction” Tobin says laughing.

“We are as bad as each other.” I laugh before I look at Tobin seriously. “I am being genuine when I say I think she had a crush on you in college, she never said anything to me but I definitely saw her checking you out once or twice.”

“Right” Tobin says, a slight blush appearing on her face.

“Speaking of the devil, Press is on her way over.” At my words Tobin immediately turns round and I can’t help but laugh.

“You are so annoying” Tobin states after she realises that Christen wasn’t actually on her way over.

“I am surprised you didn’t give yourself whiplash there.”

“You need to get a girlfriend quick so I can tease the crap out of you.”

“I don’t know which is more fun; teasing you or teasing Press.”

“How about teasing none of us and letting Chris and I have some peace” Tobin suggests.

“Oh Chris is it? Must be serious, Christen used to hate that name, but I guess you are the exception.”

“Sorry to interrupt but have any of you seen Christen?” JJ asks us. “I’ve lost my key for Christen and my room so I need to borrow hers.”

“We haven’t seen her, I’m sure if we had then Tobin would have melted along with the ice in the tub here.”

“If this ice bath wasn’t so essential for my recovery then I would have left here a while ago” Tobin says, annoyance lacing her tone. “If you give me one minute and forty-three seconds Julie then I will help you find Chris.”

“Oh Chris?” JJ says with a smirk. “She used to hate that name, you must be special.”

“Jeez, not you too” Tobin huffs before glaring at me. I can’t help but laugh at her expression.

/

“Are you always this messy?”

“Me, Kelley this is all your mess” Hope responds while pointing at the mess on the floor.

“This can’t all be me, I mean since when did I start wearing a pair of shorts that has ‘Solo’ written across the bum?”

“Since you stole them from me and wore them last night in bed” Hope answers. Oops, I forgot I did that.

“Why do you have your name on the bum of your shorts anyway?”

“It was a gift given as a joke but I kept the shorts because they were pretty comfy” Hope tells me. “And before you ask why I have an old pair of my goalkeeping gloves in the bathroom then don’t bother because you put them there after you spilled chocolate milk on them.”

“Oops” is my response. The gloves in question are Hope’s lucky gloves. She doesn’t use them anymore but they hold sentimental value to her, it is just a shame they smell like chocolate milk now. “I am guessing all of this mess is mine then?”

“Good guess Kel.”

“Want to help me tidy it up?” I ask hopefully before Hope shakes her head while chuckling and then she helps me. “You’re the best Hope, definitely a keeper.”

“So fucking funny” Hope says in response to my silly laughter at my silly joke. “I am so glad tonight is my last night before we change hotels and hopefully I get a different roommate.”

“Don’t count on it, I’ve already told dawn that for the sake of the team you and I need to keep rooming together.”

“You haven’t, have you?”

“I’m only joking, I do like rooming with you though” I say truthfully. “I am so glad that we could reconnect again.”

“Me too, I missed you Kel.”

“I missed you too.”

“You want me to hug you now don’t you?”

“Maybe” I say playfully.

“I’ve honestly never met someone who likes hugging as much as you do” Hope says as she begins laughing and then suddenly I am wrapped in her embrace again. I don’t know why but any time I want something from Hope she gives me it but with everyone else she doesn’t.

“That’s because you have never met someone like me before.”

“Thank goodness for that, more than one Kelley O’Hara would be a nightmare. One is quite enough for me and for the world.”

“You are so lucky I like you Solo or I would have slapped you to death by now.”

“More like cuddled me to death” Hope responds. “Thank you.”

“Why are you thanking me?”

“Because you are amazing, I am grateful that we could get our friendship back” Hope tells me and I give her one last squeeze.

“Thank you as well.” I then kiss Hope on the cheek and then we both get back to tidying up my mess causing me to fail to notice the blush forming on Hope’s face.

Chapter Text

“We should play a game” I announce excitedly while looking at Hope. We are currently on a long bus trip to our next hotel and my boredom is beginning to show.

“I am fine reading my book” Hope replies before going back to her reading. I think it is so cute how she has her glasses at the tip of her nose instead of wearing them properly.

“Reading is boring just like this bus journey” I complain as I tug on Hope’s arm. “Play a game with me, I’m bored Hopey.”

“Don’t call me that” Hope states, her eyes completely fixed on me.

“Ok, no to the nickname then.” Hope nods before looking back at her book. “Play a game with me.”

“I really would just prefer to read my book.”

“And I would like to date a supermodel but that doesn’t mean we all get what we want.”

“You’re frustrating Kel.”

“You’re grumpy Hope.”

“Don’t be childish.”

“Don’t be moody.”

“I am not playing this game with you O’Hara.”

“Good, play another game with me then.”

“Please Kel, let me read my book” Hope all but begs. “I promise I will play with you on the return journey.”

“I am going to hold you to that Solo” I say before I depart my seat and I go and sit next to Kling, someone who will play a game with me.

“To what do I owe this pleasure KO?” Kling asks when I sit down next to her.

“Hope wouldn’t play with me so now you have to.”

“Second choice am I?” Kling asks feigning a frown.

“I’m afraid so, only cute people get my attention first.”

“I don’t know whether to be offended that you don’t think I’m cute or whether to be happy that I was your second choice and not your last.”

“Only you can decide Kling, do you want to play a game then?” I ask excitedly.

“Only if it is fun.”

“It’s me we are talking about, of course it will be fun” I answer. “I was thinking we could play ‘which teammate’, it is one of my favorite games.”

“I don’t think I know that game” Kling says, looking confused.

“That’s because I just made it up three seconds ago.”

“Right, how do we play then?” my fellow defender asks.

“We each make a suggestion and then we have to decide which teammate it relates to” I start. “I will give you an easy example, ‘Which teammate is most likely to cheat at board games?”

“You” Kling answers with a smile.

“Exactly, now you ask a question.”

“Ok, most likely to choose a book over a film” Kling suggests.

“Becky?”

“I agree, your turn KO.”

“Most likely to complain if we went camping?”

“Ali, definitely Kriegs.”

“Agreed, your turn” I say while turning to face Meghan. “Make them a little more interesting though.”

“Most likely to star in a TV show?”

“Alex” I answer quickly. “Maybe Ash too or Pinoe, Pinoe likes the limelight.”

“I would go for Pinoe.”

“Yeah. Ok my turn; flirtiest teammate?”

“That’s easy; you.”

“Me?”

“Yes you KO, you are a complete flirt and that is without alcohol.” I nod my head, I suppose I am quite flirty. “Most innocent?”

“Definitely Mal” I say with certainty earning an approving nod from Kling. Mal is so precious, she’s like a little sister to me. “Biggest ego?”

“Ok… don’t go too far, we don’t want to offend anyone” Kling says. “Let’s just keep things light.” Personally my answer would be Carli but if Kling doesn’t want to answer then that’s up to her.

“Grumpiest teammate?”

“Hope” Kling whispers.

“She’s a big softie really but you are right, she can be quite grumpy without her coffee.”

“We are all guilty of that” Kling adds. “Did you see the face Press gave me this morning at breakfast when I cut in line in front of her for the coffee?”

“She has a real bitch face sometimes” I say, agreeing with Kling.

“I can hear you two you know” Tobin tells Kling and I before glaring at us.

“I am glad your ears work Tobin” I then give her a smug grin.

“How about most immature teammate?” Tobin interjects our game before pointing her finger at me.

“I am not immature, I just like acting like a kid sometimes” I defend myself. “I am perfectly mature when I have to be.” Tobin scoffs, now who is being immature. “Teammate who is so obsessed with a soccer ball that they don’t even know when another teammate is hitting on them?” I say before pointing at Tobin. “It took me intervening for you to notice Press over there.”

“Leave me out this argument please” Press says looking at me.

“Let’s stop this game before it gets out of hand” Kling says with a sigh before suggesting we play a game of ‘I spy’.

“I spy with my little eye, something beginning with G” I start off.

“Gatorade?” I shake my head no. “Gum?” I shake my head again. “Glove?”

“Glove is close but not correct” I say. “A glove is used by the answer.”

“Goalkeeper?”

“Yay, three to be more exact but yet that was correct” I say.

“I spy with my little eye, something beginning with C” Kling says.

“Coach?”

“No” Kling shakes her head.

“Camera?”

“Not that either.”

“Christen?” I guess.

“What?” Christen says annoyed. “What do you want Kelley?”

“Nothing” I answer, feeling a bit taken aback by her tone.

“Why did you say my name then?” Christen asks, sounding unhappy.

“We are playing ‘I spy’ and I guessed you as the answer to C” I reply. “I didn’t mean to disturb you.”

“Sorry” Christen replies before she goes back to reading her magazine.

“You were wrong, keep guessing” Kling tells me.

“Cage?”

“Where do you see one of those?” Kling asks with a frown before telling me to keep guessing.

“Carli?” I guess after making another four wrong guesses.

“Nope.”

“I really don’t know Kling, can you just put me out of my misery and tell me.”

“The answer was cat.”

“Where the heck is a cat?” I ask confused as I look around the bus. Sometimes my teammates will bring stuffed animals as teddies with them but there don’t appear to be any cats in view.

“It’s on Ashlyn’s shirt at the back” Kling answers with a shrug.

After a few more rounds of ‘I spy’ my boredom eventually turns into tiredness. I turn to look at Kling and I notice she must be tired too because she is sleeping so I decide to go back to my original seat next to Hope. As soon as I get to the back of the bus I see Hope sprawled out across the two seats. Instead of doing what a normal person would do, and grab an empty seat, I decide to squeeze in next to Hope, lifting her feet and putting them across my lap.

“Kel, what are you doing?” Hope asks sleepily.

“Ssh, go back to sleep” I tell the keeper before I squeeze her hand. Hope does as I say and I eventually fall asleep with her. What I don’t notice is the look that Carli gave Hope and me when I squeezed in next to her.

/

“Kelley and Christen, you two are rooming together” Dawn tells us as we all congregate in the hotel lobby.

“This is just great” Christen utters sarcastically but I know she is just kidding.

“I love you too Press” I say before blowing Christen a kiss. “I promise I won’t annoy you too much.”

“You better not.” Normally Christen and I like rooming together but I can tell I am getting on her nerves when I constantly tease her about Tobin. “I am going to speak to Tobin, I will see you in our room.”

“See you later Press” I reply before I depart to find Hope. “Hey Hope” I shout when I see her talking to Carli.

“What’s up Kel?”

“I wanted to know if you wanted to go a walk with me later.” I reply.

“Sure” Hope answers with a smile, inadvertently making me smile.

“I am in room six hundred and eight if you want to come and get me later when you are ready to go” I inform the keeper. “You are welcome to come too Carli.”

“No thanks, third wheeling isn’t really my style” Carli says with a weird smirk and a shrug. I really never understand that woman’s humour.

“Ok” I say slightly confused by the joke or not joke, I don’t know. “See you later Hope.”

“See you then” Hope says with a small wave and then I leave.

“Hey” I greet Press when I enter our room.

“Hey” she replies with a smile. “Any plans for tonight?”

“I am going out in a while with Hope” I answer. “You?”

“I am going out with Ali in an hour but I will take my key in case you are not back.”

/

“Let’s take a seat for a minute” I suggest. “Soak in this view.”

“Ok” Hope says complying.

We sit in silence for a while, admiring the view and all the lights that light up the dark park.

“Do you remember when we were in London and we snuck out of the hotel before breakfast on the day of the final?” I ask. “And we went to that park and sat on that dirty bench where a bird pooped on me?”

“I remember” Hope says laughing. “Clean it off me Hope, get it off” Hope mocks me.

“I didn’t sound like that.”

“You did.”

“Thanks for cleaning my jumper, it’s amazing what a bottle of water and a tissue can do” I say before looking at Hope and we both laugh.

“You threw that jumper in the trash didn’t you?”

“Yup, as soon as we got back to the hotel.”

“It strange how I remember so much from that trip” Hope says, deep in thought. “I don’t mean because we won, I remember all the conversations we had.”

“Me too.”

“What is your biggest fear?” I ask.

“Becoming a failure” Hope answers. “What’s yours?”

“Ending up alone” I reply.

“That will never happen Kel, I can assure you” Hope tells me. “I know you are having doubts about Hannah but even if she isn’t the one, you will never be alone.”

“You are not a failure and never will be” I say before reaching for Hope’s hand. “You are so inspiring to me. We will all make mistakes but that won’t make us failures.”

“I like your positivity, it’s refreshing” Hope tells me. “I sometimes get myself down with all the negative thoughts that go through my head so it’s nice to be around someone so positive.”

“I would return the favour and say it is nice to be around someone so negative for a change but it’s not, I like to see the best in everything” I say before I move closer to Hope and rest my head on her shoulder. “Some may say that’s a bit naïve but I don’t care.”

“It isn’t naïve” Hope whispers before she wraps her arm around me.

“Thank you so much for being there for me throughout the tournament” I say before looking at Hope. “I am not sure if I would have coped this well if it wasn’t for you, you are an awesome person.”

“You don’t need to thank me, we are a team so in order for the team to succeed then we all need to help each other out.”

“Yeah but you didn’t need to help me as much as you did” I say. “I am really grateful Hope and I am grateful to you for letting me confide in you when I needed to.”

“Thank you for listening to me Kel, you have been really amazing.”

“It’s kinda strange how well we click because we are very different from one another” I look at Hope. “But it works.”

“It does.” Hope smiles. “I am sorry that I wasn’t there for you after London.”

“It wasn’t all on you, I didn’t make an effort to reach out to you either” I admit. “It will be different this time though because after we leave Rio I am going to come to Seattle to see you.”

“Oh are you?”

“Yup; whether I am invited or not.”

“Where are you going to stay when you get to Seattle?”

“I will either stay in a hotel or I may just stay at your house” I say with a shrug. “Probably cheaper if I stay with you then I can get out of having to pay for a hotel.”

“Cheapskate” Hope admonishes jokingly. “I hope you are not as tight with your money when it comes to wining and dining your dates or are you the one that gets spoiled.”

“That’s what you would need to find out Solo” I say with a playful smirk. “I guess you will just need to date me and see for yourself.”

“I am way out of your league honey” Hope answers before throwing me a wink. “Come on, let’s head back to the hotel.”

“Can I get a piggyback?”

“No, you’re not a child.” Hope pulls me off the bench before walking ahead of me.

“I don’t want to walk Hopey” I complain.

“Stop with the nickname, you know I don’t like it.”

“Give me a piggyback then” I say mischievously before I begin to tickle Hope.

“Kel, stop” Hope says through a giggle. “Ok ok, I will give you a piggyback.”

“You are the best” I respond before jumping on Hope’s back.

After a twenty minute piggyback ride we eventually arrive at my hotel room and Hope practically throws me on my bed.

“If I didn’t have a sore back before I do now” Hope complains while rubbing her lower back. “It wasn’t that you were heavy, you just wouldn’t stay still.”

“Let me give you a massage to make it better” I offer.

“No thanks Kel.”

“Come on, it will make it better.”

“Its fine Kelley but thanks” Hope refuses my offer again.

“Are you scared you will like it too much?” I ask with a smirk. I have it on good authority that I give good massages, asks any of my ex-girlfriends.

“More like scared you will make it worse” Hope retorts. “Thank you for the offer anyway.”

/

“Are you ok?” I ask before I sit down next to Christen on her bed. “Sorry, silly question.” I don’t think any of us are ok, we’ve just lost in the quarterfinals of the Olympics.

“I just feel numb” Christen answers before looking at me. “I don’t even know what to say, I can’t… it’s over now. Just like that.”

“I know, it’s hard to…” I begin before a knock at the door interrupts me. “I will get that.”

As soon as I open the door I see Tobin staring at me sadly.

“I will give you two some privacy” I tell the midfielder before I exit the room and make my way towards the hotel lobby. As soon as I reach the lobby I see Hope sitting nursing what looks like a cup of coffee. I am hesitant to approach her because I don’t want to disturb her but then again she’s my friend and I don’t like seeing her upset.

“Hi Kel” Hope says without turning around.

“How did you know it was me?” I ask surprised.

“I have good instincts” Hope answers before gesturing for me to sit next to her, so I do. “This coffee is disgusting.”

“Well it is black so…” I trail off, trying to lighten the mood by making a fool of the type of coffee Hope drinks.

“Not even a little milk or cream would sort this out” Hope says before pulling a disgusting face, making me chuckle at her. “You ok?”

“I don’t know if it has quite sunk in yet” I reply honestly. “It is still a shock.”

“I know” Hope replies calmly before pulling me into her side and hugging me. “How about we get out of here and go for a drink?”

“Ok” I answer, reluctantly removing myself from Hope’s embrace.

“The first drink is on me” Hope says with a small smile before she pulls me up and leads us out of the hotel.

/

As soon as I feel the sun coming in the window I immediately turn over in bed to avoid the brightness in my eyes. ‘That’s better’ I think to myself before I feel warm arms encircling my waist and pulling me close. I relax into the hold until I suddenly realise where I am and discover that I should be alone in bed. Oh my fucking god, who is in bed with me? Please don’t tell me I slept with someone last night. ‘Oh Kelley…’ I think to myself. I am really scared to open my eyes but I don’t know if I could not know who I’ve had sex with. Before I can make my decision about whether to open my eyes or not I hear banging on the door.

“Wake up!” I hear shouted from outside. It vaguely sounds like Tobin but I can’t be sure.

“Tobin needs to get her stuff” I now hear Christen’s voice crystal clear. “You and Tobes were only swapping rooms for the night not for the whole weekend.” At least I know I am in the correct hotel room and not at some stranger’s apartment or hotel. Ok so, I swapped with Tobin so she could spend the night with Christen and I am supposed to room with Hope. Oh shit Hope, please don’t tell me I brought someone back to the hotel room and had sex with them with Hope in the next bed. Kelley please say you didn’t.

“Open the door would you” I hear Tobin’s frustrated voice this time. “I know at least one of you is there so get this door open now.”

“OPEN UPPPP” Christen all but screeches.

“It is a lost cause babe, I will get my things later” Tobin says and then I hear footsteps walking away from the door. Thank god they have left, I don’t need an audience for the next part. I just pray that Hope has maybe slept in Carli’s room and I can get rid of whoever I hooked up with last night. One thing for sure is that they definitely have a pair of strong arms and I can definitely feel some rock hard abs.

On the count of three open your eyes Kelley. You can do it.

“One” I whisper quietly. “Two… three…” With that I open my eyes and the mystery cuddler is revealed. “Hope?” I say before I sigh in relief. It’s just Hope, thank goodness. We must have got back drunk and fell asleep in the same bed. Panic over.

As soon as I go to remove myself from the bed the panic sets in again; I’m naked. Why am I naked, why am I naked in a bed with Hope. “Oh shit” I say aloud. Hope is naked too. Why am I naked in a bed with Hope Solo, equally naked but straight Hope Solo? “Hope, wake up” I say nervously. “Hope” I repeat.

“What?” Hope groans.

“Wake up, it’s me Kelley” I say.

“I know it is you Kel, you and Tobin traded rooms” Hope says, still half asleep.

“Well do you also know that we are in bed together?” I ask but I receive no response. “NAKED” I say louder which gets the goalkeepers attention.

“WHAT” Hope all but screams as she quickly lets go of me and looks at me sheepishly. “Did we… you know?”

“Have sex?” I ask and receive a small nod. “I wouldn’t think so, getting naked with a friend and sharing her bed is my usual Saturday night routine, I love snuggling naked with my friends.”

“This is not the time O’Hara” Hope states as she tries to adjust the sheet around her.

“I don’t remember much Hope but I am guessing we had sex, yes” I answer properly this time. “I really have no idea how it happened.”

“I think you do know how it happened, you are not a virgin Kel you know how to have sex” Hope replies smartly.

“Oh ha ha, I am glad you can joke” I say with a glare. “I meant I have no idea of how you and I got ourselves into this position, you are straight.”

“Eh… not really” Hope replies while scratching the back of her neck nervously. “Sure I married a man but… I’ve been with other women before. I dated a girl for a year back in 2009.”

“Shut up” I say completely shocked. “You don’t think you should have mentioned this to me.”

“I didn’t know you were going to jump my bones did I?” Hope says before she bursts into laughter.

“Why are you so calm about this?” I ask warily. This is Hope Solo in front of me and yet she is the picture of calmness, the same Hope who freaked out the first time I hugged her. “You went crazy when I hugged you when we first met but somehow I have sex with you and you take it in your stride.” Hope just shrugs. “What’s happened to the reserved, closed off goalkeeper?”

“You” Hope answers with a smile.

“I’m sorry, me?” I question. Ok now I am confused.

“This past week and a half you have brought me out of my shell and revealed the true me” Hope explains. “I don’t know what it is about you Kelley but you make me want to become my true self and be a better person. I am different when I am with you, a good different.”

“I like who you are when you are around me” I say gently. “You are my best friend.”

“We should probably shower and put some clothes on before things get even more awkward” Hope says with a nervous laugh.

“I agree” I answer. “So what are your plans now that we are out of the tournament?”

“I think I am going to head back to the states” Hope answers with a sad shrug. “What about you?”

“I don’t know, I kinda wanted to actually experience the whole Olympics but I really don’t know if I am in the mood now” I say before turning to face Hope. “I know we lost and it will take time for us to come to terms with that but we are still at the Olympics and there are other sports I wanted to see while we were in Brazil.”

“You should stay Kel” Hope tells me. “We can’t change what happened in our match so there is no point dwelling on it, you may as well take your mind off of it.”

“I suppose” I say before I look to Hope. “Are you going to get up first?”

“I thought you were” Hope says.

“We are both naked here so one of us has to move out of bed first” I say. Why does this feel so weird, I normally don’t care? Why I am I so nervous that Hope will see me naked, she obviously saw a lot of me last night.

“Don’t look” Hope says before beginning to move. “I don’t want you getting distracted by my gorgeous body” Hope then smiles smugly before unashamedly getting out of the bed and walking over to the bathroom… naked. Oh god, I looked. Why did I look, now I can’t stop picturing Hope like that? Why am I acting like a teenager again, what the fuck is wrong with me?

Chapter Text

“Ah-ha, I see you have managed to put some clothes on now” I say with a smirk, composing myself from my earlier awkwardness.

“Ditto” Hope says as she looks me up and down. “I can’t say I like that shirt though, it’s a little loud.”

“It’s just colourful, sorry I don’t wear boring clothing like you” I retort. “I guess I am just not that boring.”

“Boring is something you definitely aren’t Kel” Hope says with a smile before she throws me a wink and then she goes back to packing her luggage.

“Do you…. Eh remember last night?” I ask nervously. “I remember bits and pieces but not everything, I guess we were quite drunk.”

“I remember pretty much all of it” Hope smiles. “Like… everything.”

“Oh” I say not knowing what else to say. At first I didn’t really remember anything but slowly I am regaining my memory. All I’ve got so far is that we went to a bar, Hope kept buying me shots and beer and then my memory jumps to a naked Hope Solo hovering over me. All I seem to picture from there on out is Hope’s tanned and smooth body rubbing against me as the sweat from both of our bodies mix.

“Kel…” Hope says breaking my thoughts. “Are you coming down for breakfast or are you going to stare at that wall all day?”

“Sorry, I was daydreaming” I apologise before throwing a hoodie over my body and then I follow Hope out of the room to go for breakfast.

“I didn’t know you were a fan of UNC, being from Stanford and all?” Hope says as we walk to the elevator, confusing me.

“Huh?” I ask puzzled before Hope points to the hoodie I have on. Damn I knew this hoodie felt weird, I guess I grabbed Tobin’s jumper. “It must be Tobin’s.”

“Yeah, she had it on for running the other day and I don’t think she has washed it” Hope tells me.

“Yuck… couldn’t you have told me sooner” I say with a disgusted face. “A little heads up in the future if you see me put on your roommates sweaty clothes would be brilliant Hope.”

“If you really want to wear a rival’s hoodie may I suggest something of the Huskies in the future” Hope says. “It would look so much better on you than that.”

“No way, I would rather wear Tobin’s sweaty UNC clothes than anything from your precious Huskies” I say, trying to rile Hope up.

“Whatever you say Stanford.” Hope playfully shoves me.

“Morning, you two look rough” Carli observes with a chuckle when we spot her in the hallway. “Which bar did you drink dry last night?”

“We weren’t that bad Carlos” I defend. “But I couldn’t tell you which bars we went to, I don’t remember all that much.”

“Are you heading down to breakfast as well” Hope asks our captain.

“It’s eleven thirty, I had breakfast four hours ago” Carli says while frowning. “Have you two not even had breakfast yet? What have you been doing all morning?”

“We lost track of time” Hope says. “I guess we will just have an early lunch then.”

/

“Your flight is today?” I ask in disbelief. “I knew you wanted to fly home as soon as possible but I didn’t realise you would be leaving today.”

“There was a flight today so there is no point in me staying any longer, I just need to go back to Seattle and process everything” Hope tells me before she kisses my cheek. “Don’t look so sad.”

“I can’t help it, I am really going to miss you.”

“I will miss you too but I promise this won’t be like London, we will keep in touch Kel” Hope assures me before pulling me into a hug. A hug that suddenly brings back a memory from last night… a very inappropriate memory shall we say. If I wasn’t so busy consumed by my thoughts of last night then I probably would have questioned Hope initiating the hug since it is a well-known fact that Hope hates hugging.

Hope hugs me a little tighter and I can’t help but take a deep breath in, the smell of her perfume invading my senses. I don’t really know how to describe Hope’s smell other than a mixture of flowers and coconut shampoo. It is very intoxicating.

I nuzzle further into Hope’s neck, trying to take in more of her scent when the door suddenly flies open revealing Tobin and Christen strolling in hand in hand.

“You know I had to pay to get another key because you two wouldn’t let us in earlier… or one of you anyway” Tobin says before taking a seat on her bed and pulling Christen down next to her. “Did you actually sleep in this bed last night Kelley because it looks exactly the way I left it yesterday?”

“Well…I… did…” I stutter out nervously, completely caught off guard by the question.

“You didn’t?” Christen says astonished. “You spent the night with someone else. Come on, who was she?”

“I didn’t spend the night with anyone” I defend myself.

“Why is the bed so neatly spread then Kelley?” Christen asks with a knowing look.

“You might as well tell the truth Kel, you met someone at a bar and didn’t sleep here last night” Hope says. Gee thanks Hope, way to throw me under the bus.

“Who was she?” Christen asks again, clearly her nose is getting the better of her.

“It was just a random girl I picked up at a bar, we were completely drunk” I answer before I try to change the subject. “Anyway, what are you guys plans?” I ask. “Are you going to head to Rio to see some other sports or are you going home?”

“We are going to LA, our first flight leaves tonight” Tobin answers. “We are not really in the mood to stay on in Brazil, we just want to get out of here.”

“Ok” I nod, not pressing any further on the topic. Everyone is still pretty disappointed but I know Christen took it a little harder.

“I think I should go and pack my stuff” Christen says. “Are you going back to the room Kelley?”

“Yes, I should pack as well” I answer before standing up. “Come and find me before you leave” I say to Hope. “We will have coffee before you go.”

“Ok Kel” Hope answers with a smile and a wink.

“Put her down Tobin” I say when I turn around to see Tobin and Christen kissing. Normally Christen isn’t the type to show PDA but since she and Tobin made things official she doesn’t seem to care. “I am hungover as it is, I don’t need to see that.”

“You are just jealous Kelley” Tobin tells me.

“Oh I’m really not” I say with a laugh. “I went to college with Press, that’s more than enough for me. There is no way I want a repeat of that, you don’t have to worry Tobs; she’s all yours.”

“Wait… you two…. You know” Tobin says with a frown. “In college.”

“No we didn’t” Christen says quickly before kissing Tobin’s cheek. “She’s just teasing you babe.”

“Right” Tobin says with a nod before she throws a glare my way.

“Let’s go pack Presi” I then drag Christen out of the room and towards our room.

/

“So I am a random, am I?” is the first thing Hope asks me when she arrives at the hotel cafe.

“What did you want me to say, they put me on the spot. Correction; you put me on the spot” I answer before handing Hope the coffee I ordered for her. “I couldn’t say it was you, could I?”

“And here was me thinking we could really be something special. I had a whole speech prepared to declare my undying love for you and you called me a random girl” Hope says with a laugh.

“You are so funny” I reply sarcastically. “We need to talk about what happened or why it happened.”

“We were drunk and sought comfort in one another” Hope responds before sipping on her coffee. “We are friends Kel so for the sake of our friendship we shouldn’t overcomplicate things.”

“I agree, shall we just try and forget about it and move on?”

“Yeah” Hope answers before drinking more of her coffee. “I have a cab coming in fifteen minutes to take me to the airport.”

“Are you sure you don’t want to stay for a bit longer?” I ask, trying to persuade Hope to stay one last time.

“I just want to get back home and try to get back to normal” Hope tells me. “I need some time on my own to digest everything and think some things over.”

“Ok” I nod, accepting Hope’s answer. As if right on cue, a cab pulls up outside the hotel. “Looks like your cab is here.”

“Looks like it.” I then walk with Hope outside.

“So I will see you next week then?” I ask just as Hope is putting her belongings in the cab.

“You will” Hope confirms. “See you in Seattle Kel.” Hope and I decided that I would visit her in Seattle before we get back to our NWSL play.

“See you then” I reply before pulling Hope into a hug.

“Last night wasn’t the best idea on both of our parts but it doesn’t mean I regret it” Hope says after we pull out of the hug. “Look after yourself Kel. I will see you next week.”

“Hold on” I say, stopping Hope from entering the cab. “What do you mean you don’t regret it?”

“Exactly that” Hope says. “It was never my intention to have sex with you but I don’t regret it though, not at all.”

“Why not?” I ask. “Why do you not regret it?”

“Because it was you” Hope says with a shrug before she kisses my cheek and then leaves for the airport in her cab. I hate how confusing she is sometimes, what does that statement even mean. Why is she confusing me like this?

“Are you ok?” I hear Tobin’s voice behind me.

“Jeez, don’t sneak up on me like that” I reprimand her. “What are you doing here?”

“Chris told me to come out here and wait for our cab” Tobin tells me before we both sit down on a bench. “Our flight doesn’t leave for a good while but Christen wants to leave early in case we get stuck in traffic.”

“I see” I say with a smile.

“Don’t even open your mouth O’Hara” Tobin warns me while pointing her finger at me. “I know you are ready to tell me that I am whipped or Chris has me wrapped around her finger so just don’t bother.”

“Want to know what I think?”

“Not in particular KO, no” Tobin says lazily. “I have a feeling you are going to tell me anyway.”

“I think that Christen has you right where she wants you and I think that you are loving every second of it” I say with a smile while looking at my friend. “I think you enjoy Christen bossing you around.”

“She’s not bossing me around” Tobin objects. “She just likes to be organised and we all know I can be a little too chill sometimes.”

“You lurve her don’t you?” I say in a playful voice.

“Yes Kelley, for the millionth time; I love my girlfriend” Tobin answers with a sigh. “You act like you haven’t seen two people in love before.”

“Sorry” I apologise. “Since I have absolutely no love life, I like to tease other people about theirs.”

“What about the girl from last night, was that just a onetime thing?”

“Yeah, that’s not happening again” I say with a nervous chuckle. “Definitely not.”

“Was it another athlete or a complete stranger?” Tobin asks.

“A stranger” I lie.

“You don’t think they were some crazy fan who is going to suddenly gush to the tabloids that she slept with a member of the USWNT do you?”

“No Tobin, I do not” I answer. “I don’t think many people know who we are unless they follow soccer.”

“You never know with these fans do you?” Tobin says seriously.

“Well you don’t need to worry about that sort of thing do you” I say as I pinch Tobin’s cheeks. “You’ve got your girl and a hot one at that.”

“I do” Tobin states proudly with a wide grin. Why can everyone else find love and I can’t.

“Is the cab here yet?” Christen asks when she approaches us, two coffees in her hand.

“Yeah babe, I am sitting in it right now” Tobin answers sarcastically.

“Kelley, have some coffee” Christen says while giving me the second cup of coffee she had. I presume it was meant for Tobin in the first instance.

“Thanks” I say, accepting the drink. Throwing a smirk Tobin’s way.

“When are you guys heading up to Rio?” Christen asks as she sits down next to Tobin and shares her coffee with her.

“Tonight, Alex is arranging everything” I answer.

“Tobin and I are just going to hang out at my parents’ house for the next while” Christen says. “I just want to be out of the spotlight and avoid anything to do with the Olympics right now.”

“We’ll get through it” I say positively. “As a team we will weather this storm and bounce back, we just need time to let it all sink in.”

“I know” Christen nods.

“You two go and enjoy your romantic break together in Palos Verdes” I tell the couple. “You deserve some time together to just be alone and leave the world behind.”

“Yeah, it is a shame it won’t be that romantic though” Tobin says. “Each time I try and wake her up with a sweet kiss, I find Morena and Kahleesi licking her face or they suddenly enter the room when Chris and I… you know.”

“Tobin, for goodness sake” Christen scolds while lightly hitting Tobin’s arm.

“Too much info there Heath” I respond.

“Are you meeting your girl from last night?” Christen asks while smiling at me. “You have a weird glow about you today.”

“I don’t have a weird glow and no I am not meeting the woman again, like I told your girlfriend it was a one off” I answer. I am not saying I want to jump back into bed with Hope but it was nice not having to wake up alone again even if it was super weird for us both.

“Hope was telling me about the woman you met last night” Tobin informs me.

“Since when did you and Hope discuss your teammate’s personal lives?”

“She’s my roommate and we got to talking” Tobin says with a shrug. “It wasn’t exactly about your personal life. I just asked if Hope saw the woman and she said yeah.”

“What else did she say?” I ask to which Tobin shrugs again.

“Not much, just that she was cute and you couldn’t keep your hands off of her.”

“That is so not true, I think it was the other way around. I can control myself, even when drunk” I retort.

“I’m joking Kelley” Tobin says while laughing. “Do you really think Hope and I are that short of topics to talk about that we resorted to discussing your drunken trysts?”

“So Hope didn’t say anything?” I ask.

“Nope” Tobin answers, popping the ‘p’.

“Should she have said something?” Christen asks.

“No, I don’t remember Hope being at the bar last night” I lie. “So there is nothing to tell.”

“It is a little worrying that you don’t remember the woman, sleeping with someone you don’t know is risky Kel” Christen tells me. “She could be a crazed fan or something, waiting to spill your little hook-up to the world.”

“You two are the perfect match for one another” I say as I look between the couple. “You both think the exact same way and ask the same questions” I say, referring to Tobin’s earlier thoughts.

“A match made in heaven” Christen says with a beaming smile before kissing Tobin’s cheek.

“You two are really sickeningly cute” I say with a frown. “I know you are a sap Christen but I never had Tobin down as one.”

“I’m not a sap.”

“You kinda are babe” Christen tells her girlfriend before kissing her pout away.

“I am going to find Alex and see what the plan is for tonight” I say as I stand up. “Have a safe journey lovebirds.”

“Thank you” Christen says before she hugs me.

“I will see you soon when the Thorns and I kick your Sky Blue butts” Tobin says after it was her turn to hug me.

“Keep dreaming Heath.”

/

“Don’t stare but I think the blonde girl by the bar is checking you out Kelley” Crystal tells me before nonchalantly pointing in the direction of the woman. After we had a look around some of the venues Alex, Allie, Crystal and I all decided to hit up a few bars.

“I don’t think she is looking at Kelley” Allie interjects. “I think she is actually looking at Alex.”

“Me!” Alex says surprised. “I must be having a good hair day.”

“She is coming over ladies” Crystal says before taking a sip of her drink. “My vote is that she goes to Kelley.”

“She’s totally heading towards Alex” Allie says smugly.

“Tobin told me that you picked up a girl last night, that’s not her is it?” Alex says to me. Gee thanks Tobin, you had to tell the nosiest person on the team.

“It was just a one off and no, it is not her” I reply and before I know it the blonde from the bar has strutted right by Alex and I and sat down next to Crystal.

“Ooops” Allie says with a nervous chuckle. “I guess none of us are very observant.”

“Not me, I knew she was eyeing up Crystal the whole time” I say smugly. “You three must be out of practice with having ancient relationships.”

“Whoa there, don’t insult our relationships” Allie says. “In our defence, it is dark in here and hard to see exactly who is looking at who.”

“If that’s your story” I scoff. “I am going to the bar for a drink.”

“I think you are actually going to eavesdrop on Crystal” Alex says but I ignore her and make my way to the bar.

As soon as I sit down and order my drink, Crystal sits next to me. That was fast.

“Did you really get that woman’s number?” I ask when I see Crystal folding a bit of paper and putting it in her purse.

“Yup” Crystal nods. “It’s not for me though, the woman says she knows my brother and wanted me to give him her number.”

“How does she know your brother, we are in Brazil?”

“I don’t know but she knew my name and his name so I just humoured her” Crystal shrugs. “She seemed harmless.”

Just as I am taking a sip of my cocktail I receive a text message.

Hope: I am back in Seattle now. Hope you are having fun x
Kelley: Glad you are back safe, I am having plenty of fun. Did you manage to sleep on the plane x
Hope: I slept the whole journey, I’ve hurt my neck though. Have a good time Kel and remember to behave yourself x
Kelley: I always behave x
Hope: I will see you soon Kel, take care xxx
Kelley: see you next week x

“Who was that? Was that the girl from last night?” Alex questions. “I thought it was a one off.”

“It was a one off and it wasn’t her” I answer.

“Tobin says she caught you and the woman making out this afternoon before she left for the airport” Alex says with a smirk. “Explain that.”

“Honey, Tobin’s winding you up” I say before smiling gently. “You are so gullible.”

“Why do people always give me false information?”

“Alex, you and Crystal gossip the most on the team so it is no surprise people wind you up” I say before rubbing Alex’s shoulder. “If there is news to be shared you are always the first to know because we all know it will spread through the group like wildfire and it saves the rest of us the hard work of sharing it around.”

“Are you trying to insinuate that I have a big mouth?”

“Yes, that’s exactly what I am doing Alex.”

“Yeah whatever” Alex says. “I am ordering us some shots.”

“Count me in” I say excitedly.

/

After a few extra days in Brazil, we all fly back to the US. As soon as I am in New Jersey, the first thing I do is pay a visit to Cap.

“Kelley, to what do I owe this pleasure?” Christie asks when she opens her front door to me.

“Just thought I would visit you cap” I answer before inviting myself inside the house. “Where are the girls?”

“Where do you think on a Thursday afternoon?” Cap asks sarcastically. “They are both at school.”

“Oh yeah, I never thought” I respond before throwing myself down on the couch.

“So how are you?”

“I’m ok” I answer while looking at my ‘work mom’.

“Can I have the truth please?” Christie asks, placing a comforting hand on my knee.

“I am still disappointed and devastated that we didn’t make it” I answer truthfully. “I spent some time in Rio with Alex, Allie and Crystal and that took my mind off of things but as soon as I got back here this morning it all hit me again.”

“It will still sting for a while, probably until the next Olympics but it’s a learning curve that everyone experiences” Cap tells me. “You have to fail to succeed.”

“I know” I say with a shrug before I change the topic. “How’s the team been without me?”

“Very good actually, we don’t need you anymore” Christie tells me with a smile. “You will need to find another team.”

“Well I am heading to Seattle tomorrow so I could offer the Reign my services” I say with a cheeky smile.

“We missed you on the team, it takes all of us.”

“I am looking forward to getting back to it next week” I say before sipping on the coffee Cap brought me earlier.

“What are you going to Seattle for?”

“I am going to visit Hope, she’s letting me stay at her house” I answer. “I’m looking forward to it, Hope said she is going to take me to her favorite Italian restaurant.”

“I didn’t know you and Hope were close?” Cap says, seeming a little surprised.

“We were roomed together at the start of the Olympics and reconnected again” I answer simply before finishing my coffee. “She’s not the person everyone thinks she is, she’s a good person.”

“I know that Kelley, I have known Hope all of her professional career and I know she has been misunderstood and judged” Cap tells me. “Hope doesn’t show people the real version of herself but we can’t force her to show that side of herself.”

“Yeah I know” I say before I am interrupted by my phone buzzing, indicating that I’ve got a text.

Hope: Text me your flight details and I will pick you up from the airport x
Kelley: you don’t need to pick me up, I will get a cab x
Hope: I don’t mind Kel, you are my guest after all x
Kelley: ok I will text you my details, see ya tomorrow x
Hope: see you then Kel xxx

“Hope is going to pick me up from the airport” I say, gesturing to my phone. “What are your plans for the rest of this week?”

“I have a few coaching jobs and a talk at the local high school” Cap answers. “And then we will all be back to training on Tuesday.”

/

I am getting excited to see Hope again but on the other hand I am also slightly nervous. I still don’t really know what to think of the other night, Hope and I didn’t really talk properly about it and when we briefly touched on it I got more confused than I was before.

“Hey Solo” I say as Hope approaches me.

“Hi Kel” Hope replies with a big smile. I immediately pull Hope close into a hug.

“I missed you despite the fact that you annoy me half of the time” Hope says with a cheeky smile before she grabs my luggage.

“I missed you too.” I really did miss her, she’s my best friend.

“Let’s get back to my house and then I can take you out to dinner” Hope says, another smile on her face.

“Ok” I reply excitedly, probably too excitedly judging by the stares I received from fellow travellers. “Are you taking me to that Italian?”

“Yup” Hope says with a smile. “I hope you are hungry.”

/

“So, what do you think of the food?” Hope asks as she eats a spoonful of her pasta.

“It’s ok” I answer with a shrug and then I pour both of us some more wine.

“Come on Kel, be a little more enthusiastic than that” Hope says. “You know this food is better than ok? I can practically hear your stomach growl in approval of how good the food is.”

“Ok fine, the food is really good” I answer honestly.

“Was I correct when I said that this restaurant would be the best Italian you have ever been to?”

“Yes Hope you were, there is no need to gloat” I say, feigning annoyance. “You always have to be right, don’t you?”

“Yup” Hope says smugly before smiling at me. I don’t know why but ever since I arrived in Seattle earlier today I can’t help but notice things about Hope that I haven’t noticed before. For example, when she smiles at me I notice that her eyebrows move a tiny bit higher and she squints her eyes. Her smile also makes her chin look more defined and somehow her eyes seem bluer, if that’s even possible.

“You should smile more often.” The words are out before I even have a chance to reel them back in. “You look happy when you smile.”

“That’s why people smile Kel; when they’re happy” Hope says with a soft laugh.

“Yeah but…” I don’t even know what I am trying to say here. “You’re… just smile more.”

“Yes boss” Hope says through a laugh. “Do you want to have dessert here or back at my place?”

“Hope Solo, are you propositioning me?” I ask, my confidence back in full flow after my minor hiccup a second ago.

“What?” Hope asks confused before she realises. “Oh… I didn’t mean it like that, I just meant we could get the dessert to take away and then eat it at my house.”

“Are you sure you didn’t mean you wanted a repeat from the other night?” I smirk before raising my eyebrow.

“No thank you, but maybe you want a repeat since you are the one who’s mind went there when I innocently asked about dessert” Hope fires back. “Did you not get enough the other night honey?” Hope asks while rubbing the back of my hand. I don’t know if I am reading this wrong but is Hope flirting with me. I can’t decide if she is just teasing or flirting with me, her tone definitely seems flirty and the gaze she is giving me looks a little more than friendly.

Chapter Text

“Right Solo, what are our plans for the rest of the night?” I ask as I place the last spoonful of dessert in my mouth. We decided to buy dessert and bring it back here to eat which was probably the best idea since I managed to spill it three times down my front.

“Well I think our first plan should be to get you out of that dress there honey” Hope says before I throw her a playful wink. “I mean because you have more chocolate on your dress than you have in your stomach.”

“I’m really not sure that’s what ya meant” I say with a smirk and a shrug. “You just want to see me naked again.”

“Trust me, I don’t.”

“Are you saying you didn’t like me as much when I was naked?” I ask with a sad face. “That hurts a girl’s confidence Solo.”

“Maybe I don’t want to see you naked again because I can’t promise I would deal with it in the correct way, who says I would be able to trust myself around you” Hope shrugs, this time winking at me.

“Good point” I smile as I move closer to Hope. “I’m not sure that I could…” I get cut off by Hope’s phone ringing, leaving me mere inches from her lips. Lips that I was just about to kiss… wait what?

“I have to take this call” Hope says as she looks deep into my eyes. “Is th..that ok?”

“Eh… ye-yeah” I answer shakily before I move out of Hope’s way. I nearly kissed Hope, oh shit.

I busy myself by tidying up our dessert dishes until Hope comes back into the kitchen.

“Sorry about that, it was one of the Seattle coaches informing me that the training schedule has changed slightly for next week to accommodate all the internationals coming back from the Olympics” Hope tells me.

“That’s ok” I reply, feeling too awkward to look Hope in the eye.

“What do you want to do then?” Hope asks. “We can watch a movie if you want, you can pick?”

“I can pick?” I ask to which Hope nods. “You really don’t know what you have got yourself into there Hope.”

“Oh believe me I do, I know you Kel” Hope says with a smile. “I am only letting you pick since you are my guest, when I come to visit you in New Jersey I guarantee I will be picking the movies.”

“Who says I am letting you visit me?”

“Me, I am letting you stay here for free so the least you can do is replay the favour.”

“You are lucky I like you Solo” I tell the smug keeper.

“I like you too” Hope says with a smile, clearly not realising what her words just did to my heartbeat. I know we are just playing around and Hope probably didn’t mean it in the way my heart wishes she meant it but I can’t help but feel slightly giddy that Hope likes me; even if it is platonic.

/

Hope is probably regretting letting me pick the choice of movies because so far we have just watched three rom-coms in five hours. I insisted we had to at least watch the notebook so we watched it last since I knew it would be the saddest out of the three.

“Are you crying?” I ask Hope.

“I don’t cry” is the response I get back.

“Well you must lie then because you are definitely crying there” I observe as Hope quickly wipes away a tear.

“It’s just such a sad movie, I’ve seen it before but it so heart wrenching” Hope says. “You are crying too.”

“I know I am” I say. “They are soulmates.”

“You really believe in that soulmate stuff don’t you?”

“Yeah, I do actually” I answer enthusiastically. “I never used to believe in that sort of thing but then my mom and grandma are so into it all that it actually got me believing it.”

“I would love to meet Kelley O’Hara’s soulmate.”

“Why is that?” I ask. “So you can give them the talk about how to treat one of your best friends.”

“No honey, so I can tell them to run” Hope smirks. “To run as fast as they can as soon as they see you, I feel sorry for that poor man or woman out there who is destined to be with you. They would have such a miserable life.”

“Hey, that’s mean Solo.”

“Could you imagine the life they would have” Hope smirks at me again so I know she is only playing. “You would probably talk too much so they wouldn’t get a word in, you are so messy so they would forever be tidying up after you, and you would probably pass all of your dirty habits onto you guys kids like teaching them to belch the alphabet or eat their food with their fingers. There are so many undesirable aspects Kel so I would feel dreadfully sorry for the poor person.”

“You know something Solo, when I first met you you really weren’t one for words” I start. “It was like drawing teeth for you to actually utter more than three words but you just managed at least three hundred in the one breath there, congrats dude.”

“What can I say babe, you bring out my good side” Hope smiles. The way Hope is smiling at me and the fact that she just called me babe is making me incredibly weak to the point that I think I am crushing on Hope. “On a serious note though Kel, your soulmate is one lucky chick.”

“Thanks Hope” I say before giving Hope a side hug. The hug lasts probably a little longer than I intended but Hope doesn’t seem too bothered so I don’t really care.

“I think it is time for bed now, its gone midnight” Hope says as she stretches and yawns.

“You are so old Solo, midnight is still early ya know. Don’t go to bed yet” I protest.

“I have to be up at half past five to feed the chickens Kel so I am afraid it is bedtime” Hope tells me. “You can stay up if you want but I need my beauty sleep, you don’t get this pretty on no sleep.”

“I beg to differ” I mumble under my breath. Hope always looks pretty to me.

“What was that?” Hope asks.

“I just said you are no fun” I lie. “I don’t really feel comfortable staying down here myself while you and the dogs are upstairs sleeping so I guess I will just go to bed too.”

“Aw is KO scared when in unfamiliar surroundings” Hope says in a babyish voice.

“Big deal, I don’t like strange surroundings in the dark” I say. “Plus your house is fucking huge which adds to the eerily atmosphere, you should really think about making this place more homely. A little personal touch would make the house seem cosier; it’s like a big empty shell just now.”

“What would be the point in decorating my house any further when I am hardly ever home?” Hope asks.

“Because it would look nicer when guests like myself come to visit” I say. “Plus you want your house to look nice if you have anyone special over, perhaps if you bring a date home.”

“To be honest with you Kel, I am actually thinking of moving house” Hope tells me. “I bought this house years ago but then Jerramy moved in and although it was my house before I met him, I would still feel weird living here. I need a fresh start.”

“So that’s why your house isn’t homely; because it doesn’t feel like your home anymore” I say, catching on that Hope probably doesn’t like her house anymore and that’s why the walls are practically bare and she has little to no ornaments.

“Exactly” Hope says. “I was thinking of selling this house and possibly renting another. My plan was to retire here but I am not so sure if I still want that, moving away from Seattle might actually be more beneficial for me.”

“Where else would you move to? You’ve spent your whole life near enough in Washington.”

“I don’t know Kel, I honestly feel like I have no direction at the moment” Hope says truthfully. “All I know at the moment is that I want to keep playing soccer, wherever that may be.”

“You don’t need to make any rash decisions” I assure Hope. “I know you are super old but you still have time, not as much time as me, but there is still time left for you yet.”

“You better watch out or that cheek coming out of your mouth may land you the couch for the night” Hope says playfully. “I can quite happily lock the guest bedroom so you can’t get in, forcing you to either take the couch or the floor.”

“I could always share your bed” I say with a wink.

“You know what happened the last time we shared a bed Kelley, I may be young and single but who says I am free” Hope winks at me this time, making me blush. “I don’t want you getting the wrong idea and making a habit of worming your way into my bed.”

“One thing is for sure, you certainly weren’t complaining that night” I say, regaining my confidence. “You were screaming my name that much you even let me stay until the morning, if you didn’t enjoy it you would have kicked me out of your bed sooner.” This time it is Hope who blushes and I can’t help but smirk.

“Maybe I was just being a good friend and didn’t want to wake you up from a peaceful sleep” Hope shrugs but I can see the small smile on her face. “Come on, let’s go to bed.”

“I thought you didn’t want me in your bed” I say with a smirk and a raised eyebrow.

“Hey, it doesn’t bother me if you are in my bed” Hope says. “We are just not sure if you could handle yourself, as we’ve established I am pretty hot so it is a case of whether or not you can control yourself.”

“I have amazing self-control, I will prove it to you.”

“How are you going to prove it?” Hope asks with another smirk. Her face must be sore from smirking and smiling so much tonight.

“Tonight I am going to sleep in your bed all night” I say. “Since you think you are so hot and irresistible then I am going to prove to you that I can sleep right next to you without so much as cuddling you and we all know I like my hugs and cuddles.”

“Ok deal but on one condition” Hope says as she holds up her index finger.

“I’m listening” I say intrigued.

“Let’s make this into a bet.” I nod at Hope to tell her to continue. “You bet that you won’t even so much as try and cuddle me and I bet that when we wake up in the morning you will be cuddling me or touching me.”

“The bet is on, so what does the winner get?”

“Winner gets breakfast in bed cooked by the loser” Hope says and I agree. “When you lose, make me something edible for breakfast. We have to make this a fair bet.”

“I’m not going to lose Hope so you really don’t need to worry about my cooking skills” I say smugly.

“I can’t wait to see your face when you lose” Hope smiles before she pecks me on the cheek and then we both head upstairs with the dogs in tow. Thank god it is dark enough to hide the complete red face I am sporting from that peck on the cheek.

/

When I wake up I realise that I am completely wrapped up in Hope’s arms and I have no clue of moving away from my own side of the bed. I am even sharing Hope’s pillow for fucks sake.

“Mmm… what time s’it?” Hope mumbles through a yawn, squeezing me tighter in the process.

“Half past nine” I say before yawning myself. “Shit… your chickens.”

“It’s ok Kel, I got up and fed them not long after five. You were sound asleep” Hope says before yawning again.

“It looks like I lost the bet” I say. “To be honest though, I really don’t remember moving at all during the night.”

“Technically you did lose the bet because you are hugging me but I sorta initiated the hug so it’s my fault you lost so I think we both are the losers” Hope says.

“You just couldn’t keep your hands off me, I wonder who is the irresistible one now” I say smugly.

“With your bad morning breath and my ugly bedhead I would say neither of us fits into the irresistible category right now Kel” Hope says.

“I am so sorry” I mumble out as I cover my mouth with my hand.

“I’m joking” Hope says laughing. “You really don’t have bad breath honey.”

“Your bedhead is still ugly” I retort with a cheeky smile before Hope starts tickling me. “Hope don’t… HOPE” I shout as I squirm around, trying to get away from Hope’s menacing hands. “I SURRENDER… I’m sorry.”

“Any more cheeky remarks and I will tickle you again” Hope warns with a playful smile. “At least now I know what your weak spots are.”

“I will get you back when you least expect it” I say back as I make my way out of bed. “I think we should both make breakfast.”

“I agree, I am going on a quick run first though” Hope tells me. “I hate running after I have eaten plus the dogs need some exercise.”

“I would come but I don’t have any workout clothes” I say with a shrug. The last thing I feel like doing is going running. I absolutely hate running unless it is structured like the beep test or something.

“If you think I am letting you stay here without doing some sort of workout then you are wrong Kel” Hope tells me before pointing at her closet. “Borrow some of my clothes and be ready in ten minutes.”

“I really dislike you sometimes Solo” I say before I trudge over to the closet.

“You will be thanking me in the long run” Hope says before she leaves the room.

/

“You… really fast… run” I say as I pant and try to catch my breath as I stand in Hope’s hallway. “Why did you… run so fast?” I ask as I take a deep breath.

“That’s what you call a proper workout Kel, you’ve got to push yourself as hard as you can” Hope tells me.

“Push yourself?” I say in disbelief. “Fucks sake Hope, I nearly pushed myself to death. I feel physically sick.”

“Don’t puke in my hallway, you will make the dogs sick” Hope says seriously. “Use the bathroom.”

“I can’t believe you made me run that fast.”

“You didn’t need to run as fast as me.”

“If I hadn’t ran that fast then I would have lost sight of you and I would never have found my way back here” I say through gritted teeth. “The next time we workout together, it will be on my terms Solo.”

“Your idea of a workout is sex and that isn’t happening” Hope tells me.

“I have other workout routines than that, although I am pretty good at that” I say with a smug grin. “You would know that already though right?”

“I will make a start on breakfast” Hope says as she turns and heads to the kitchen. I manage to catch the smile on her face before she turned though.

“I think your mommy secretly like me” I say to Onyx as I rub between his ears. “I don’t think she would even take me seriously if I told her I had a crush on her. I think she just sees our playfulness as fun between friends and not anything serious.”

“Kel, who are you talking to?” Hope asks as she stands at the kitchen door with a carton of eggs in her hand. “All I can hear is your voice but your phone is in the kitchen with me.”

“I was talking to your dogs actually” I say as I stand up from petting Onyx. “Sasha, Onyx and me are very close buddies you know. We have a secret bond.”

“Good for you three” Hope says before she gestures to the eggs. “What do you want for breakfast then, the chickens laid these this morning so I figured we could have something with egg.”

“Can we have French toast?” I ask excitedly.

“We can have anything you want Kel, you are the guest.”

“I want French toast and crispy bacon and some maple syrup on the side” I say, my stomach rumbling at the thought.

“Consider it done.” Hope then heads back into the kitchen while I stand and stew over the fact that I think she is perfect. I think my feelings are getting too deep now.

It is pretty much confirmed that I am in too deep when I walk into the kitchen and I can’t help but stare at Hope’s ass as she is bent over looking in one of her bottom cupboards for something.

“Where the heck is that mixing bowl?” Hope mutters to herself in frustration.

“Probably where you left it” I say, clearly giving Hope a fright since she hit her head on the cupboard door.

“Ouch” Hope says as she stands up and rubs her head. “Did you need to give me such a fright?”

“Sorry” I apologise as I make my way over to Hope to inspect the tiny bump on her head. “Jesus, that bump is huge already.”

“Is it?” Hope shrieks in surprise.

“I am only joking, it is a tiny bump” I respond before I rub Hope’s temple. “I am happy to kiss it better if you like.”

“Nah, I’m ok thanks” Hope answers. “We are not Tobin and Christen, I don’t think either of the two of us are that sappy.”

“They are so sappy aren’t they” I say before we both laugh. “They are good together though.”

“Definitely” Hope agrees. “Christen and Tobin definitely fit into your soulmates theory.”

“They really do, did you see that picture of them on Instagram?” I ask. I was skimming through some insta tags from the Olympics the other day and there was this fan account who had a picture of Tobin and Christen in LA with some of Christen’s friends. “The picture of Tobin with her arms around Christen’s middle while they were looking extremely cosy.”

“I never saw it.”

“It was on a fan account.”

“I don’t bother with fan accounts that get into people’s business like that, I like the respectful fans.”

“I look at anything” I say with a laugh. It is no secret that I am kinda nosy.

“Anyway, I need to find this mixing bowl so I can make you French toast” Hope says. “My head should be fine.”

“Well you are pretty hard-headed” I say jokingly.

“You gotta be hard-headed sometimes in football” Hope tells me.

“I guess” I shrug. “When will breakfast be ready, I am sooo hungry Hope.”

“Like I said, when I find my mixing bowl then I can tell you how long it will take” Hope says. “I guess I will need to use another bowl.”

“I guess you will” I say as I sit at the kitchen table.

“You know if you actually helped then you would get your breakfast quicker.”

“You know Hope I would but… I just can’t be bothered” I say as I smile.

“You would probably just turn it into a food fight so it is probably safer if you don’t help.”

“I think you are right” I agree while I look at Hope. I can’t help but stare at my friend and think things I probably shouldn’t; like how sexy she looks in that apron or how her top rides up ever so slightly when she reaches up to her top cupboards and I can see her six pack.

/

“Can we go in the hot tub now?” I ask like an impatient child.

“Wait… you were serious about that?” Hope asks with a frown.

“Yeah, I love hot tubs” I answer. “Or do you not want to?”

“I guess we can.”

“We really don’t have to, I know it would probably be hard for you seeing me in so little” I say with a playful wink. “After all I think we have discovered that I am irresistible to you. You were the one who wanted to cuddle in bed.”

“I was cold Kel, the cuddling was for no other reason than that.”

“Whatever you say Solo.”

“Are we going in the hot tub or not?”

“Yeah sure” I answer with a smile.

And once again I realise how big of a mistake I have made by suggesting the hot tub because now I am having to sit across from Hope who is wearing what must be the smallest and tightest bikini she could find.

“Are you excited about finishing the season off with Sky Blue?” Hope asks as we relax in the hot tub.

“Yeah, I am” I answer. “We’ve still got a chance of making the playoffs but we would need to win nearly every game we’ve got left.”

“All you can do is try.”

“Any plans for the offseason?”

“Aside from probably hanging out with you Kel I need to visit my mom” Hope says. “I am feeling guilty that I haven’t seen her in a while so that is definitely on my ‘to do’ list.”

“My grandma has been pestering me to go back and visit when I get the chance so I should probably do that” I say. “She has also been pestering me about my love life but that’s a whole other story.”

“I think it must be a grandma thing to ask about” Hope says laughing. “My grandma keeps telling me that she wants to see me walk down the aisle and I keep telling her that I’ve had my walking down the aisle moment when I married Jerramy. She’s convinced that there is someone out there waiting for me.”

“Did she not like Jerramy?” I ask.

“He wasn’t her favorite person but she didn’t dislike him” Hope tells me. “As long as he treated me properly then my grandma didn’t care.”

“You are an amazing person Hope so I have to agree with your grandma, anyone would be lucky to have you as their girlfriend” I say honestly. “If you are as good of a girlfriend as you are a friend then there is no way someone won’t snap you up.”

“Thanks Kel” Hope says before she squeezes my hand. “I just don’t know if I can be bothered with the whole dating thing again.”

“Dating is fun though.”

“I don’t mind dating when I know the person but there is nothing worse than those awkward silences on the first date.”

“I hate that, even for someone as chatty as me those awkward silences are a killer” I say through a laugh.

“If I could date someone that I already know then that’s fine but I feel like I am too old to go on first dates” Hope says with a shrug. “I wouldn’t even know what to do on a first date anymore.”

“All you have to do is be yourself Hope and I guarantee there would be a queue of people lining up to date you.”

“Would you date me?” Hope asks, catching me off guard. “I am not asking you to date me but say for example we didn’t know one another, do you think you would date me?”

“Eh… yeah” I say nervously. Even if I knew Hope or not I would totally date her.

“Why?” Hope asks.

“Wh-y?” I repeat.

“Why would you date me?” Hope asks.

“You are a really good person Hope” I start. “Your funny, kind and I know for a fact that you would always treat everyone the way they wished to be treated.”

“It’s not because I am so irresistible to you?” Hope says with a playful smile.

“Maybe that too, although arrogance is a bit of a turn off for me” I retort with a smile. “You would need to cool down the cocky attitude.”

“Your arrogance would be enough for the relationship I think.”

“I’m not arrogant, just confident” I say with a shrug. “There’s a difference honey.”

Chapter Text

“What made you buy a hot tub?” I ask as we make our way upstairs to change after finishing up in the hot tub.

“It was an impulse buy” Hope answers. “It helps me relax, although I don’t really use it that much.”

“Why?” I ask. “Scared the neighbours see you.”

“None of my neighbours can see into my garden unless they made a deliberate attempt to stare right over here” Hope answers. “To be honest I am never really home enough to make good use of it.”

“What are we having for dinner tonight?” I ask. “I’m starving.”

“You are always hungry Kel” Hope says with a laugh. “How about once we are ready we just order take out?”

“Can we have pizza and Chinese?”

“Are you really that hungry?” Hope asks with a raised eyebrow.

“Yeah” I answer. “Can we?”

“Yes ok.”

“You’re the best Hope” I say excitedly before I kiss Hope on the cheek and then I disappear into the bathroom to get changed.

“And you’re such a kid” I hear Hope mutter before she goes into her bedroom.

/

“I will get plates for the Chinese food” Hope says as she carried the food into the kitchen. “If you can set up the movie while we wait for the pizza.”

“Yes Solo” I say as I make my way to the living room.

Just as I got the movie set up the doorbell goes.

“I’m on it” I shout as I sprint to the door, desperate to get the pizza.

“Order for O’Hara” the young delivery guy says.

“That’s me” I reply with a smile.

“Fifteen bucks miss.”

“There ya go” I say as I hand the guy a twenty. “Keep the change.” And with that I grab the pizza and head into the living room where Hope is waiting patiently.

“You ready?” Hope asks and I nod.

“Yup” I say before throwing myself on the couch next to Hope. “Bring it on.”

About half an hour into the movie I decide that I don’t like it.

“This movie is boring, let’s watch something else” I say. “We could watch The Proposal, it is being shown on cable.”

“I thought you only watched scary movies” Hope says with a smirk. During movie night when we were at the Olympics I told Pinoe that.

“It was just a suggestion” I say. “Just because I find this movie boring doesn’t mean I don’t like scary movies.”

“It just means you are scared and don’t want to show it.”

“That’s rubbish, I’m not scared.”

“Why are you practically clinging onto me for dear life then” Hope asks laughing.

“I was cuddling with you, I can stop if you don’t like it” I say, pulling away from Hope slightly.

“I didn’t say I didn’t like it” Hope says quietly.

“Quit complaining and put another movie on” I say, cuddling closer to Hope again.

“You put another movie on, the TV controller is closer to you” Hope says.

“I don’t wanna move though” I whine.

“That means we will just need to watch this movie that you find so boring” Hope says with a cheeky smile.

“Fine, you really want me to say it” I challenge. “I’m scared ok, this movie is too scary for me not boring.”

“Yeah I know” Hope says before reaching forward to the table and grabbing the controller to stop the movie. “This whole bravado of ‘I only like scary movies’ is a total ruse Kel, I can read ya like a book.”

“Can you quit acting smug and just put The Proposal on?” I ask, a little annoyed.

“I am just teasing you KO, relax your secret is safe with me.”

“Thank you.”

/

“Sandra Bullock is so hot” I say as I finish off my beer.

“I don’t know Kel, I’m not sure I would agree” Hope says. “I mean she is hot yeah but not in a way that I find attractive hot.”

“Each to their own I suppose” I say with a shrug. “Do you want to watch another movie?”

“I don’t know, I feel really tired” Hope tells me. “I think I just want an early night, if you don’t mind.”

“That’s cool” I say with a smile.

“You can stay up as long as you want though” Hope says. “Help yourself to whatever you want, there’s more beer if you want it.”

“There was a documentary I wanted to see.”

“You stay up then, just leave all the dinner dishes and I will tidy them in the morning” Hope says before standing up. “Good night Kel.”

“Night Hope” I reply before I feel Hope kissing my cheek and then she departs. This crush is definitely getting worse. Just the action of her kissing my cheek is sending shivers down my spine.

Since the documentary doesn’t start for another half an hour I decide to tidy up a bit, I don’t want Hope having to do everything in the morning. I also reply to the text Christen sent me earlier, I had meant to do it before dinner but I forgot. I guess I just got distracted.

Press: How has your break been so far? Looking forward to training with your team?

Me: My breaks been ok, I can’t wait to get on the field again. We are going to beat Chicago in a few weeks

Press: Dream on, there’s no way you will beat us. What are you doing tonight?

Me: watching a documentary about surfing, you?

I decide not to mention that I am in Seattle visiting Hope, I know for a fact Press senses my crush on Hope so there is no point in me opening myself up to lots of questions that I honestly don’t know the answer to yet. All I know is that I have a crush and it doesn’t seem to be going away.

Press: It looks like I am doing the same as you. Tobin is forcing me to watch it?

Me: I didn’t realise Tobin was in Chicago visiting

Press: She’s not. I’m in Portland. I fly back to Chicago the day after tomorrow. We came here after we left LA.

Me: How are things with you two?

Press: They’re good, really good actually

Me: I’m happy for ya Press. I will let you spend time with your girl, talk to you soon x

Press: Night Kelley x

Does it make me a bad friend because I feel so jealous of Press right now? I want what Christen and Tobin have but I can’t help feeling envious of them. They seem so happy and dare I say it; in love. I want that. I’ve been single for a while and it’s been ok but for some reason these last few weeks I’ve hated it, I feel so lonely.

“If only you two could talk?” I say to Sasha and Onyx. “Then I would be able to get advice on your mom and whether she feels the same way about me as I do about her.” The dogs just stare at me as if I’m mad, which is probably a fair assumption.

Hope has sorta been giving me mixed signals though, one minute everything is fine and we are hanging out and having fun like friends do but then the next minute our fun turns into some a little more flirtatious.

Maybe I am just imaging things are turning a little more flirty because deep down that’s what I want to happen but then again I am not too sure. Normally I am quite good at reading people and figuring out if they like me or not but with Hope I am completely lost. With all my ex-girlfriends (there weren’t that many) I knew for sure what was going on between us but with Hope I really don’t. Hope doesn’t like hugging at all so why does she voluntarily hug me sometimes, she doesn’t like opening up to people but she does it with me.

Are we really just friends and I am overthinking things? I mean I know some friends are super close, but surely friends don’t flirt as much as Hope and I do. We’ve slept together, that’s not something I would do with my friends no matter how fucking drunk I got.

/

“What time is it?” I ask when I feel myself being shook awake.

“It’s about time you get off the couch and get to bed” Hope says gently. “Its three in the morning Kel, you must’ve fallen asleep after watching TV.”

“What are you doing up at this time?” I ask as I rub my eyes.

“I got up for the toilet and realised that you were neither in my bedroom nor in the guest bedroom so I went looking for you” Hope answers. “I also didn’t know where the dogs were but they were sleeping in here with you.”

“We should go to bed” I say as I sit up, my eyes almost bulging out of my head at the sight of Hope in nothing but a tank top and extremely short shorts. I am surprised I am still breathing to be honest.

“Sasha, Onyx… let’s go” Hope says, pointing to the door causing the dogs to walk out of the room.

“Can I get a piggyback?” I ask with a smile after composing myself. “I won’t move unless you give me one.”

“Kel its 3am, I don’t wanna play games honey” Hope complains.

“I don’t either, I just want a decent sleep” I say, gesturing for Hope to come closer to me.

“You owe me” Hope says before standing in front of me and waiting for me to jump on her back.

“Let’s go Hopey” I say after jumping on my friends back.

“Sometimes I really don’t know how we are friends, we are so opposite from one another” Hope says while smoothly carrying me upstairs without a struggle.

“You know what they say; opposites attract” I say.

“Uh… huh” Hope says before carefully placing me on her bed.

“Am I sleeping in here again?” I ask as I look around Hope’s room.

“Kel, I just want to go back to sleep” Hope says. “Sleep in here or sleep in the guestroom, it is entirely up to you.”

“I will just stay here, presuming you won’t jump my bones because you can’t control yourself.”

“I am sure I will be just fine” Hope says with a smile.

It comes as no surprise when Hope and I wake up in the morning wrapped up in each other, our legs and arms intertwined and Hope’s head on my chest. Surely that must be a sign, I really hope so.

/

“Can we bake cookies?” I ask excitedly. “Pretty please.”

“You are such a kid sometimes” Hope tells me while smiling.

“And you are such a bore sometimes” I counter. “Come on, be fun and let me bake cookies.”

“Fine but if you make a mess of my kitchen then you are cleaning it up.”

“Yes boss” I say.

“We will probably need to go to the store because I doubt I will have any ingredients to bake cookies” Hope tells me. “I have a meeting with my agent in half an hour so we won’t be able to go until after then.”

“I wanna make cookies just now though” I say in a childish voice.

“If you are that desperate then you will have to go to the store yourself then” Hope tells me. “You can take my car, but please Kel, be careful.”

“Don’t worry, I will be extremely careful.”

“Good.”

“So when’s grumpy grandad arriving?” I ask with a teasing smile, earning me a glare from Hope. “What?” I ask through a laugh. “It is no secret your agent is a bit of a dick.”

“Gary is good at his job Kel, that’s all that matters” Hope defends.

“If you say so” I say with a shrug. “Do you want anything from the store when I go?”

“Not really, just some peace and quiet from you would be good” Hope says with a smirk.

“Watch it Solo.”

“You know I’m joking” Hope says before walking over to me and hugging me. “I like having you here, I don’t feel as alone.”

“That’s because I am so awesome” I say smugly before I hug Hope tighter and then let her go.

“I am going to my office to set up for my meeting with Gary, come find me before you leave for the store.”

“I will” I say as I watch Hope leave. That’s another thing I do a lot I’ve noticed; when Hope leaves the room I can’t help but watch her.

/

As soon as I walk through the front door, laden with groceries, I see Hope and Gary approaching.

“I will email you the conformation from Nike as soon as they get back to me” I hear Gary tell Hope. “Other than that, take care Hope.”

“You too Gary” Hope replies before she sees me. “Gary this is…”

“Tobin, I know” Gary says before grumbling out a ‘hello’ and then a ‘goodbye’ and then he leaves.

“So I’m called Tobin now, the last time he called me Alexandra” I say with a laugh.

“He gets mixed up” Hope says laughing.

“Is he still as grumpy as ever?”

“Be nice O’Hara, I don’t actually find him that grumpy” Hope says.

“He’s been your agent for decades so he probably likes you enough not to be grumpy with you.”

“Decades?” Hope questions. “How the fuck old do you think I am?”

“Let’s not go there honey, we all know your age is a sore subject for you because you’re so ancient” I say with a playful smile while dodging a slap on the arm from Hope.

“Need I remind you that at any point I can just throw you out of my house?”

“Need I remind you that if you did that you would seriously regret it” I reply cheekily. “You want me here as much as I want to be here Solo, I bring out the best in you.”

“Oh do you?” Hope questions. “Who told you that?”

“No one had to tell me Hope, I can see it for myself” I say. “You are much more relaxed and you laugh more now, you never used to be like that. At national camp we could barely get a word out of you.”

“I guess you are a pretty good influence on me.”

“You know it” I say with smile. “Wanna help me bake cookies?”

“Sure, I just need five minutes to tidy my office” Hope replies.

“I will make a start then, come through when you are ready.”

After ten minutes I have the cookie making well underway and then Hope decides to appear.

“All the hard work is done Solo?” I say. “All that’s left is for you to do the dishes while I sprinkle chocolate chips on the dough.

“Let me guess Kel, you have probably used every dish in my cupboard.”

“Less cheek and more scrubbing Solo, those dishes won’t wash themselves” I say with a smile before throwing a chocolate chip at Hope who easily catches it between her teeth.

“I’m a goalkeeper Kel, I have good reflexes” Hope says at my shocked face. “Good reflexes and good hands” Hope says with a wink.

Seriously just kill me now, I really don’t know how much longer I can take this torture. I don’t even know if she was being playful or suggestive. What does the wink mean? Why can I not figure Hope out.

“Quit throwing food around my kitchen though.”

“Quit being boring around me, live a little.”

“Honey I live a lot, I just don’t want my house in a mess” Hope says.

“I get it, old people don’t realise how boring they are.”

“You are walking a very thin line Kel” Hope says. “I can easily put you on a plane back to New Jersey a day earlier than planned.”

“I know you wouldn’t do that” I say with a smile. “You want me here as much as I want to be here, I told you that earlier.”

“I want my friend Kelley here, not cheeky Kelley.”

“They are the same person honey, you love it when I tease you” I say smugly. “Face it Solo, now that I am back in your life you have to accept that I am going nowhere.”

/

It’s my last morning in Seattle before I fly back to New Jersey. I’ve enjoyed my time with Hope. It felt so good to just hang out with her again and reconnect like we did all those years ago. Hope is the kind of person I want in my life; someone who I know will be there for me but also someone who makes me laugh.

I’m still struggling with my feelings though. This is more than a crush, I know it is. I just wish I knew what I meant to Hope. I’m too scared to ask in case I have read this whole thing wrong and then I lose Hope again like I did four years ago. Even if I have misjudged the situation I would much prefer to still have Hope in my life as a friend than nothing at all because of my stupid crush.

“Can you open the door to let the dogs outside?” Hope asks, pointing to the door leading to the patio from the kitchen.

“Sure” I say before I go back and sit down at the table.

I can’t stop staring at Hope. All she is doing is cutting an onion and I am staring at the way her arm muscles contract and relax when she grips the knife.

“Is it just cheese and onion you want in the omelette?” Hope asks and I nod, still partly in a trance. “Do you want any ham?”

“Just cheese and onion” I reply, breaking from my trance.

“Are you ok Kel?” Hope asks.

“Sorry, I was just daydreaming” I answer. “I am a little tired.”

“Maybe you can go for a snooze on the plane.”

“I can’t sleep on airplanes” I reply, noticing Hope’s ‘really’ face. “That was one time I fell asleep on you when we were traveling to London for the Olympics.”

“You were still sleeping on the plane.”

“I meant I can’t sleep on a plane if I am myself, I am scared I will drool on whoever is seated next to me” I say.

“How attractive.”

“We can all drool in our sleep Hope, you did it on the couch cushion the other night when you fell asleep during the movie” I retort.

“For the last time, it wasn’t drool” Hope argues. “My eye watered.”

“Yeah right” I say laughing. “My eyes totally water when they are firmly closed.”

“Any more wisecracks and I am not finishing making you breakfast.”

“I’m sorry, can you please finish making me my omelette?”

“Of course.”

/

I’m not entirely sure how this happened. One minute we are tidying up from breakfast and then the next minute Hope has me pinned against the refrigerator. I thought the worst thing I could do was stare at her lips (which I did) but when I catch the gaze of her eyes I can’t help but lean towards my friend.

“Kel…” Hope softly whispers against my lips, her hot breath sending shivers down my spine.

“No…” I say before I gently close the gap and lightly place my lips on Hope’s. “Just…” the words die in the air when Hope separates our lips and then she leans in, kissing me a little harder this time. Just as I am about to get lost in the kiss Onyx barks at us causing us to separate.

“A-airport” Hope says, seeming a little dazed. “We need to get you to the airport.”

“Yeah” I reply, just as dazed. What the fuck was that? I just kissed Hope. What does this mean? Does she like me the way I like her? Was this a see you later kiss? Oh god, what does this mean?

“Are you all packed?” Hope asks, avoiding eye contact with me.

“I think so, if I forget something you can always give me it back at our next camp or whenever I come to visit you again” I say.

“When are you coming to visit again?” Hope asks with a soft smile.

“I don’t know, whenever you say I can” I answer with a small smile.

“Anytime” Hope says. “You’re welcome here anytime.”

“It will probably be when the NWSL finishes” I say. “There probably won’t be much time before then because of the league schedule and our national team camp.”

“Seattle is playing Sky Blue at the end of the season, maybe I could stay with you a little longer.”

“Sounds good, let’s definitely do that” I say enthusiastically, getting a smile from Hope.

“Come on, let’s get you to this airport” Hope says before bending down to pick up my luggage. “We don’t want you to miss your flight.”

“I guess not.”

Forty minutes later we are standing in the airport.

“Have a safe trip Kel” Hope says after kissing my cheek. “Thanks for coming to visit me, I had fun.”

“I had fun too” I reply with a smile. “See you soon” I smile again before I walk off to my departure gate. What have I learned from this short trip? Oh yeah… I’m falling for Hope Solo.

Chapter Text

“Kelley can you put your phone away?” Cap asks, glaring at me.

“One… second” I reply distractedly while sending one last text to Hope. The texts between us have been increasing in number and in length each day. We talk about anything and everything.

“Not one second, now” Christie says annoyed. “This is a team meeting, it isn’t the place to be texting.”

“Uh… fine” I complain before putting my phone away. I guess Hope will need to wait until later to get my reply.

“Thank you” Christie says.

We are about to play Chicago in a few days so in order for us to make the cut for the playoffs we really need a win, anything less than a win and we won’t make it. After the disappointment of the Olympics I really want to be in the playoffs this year.

“Who were you texting?” Sam Kerr whispers to me.

“None of your business” I reply back to my roommate.

“Pay attention” Christie whispers harshly.

“Sorry” I say, knowing I am testing Christie’s last nerve. I really should focus on the game now, soccer come first.

I hear my phone buzz in my pocket but I ignore it, I can check it later when we have finished our team meeting and training. The last thing I want to do is anger Cap more.

“Let’s hit the field ladies” Coach Holly shouts and then we all depart.

/

“Hey Press, ready for our game tomorrow?” I ask. Christen and I decided to meet up for coffee and a quick catch up as soon as the red stars arrived in town.

“I’m ready, I haven’t scored against you guys in a while so it’s about time” Christen says with a cheeky smile.

“I think you are a little mixed up, Sky Blue will be taking the W tomorrow not Chicago” I inform my friend.

“You know you’re wrong” Christen says before turning to me. “How are you?”

“I’m ok Press, you?”

“Yeah ok, glad we can move on from the Olympics and focus on our clubs again” Christen answers.

“I second that” I reply. “I am looking forward to the off season and just focussing on the aspects of my game that I need to improve on. And then it will just be building for the world cup again.”

“It will be good to just focus on my game from now instead of fretting over all the national tournaments” Christen says. “Obviously I want to make the world cup roster but I have a NWSL championship to win.”

“Touché.”

“Do you have any plans for the off season?” Christen asks.

“Not really” I reply. “I will probably spend the most of it training in Georgia so I can spend Christmas with my family.”

“I will probably be in LA most of the time” Christen says. “I think we just need a break away from soccer.”

“Yeah we do” I agree with a nod.

We talk for a while more before we need to go our separate ways and get ready for the game tomorrow.

“Thank you for paying” I say with a smile before laughing. I don’t know how I do it but I always manage to rope Christen into paying.

“You’re welcome.”

“See you on the pitch Press” I say as I hug my friend.

“You certainly will” Christen replies and then we both go our separate ways.

I send Hope a quick good luck text for her game tonight before I put all my focus on my match tomorrow.

/

Chicago ended up beating us by two to one, Christen scoring both goals for the Red Stars and an own goal by Sam Johnson gave us our goal. That truly rules us out of the NWSL playoffs. We’ve still got one game left to play against Seattle Reign tomorrow to finish off our season and then it will be national games until next season.

“I think I miss you” I say down the phone.

“Oh really?” Hope asks. I can hear the playful tone in her voice.

“Yeah, I miss having someone to tease” I reply. “My roommates are boring me just now.”

“That’s a shame KO.”

“It is isn’t it?” I say. “I can’t wait until we play each other tomorrow, I am totally going to score.”

“I doubt it, I heard the keeper is pretty decent” Hope says. “It would be impossible to score on her.”

“I’ve scored on her before Hope so I’m gonna do it again” I say, a smile on my face. “You need to be on your game Solo.”

“Oh I will be, I can assure you of that.”

“Are you still ok to hang out after the game?” I ask. “Please say yes.”

“Of course I am, I can’t wait to see you” Hope tells me.

“I can’t wait to see you either” I reply, I honestly can’t wait.

“Our flight arrives this evening but we’ve got a team meeting so I probably won’t see you until tomorrow when we are on the pitch” Hope tells me.

“It is probably best that I don’t socialise with the enemy before I beat them” I say playfully. “I wouldn’t want to rub it in your face before you actually lose.”

“Honey, you are not going to win” Hope says. “There is no way Seattle are going to lose to Sky Blue twice in one season.”

“Believe whatever you want Solo” I respond before changing the subject. “How long are you going to stay in New Jersey after the game?”

“A couple of days I think” Hope answers. “Seattle can’t make the playoffs so regardless of the result tomorrow I can stay for a few days since our season will be finished.”

“That’s good, I am looking forward to seeing you again.”

“Me too Kel, me too.”

It really is crazy how much I’ve missed Hope.

/

“Good game Solo, you didn’t let me score” I say, half annoyed half-jokingly when I meet Hope outside after the game.

“Of course I didn’t let you score” Hope tells me. “I am never going to let anyone score, they have to work hard and beat me.”

“Where are we going for dinner?” I ask.

“You tell me Kel, you know this place better than I do” Hope says. “I will go anywhere you take me.”

“Ok then, pizza parlour it is” I decide.

“Lead the way honey.”

Twenty minutes later and we are comfortably seated at a small booth in the corner of the restaurant.

“I am so glad you picked this place” Hope tells me. “I don’t think I could be bothered sitting in some posh restaurant after we’ve just had a game. This is nice and relaxed.”

“Yeah, it is” I agree with a smile. “It’s my favorite place in this town, I must come here at least once a month.”

“Thank you for bringing me here” Hope smiles gently, looking me directly in the eyes.

“You’re welcome” I answer, getting lost in Hope’s smile and sparkling blue eyes. “Your eyes really sparkle.”

“They do that when I’m happy” Hope says with a gentle smile.

“You must be happy just now then” I observe, smiling back at Hope.

“I’m with you aren’t I?” Hope says.

“Does that mean you are happy when you are around me?”

“Of course it does” Hope answers, chuckling slightly. “Do you really think I would stay in New Jersey longer than I needed to after a boring draw if there was nothing keeping me here?”

“I see” I say, trying not too smirk too much. Just the thought of Hope spending time with me makes my heart race so I am not surprised it is pounding out of my chest right now.

“Why do you like this place so much?” Hope asks me. “What’s the appeal?”

“I just like the atmosphere plus it was one of the first places I came to when I moved here” I say with a soft smile. “It reminds me of a diner I used to go to in Georgia when I was a kid.”

“Do you still go to that diner, I mean you still are a kid?”

“Very funny but no, the diner closed down when the owners retired” I respond.

“Diners aren’t what they used to be?” Hope says.

“They’re not” I reply sadly.

“Sooo… am I booking another two nights in the hotel the team used or am I staying at your apartment until the end of the trip?” Hope asks, sounding slightly nervous.

“You are staying with me” I say resolutely. “That was the plan for the trip, I stayed at your house when I was in Seattle so you stay with me here.”

“Cool” Hope says with a relaxed smile. “I really have missed you.”

“Me too.”

/

“So this is your apartment then?” Hope asks and I nod with a smile.

“Yup” I answer.

“It’s a lot cleaner than I thought” Hope tells me while looking around. “I was expecting it to look like some messy college dorm room or something.”

“I am actually offended by that comment” I say playfully. “But if you must know I had my roommates clean up, they can be very messy.”

“I’m impressed with the amount of effort you have put in for me” Hope says before looking at me. “So what’s next?”

“What do you mean?” I ask, slightly confused.

“It’s still early, surely you don’t expect me to go to bed just now” Hope answers. “What’s our plan for the rest of the night?”

“I don’t know, movie I guess” I suggest. “Unless you want me to take you out somewhere.”

“Movie sounds good, I can’t really be bothered going back out.”

We watch a few movies before the yawns emitted from both of us indicate that it is probably time for bed.

“You have my room, I can take the couch” I say as I shut off the TV before tidying up our mess.

“I don’t bite Kel, we can both take your room” Hope tells me, inching closer to me. “Unless that would be too awkward for you?”

“N-no” I stutter out, a little overwhelmed by how close Hope is to me. I want to kiss her again but I don’t really know how Hope feels about our kiss in Seattle. Did she see it as a friendly peck because I certainly haven’t kissed a friend like that before?

“You seem nervous” Hope whispers, her hot breath gently hitting my lips. “Am I making you nervous?”

“I’m not” I answer, gaining some confidence. “In fact I am…” I start as I move my head closer to Hope, fully intent on kissing her until…

“What’s up O’Hara?” I hear shouted from the apartment door causing me to move away from Hope. I don’t think I’ve ever wanted to kill Sam Kerr so much in my life. What the heck is she doing here?

“What are you doing here?” I voice that thought when Sam enters the living room.

“I live here, idiot” Sam answers before grabbing the bowl of popcorn from beside me and throwing herself on the couch.

“Excuse me a minute Hope” I say with a polite smile before I stare daggers at Sam. “Sam, can I have a word in the kitchen?”

“Sure, I guess” Sam says before following me into the kitchen.

“Why are you here?” I ask annoyed but I cut Sam off before she can give me a smart reply about how she lives here. “Did I or did I not ask you to stay out of the apartment tonight?”

“You did because you were having a guest over” Sam answers.

“Why are you here then?” I snap.

“Clearly your guest bailed on you” Sam answers as if it is obvious. “I don’t know who you were supposed to go on a date with but the woman must’ve been crazy to stand you up.”

“Ok, I’m confused” I say, feeling just that.

“I know this guest you were having over was probably a woman you were trying to impress or date given the amount of effort you went to to make the apartment look nice” Sam tells me. “But then I saw you at the pizza place with your friend Hope so I presumed the date bailed on you.”

“My date didn’t bail on me, I didn’t have a da…”

“It’s ok, you don’t need to explain to me” Sam waves it off. “It was nice of Hope to hang around for a while longer and keep you company after you got stood up. I thought the Reign had travelled back by now.”

“Hope decided to stay a little longer than the rest of the team now that the season has finished” I say.

“I just figured since you got stood up then there wasn’t a reason for me to stay out of my apartment all night anymore” Sam says. “Is Hope staying here tonight or has she got a hotel booked?”

“She’s staying here” I answer. Can she not go back out or something?

“That’s cool, you girls do whatever you were going to do. Don’t mind me” Sam says before heading back into the living room. Brilliant, how the heck am I supposed to tell Hope how I feel with fucking Sam hanging around?

“We are going to my room, see you in the morning Sam” I say to my roommate who just waves and then I pull Hope into my bedroom.

“She’s not going to think we are up to anything in here is she?” Hope asks nervously.

“Don’t worry about Sam, she makes her own conclusions up about things” I say. “I was hoping that we could spend some time alone together but I guess Sam got the wrong end of the stick.”

“Right” Hope says with a nod before yawning.

“Tired Solo?” I ask playfully before throwing Hope some clothes to sleep in.

“No honey, just bored after that pointless movie you made us watch” Hope replies with a smirk. Her smirk soon disappears though when she sees the clothes I gave her; a Stanford t-shirt and pair of shorts. “I am not wearing these Kel, I refuse too.”

“Well in that case you will just need to wear your clothes to bed” I answer with a smirk of my own.

“Or I could just wear my underwear” Hope says with a smile. “I just hope you will be able to control yourself due to my hotness.”

“Oh don’t worry about that, I have plenty of self-control” I say confidently.

Half an hour later and I am severely regretting my words. Hope was serious about sleeping in her underwear and I am really struggling to get rid of the thoughts that my friend is half naked mere centimetres from me. A slight movement from either of us and we would be touching. Just the thought of that has my heart racing and my pulse jumping. Why is this woman making me feel like a crazy teenager?

“Are you still awake?” Hope whispers from behind me.

I let out a small groan, pretending I was sleeping.

“Sorry, I didn’t mean to wake you” Hope apologises. “Go back to sleep, I will ask you in the morning.” Hope gently kisses my cheek before turning back to her side of the bed. Thank god it is so dark in here because there is no way the blush on my cheeks could be hidden in the light.

/

When I wake up in the morning I find myself wrapped up in Hope’s embrace except I notice she is wearing the Stanford clothes I initially laid out for her last night.

“I am only wearing these because I got cold” Hope mumbles, still half asleep but awake enough to realise I am awake.

“I knew you would give in” I say cockily.

“Shut up KO” Hope says playfully. “Wait… don’t move. I’m comfy.”

“I have to get up” I say as I try to move out of Hope’s embrace.

“Why?” Hope complains.

“If you must know, I really have to pee” I say, laughing at the frown on Hope’s face.

“Yeah, you better go” Hope says, letting go of me.

I quickly go to the bathroom and then I make my way to the kitchen to see what I can make for breakfast. I want to make something special for Hope to show her how much I like spending time with her.

“There is no milk left” Sam says as she eats a bowl of cereal.

“Ok” I say before I look for some eggs.

“If you are looking for eggs, there aren’t any” Sam says.

“Right” I say with annoyed sigh. “Is there anything else you have finished?”

“There’s no bacon or wholemeal bread either” Sam shrugs.

“Have you actually done a grocery shop this week?” I ask annoyed. “You have literally ate everything there is to eat.”

“I thought you would do some shopping this weekend” Sam adds.

“Morning” Hope says as she enters the kitchen.

“Morning” Sam responds.

“We will need to go out for breakfast because it looks like my roommate is incapable of going grocery shopping” I say annoyed. “There’s absolutely nothing I can use to make breakfast. Sam, when I get back I want this kitchen full of groceries.”

“I am not sure I wanted you making breakfast anyway” Hope says with a cheeky grin. “You are not exactly skilful in the kitchen.”

“What I lack in the kitchen I make up elsewhere” I say with a playful smile, my anger at Sam disappearing the longer Hope grins at me.

“Really?” Hope counters, a smile on her face too.

“Really.”

“What a weird friendship” Sam says before disappearing out of the kitchen when I glare at her.

“How did you sleep?” I ask as I tidy up Sam’s mess.

“I slept ok, you?”

“Like a baby” I answer. “What do you want for breakfast?”

“What are my options?”

“There is a bakery that sells really nice bagels but there is also a really nice café that serves a free fruit salad with any breakfast ordered” I say. “I am happy to go anywhere.”

“Let’s go to the café you mentioned then.”

“Ok then” I say with a nod.

/

“Hope can I ask you something?” I ask, feeling slightly nervous.

“Of course” Hope says with a gentle smile.

“You know when I left Seattle after I visited you?” Hope nods at this. “We kissed.”

“Yeah” Hope answers before sipping on her coffee.

“Hope we kissed” I repeat.

“I know that honey, I was there” Hope laughs. “I am not going to forget.”

“Don’t you think we should discuss it?” I ask. “I think we should, we are friends. Friends don’t kiss like that.”

“If you want to discuss it then we can” Hope shrugs. “I don’t really know what there is to discuss.”

“What is happening here?” I ask, feeling a little uneasy. “It’s like a role reversal, you are acting nonchalant and I am the one freaking out.”

“There is no need to freak out, it was just a kiss” Hope says calmly. “It’s not like we ended up in bed together again. We would be in a right pickle if we did that.”

“What did the kiss mean?”

“What did you want it to mean?” Hope asks back.

“I don’t know” I say with a shrug.

“Right.”

 “You are so frustrating Hope” I complain. “Sometimes you talk and talk and talk and other times you say one tiny sentence that takes us nowhere.”

“I don’t know what I am supposed to say” Hope shrugs.

“Just tell me how you are feeling” I say with a sigh. “Say that.”

“You know I am not good with feelings and stuff” Hope says, looking me straight in the eyes. “Kel, the stuff I have told you about my personal life is stuff that I’ve never told anyone. I know I come across like I am being awkward but I don’t mean to.”

“I am sorry for getting annoyed” I apologise. “I just sometimes feel like I can’t read you and that scares me. It scares me because I don’t know if what I am feeling is one sided or not.”

“I trust you Kel, which is a big thing for me because I have issues with that” Hope says, opening up slightly. "I kissed you because I wanted to.”

“Why did you want to?” I ask quietly and Hope chuckles.

“Because you’re hot and I’ve been around people a long time, I know when someone is flirting with me” Hope answers, more honestly than I was expecting. “I don’t play games and I know you wouldn’t flirt with me just for the fun of it, if you care about me then you would know that which I believe you do.”

“So you know I like you?” I ask nervously.

“I wouldn’t say I knew for sure but I hoped you did” Hope says. “Kel, I know you have a playful personality and are a lot more touchy feely with people than what’s normal but even I know you are more playful with me than you would be with your usual friends.”

“I do try not to treat you any different, I just sometimes get carried away” I say. “You are right though, I don’t really respect personal space with anyone but even I know I go way over the line with you.”

“I like you Kel but if you are looking for something casual then that’s not me” Hope tells me. “I like my friendship with you so if that’s all I can get from you then I will accept that.”

“Hope I’m attracted to you” I say and Hope smiles.

“I’m attracted to you too but I have to be careful” Hope says. “When I fall for someone then I go all in, if I am going to be with someone then it will be just me and them. No dating other people for either of us, I can’t do casual.”

“I don’t want casual, that’s not what I want at all” I say, taking a deep breath. “I’ve done the whole casual thing, I want something stable. I want something meaningful with feelings and talking and communication.”

“I want to do this with you” Hope says, sounding a little shy. “After I split up with Jerramy I didn’t think I wanted another relationship with someone, I was tired of the lies and arguments so I figured it would be healthier and I would feel happier if I was single.”

“I didn’t think being with you would ever be possible” I say, grabbing Hope’s hand in mine. “I’ve always thought you were hot but there’s no way I would ever think you would want to be with me. I’ve had a massive crush on you ever since we started spending time together in London.”

“I never really understood how you and I became so close in London, I mean on paper our friendship would never work” Hope says. “We were so different, in fact we still are completely different.”

“We may be completely different individually but I think that’s what makes us work” I say with a smile. “When I get too goofy and silly, your seriousness helps to rein me in and when you get too serious then my goofiness makes you less serious.”

“You know I don’t like being vulnerable or talking about my feelings but there’s something about you that makes me open up” Hope says before smiling gently at me. “I wanna give us a shot, you already know more personal things about me than any of my exes or my family for that matter.”

“I don’t think you realise how happy I am to hear you say that, my heart is beating so fast I think it is going to explode out of my chest” I say, smiling back at Hope. I am actually in disbelief right now, not because I didn’t think Hope liked me because I know she wouldn’t kiss me for no reason but because she is actually physically telling me she likes me.

“What do you think then?” Hope asks, a slight nervousness in her tone. “Do you want to try this, cross over the friendship line?”

“Yes but on one condition…” I say.

“What?” Hope asks.

“You kiss me already” I say with a smile, watching the relieved smile come across Hope’s face before she leans over and pecks me on the lips. “A peck… Hope that was barely a kiss.”

“I know that but I don’t want my first proper kiss with you to be in a crowded café before I’ve even let you take me on a date” Hope responds with a smile. “You need to woo me before you get a proper kiss.”

“How would you like me to woo you?” I ask with an amused smile.

“However you choose” Hope replies with a smirk.

Chapter Text

“I am taking you to dinner tonight” I announce when I come out of my bedroom. After Hope and I left the café we went for a quick walk before coming back to my apartment and hanging out because we both wanted to rest after the game yesterday.

“Cool, where are you taking me?” Hope asks from her place on the couch.

“I know you like Asian food so I am taking you to a small restaurant that Erin and I found one day when we were exploring” I explain. “It is about two hours away but I promise the food is brilliant.”

“Sounds good” Hope says with a smile and I smile back.

“Can I ask you a question?” I ask as I sit next to Hope.

“Of course you can” Hope replies, turning her attention away from my TV and looking at me.

“When did you start liking me?” I ask as I get comfortable.

“I don’t really know when it started to be honest, I didn’t realise I liked you until we were in Rio but I think my feelings had been lingering for a long time before that” Hope tells me. “When did you start liking me?”

“For a while to be honest, maybe even as far back as London” I reply. “I always thought you were hot but I never thought anything would happen.”

“London was special, I really felt like we connected” Hope says as she smiles at me. “You really helped me, I could talk to you about stuff that I didn’t feel brave enough to talk to anyone else about.”

“I felt the same, I was having a tough time figuring out what I wanted but just talking to you made me feel at ease” I respond before kissing Hope’s cheek. “Thanks.”

“For what?” Hope asks with a smile.

“For showing me the real you, for being my friend and for giving me a chance to ‘woo’ you” I say with a smile before I move closer to Hope and she wraps her arm around me.

“We can take this slow if you want” Hope says to me. “I know I said when I am with someone I am all in but that doesn’t mean we need to rush.”

“Let’s just let things flow naturally, if it feels right then go with it” I say, placing my hand across Hope’s stomach.

“I agree.”

/

“You have to try this one” Hope says as she holds a spoonful of curry in front of me. “I know you didn’t like the first one but this one is spicier.”

“Fine” I say as I wrap my lips around the spoon. Hope ordered a dish called a curry medley, it was five small dishes of different curries with very different tastes. It is safe to say I don’t like curry that is overpowered by cumin, almost vomiting on a first date is not exactly attractive.

“What do you think of that one?” Hope asks and I nod.

“That’s nice, what kind is that?” I ask, licking the sauce from my lips.

“I think its called Patia” Hope answers. “I believe it consists of garlic, tomato and black pepper.”

“It’s nice, do you want to try some of mine” I ask as I point to my Vindaloo.

“No thanks, that’s just a little too spicy for my taste” Hope replies and I smirk.

“Can’t take the heat, huh?” I say with a smile. “Badass Hope Solo isn’t so badass anymore.”

“Don’t make assumptions based on just a curry Kel, I am badass in other ways” Hope tells me before throwing me a wink. “There’s still a lot to learn about me.”

“Really?” I say. “Well I hope you plan on keeping me around long enough to find out.”

“Don’t worry, I plan on it.”

We carry on eating in a comfortable silence, enjoying spending time together.

“Dinner was nice” I say breaking the silence after we finished eating.

“It was, the company wasn’t too bad either” Hope says as she nudges me. “Next time I am paying though, dinner was technically my idea.”

“You’re my guest though” I say. “When I come to Seattle next you can pay to take me wherever you want.”

“Deal.”

“National team camp doesn’t start for another three weeks so I was hoping maybe we could meet up before then” I suggest. Hope is going back to Seattle in the morning but I would like to spend more time with her before we go to camp.

“Sure, I have a few meetings in Seattle with Nike and another couple of sponsors” Hope tells me. “Maybe you could come to Seattle.”

“I could” I smile back at Hope. “How long are you willing to let me stay for?”

“As long as you like” Hope responds. “I liked it when you came the last time, you actually made my house feel like a home. I didn’t feel as lonely.”

“Is a week ok?” I ask, feeling excited at the prospect of spending a full week with Hope.

“Of course” Hope smiles.

“I really mean it when I say you should smile more often, it makes your eyes really sparkle” I compliment Hope, feeling slightly lost in her blue eyes.

“I guess I can try” Hope says, unable to hide the smile on her face.

“We should probably head back to my apartment” I say as we leave the restaurant and head to my car, ready for our two hour drive back.

“I guess we should, my flight is kinda early” Hope responds before rushing towards the car and opening my door for me.

“You’re so courteous, if only I was allowed to kiss you” I say with a playful wink.

“Who says you can’t kiss me?” Hope asks, stepping closer to me. “Maybe this dinner date did woo me.” I slowly lean towards Hope, feeling my heart thumping in my chest, and I connect our lips together. It’s not a passionate kiss by any means but it’s enough to leave me breathless and smiling like an idiot.

“I should probably take you to dinner a lot” I say with a smile before Hope pecks my lips softly and then we both get in the car to start our journey.

“I think going to dinner is one of the best ways to go on a first date” Hope says. “I like getting to know the person first before we do something daring, it can really spoil the vibe.”

“Speaking from experience Solo?” I ask as I turn onto the highway.

“Oh yes” Hope says with a laugh. “A guy once took me to a painting course on a first date, needless to say I don’t really have the patience for painting so I was miserable the whole time.”

“Noted, don’t take you on a date that involves painting” I say with a smile.

“I just think dinner is better because everyone has to eat don’t they, so I don’t see how you could go wrong” Hope says. “Plus it gives you a chance to sit down and talk. Once you have the dinner date then you will know whether a second date of painting is sensible or not.”

“For future reference, what kinda things would you be open to on a date?” I ask. I like being spontaneous and surprising my date but I need a little something to go off on, I don’t want to completely surprise Hope and take her somewhere that she will absolutely hate.

“I like the outdoors so anything along those lines would be good” Hope says before looking deep in thought. “I am a little old for the club scene these days so I would much prefer some drinks at some nice bars with my people rather than drinking till 6am after trailing around every club that is open.”

“My club days are behind me too, don’t worry” I say with a smile. “I only went to clubs to pick up women.”

“Very classy” Hope smiles.

“Don’t judge, my little town in Georgia didn’t exactly offer me much other choice of finding a woman” I say. “Didn’t you meet an ex in a club when you were in college?”

“Did you see that, a deer just crossed the road up ahead?” Hope says as she points out the window.

“Ah, deflecting from the question” I say with a smile. “Back to the date topic, what else are you open to doing on a date?”

“I could pretty much do anything on a date as long as I like the person” Hope says. “It’s only really first dates I get picky about but you don’t need to worry about that now because we’ve just had our first date.”

“So if I took you skydiving on our next date you would be cool with that?” I ask, knowing Hope really hates heights.

“That depends, would we have a really hot instructor or person to tandem with?”

“I can’t guarantee that but I can tell you that you will have a really hot woman holding your hand on the airplane on the way up” I say with a smile. “I am not actually going to take you sky diving when I know you hate heights, I really like you so I won’t ruin it by doing something stupid.”

“You really like me, huh?” Hope says smugly.

“I wouldn’t drive two hours to take you to my favorite restaurant if I didn’t like you” I say. “That would be way too much effort.”

“I like you too by the way” Hope says before squeezing my hand that is laying across my thigh.

/

“Eh… what is going on here?” Sam asks causing me to immediately break the kiss and look at my roommate.

“What are you doing here?” I ask as I look over the back of the couch at Sam who is standing just a few inches away.

“Why do you keep asking that, I live here dumbass” Sam replies before smirking at me and then gesturing to me in Hope’s lap. “Care to explain what you two were doing?”

“Nothing” I say, both my hands still firmly on either side of Hope’s neck.

“Yeah sure” Sam says before cackling in laughter. “You are straddling her, you have lip-gloss all over your face and not to mention how your tongue was down her throat when I walked in.”

“We were…” I say as I move off of Hope’s lap.

“… Kissing” Hope finishes my sentence when she turns to look at Sam.

“I kinda got that” Sam says with a smug grin. “My question was more directed towards, why?”

“We are dating” I say much to the amusement of Sam who starts laughing again. “Sam I’m serious, we actually are.”

“Really?” Sam asks, seeming a little shocked. “I knew you had the hots for her but I didn’t realise it was anything more than that.”

“It wasn’t, well it is now” I answer. “This is kinda new to us so if you wouldn’t mind keeping it to yourself for a bit that would be great.”

“A dirty little secret” Sam says with a raised eyebrow.

“Not dirty and not really a secret” I respond before turning to Hope who just smiles at me. “We only confessed our feelings to one another this morning so it really is quite new.”

“Don’t worry, I won’t say anything” Sam says and I smile in appreciation.

“We appreciate that” Hope says with a grateful smile.

“If you are going to be all over one another on the couch again then at least warn me” Sam says. “And make it more clear why you want me out of the apartment in future so I know to make sure I definitely don’t come back early like tonight.”

“Ok” I say with a nod and then Sam disappears to her room. “That was a little awkward.”

“It was a little” Hope says but she seems unfazed by the whole thing. “Come here.” Hope then pulls me back onto her lap and I once again wrap my arms around her neck and go back to kissing her.

“You’re a really good kisser” I say when we break for air as I feel Hope rubbing my hips with her hands. “I think my legs are asleep with this position though.”

“I think it is about time we went to bed anyway” Hope says as she helps me off of her lap.

“We don’t want you sleeping in and missing your flight tomorrow” I say. Truthfully I wouldn’t mind Hope missing her flight but she has to get back relieve her dog sitter.

“Have you decided when you are coming to Seattle?” Hope asks as we slowly walk towards my bedroom. “I was thinking you can come whenever you want and stay until we need to head to the national camp, that way we can travel together.”

“That sounds good, I haven’t decided if I will come next week for two weeks or the following week for one week” I say. “It definitely won’t be this week, I’ve got an under armour shoot and then it’s one of my teammates birthday parties.”

“I don’t mind either way” Hope says before placing a kiss on my cheek and then we get ready for bed.

“You do know I am a cuddly person right?” I say as we both get into my bed.

“We’ve shared enough beds for me to pick up on that, yeah” Hope replies with a smile.

“Good” I say with a smile. “I must warn you though, now that we have crossed the friendship line then that may cause me to be extra cuddly and maybe a little handsy.”

“I am pretty sure I will be able to cope with that.”

“Good” I reply with a smile as I move closer to Hope, our faces inches apart.

“Goodnight Kel” Hope says, kissing me gently on the lips.

“Goodnight” I respond, chasing Hope’s lips for another kiss.

/

“Thanks for driving me to the airport” Hope says, one hand on the door handle and one hand on my knee as we sit in the car in the drop off lane.

“No need to thank me” I say with a shrug, leaning over to kiss Hope.

“I should get out the car, I don’t want you getting a ticket for being parked in this lane” Hope says, looking out the window.

“Thanks for the last couple of days, I really like spending time with you” I say, feeling slightly nervous for some reason.

“Me too” Hope replies before giving me one last kiss and then she moves to get out of the car. “See ya soon beautiful.”

“Goodbye Hope” I reply, the large smile on my face hurting my jaw. “Call me later.”

“I will” Hope says with a wink before I watch her disappear into the airport. I think I am falling really fast, she’s not even here right not but yet the thought of her makes my heart race.

I am just about to pull out with my car when my phone vibrates.

Hope: You’re gonna get a ticket if you park there for much longer ;-) xx      

I can’t help but smile at the text before I pull out of my space and head to the exit of the airport. Yeah, I think I’ve already fallen too deep. Nothing will be able to wipe this smile off of my face.

Chapter Text

I nervously press the doorbell as I stand waiting in the rain for the door to open. I decided to surprise Hope by turning up to Seattle a few days earlier than we had planned. We agreed I would come for a week and then head to camp together but my plans changed in New Jersey so I managed to get an extra few days off that I chose to add onto my Seattle trip.

As soon as the door opens my heart skips a beat before I am greeted by a tired looking Hope.

“Kel… what are you doing here?” Hope asks, looking confused.

“I wanted to surprise you” I say nervously. “I am guessing that probably wasn’t the best idea I’ve had. Is this a bad time?”

“No of course not, come in” Hope says, opening the door wider for me. “I fell asleep on the couch so I’m just a bit disorientated.”

“My photoshoot got finished early so I thought what better way to spend my extra time off than to head to Seattle early” I say. “Sorry if that upset your plans.”

“Kel…” Hope says, placing her hands on my shoulders.

“Yeah?”

“I missed you” Hope says with a goofy smile before pulling me into a hug. “I am so happy that you’re here early, it means we can spend more time together.”

“I missed you too” I reply with a soft smile.

“Let me take your stuff, I will put it upstairs and you choose a takeout menu from the kitchen for dinner” Hope says, grabbing my luggage and then making her way up the stairs.

I make my way to the kitchen and head straight for Hope’s takeout menu drawer. After rifling through the menus I finally decide on the Thai place that I liked the last time I was in Seattle.

“Found something?” Hope asks as she enters the kitchen. She’s looking a lot more awake now than she was when I arrived.

“Thai” I respond, sliding the menu over to Hope.

“Cool” Hope says as she looks through the menu.

“Where are Sasha and Onyx?”

“I booked them into a new Kennels for when we are away with the national team so they are staying there tonight as a sort of trial run so that I know they will settle when I’m away” Hope answers. “It is just one night but I want to see how they cope.”

“When do you pick them up?” I ask.

“Tomorrow morning, you can come with me if you like” Hope says. “I will take you out for breakfast and then we can pick them up.”

“Sounds good, so what do you want from the Thai menu?”

“I think I will just have a curry” Hope answers before I place our order online and then Hope and I go to the living room to wait for it to arrive.

“Oh, what’s with the brochure?” I ask when I spot a Real Estate brochure on the table.

“Just looking at some new places” Hope answers. “The last time you were here I mentioned I was thinking of selling this place so now I am putting that plan into motion.”

“Are you going to buy another place or just rent?” I ask, I don’t think I could imagine Hope living anywhere but Seattle but the last time I was here she said she wasn’t sure if Seattle is where she wants to finish her career.

“I don’t know yet, I don’t want to make any rush decisions” Hope answers before looking at me. “All I know is that this house isn’t my home anymore, it was mine and then Jerramy moved in and now all it reminds me of is my mess of a marriage.”

“Are you planning on staying in Seattle?” I ask.

“I think so” Hope says. “I’m honestly unsure of what I want, do I want to go for France in 2019 or will my time be up before then. If I want to make the next world cup then I will stay in Seattle.”

“You are the best goalkeeper in the world Hope, only you can decide what you want” I say. “No matter what your decision is, you will always have the team behind you.”

“Thanks Kel” Hope says before kissing my cheek and then pulling me in closer to her.

/

“I think it is time you went to bed” I say with a small smile. Hope has been fighting the urge to sleep for the past hour. “You can barely keep your eyes open.”

“I’m sorry babe, I am being a really bad host aren’t I?” Hope says with a smile. “I’ve just had a long day, I had barely any sleep last night as well.”

“Just go to bed then” I say with a smile. “I will tidy all the dinner dishes and then I will head upstairs as well.”

“Ok” Hope says with a nod before gently kissing my lips. “Your stuff is in my room by the way, just in case you think you are sleeping in the guest bedroom. I want you in with me.”

“Ok, I will be up soon” I reply before watching Hope walk up the stairs.

I quickly tidy up before grabbing my phone and calling my best friend.

“Hello” I hear down the line.

“Tobin?” I question.

“Yeah” Tobin answers. “What’s up dude?”

“Nothing, sorry I thought I called Christen” I reply.

“Yeah this is her phone, she’s just went to pick up takeout for us” Tobin replies. “Is there anything I can help with?”

“No it’s ok, just tell your girlfriend I was returning her call from this morning” I say.

“No problem” Tobin responds. “So what’s happening with you, I feel like we haven’t talked for a while? I am taking Chris to New Jersey next week, maybe we could meet up and do some surfing.”

“I would love to but I can’t, I’m not in New Jersey anymore” I answer sadly, I would’ve loved to catch up with Tobin and done some surfing.

“That sucks dude, another time then.”

“Totally” I answer. “While I have you on the phone Tobs, can I ask you something?”

“Of course” Tobin responds sincerely.

“It’s kinda about you and Christen, is that ok?”

“That’s fine” Tobin says with a small laugh.

“How did you guys start dating, like when did it all start for you and how did you know it was more than friendship?” I ask curiously. If anyone knows how I feel with regards to my situation with Hope then it would be Tobin and Chris, they will have probably went through the same as me.

“To be honest it had been complicated for years” Tobin answers. “We kissed when we were in college then our paths didn’t really cross much thereafter, we were both at Magic Jack but never really talked. We didn’t properly get to know one another until Christen joined the national team in 2012.”

“So you started off as friends and then just got closer from there?” I ask.

“We dated for a bit in 2012 then we drifted apart, Chris got with Vero and then I got with Shirley” Tobin says before sighing slightly. “We were never single at the same time until after the world cup last year and then we decided there was no point pretending anymore, there was an attraction there and we both wanted to pursue it.”

“Were you not nervous, I mean you guys are both on the national team and if things didn’t work out then it could be really tricky for you” I ask. That’s my biggest worry, what if I get in too deep with Hope and then something happens between us. It could potentially ruin our careers.

“It was a risk we had to take” Tobin answers simply. “Why should we not get to be happy, we wanted to be together and knew it wouldn’t be some stupid fling? If you believe it’s the real deal then there’s no point in denying yourself of happiness.”

“I see” I say, that has actually gave me something to think about.

“Why do you wanna know?” Tobin asks. “Are you just checking up to make sure I am not messing your best friend around?” Tobin says jokingly. “I don’t need the ‘if you hurt her I will come after you speech’. I love Chris.”

“I know that” I say with a smile. “Tell your girl I will speak to her tomorrow, I am going to bed now.”

“I will, goodnight dude.”

“Goodnight Tobs.”

I lay my phone on the counter before I make my way upstairs towards Hope’s room.

“Kel?” Hope asks sleepily when I enter the room.

“Go back to sleep, sorry if I woke you up” I apologise before grabbing my pyjamas and heading into the en-suite for a quick wash and to change.

/

When I wake up I feel Hope’s arms wrapped securely around me and I can’t help but smile.

“Are you awake?” I ask.

“Yeah” Hope replies from behind me. “I just wanted to cuddle with you for a bit longer before I got up.”

“Fine by me” I say with a smile, turning in Hope’s arms to face her.

“Good morning beautiful” Hope greets me with a kiss to my forehead.

“Morning” I groan happily.

“How did you sleep?” Hope asks as she brushes a few loose strands of my hair away from my face. “I had a really good sleep.”

“So did I, waking up in your arms is the best way to wake up” I say leaning up to capture Hope’s lips in a soft kiss.

“I agree” Hope hums softly, once again reconnecting our lips. “Just think, we have like a week and a half of waking up together.”

“Can’t wait” I say, moving so that I am half lying on top of Hope so that I can get better access to her lips. “If it means I can wake up to your kisses every morning then I will be one happy girl.”

“If you are lucky, you may wake up to more than just a kiss” Hope says suggestively as she strokes her fingers up and down my back under my shirt. “I want more than just your kisses Kel.”

“Don’t worry, you will get more” I say confidently, I don’t care if we’ve only been together for five minutes. I want things to progress naturally, I don’t care if it seems too fast. I want to be with Hope and I know she wants to be with me.

“We have to pick my babies up soon though so let’s not start something we can’t finish” Hope tells me. “If I get your clothes off then there is no way I will be able to let you put them back on for at least four hours.”

“Why four hours?” I ask with a raised eyebrow, kissing Hope deeply this time.

“Because I know that’s the maximum time interval you can go before you will need something to eat” Hope replies. “I know what dating you entails, I’ve never seen you go past four hours without something to eat unless you were sleeping.”

“You got to eat to keep your energy levels up” I reply. “After I am done with you, you will be the one needing an energy boost.”

“Is that a challenge?” Hope asks.

“Yes” I reply with a smirk. “A challenge that will need to wait for another time though because as I remember I was promised breakfast before we pick up the dogs.”

“That’s correct and I don’t break my promises babe” Hope tells me before placing one last kiss on my lips. “Be ready in an hour, I am going to check on the chickens.”

“Ok” I reply happily as I watch Hope exit the bedroom. Tobin said it right, if you believe it is the real deal then there is no point in denying yourself of happiness.

/

An hour and a half later and we are both seated in a small cosy diner waiting on our breakfast orders.

“What is the plan for the rest of the day?” I ask.

“I got a text from my realtor and there’s been a cancellation in her schedule so she’s found some time to take me to see a house this afternoon” Hope replies. “I can cancel if there’s something else you wanna do.”

“Don’t cancel” I say. “You don’t need to rearrange your schedule because I turned up early, I am sure I can amuse myself while you’re out.”

“You could come with me” Hope says as she sips her coffee. “A second opinion would be useful.”

“Ok then” I say with a smile, suddenly feeling a little excited about helping Hope find a new home. “Is it a house to buy or rent?”

“I’ve always bought my homes but I think I am looking to rent this time, buying a new home when I am not sure about what my future holds is a little risky” Hope says. “I am not one hundred percent certain that I will remain in Seattle the rest of my life so there’s no point buying a permanent home if it won’t last.”

“Makes sense” I say, feeling a little uncomfortable. Hope’s always been this headstrong woman who knows what she wants so the fact that she’s feeling unsure about her future unsettles me. Hope is about organisation and planning; setting targets but right now I am not seeing anything like that. “Why are you unsure about Seattle?” I ask.

“I don’t know to be honest, I think I just want a new challenge” Hope says. “My international career will be finished before my playing career is so I was kinda thinking I stay with Seattle to finish out my national career and then when I hang up my US gloves I could move to another NWSL team to finish out my playing.”

“Any other teams in mind?” I ask with a smile. “I could put a word in for you at Sky Blue, I know I would love to be able to see you every day.”

“I would love to see you every day too but I think I would prefer to move to a team that I know would actually have a shot at the playoffs” Hope says with a smirk causing me to slap her arm.

“That’s nasty Solo” I say with a frown. “Didn’t we beat you and Seattle at the start of the season?”

“We had an off day that day” Hope says. “In all seriousness though I was kinda hoping for another team in the west coast, my family will still be in Seattle so I don’t want to move too far away.”

“Maybe they will get an LA team or you could go to Portland, Tobin raves about it” I say, it’s hard to get Tobin to shut up about Portland. I think the only thing she dislikes about it is that Christen isn’t there.”

“I did have that in mind” Hope says, thinking it over. “There’s a lot of time to think though, it won’t be for another couple of years yet if I decide I want to go for another cycle with the national team.”

“Oh, breakfast’s coming” I say when I spot the waitress approaching with our food.

“Here we are ladies, two French toast” the waitress says with a smile as she puts the food in front of us. “Can I get you anything else?”

“Do you want more coffee babe?” Hope asks and I nod, butterflies in my stomach because Hope called me babe. Pathetic, I know.

“Just two refills of coffee please” Hope tells the waitress with a smile.

“Coming right up” the waitress replies as she disappears to get the coffee.

“I was thinking, maybe once we have viewed the house we could go out for dinner and then drinks” Hope suggests. “Seattle is not the most exciting place in the world but it has a decent nightlife.”

“Sounds good” I say with a smile. “I totally want you to take me to that fish market you always go on about, maybe this week?”

“It’s kinda boring Kel” Hope says and I smile.

“Yeah but you like it and I want to do the things you like with you” I say, smiling once again.

“Ok then” Hope says with a smile. “We can go on Wednesday, the market is quieter then.”

“It’s a date” I smirk.

/

“I missed you two so much, yes I did… I did” I repeat over and over when we collect Sasha and Onyx.

“How were they?” Hope asks the kennel owner.

“They were absolutely fine, they got on great with the other dogs and slept pretty well overnight” the woman says and immediately I see Hope sighing in relief. “You have no worries, they will be fine when they come to stay next time.”

“That’s good” Hope says with a relieved smile. “I get nervous when I put them into somewhere new.”

“They are probably two of the best behaved dogs I’ve ever looked after” the woman replies with a kind smile.

“You hear that” I say as I cuddle the dogs and let them slobber all over me. “I’m going to convince your mommy to give you a treat for being so good.”

“Kel, do you want to put the leash on the dogs while I fill in the paperwork?” Hope asks and I nod; getting up from the floor and getting the dogs’ leash.

“Come on you two” I say as I lead the dogs towards Hope.

“All set?” Hope asks and I smile.

“Yeah” I say as we say our goodbyes to the woman and then take the dogs to the car. “Are we going to take them a walk before we go out this afternoon?”

“Yeah” Hope responds. “You can stay in the house if you want, I was only going to take the dogs to the dog park for some exercise and running about.”

“I want to come” I say with a smile before kissing Hope’s cheek. “If I was bored or didn’t want to do something then I would tell you, stop worrying.”

“I know but I don’t want you to think I invited you here to do mundane tasks like looking at houses and walking dogs, I want you to have fun” Hope says with a smile as she shuts the dogs in the car. “I really like you Kel so I kinda don’t want you to think I am this boring person and end up losing interest in me.”

“Hope, I like you for you” I say with a smile. “The woman I like is the one who is serious on the pitch; the one who reads books for fun and not because she has to; the one who opens up to me; the one who knows how to treat someone right; the one who cares for her friends and family… I could go on forever here” I chuckle. “I like you for who you are and that’s why I wanna date you.”

“I’m sorry if I came across as insecure, I don’t have a great track record when it comes to relationships so it makes me a little nervous when I really like someone because I don’t wanna fuck it up” Hope tells me. “I didn’t expect to fall this deep so it is a little scary.”

“We can be scared together” I say, trying to show Hope my relaxed smile. I am far from relaxed though, Hope’s practically just told me that she’s falling for me which has sent my heartbeat soaring.

“Come here” Hope says as she pulls on my zipper so I move towards her and then she places a gentle kiss on my lips. “Let’s tire these dogs out so we can have the rest of the day together.”

“Deal” I say with a smile as we get into Hope’s car.

/

“Hope, look at this view” I say in amazement as I look out the bedroom window of the house the realtor has just taken us to.

“It’s nice isn’t it?” Hope says as she looks around.

“I totally think you should rent this house just purely based on the view from the bedroom” I say with a smile. “I cold envisage waking up to this view in the mornings, the summer sun waking me up to the nicest view of Seattle I have ever seen.”

“I didn’t realise you were moving in with me” Hope says playfully with a smile.

“I mean when I visit obviously” I retort before looking at the realtor. “How quick does she need to say yes?”

“Slow down babe, I am not going to say yes to the first property I see” Hope says, pulling me down from my high. “I know I am only leasing but I don’t want to be hasty about this, I need to think it through.”

“How about I let you two explore a bit more and then we can meet outside whenever you are ready” the realtor suggests.

“Thanks” Hope smiles before the realtor leaves.

“This place is everything you are looking for Hope” I say. “Its dog friendly, the garden is big enough for the dogs, the views are awesome, it’s not too far from training or the shops, and it has a nice driveway and garage…”

“You don’t need to convince me how perfect it is Kel but we have to think logically, this is still the first house I’ve looked at” Hope says before putting her hands on my shoulders. “I know you’re excited but there’s other stuff I need to work out.”

“Like what?” I ask.

“Like what’s the owner like; rent rates; is the house prone to any problems in the winter; will it store all my stuff; is it a friendly neighbourhood; will the owner be ok with the house being empty for long spells when I’m at camp” Hope says. “We have to think of the practicalities.”

“I guess” I say a little sadly. “I just love the view.”

“I know” Hope chuckles softly before kissing me. “I will take your opinions on board though babe, I just want to keep my options open.”

“Ok” I nod before Hope grabs my hand and we head outside to find the realtor.

“What do we think?” the realtor asks.

“Definitely a contender but I’m still going to keep viewing other places” Hope answers and the realtor nods.

“Not a problem, I have a few more properties in mind” the realtor says. “I will sent you an email in a couple of days about the other properties and some more specific information on this one.”

“Thanks” Hope smiles.

“Anything you want to ask me today before I go?” the realtor asks and Hope shakes her head. “Any questions just send me an email and I will be happy to answer.”

“Perfect, thanks again” Hope smiles.

“Have a nice day ladies.” And with that the realtor leaves.

“It is definitely something to think about” Hope says as we walk towards her car. “Anything you wanna do before we go to dinner later on?”

“Not really” I answer. “I am happy to go back to your house and watch a movie or something so I am not too tired to make a good night out of it tonight.”

“You really are my type of woman Kelley O’Hara” Hope says with a wink before kissing my cheek.

/

“I think you are drunk” I say loudly in Hope’s ear so she can hear me over the booming sound of the music at the club we are in.

“I agree” Hope chuckles. “It is because of all those cocktails you kept buying me at that last place.”

“I think you are just a light weight” I say with a shrug.

“You are just as drunk as me” Hope replies, moving closer to me to place a kiss right next to my lips. “Wanna head back to my place?”

“Miss Solo, what on earth are you suggesting?” I say in mock shock.

“I’m suggesting we… we go back to my house, make out for a while and then go to sleep” Hope says, slurring her words ever so slightly. “I’m too tired to be able to dance anymore, I wanna cuddle in bed with you.”

“Damn, I wish I could’ve recorded that sentence on my phone” I say with a laugh. “No one would ever believe that last sentence came out of Hope Solo’s mouth.”

“If you tell anyone that I enjoy cuddling then I will tell them that the real reason you have a tiny scar on your forehead is not because you fell out of your tree house as a kid but because you fell out of a tree when you were trying to hide from a girl you liked because you were too embarrassed to talk to her” Hope says and I have to say, I am impressed she managed to say all that at once through her drunkenness.

“I don’t think you deserve my cuddles after saying that” I playfully say with a smirk. “I don’t like threats.”

“I bet I could change your mind?” Hope challenge with a smile. “What if I were to say that if I get an unlimited supply of cuddles when I want, then I will return the favour whenever you want.”

“I will think about it” I say nonchalantly. “I agree with us going back to your house though, I am way too tired to move on to another club. I am too old to stay out beyond two these days.”

“I would mock you for that babe but considering I feel exactly the same then I am not going to bother” Hope laughs before wrapping her hand around mine and leading me out of the club. “How did we get so old?”

“I don’t know but I would take this feeling of spending time with you over partying until dawn any day of the week” I reply as we slowly walk back to Hope’s house, both of us taking a few turns at wobbling due to the alcohol in our systems.

After forty minutes we finally stumble through Hope’s front door. Technically it shouldn’t have taken longer than twenty minutes to walk however, we did stop twice for a heavy make out session and we were a little uncoordinated when trying to walk in a straight line because of the buzz from all the cocktails and other drinks.

As Hope locks the door, Sasha and Onyx stare at us as if they are waiting to see our next move. Onyx’s ears perk up when Hope walks towards the coat closet by the door, the same closet that his dog leash is in, but he is soon disappointed when Hope puts her coat away and shuts the door. I guess he thought he was going for a walk.

“Bed time you two” Hope tells the dogs in a soft tone before pointing to the two dog beds in the corner of the foyer. The dogs look at Hope before she raises her eyebrows and then they do as they are told. “Bed time for us as well.”

“Yeah” I agree, stifling a yawn. “You go upstairs, I am going for a glass of water.”

“Ok babe” Hope smiles before slowly making her way upstairs while I go to the kitchen.

/

I can slowly feel my body beginning to wake up but I try my hardest not to open my eyes, I have a terrible feeling that it is too early to be awake. As I turn over I reach out my arm to cuddle into Hope when all I feel is an empty side of the bed.

“Huh…” I say in confusion when I open my eyes and see I am alone in the bedroom. “Where is she?” I mumble as I look around the room when I then notice a small piece of paper on the nightstand. I slowly move across the bed, praying there is no hangover looming, and I grab the note.

‘Morning Kel, I’ve took the dogs for a walk. Back soon xx

PS: I will stop at Starbucks & get you breakfast xx’

I immediately smile at the note before laying back down in bed, trying to plead with my body to go back to sleep in Hope’s soft bedcovers before she comes back with breakfast. I love the domesticity of being with Hope, I’ve never really been one for the whole domestic routine. Sure eventually Hannah and I ended up falling into a pattern but it wasn’t this quick and it always felt uneasy with her, like I was forcing myself to feel things she was already feeling.

With Hope everything is natural, I don’t know if it is because I am older now and fully ready to take the big commitment plunge or if it is because it’s Hope. I was never afraid of commitment per se, I just always felt a little hesitant when making big decisions. Don’t get me wrong, I loved Hannah and we had a great time together but I always felt like she wanted more than I could give her. We didn’t want the same things at the same time.

Hope’s different, I am not in any way comparing Hannah with Hope but since Hannah was my last serious relationship then it’s hard not to think about both relationships. I think it is more so that I am comparing myself with myself, I am comparing the Kelley who was with Hannah to the Kelley who Hope has. Although they are both me, I feel like I am different with Hope but in a good way. I definitely know now what I want and that is a long term relationship, I don’t think I was ready for that with Hannah even though I let myself fall into it but I am ready for it with Hope.

I think these feelings can only mean one thing, I am not just falling for Hope and her charm but I am falling in love with her. I have to admit, I am a little scared of how fast my feelings are developing. I am not scared because I don’t like it because to be honest with you, I love the thought of being in love and calling Hope mine, I love the thought of having what I see all my friends and family having with their significant others, I love everything that everyone tells me being in love entails, I am just scared because I don’t know if it is too soon for Hope to reciprocate these feelings.

I know Hope likes me and we have both established that we want to be together but I can’t rush Hope or make her feel pressured into feeling as much as I do. That’s what happened to me with Hannah so there’s no way I would ever want Hope to feel like she had to feel something because I feel it. Like I said, I want everything between Hope and me to feel natural. I know Hope has reservations when it comes to relationships after her marriage ended so I don’t want her to feel pushed. I will wait as long as it takes for Hope to feel the same because Hope’s worth waiting for.

Chapter Text

“Good morning” Hope says with a smile as she enters the kitchen. “I didn’t think you would be up yet, I was going to bring you breakfast in bed.”

“I didn’t plan on getting up this early but I couldn’t get back to sleep” I say, smiling back at Hope.

“Can you not sleep without me?” Hope asks with a teasing tone before kissing my cheek and then laying coffee and my breakfast in front of me.

“I guess I can’t” I reply as I sit down at the breakfast bar.

“What do you want to do today?” Hope asks as she sits down next to me. “The dogs have been walked and the chickens have been fed so I am all yours for the rest of the day.”

“I think I want to explore Seattle” I say as I begin eating my bagel. “The last time I was here I feel like we didn’t do much sightseeing and technically I am a tourist.”

“What sights do you wanna see?” Hope asks with a bright smile. “Do you want me to organise a day trip or do we just wing it?”

“Let’s just wing it, go with the flow” I answer, I kind of just want to see where the day takes us.

“Ok” Hope responds with a smile. “When we are finished with breakfast I will grab a quick shower and then we can go out.”

“Can I ask you a personal question?” I ask as I chew on my breakfast.

“Sure” Hope says with a relaxed smile as she stops eating.

“What was it like growing up in Seattle?” I ask, I feel like Hope doesn’t talk about her childhood much. Anything anyone wants to know about me and I would share it willingly whereas Hope is a lot more private.

“Do you mean what Seattle was like or what was my family life like, two different things” Hope says with a nervous chuckle.

“Anything, whatever you are comfortable sharing is what I want to know babe” I say with a kind smile. “I want to know more about you.”

“My life was kinda rough at times, it wasn’t always stable” Hope starts, taking a sip of her coffee to allow her time to decide what she wants to share. “My parents argued a lot then dad left and my mom remarried, a lot happened.”

“You don’t have to share it with me, I do appreciate that it is probably something you don’t like talking about” I say as I place my hand on Hope’s back.

“It’s not that I don’t want to share it, I just don’t know if I want to put a negative spin on our time together” Hope says before turning towards me and pulling me into a hug. “I want to have fun with you, I don’t want to talk about stuff that will make me sad.”

“That’s ok then, we don’t need to talk about it” I reply, pecking Hope’s lips. “I am going to grab a shower before we head out.”

“Ok babe” Hope kisses me and then I disappear upstairs.

/

We spent all day exploring Seattle, Hope took me to places that she visits a lot and then she took me out for lunch before we explored some more. I am not really into history, I find it kinda boring if I am honest but for some reason I listened to every single word Hope said about all the historic landmarks and bridges we passed.

“You can take the hat off now” Hope says when we enter the house, the dogs rushing towards us. I bought what Hope described as the ugliest hat she had ever seen from a tourist shop and just to annoy Hope I insisted on wearing it for the rest of the day.

“Why, do you not like it?” I ask with a pout while Hope rolls her eyes. “I thought I looked quite good in it.”

“Just take it off so I can kiss you, will you?” Hope says with a chuckle and then I remove the hat, allowing Hope to press a gentle kiss against my lips. “I think we should go to the movies tonight.”

“Really?” I ask. “No one really goes to the movies anymore, that’s the beauty of having cable and being able to download or rent movies before they come out.”

“I know but those aren’t proper dates, come on it will be fun” Hope says, trying to persuade me with her beautiful smile and captivating blue eyes. “I will let you pick the movie and I will pay for it all.”

“I guess it could be fun” I say with a smile. “I’m in.”

“It’s a date, be ready to leave at half past seven” Hope says with a smile. “I am going to take the dogs out for another walk, you feel free to do whatever you like.”

“Ok” I smile as Hope kisses me once again.

“There’s a spare set of keys for the house in my study if you feel like going out, I will take my keys with me so just lock up if you leave” Hope says and I smile with a nod. I like that even though I am staying with Hope, we also get time to do stuff alone. I love spending time with Hope but I also like having some time to myself and Hope seems to be the same. It is so good to be with someone who is on the same page as you.

“See you later” I wave gently as Hope leaves with the dogs eagerly pulling her out the door.

I decide that I am going to go out for a run. I haven’t done as much training and fitness as I would normally do this week plus Hope did recommend some really nice places and parks to run in so I may as well try it out.

Just as I turn the corner at the park to make my way back to Hope’s house I nearly have a heart attack when someone grabs my shoulder.

“I knew that was you KO, what ya doing in Seattle?” Pinoe says as I grab my chest and try to calm my heartbeat. “What brings you to my hometown?”

“I’m just visiting a friend” I answer coolly with a nod of my head. “Thought I would go out for a run.”

“Are you here for long, we could meet for lunch sometime” Pinoe suggests. “Hope lives not too far from here, she could join us too.”

“Eh… yeah” I hesitantly reply, does this mean Hope and I should tell Pinoe about us. I’ve never been one to hide a relationship but Hope and I are still taking things slow.

“I will text Hope later, so where does your friend stay?” Pinoe asks. “Is it this area somewhere?”

“Yeah, about two miles that way” I answer vaguely as I point in the distance.

“Cool” Pinoe replies. “Let me know when you are free and we can arrange lunch.”

“I will do that” I say with a nod of my head before Pinoe tells me she better go because her girlfriend is waiting.

Once Pinoe leaves I make my way back to Hope’s house, opting to walk the remainder of the journey so I have longer to process my thoughts.

/

“Pinoe texted me earlier, said she met you” Hope tells me.

“Yeah, I went for a run and ran into her at the park” I answer with a smile. “She suggested we meet up for lunch sometime, she was going to text you to ask?”

“Does she know about us?” Hope asks and I shake my head no.

“I didn’t say anything” I respond before pulling Hope to sit down on the couch with me. “Are we telling people?”

“I don’t know babe, I don’t want to hide anything but I don’t want telling people to put more pressure on us” Hope says as she looks into my eyes. “I really like you Kel and I like the way things are going with us.”

“I do too” I agree as I kiss Hope gently on the lips. “I like that we can just let the pace flow naturally, I’m quite happy with the way things are at the moment.”

“Are there any movies you want to see tonight?” Hope asks as she adjusts her position on the couch and wraps her arms around me. “I think it would be better if I booked the tickets in advance so we don’t turn up to the theatre and all the decent movies are full.”

/

I felt like a teenager again, but in a really good way. Hope bought the tickets and snacks like the perfect date she is and then she lead us to the back of the movie theatre so we could get some space and not be disturbed by loud groups around us. I have to shamelessly admit that we made out like teenagers in the backrow, Hope looked extra beautiful and hot tonight and I couldn’t resist. The theatre wasn’t that crowded so I don’t think anyone really noticed that we were more interested in each other than what was happening on the screen.

We couldn’t keep our hands off each other on the drive home either, this woman makes me feel things that I’ve never felt before. It was such a bad idea for me to suggest that I would drive, not only was I worried that I would crash Hope’s car but I was also regretting it because it meant Hope was free to distract me, like casually running her hand up my thigh, smiling at me and also placing kisses on my cheek.

“This is the part where I would walk my date to the door, kiss her goodnight and then be on my way” I say with a smile as I stop the car and switch the engine off when we reach Hope’s house.

“That sounds nice but this is the part where I kiss my date and invite them inside” Hope says with a smile. “You can be on your way another time.”

“Your plan sounds better” I say as we exit the car and head to the front door. “I don’t know if I have said this already but you look very beautiful tonight.”

“Thanks Kel” Hope blushes before placing the gentlest of kisses on my lips. “Let’s go inside.” Hope leads me inside and then she pulls me towards the stairs.

“Should we not check on the dogs, we’ve been away a while?” I ask but Hope shakes her head before kissing me again.

“My elderly neighbour’s grandson from across the street checked on them earlier, he takes them out now and again for me” Hope answers. “I text him when we were at the movies and he checked on them and said they were ok.”

“Ok” I reply with a smile.

“Tonight it’s just you and me” Hope then takes my hand and pulls me upstairs behind her.

As soon as the bedroom door is closed, Hope has me pinned against it. We both stare at each other, knowing exactly that this is what we both want. We’ve done this before but it’s different this time, it will actually mean something.

It feels like this is all moving so fast but it also feels like it has taken so long to get to this point. Hope isn’t just my teammate and friend who I have a small innocent crush on, she’s the woman I am falling for.

I let Hope take the lead, allowing her to slowly pull me towards the bed. She gently guides me to sit on the edge of the bed before placing a gentle kiss on my lips. “Are you sure about this?” Hope asks as she rests her hands on either side of my neck, her words aren’t nervous or insecure, they are caring.

“Yes” I say as I stare into Hope’s eyes. Those eyes tell me a story of how she is feeling, even in the dark I can tell they are sparkling.

“Good, because I have never been more sure of anything in my life” Hope whispers against my lips and then her lips are on mine. One of her hands finds the expanse of my back while her other hand gently grazes my neck as she holds my head in place. Its cold outside but the fire I feel inside me and the heat radiating from Hope make me wish she would just hurry up and remove my clothes.

I don’t have to ask Hope to do something, she just knows. It’s like she knows exactly what I want and she knows exactly how to achieve it. She’s figured out my weak points already, she understands the rhythm I want, she can feel me getting restless beneath her… she’s… she’s just Hope. The only thing I don’t think she knows is just how much I am falling in love with her.

“Hope I…” I start but Hope silences me with her lips. She kisses me slow, allowing both our breathing to calm. I can feel our moist, bare skin rubbing together but by the look in Hope’s eyes I know she isn’t finished yet.

She takes my hand and clasps our fingers together before laying our jointed hands on the pillow above my head. Her lips then detach from mine and make their descent across my jaw and onto my neck. I’m finding it hard to focus, I don’t know whether to enjoy the soft sensation of Hope’s lips sucking on my neck or whether to revel in the feeling of Hope’s muscular thigh pressing between my legs. I feel all these different feelings at once and don’t know which to focus on. I squeeze Hope’s hand tighter, feeling like I need to hold onto something in case I collapse but I’m already lying down.

“You’re so beautiful” Hope whispers as she takes a break from my neck and then her lips are attacking my collarbone. I’m finding it hard to form a sentence, the pressure of her thigh between my legs and her mouth on me are making my thoughts run wild. If I do open my mouth, I am only able to let out a moan. There are no coherent words. “How many times do you think I can make you orgasm tonight?”

I want to answer in my usual cheeky and confident voice but I can’t, Hope has rendered me speechless. As I was about to answer she sneakily moved her leg, pushing further against me causing an involuntary moan to escape my lips. I manage to catch the small smirk on her face before her lips start pressing against my chest, her tongue gliding dangerously close to my breasts. I know where she is going next, I can see the teasing twinkle in her eye. I can’t let Hope have all the control, she can have her fun and think she has me at her mercy but it will be her screaming my name by the end of the night.

It was harder than I thought to try and break out of the spell Hope had me under but I managed, after the second orgasm I wasn’t sure I would even remember my own name let alone switch the power from Hope to me so I could show her exactly what I want to do to her.

“You’ve had your fun but now it’s my turn” I whisper against Hope’s wet lips before lightly kissing her. She just looks at me with a giant smirk on her face, a smirk which I plan to wipe off in the next while.

Twenty minutes later and I have Hope panting heavily beneath me as she comes down from her high. I smirk successfully at her before not so gracefully wiping Hope’s juices from my lips with my hand.

Hope pulls me down for a kiss, our sticky skin clashing together as her hands rest on my back. We don’t even bother to move for the rest of the night, I allow myself to fall asleep half on top of the woman I know I’ve fallen in love with.

/

“You’re up early” Hope observes when she walks into the kitchen. She’s wearing a limited amount of clothes now, unlike the last time I saw her this morning; lying naked in bed.

“I wanted to make you some breakfast” I answer as Hope places a kiss on my lips. “You’re always cooking for me so it’s my turn to treat you.”

“Come here” Hope commands gently, pulling me by the hips. “You’re really cute with your hair astray and your clothes covered in pancake batter.”

“Shut up” I say playfully before leaning up on my tiptoes so I can capture Hope’s lips.

“Give me some more kisses” Hope says with a pout as she pulls me into her arms. “I think I’m addicted to your lips, I’m having withdrawal symptoms.”

“I am addictive” I cheesy reply before putting the bowl in my hand on the counter and then I allow Hope to take me in her arms again, her lips reconnecting with mine.

I break the kiss with a few pecks to Hope’s lips and then we just stare at one another. How the heck did I get this lucky, I have had a crush on this woman for so long and now I have her?

“Whatcha thinking about baby?” Hope asks, her soft fingers stroking patterns on my back as she keeps me secure in her arms.

“You” I reply simply as Hope chuckles.

“What about me?” Hope asks with a smirk.

“Just how much I like you and how lucky I feel to be with you” I answer as I look into Hope’s eyes.

“I think I’m pretty lucky too babe” Hope responds as she kisses me again.

“Stop distracting me” I says as I playfully slap Hope’s arm. “I want to make you breakfast, you need to keep your energy levels high for what I have planned today.”

“What do you have planned?” Hope asks as she lets me go and I get back to making breakfast.

“You will have to wait and see” I smirk. “It doesn’t involve leaving the house and it definitely involves little to no clothing. It may also involve the hot tub.”

/

“How long will the Chinese takeout be?” I ask as I tease Onyx with his toy bone.

“They said about twenty minutes” Hope answers as she makes dinner for the dogs.

“Cool” I answer.

“We really should get out of the house tomorrow” Hope tells me as she calls the dogs over to their dinner bowls. “We haven’t left the house since yesterday.”

“I know but I like it” I say with a smile as I approach Hope. “It’s nice just spending time with you alone.”

“It is” Hope says with a smile before kissing me.

“How about we take the dogs on that hiking trail that you like tomorrow?” I suggest. “It will get us out of the house and get us some exercise.”

“Sounds good” Hope responds and then the doorbell rings. “Takeout is early.”

“I will get it” I say with a smile as I make my way to the front door. As soon as I open the door though, my smile immediately disappears. “Carli?”

“I could have sworn I was in Seattle and standing at Hope’s front door” Carli says with a look of confusion that turns into a smirk when she takes in my appearance and sees what I am wearing; one of Hope’s large sweatshirts and a very small bikini I had on when we were in the hot tub.

“Do you have enough money for the takeout babe?” Hope shouts from the kitchen.

“This is going to be interesting” Carli smirks. “Can I come in?”

“Of…course” I say hesitantly before allowing Carli inside and then I shut the door.

I quickly follow Carli into the kitchen where the dogs immediately race towards her with their tails wagging.

“Kel, did you…” Hope starts but stops when she sees Carli.

“Hi Hope” Carli says with a smile. “Kelley let me in, I didn’t know you two were that friendly.”

“What are you doing here?” Hope asks.

“Brian has a golf tournament in the area so I thought I would drop by” Carli says causing Hope to frown.

“There are literally no golf courses in this area” Hope says before looking suspiciously at Carli. “What are you really doing here?”

“You mean I can’t just stop by to see my best friend?” Carli says causing Hope to raise her eyebrow. “Brian does have a golf tournament but it’s about two hours away, I didn’t want to be bored alone in a hotel room so I thought I would visit you.”

“Would you not be bored driving two hours?” Hope asks. “Carli you are never bored, if you have nothing to do then you do some extra training.”

“You’ve been acting really strange recently so I wanted to figure out why” Carli says before smirking. “Now I know why, you’ve been having secret rendezvous with O’Hara over here.”

“They are not secret rendezvous” Hope says but Carli continues to smirk.

“How long have you two been hooking up?” Carli asks to which Hope responds with a glare.

“We are not hooking up” Hope says. “It’s more than that, we are together.”

“As in a couple?” Carli asks before helping herself to one of my bottles of beer in the fridge.

“Yeah” Hope answers with a smile as she reaches for my hand. “We talked about it and both agreed that there is no point in trying to deny how we feel.”

“So it’s real then?”

“Yeah” I say, giving Hope a smile and then the doorbell rings again.

“Must be the takeout this time” I say as I head towards the door, Sasha following along behind me. “Be a good dog and don’t growl at the delivery person” I say before opening the door and greeting the delivery man.

Once I pay for the food I make my way back to the kitchen to see Hope and Carli laughing at something, it makes me happy when I see Hope happy.

“Do you want some Chinese food Carli?” I ask as I make a plate each for Hope and me.

“No thanks, I am trying to keep my diet clean” Carli answers causing me to stare at my beer in her hand.

“You may wanna put my beer down then” I reply.

“I am allowed one cheat a day” Carli shrugs with a smile, sipping on the bottle.

/

“How long are you staying Carli?” Hope asks from her place on the couch next to me.

“Trying to get rid of me?” Carli asks back.

“Of course not, I am just getting tired” Hope replies. “I don’t want to be rude and fall asleep in front of you.”

“I know that’s just code for you want to be alone with Kelley” Carli says.

“No, it’s…” Hope starts, trying to be polite.

“You’re right Lloyd” I say. “We would like some time alone, so whenever you are ready to leave is cool with us.”

“Don’t worry, I should be getting back to Brian anyway” Carli says with a smile as she stands up. “Have a good night, see you at camp.”

“Bye” I say with a wave and then Hope walks Carli to the door.

I hear them chatting for a few minutes before the door finally closes and Hope walks over to me.

“Thank goodness she is gone” I say with a sigh. “Not gonna lie, she totally ruined what I planned for the night.”

“What did you plan?” Hope asks, placing her hands on my hips.

“Takeout with a movie in bed and a lot of cuddling” I say, gently running my finger down Hope’s chest.

“Well, we’ve had the takeout and I’m not sure I am in a mood for a movie now” Hope says with a smile. “How about we skip the movie and go straight to bed?”

“Sounds good, I wanna grab a quick shower first” I say as I kiss Hope.

“You go for a shower and I will take the dogs for a quick walk” Hope says with a smile. “When I get back we can go to bed and cuddle as much as you like.”

“Ok” I smile happily. I don’t think I’ve ever felt this happy in my life.

Chapter Text

“Come on, stop walking so slow” I tell Hope as I stride ahead with Onyx.

“I am just pacing myself, this walk is more of a marathon than a sprint” Hope informs me as she leads Sasha to catch up with Onyx and me. “We haven’t even reached any of the biggest peaks yet.”

“This isn’t nearly as tiring for me as you said it would be” I say with a smirk, striding ahead of Hope again.

“You won’t be saying that later babe” Hope responds, catching up with me and then grabbing my hand to interlock our fingers.

“When did you find this place?” I ask as we walk at the same pace now.

“A good few years ago actually” Hope answers with a soft smile on her face. “It was just after the 2007 world cup, you know how the story goes surrounding that. I wasn’t everyone’s favorite person so I decided that I wanted to get away for a while to clear my head.” I nod along, allowing Hope to carry on with her story. “I got up one morning and I just decided to get in my car and drive, I drove for hours and hours and somehow found this place. It’s my go to place to clear my head now, as well as to get some exercise.”

“I don’t really have a set place that I go to when I need to clear my head” I say, deep in thought. I guess my place to relieve stress or forget my worries is the soccer pitch.

“We all just cope with things in different ways” Hope says with a kind smile.

“I know we are still figuring things out between us but I want you to know, if you ever want to talk to me then you can” I say sincerely, pulling on Hope’s hand lightly to stop her from walking. “I don’t want you to feel like you are alone or you can’t talk to me if something is bothering you.”

“Thanks Kel” Hope says, kissing my cheek. “To be honest though, nothing is really majorly bothering me at the moment. For once in my life, I actually feel genuinely happy. I still don’t know what my plan is with regards to the national team or whether aiming for France in 2019 is doable but that’s not a major issue for me at the moment.”

“I’m always here for you, maybe we don’t have a label yet for what we have but it definitely means a lot to me” I say as I take a deep breath. “I really really really like you Hope.”

“I like you too” Hope chuckles softly as we start walking again.

About half an hour later and I am seriously regretting my earlier enthusiasm for this hike.

“I’m tired Hopey” I complain as we hit another steep hill.

“I did warn you to pace yourself” Hope says before throwing me an ‘I told you so’ look. “Let’s take a break.”

I take a seat on a bit of grassland which immediately makes the dogs rush over and sit next to me. I guess I am not the only tired one.

“Are you going to sit down?” I ask Hope as she stands and stares at us.

“No thanks, I would prefer not to sit on the ground. You don’t know which animal could have toileted there” Hope says as she points to the grass.

“Sit on your hoodie then, it is not like you are wearing it.”

“I am fine standing Kel.”

“Suit yourself” I say with a shrug before I proceed to take selfies with Sasha and Onyx. “It is such a shame your mom won’t join us” I say to the dogs. “She’s very photogenic.”

“She also knows her limits” Hope adds as she looks at me.

“Onyx, come here boy” I command to the dog as he was about to walk away when I was trying to take a picture of him.

“I think he’s had enough of his photo being taken babe” Hope tells me before she clips Onyx lead back on so he doesn’t wander too far from us.

“I will just need to turn my focus on you then” I say with a smirk as I hold my phone up in front of Hope. “Smile for the camera.” Hope smiles for a few photos before I am able to tell that I am getting on her nerves so I stop. “You’re cute when you’re annoyed.” Hope just rolls her eyes at me, she must really like me because she would’ve thrown my phone away by now after the amount of times I put it in front of her face for a picture.

“Are you ready to start walking again, the dogs are getting impatient?” Hope asks and I can’t help but laugh. The dogs sure look impatient lying on the grass.

“You mean you are getting impatient?” I say and Hope shrugs.

“Come on doggies, we don’t want to anger your mommy anymore or she will never kiss me again” I say as I stand up and grab Sasha’s leash.

/

“I am really sorry Hope” I apologise for the hundredth time. On our way back down from our hike Hope said I could throw the ball for the dogs so I did. One time though, my throw went a bit off and I threw the ball into the open water causing both Sasha and Onyx to chase after it and end up in the muddy water. That wasn’t the worst part though, Onyx got stuck in some mud so Hope had to then go into the water and get him, leaving her covered in wet sludge.

“I said it is fine Kel” Hope says but I can tell by the look on her face it isn’t fine. “I am going to have to sit on a towel or something when we get back to the car because I don’t want all my seats to get dirty.” I really want to hug or kiss Hope to really consolidate my apology but unfortunately Hope’s face is also covered in mud after Onyx decided to shake it off of him and it splattered all over Hope.

“Is there not even a shop or anything nearby where I could get some stuff to help clean you up?”

“We are in the middle of nowhere, there is no shops or any other buildings for that matter” Hope says, frustration evident in her tone.

“Is there not even a restroom around so we could get some running water at least?” I ask while looking around me.

“Hun, if you need the restroom you just go” Hope says. “Out in the open, behind a tree or something. There is absolutely no facilities here whatsoever.”

“That’s pretty rubbish, I mean what if you got lost and ended up here or something?”

“Kel, we are at least thirty miles from the nearest town. You would need to get severely lost to end up here unintentionally” Hope tells me. “When people end up here, it is because they meant to come here. It’s a large nature trail and hiking facility.”

“What happens if you came here alone and needed rescued?”

“There is phones with helplines direct to the environment and rescue agencies every few metres or so babe” Hope says with a chuckle, clearly amused by all of my questions.

“Shall we use a phone then, see if they can send someone out to us with supplies to get you cleaned up?”

“This isn’t an emergency, I will survive until we get back to my house” Hope says with a smile before she grabs my hand and leads me on the last mile to the car.

“I really am sorry babe” I say quietly as Hope takes a deep breath.

“I know you are Kel and its fine” Hope smiles genuinely at me.

/

“I think I need a shower myself” I say as I look at myself in the mirror. Mud splashes up and down my legs, dried sweat over my face and unclean hair.

“We can share if you want?” Hope suggests.

“Are you asking me to shower with you Solo?” I ask playfully.

“It’s a two person shower, why not?” Hope answers with a shrug.

“Ok” I say, probably a little more eagerly than I meant.

After quickly grabbing some clothes I meet Hope in the bathroom but she’s already in the shower.

“Kel…”

“Yeah” I reply, why am I suddenly nervous? I guess it is because this all feels very couple-y or domesticated.

“Can you get another bottle of shampoo out of the cabinet before you join me?” Hope asks loudly over the running water.

“Sure babe” I answer as I reach into the cupboard and grab the bottle before quickly removing my clothes and then I enter the shower.

Everything was going fine until Hope looked at me with those eyes, the deep pools of sparkling blue and I crumbled; I had to kiss her. When I kissed her though, I wanted more which winded up with her pressed against the shower wall and my hand between her legs.

“Kel…” Hope says breathlessly in my ear.

“Yeah” I say with a smile.

“That wasn’t really what I meant by showering together” Hope says with a smile of her own.

“Are you complaining?” I ask as I raise my eyebrow at Hope.

“Definitely not” Hope replies before pecking me on the lips and then exiting the shower. As soon as I step out the shower Hope wraps me in a towel.

“Do you think Carli is going to tell everyone about us?” I ask curiously as we both go about our post- shower routine. We move around the room seamlessly as if we have done this a million times before.

“No” Hope answers with certainty. “She’s my best friend and likes to tease me but when things are serious then she understands that I like to do things at my own pace.”

“Cool, I just want us to do what we are comfortable doing” I say truthfully. This is all new and exciting but I want it to remain between Hope and I until we are both ready to share the details.

“Pinoe texted me again about lunch this week” Hope says as she applies face cream. “Are we going?”

“I think we should” I reply, pecking Hope on the lips before I exit the bathroom in search of clothes to wear.

/

“Sorry, I’m late” I apologise as I sit down in front of Pinoe and Hope. Hope and I agreed we would meet at lunch separately because she had a meeting with Seattle’s goalkeeping coach and I wanted to do some exploring on my own before lunch.

“It’s ok KO, we don’t expect anything different from you” Pinoe answers with a smirk.

“I would argue but I guess it’s kinda true” I say with a shrug. “Have you guys ordered yet?”

“No, we were waiting for you” Hope answers, giving me a soft smile.

“I see Carli was in town visiting you Hope, nice of her to stop to see me” Pinoe says with a fake huff. “People always leave me out of their group hangs, I was in Portland last week but Tobin wouldn’t let me hang out with her because Press was there.”

“Carli was only in town for a couple of hours” Hope replies with a nonchalant hug. “I didn’t think you and Carli were that close anyway.”

“We’re not best buds like you and she but we’re friends” Pinoe answers, shrugging as well. “I always feel like the odd one out, I’m so far away from everyone when I’m in Seattle.”

“I play in Seattle too, I am far away from everyone else as well” Hope says causing Pinoe to scoff playfully.

“You like being a nomad Hope, I don’t” Pinoe says. “I’m outgoing and bubbly, I like to be the centre of attention.”

“Sounds just like someone else I know” Hope replies while nudging me with her elbow.

“There is nothing wrong with wanting to be at the centre of everything” I say with a smile. “It gets you noticed.”

“Is that why you are single KO?” Pinoe says playfully.

“I would watch what you are saying there Peens, from what I’ve heard from Ashlyn things in relationship-ville don’t look too clever for you” I answer smartly but not in a harsh way, I don’t want to hurt Megan’s feelings if it is true about her and her girlfriend on the verge of breaking up.

“They are not the best at the moment” Pinoe answers in a serious tone. “All we seem to do these days is argue, the honeymoon phase only lasts so long.”

“Right” I say with a nod as I eat my salad. Hope and my relationship is very new, I guess you could say we are in the honeymoon phase at the moment so it makes me nervous to think it won’t always be like that.

“I am not sure if we want the same things anymore” Pinoe shares with us. I’ve heard some rumours that there may have been cheating on Megan’s part but I don’t want to feed into that. “I am not the best person to have a serious conversation with so I think we have been kind of dancing around the topic at the moment.”

“I’m not one for serious conversations either but if you leave it any longer before discussing both your issues then it could make it worse” I say, trying to be supportive.

“I guess, I know I still love her” Pinoe says with a small smile that soon fades. “Love doesn’t always mean a relationship can be saved though.”

“Unfortunately it doesn’t” I add, although it probably wasn’t needed. Like I said, I am not good during serious situations unless it’s about me.

“What day are you flying in for camp Megan?” Hope asks, changing the subject.

“The Thursday I think, my agent wants me to have a few days at the rehab centre before practice starts” Pinoe answers. “I’m doing some extra rehab on my knee so I’m not sure if Jill will let me see many minutes during camp.”

“You don’t want to rush an injury” Hope adds.

“I think I did rush it by going to the Olympics” Pinoe says and I nod.

/

“Do you need a ride anywhere KO?” Pinoe asks after we finished lunch and I shake my head.

“It’s ok, I drove here” I answer, getting a strange look from Pinoe. She’s probably wondering how that’s possible since my car is back home in Atlanta. “I have my friend’s car” I add awkwardly.

“Your friend must trust you a lot. Your driving is questionable at times” Pinoe says with a smirk. I may or may not have avoided a speeding ticket in a US team van by flirting shamelessly with a traffic cop one time. It’s probably the last time I ever flirted with a dude.

“Well at least I didn’t take six times to get my driver’s license” I retort cheekily.

“Whatever squirrel” Pinoe replies with a wave of her hand. “I better go, it was nice catching up with you both.”

“It was, see you at camp” I reply as Hope and I wave at Pinoe as she leaves the restaurant.

“Do you want to stay for a cup of coffee?” Hope asks and I smile and nod. “Cappuccino?”

“Yeah, thanks.”

Hope quickly grabs the waitress’s attention to order the drinks and then she moves her chair closer to me so our thighs are touching.

“How was your morning exploring?” Hope asks and I smile before delving into a long story about how I got lost in a department store, how a woman muttered under her breath ‘stupid tourist’ when  I accidentally walked into her and then how I found the perfect gift for my mom’s birthday in a small jewellery store. I missed out the part where I took a wrong turn on my way to lunch and almost crashed Hope’s car. She doesn’t need to know about that.

“How was your morning?” I ask when I finish my story.

“Boring, I think my afternoon is looking up though judging by the company I have right now” Hope tells me as she places her hand on my leg.

“I think so too” comes my reply before I quickly scan the restaurant and then I place a light kiss on Hope’s lips. “Were you ok during lunch, you went a little quiet for a bit?”

“Yeah I was fine” Hope assures me as she squeezes my knee. “I just found it a little awkward when you and Pinoe were talking about her relationship, you know how I am.”

“As long as that’s all it was” I say, smiling softly.

“Yeah babe” Hope says with a smile. “To be honest, I didn’t really know what to say. It’s hard for me to relate to her at the moment given the fact that I am on the completely opposite end of the relationship scale from her. She’s struggling with an established relationship that seems to be making her unhappy whereas I’ve just started a relationship where I am really happy and falling deeper each day.”

“You can be sappy” I smile widely as Hope playfully rolls her eyes.

“You make me feel safe enough to let my guard down” Hope says as if it’s nothing, as if she hasn’t just made my heartbeat quicken or made my jaw hurt from the permanent smile on my face.

/

Its USWNT time again, time to go to camp.

“Babe, where’s all my gloves?” Hope asks frantically.

“I don’t know” I shrug. “Do you really need them, it’s not that cold outside?” I wish I hadn’t opened my mouth now, the glare on Hope’s face could probably kill me.

“My goalkeeping gloves” Hope states and I can’t help but laugh nervously at my mistake. “They were in a Nike zip up bag that I put in my large suitcase.”

“I haven’t seen a Nike bag” I say before setting down the pile of clothes I had in my hand. “Where do you want me to look?”

“Everywhere” Hope snaps but I can tell by her face she immediately regrets it. “I’m sorry Kel, I am just panicking because we need to be at the airport soon to catch our flight.”

“How about I check upstairs and you finish checking down here and the garage?” I suggest to which Hope nods. “Don’t worry, we will find them.”

“Ok” Hope says and I run upstairs.

It doesn’t take me long before I end up finding a Nike bag in my suitcase that I haven’t seen before. On further investigation I realise it is the bag full of Hope’s gloves. I have no idea how they got into my suitcase or which one of us packed them there.

“Any luck?” Hope asks, a little out of breath from taking the stairs so quickly.

“Yes” I say with a smile. “Ta-dah.”

“Where were they?” Hope asks, taking the bag from me.

“In my suitcase” I answer and Hope looks at me in confusion. “I don’t know how it happened either babe.”

“At least you found them, thanks Kel” Hope says, delivering a kiss to my lips.

“Come here” I pull Hope back in for another kiss. If I need to survive camp without being able to kiss her when I want then I need to make sure I get as many kisses as I can before we leave.

“I don’t think I could ever get tired of kissing you” Hope says with a smile, her hands securely on my hips. It used to make me nervous when Hope would look me straight in the eye but now it’s the opposite. I know when she looks right at me that whatever she is saying is the truth.

“Me neither” I reply.

“You like kissing yourself?”

“Very funny” I playfully slap Hope’s arm and give her one more kiss before breaking out of our hold. “We should make our way to the airport.”

“I guess we should” Hope agrees, pulling me in for one last kiss.

/

“Would you say you are a jealous person?” Hope asks as we take our seats on the plane. Thankfully we managed to get two seats together.

“I wasn’t jealous babe” I say with a sigh.

“Your face told me otherwise honey” Hope says amused.

“My face looked like it did because I was annoyed” I say as I look at Hope. “The guy was not only hitting on your but blatantly checking you out, was I invisible or something. I was standing right there.”

“I think hitting on me and checking me out is a little farfetched Kel, he was just an enthusiastic fan” Hope says before placing her hand on my knee. “Even if he was doing those things…”

“He was” I butt in.

“Even if he was, I wasn’t reciprocating the actions” Hope tells me. “I know this will be slightly awkward for us, I am in no way hiding our relationship but we need to be careful around some fans. You would give them an inch and they would take a mile.” I nod in agreement with Hope. “If we weren’t in the spotlight sometimes or no one really knew our names then I wouldn’t care about taking your hand or kissing you in public.”

“I get that and I completely agree, I just don’t appreciate people hitting on my girlfriend when I am standing right there” I say as Hope’s face breaks into a smile. “What?”

“Nothing” Hope smiles.

“Seriously… what?” I question, a small whine in my voice. “Why are you smirking at me?”

“No reason, can’t a woman smile at her girlfriend?” Hope asks as the smile on my face turns nervous. “You just called me your girlfriend.”

“Oh” I say in surprise, I don’t even remember saying that.

“I’m ok with it if you are, that’s where we were heading anyway” Hope says and I smile.

“Ok then” I say, the widest smile I’ve ever had appearing on my face. I’m Hope Solo’s girlfriend, wow just the thought of that creates butterflies in my stomach.

“So… you know how flying and planes are not my thing?” Hope says with a nervous smile.

“I know babe, I’ve got plenty of distraction tactics lined up” I say with a smile, pleased with myself for coming up with a list of ideas. I watch as Hope’s face begins to relax slightly as she smiles at me, her smile is something I don’t ever think I will tire of seeing.

“We should probably arrange a chat with the coaching staff about our relationship” Hope says as she looks at me nervously. “I know we want to keep our relationship quiet for now but I think we need to be honest with our coaches from the start.”

“It’s not really their business though” I say to which Hope laughs softly.

“They’re our employers, we have to tell them” Hope says with a smile. I really love my job but sometimes I just feel suffocated, I have to tell them everything and it feels like I have no control. “I learned the hard way that you have to be honest from the start, I am lucky I am still on the team after I lied about the trouble Jerramy and I got into. It isn’t good to keep secrets in this line of work.”

“It’s not a secret though, it’s just not their business” I say, getting annoyed. “It’s my private life, it has nothing to do with my job.”

“You are in a relationship with someone you work with, unfortunately that is why we need to tell them” Hope says gently. I can’t help but chuckle at the irony. Normally it would be Hope who gets all worked up about stuff and I would be the calm one.

“You mean a lot to me Hope” I say with a smile. “I believe what we have is special and something we should be able to share together, just the two of us. A relationship should be between two people, not two people and a nation.”

“Babe, look at me” Hope demands gently as she takes my hand. “It will be between us, we just have to at least make the coaches aware that we have a relationship. We don’t need to go into detail, just make sure they are in the know.”

“I suppose you are right” I shrug as I take a deep breath.

“I always am” Hope smirks and then throws me a wink.

“Don’t get smug, being right about one thing doesn’t mean you always will be correct” I say, a smile of my own on my face. If I haven’t said it before; Hope Solo is making me believe more and more into my mom’s theory about soulmate’s existing.

Chapter Text

“That really hurt” I complain as I shake my hand to try and get rid of the soreness. “I feel like you just crushed the bones in my hand together.”

“You said I could hold your hand” Hope says with a shrug. If I thought my hand was a little sore from the take-off of the plane when I let Hope hold it, I clearly didn’t think through the crushing pain I would feel during the landing.

“Hold it for support, not squeeze it to break it” I say, wiggling my fingers and rubbing my sore knuckles. “I need this hand babe.”

“My hands are more important than yours Kel” Hope says, taking off her seatbelt now that the plane has fully stopped. “I’m a keeper, my hands are very important for my job.”

“My hands are important too, I have a girlfriend I need to please” I say with a cheeky smile, throwing Hope a wink. Hope just shakes her head with a smile and then she stands up and pulls me out of my seat. “Careful, sore hand remember.”

“I pulled you up with your other hand” Hope responds with a playful roll of her eyes. “Are you always going to be this high maintenance?”

“I am not high maintenance, I will have you know that I am very low maintenance. Maybe a little dramatic when injured but that’s it” I say with a frown as Hope laughs at me. “I’m very easy to please.”

“Oh I know you are easy to please babe, you don’t orgasm from just a simple touch if you’re not” Hope says and I slap her arm, watching her laugh again.

“It wasn’t just a simple touch” I deny, looking directly at Hope who is smirking at me. “Anyway, this isn’t the place to talk about our sex life.”

“You started it” Hope mutters under her breath before we can finally leave the plane. I grab my carryon luggage as Hope guides me to the exit, Hope offering the staff a warm smile as we leave. “Another van is not due for an hour so once we get our other luggage we can go for coffee.”

“Ok babe” I smile, my smile getting bigger when Hope gives me one of her signature smiles. I just don’t understand why she doesn’t smile more often.

“Is your hand ok?” Hope asks when I try to stretch out the pain again. “You know I didn’t intentionally hurt you, right?”

“I know you didn’t” I say with a genuine smile, pecking Hope on the cheek. “I am sure it will be fine, it’s only my left hand so it’s not like I use it much anyway.”

“Maybe get the physio to look at it when we get to camp” Hope suggests and I nod, if it is still sore I probably should get someone to take a look. “I’m sorry babe.”

“It’s ok, I will survive” I smile at Hope.

/

“What’s up O’Hara?” Tobin says as she sits next to me as a group of us wait on a van coming. “When did your flight get here?”

“About an hour ago” I say before looking around me. “Where’s Press, is she not with you?”

“Jeez, we’re not joined at the hip” Tobin answers, sounding annoyed.

“What’s up with you?” I ask, laughing a little. It’s not like cool, calm Tobin to get annoyed.

“Syd, Ashlyn and Broon have all asked me where she is when I met them at the airport Starbucks” Tobin says and I can’t help but laugh at her face, Tobin’s face without a smile is always funny. Everyone is always so used to her cheesy grin so it’s weird when there isn’t a smile on her face.

“Seriously, where is Christen?” I ask, genuinely interested.

“She was visiting friends in New York so her flight won’t arrive until tonight” Tobin says and I nod.

“I will catch up with her later then” I reply. “I guess your company will need to suffice for now.”

“There’s a van outside ladies” Hope announces as she approaches us all. “Let’s go, someone text Ash and Syd. I think they were going to find a restroom.”

“I’m on it” I say, sending Ashlyn a quick text to tell her to get to the van or we will leave without her.

“Everyone please make sure you have everything, we don’t want a trip back here if someone has left something” Broon says, causing Tobin and I to chuckle like school kids.

“When did Broon start acting like mom of the group?” Tobin whispers but not quietly enough.

“Since people on the team like you two couldn’t be trusted” Broon says, narrowing her eyes at Tobin and I. “Try and not leave your cell phone in a shop this time Tobin, you never know who could’ve got it in their possession.”

“I wouldn’t worry Becky, all they would have is like a billion pictures of Press” I say with a laugh. “All she uses her phone for is taking pics of the girlfriend. She never replies to people’s texts.”

“Maybe I just ignore your texts” Tobin says before standing up. “Anyway, stop picking on me. I’ve got my phone in my hand.”

“Let’s go then” Broon says, leading the way with Hope. I may or may not have checked Hope out from behind.

/

“Right O’Hara, we need to go” Hope tells me, breaking my conversation with Syd.

“Go where?” I ask, slightly confused. I don’t remember making plans.

“You know… talk to the coaches, about that thing” Hope says, clearly trying to be discreet and then it clicks in my head. She wants to have our talk with the coaches about our relationship.

“Oh right, yeah ok” I say as I stand up. “I will see you later Syd.”

“Bye roomie” Syd replies and then I leave with Hope.

“You ok?” Hope asks and I nod.

“Yeah, it just kinda feels like being in school all over again” I say. “You know going to the headmaster’s office to confess to your crimes.”

“Were there a lot of crimes?” Hope asks with a smile.

“There were a few minor issues, nothing you need to know at this point” I say, a smile of my own on my face. “I am still trying to impress you so admitting my faults at this stage would be stupid.”

“You don’t need to impress me, I don’t think there’s anything you could do to make me not want to be with you” Hope says and I can tell she genuinely means it.

“In that case then, maybe I should try for the number one keeper spot” I reply jokingly but Hope just continues to smile.

“Even that wouldn’t change my mind” Hope shrugs with a smile.

“You really must like me” I laugh.

“I do” Hope replies, sincerity in her voice. “This is why we need to be truthful with the coaches, our relationship is a big deal and it means a lot to me.”

“It means a lot to me too” I add, I don’t think I can believe how happy I feel around Hope. Even when I am not physically around her, I can’t stop thinking about her.

“Here we are” Hope says, looking at me as we stand outside the hotel conference room. That’s normally the room where the coaches will set up as their ‘office’ type area. “Ready to go in?”

“Almost” I reply, pulling Hope in for a kiss. “I am ready now.”

“Ok” Hope nods and then she gently knocks on the door. After a few minutes we hear a faint command of ‘come in’ in Dawn’s voice. This is making me really nervous, I think it’s because it means so much. I don’t need the coaches backing to date Hope, I am going to be with Hope regardless of what they think but I would obviously prefer if there were no issues.

“Good afternoon ladies” Dawn says with a smile. “How can I help you?”

We are both silent for a few seconds before Hope takes a deep breath and then starts talking. We agreed Hope would do most of the talking because I tend to get awkward during serious conversations and I was bound to either make a stupid joke or say the wrong thing. Hope will take the lead and I will add my thoughts when needed.

The discussion doesn’t really take long, no offence but with two other couples already on the team then I am sure the coaches are used to these conversations already. Everything was fine to be honest, the coaches have no problems as long as we are professional when we need to be.

“That wasn’t so bad was it” Hope says and I shrug. “Do you want to hang out for a bit before our team meeting later?”

“I guess, I’ve got nothing better to do” I say, giving Hope one of my cheeky smiles.

“Am I just a stepping stone until something better comes along?” Hope asks and I pretend to think about it before I kiss Hope.

“Not at all babe.”

“Good answer” Hope smiles smugly before pulling me down a small corridor and then I feel her placing a gentle kiss on my lips. “I have a feeling I won’t get to kiss you as much as I want during these next two weeks.”

“It is a business trip after all babe” I say with a smile, feeling content with Hope holding me close.

“I know but it’s going to be so hard refraining from kissing or touching you” Hope tells me, using one of her hands to carefully remove a few runaway hairs from my face and place them behind my ear. “You’re so beautiful Kel, I actually can’t believe how lucky I am that you decided to take a chance on me.”

“Are you kidding me?” I say with a chuckle. “Hope, I’ve had a crush on you for as long as I can remember, I am the lucky one. I never thought I would ever stand a chance with you.”

“Why not?” Hope asks, a mixture of amusement and genuine curiosity on her face.

“There are like a billion reasons I could give you” I say with a laugh as I move my hands to Hope’s hips and I stare into her eyes. “I am not going to bore you with them, the important thing is that we both want to be together so my past insecurities don’t matter now. You like me for me right?”

“Yeah… I really really do” Hope says with a happy sigh, pulling me into another kiss. A kiss that soon turns out to be more than just innocent, Hope’s hands moving to dangerous places.

“Babe we need to stop, what if someone sees us?” I ask through a giggle.

“No one will see us” Hope replies, kissing my lips.

/

The rest of camp passed by quickly. Hope and I decided to keep our relationship under wraps, I don’t like hiding stuff from my best friends but I also don’t want to be forced into doing something that Hope and I aren’t sure of yet. We had a talk the other night and we decided that we both want to tell our family next before anyone else knows.

After camp we spent some time apart, Hope went back to Seattle to finalise details on the house she is going to rent and to finalise the sale on her house while I have been travelling between LA and New York doing some promotional events with Under Armour.

Before I head to Georgia for Thanksgiving I have managed to sneak in a small trip to Seattle to see Hope’s new place and help her get settled in.

I am currently waiting on Hope picking me up from the airport, she was supposed to be here ten minutes ago but a crash on the freeway has caused her to be stuck in traffic. I am so excited to see her, I feel like I haven’t seen her in forever. Things have been going so good between us, it is definitely the start of something very special.

I’ve always went with the flow, doing things at my own leisure and taking one day at a time but with Hope, I actually enjoy making plans. I love including her into my plans and fitting my schedule around our relationship not the opposite. It gives me a sense of what’s important, I want Hope and I to work.

The sound of my phone brings me out of my thoughts revealing I have a text message.

Hope: Be there in 2 minutes x

I quickly text back, letting Hope know I will be waiting outside when she arrives.

/

“Have you actually unpacked anything babe?” I ask. Hope has been showing me around the new place for the last five minutes and all I have seen is a bed and lots of boxes.

“Yeah, the kitchen is completely done” Hope answers. “All the dogs’ things are unpacked too.”

“Did you actually move in two weeks ago or two hours ago?” I ask playfully, earning a light slap on the arm from Hope.

“I just haven’t decided where I want to put everything yet” Hope answers.

“How am I supposed to get a peaceful night’s sleep with all this chaos around me?”

“I don’t know, in my arms?” Hope suggests, throwing me a wink.

“So smooth Solo” I reply before pecking Hope’s lips and then I start trying to organise the boxes. “This box labelled bedroom should probably go in the bedroom.”

“You are so smart babe, Stanford just wasn’t challenging enough for you.”

“The more cheeky remarks you make, the less kisses you are getting” I warn but Hope just laughs. Just the sound of Hope’s laugh get my heart racing, when she laughs it makes me feel happy because I know she is happy.

“You can’t resist me Kel” Hope boasts with a smirk. “I know that is just an empty threat, those kisses have the same impact on you as they do on me.”

“I know, I can’t help that I like you so much” I say as Hope presses a gentle kiss to my lips. “Can I just say how happy I am that you took my advice and went for the lease on this place?”

“You’ve already told me like ten times Kel” Hope laughs. “But I have to admit, if it hadn’t been for you I probably would’ve picked that tiny place with the creepy neighbour so thank you for being the voice of reason.”

“Whatever you need, I am always here” I say with a firm nod and a smile.

“Whatever I need?” Hope says suggestively, pulling me closer to her and kissing me. “How about we take an afternoon nap before dinner. You did tell me earlier that my bedroom is your favourite room in this place.”

“It’s my favourite because of the view from the window” I say, allowing Hope access to my neck with her soft lips.

“Maybe we can add another few reasons to really consolidate why it’s your favourite” Hope says, momentarily breaking away from my neck.

“Maybe we can” I smile, allowing my girlfriend to lead me to her bedroom.

We don’t waste any time when we reach the bedroom, clothes are discarded quickly and before I know it I am on Hope’s bed with her hovering above me. We stare at each other for a few minutes, breathing in the sight of each other. It feels like this is long overdue, reconnecting on a physical level is what we need. There’s something about Hope that pulls me to her, I want everything from her and more. The connection I have with Hope is something I feel I haven’t had with someone else before, especially the physical connection. I don’t know how to describe it, it is more than just sex or feeling pleasure with someone you deeply care about.

The feeling of Hope’s soft hands as they roam my body like they are now makes me feel cared for, the feeling of Hope’s lips on my skin make me feel special, the feeling of her naked body against mine when she spoons me makes me feel safe and secure, and finally the look in her eyes when she looks directly into my eyes make me feel protected.

“Babe… are you ok?” Hope whispers gently, stilling her hands on my body to look into my eyes.

“I’m ok, I’m more than ok” I reply, watching the concerned look on Hope’s face turn into a grin.

“Good” Hope says with a nod, taking my lips in hers before she kisses her way down my body. I can tell by Hope’s touches and by the way that I am feeling that neither of us will be able to last long today. We’ve been apart too long, missed the physical connection so much that I think we are both going to crumble quickly. It doesn’t matter though because I genuinely believe Hope and I have the rest of our lives to be together; to make love in whichever way we want when we want.

/

“Good morning sexy” I say as I wrap my arms round Hope from behind. This is my first morning waking up in Hope’s new place. I got woken up by the sun streaming through the window, showcasing large views of Seattle. The sound of Onyx and his squeaky toy bone also played a part in my awakening but I don’t mind, I like Onyx so I will let it pass.

“Morning” Hope replies before turning in my arms so that I can kiss her cheek. “Coffee?”

“Oh yes please” I say eagerly. “I can’t function in the morning without coffee.”

Hope pours me a cup of coffee before she leads me over to the kitchen table and we sit at either side. “What do you want to do today?”

“I don’t know babe, I think I just want to spend time with you” I answer simply. “I’ve missed you the last couple of weeks.”

“I need to run a few errands this morning but after that I am free” Hope says, sipping on her coffee. “I don’t know if I am used to this place yet, it’s smaller than what my house was.”

“I think most changes take time to get used to” I reply, smiling at Hope. “Do you regret selling your house?”

“Not really to be honest” Hope shrugs. “I’m not committed enough to Seattle to purchase another house so I think leasing this place is what’s right for me just now. I loved my house but when Jerramy moved in then our marriage broke it didn’t feel like the same place anymore.”

“I understand” I say with a nod.

“I’m not entirely sure if Seattle is where I want to spend the rest of my life” Hope says quietly. “I used to think it was but now I’m not so sure.”

“Sometimes things change” I say, giving Hope a supportive smile. “Is there anywhere you think you would want to move to and perhaps settle?”

“That’s depends” Hope says with a shy smile.

“On what?” I ask with a smile, taking Hope’s hand in mine.

“Is it too soon to factor you into my future?” Hope asks and I blush slightly. “I just feel like since things are going so well between us then maybe when the time comes for me to settle in one place then I will have you to make the decision with.”

“You mean like settling somewhere together?” I ask, trying to contain the excited butterflies in my stomach. We haven’t been together long enough to seriously consider this so at the moment it will remain as a hopeful dream.

“I mean… yeah” Hope says calmly. “I know it would be a few years from now but sometimes I can’t help but let my mind wander there. It doesn’t scare me to think that maybe we could still be together then.”

“I feel the same, I know it is too soon to predict what the future will be like but I have a really good feeling about us” I say, really struggling to remove the smile on my face.

“I just want us to be on the same page” Hope says. “I don’t want to scare you off but I also don’t want to hide things. This relationship is serious to me and if I am being honest my mind will wander to the future so I don’t want you to be put off by that.”

“It’s serious to me too, I don’t care if your mind wanders” I say with a smile.

“When are you going to Georgia?” Hope asks as she stands up and deposits our coffee cups in the sink.

“Are you trying to get rid of me already babe?” I ask in mock offense. “A girl takes time out of her very hectic schedule to visit her girlfriend and her girlfriend doesn’t even want her here.”

“Not at all, I am trying to establish right down to the second the amount of time I have with you so I can use it as wisely as possible” Hope says, walking over to me and placing a soft kiss on my lips. “Quite the opposite actually, I want to spend as much time as I can with you.”

“Aw that’s sweet” I say, pulling Hope in for another kiss. “We are not going to turn out like those couples who are overly attached at the hip are we, I mean I want to spend time with you but I don’t want to be glued together all the time.”

“Yeah that’s not my style either, don’t worry” Hope says with a soft laugh.

“My flight is on Tuesday so I will be here for another few days” I answer Hope’s original question.

“That’s good.”

“Can we go to that Mexican restaurant tonight?” I ask excitedly. “The one you took me to the last time, with the amazing tacos?”

“Sure we can” Hope smiles. “As long as you don’t flirt with the waitress again.”

“I wasn’t flirting with her” I say as I slap Hope on the arm playfully. “We were just chatting.”

“I know babe” Hope smiles. “What time do you want me to make reservations for?”

“About seven?” I suggest and Hope nods.

“I will do that when I am doing my errands” Hope says, kissing me one last time. “Do you need anything picked up when I’m out?”

“No thanks” I reply as I watch Hope walk towards the door.

“See you later.”

“Bye” I answer with a smile.

/

“Promise me you won’t spend all day alone” I say as I begin to straddle Hope on the couch. “It’s Thanksgiving, I don’t want you to spend it alone.” Hope and I have had so much fun spending time together these last few days but sadly our time is up. I am going back home to my family for Thanksgiving and I am not sure if I will see Hope much before Christmas.

“I told you, I will visit my mom for a while” Hope tells me, placing her hands on my hips.

“That better be the truth Solo” I warn, raising my eyebrow in suspicion.

“Baby, I promise I won’t spend the whole day on my own” Hope assures me. “Trust me Kel.”

“I do trust you honey.”

“Good, now go get ready” Hope says. “Your parents are waiting so you don’t want to miss your flight.”

“Are you sure you don’t want to come with me?” I ask hopefully, I’ve been dropping hints for days but I am not sure if Hope has picked up on them or not. If she has, she hasn’t made it obvious she knows what I am doing. “We can get you a last minute ticket at the airport.”

“I would love to come with you Kel but you know I can’t” Hope answers, kissing my cheek. “I’ve got meetings with my sponsors plus we’ve only been together a short while. Your parents don’t even know you are dating, I think it is best you tell them first and then we can arrange a meeting.”

“Hope, they will love you” I say, giving Hope my best pleading face.

“I like your optimism Kel but that’s not my point” Hope tells me as she gently moves her hands to my shoulders. “Our relationship means a lot to me, it’s a big deal so I don’t want to rush this. I want us to do things the right way.”

 “Ok” I say with a smile.

“And while you are telling your parents then I am going to tell my family” Hope says and I kiss her. “I am not too sure how they will take it though, I’m kinda nervous.”

“Don’t be nervous babe, parents love me” I say cockily, trying to lighten the mood. “I think your family will think you are amazing for managing to get a catch like me.” Hope chuckles softly, kissing me on the cheek.

“Thanks Kel” Hope says sincerely.

“I know things are going really fast between us so if you meet your family and decide it isn’t the best time to tell them about us then don’t” I say, settling myself to sit on Hope’s lap as I look into her eyes. “I am definitely going to tell my family, partly because I am rubbish at hiding stuff so it will be obvious to them but mostly because I genuinely feel ready to do so.” Hope nods, letting me continue. “If you don’t feel ready then don’t tell them, please don’t feel pressured because I am telling my family.”

“I am ready Kel, the whole world can know about us” Hope says and I smile at her. “My only reservation would be if my family are ready to hear it.”

“I just want you to be comfortable” I say genuinely as Hope’s hands land on my hips again.

“I don’t exactly have a close relationship with my family, it’s getting better than it used to be but it’s nothing like your family” Hope says, taking a deep breath. “My grandma will be the easiest to tell, I am just not sure about the others. Personally I don’t care what they think, I just feel awkward having personal conversations with my family.”

“I am going to miss you” I say with a gentle smile. “I don’t want to turn out like those couples like Tobin and Christen who constantly whine when they’re not together but this week was good, it felt…normal.”

“Am I that boring?” Hope asks playfully.

“I didn’t mean normal as in plain, I meant like…” I start, struggling to find the correct words. “Like, being a couple. Doing stuff together, coming home to the same place to each other.”

“We are in a relationship so it makes sense” Hope says with a cheeky smirk and I hit her arm again.

“I am being serious Hope, I’ve been in relationship before, and this just feels different” I say. “Good different.”

“Good” Hope nods. “I will miss you too babe” Hope says with a smile before leaning up to peck me on the lips.

“I guess we should make our way to the airport so I don’t miss my flight” I say, albeit reluctantly as I stand up.

“Just before we leave, I just want to know what your plans are after Thanksgiving” Hope says, grabbing her phone from the coffee table, presumably to check her calendar. “I’ve got a few meetings this week and next week but then its less hectic, I was hoping we could meet up before Christmas unless you are staying in Georgia right through to Christmas.”

“That’s just a little too much time with my family” I say, laughing softly. I love my family but almost six weeks with them is a little much. “I would love to meet up.”

“I feel bad that you always visit me in Seattle and I don’t do much of the travelling” Hope says, grabbing my hands.

“I don’t mind” I say honestly. “You’ve got the dogs here, it makes sense for me to travel to you than you to me. It saves you from having to put the dogs into the kennels.”

“I guess” Hope says before smiling. “I have a meeting in Florida next week, how about you meet me out there and we can spend a few days there.”

“This will be the perfect opportunity for me to teach you how to surf” I say excitedly, now I can’t wait.

“We will think about that, I am not fully sure if surfing is my thing” Hope says, kissing me lightly. “Tell me when you are thinking of leaving Georgia and I will book and pay for your flight.” I go to object but Hope stops me with another kiss. “Don’t even think about fighting me on this, I am paying for the whole trip.”

“Fine, ok” I give in.

“Let’s get you to the airport” Hope says, leading me towards the hallway. “Do you have everything packed?”

“I hope so” I say with a chuckle. “It’s too late if I haven’t.”

“Let’s go then babe, your flight awaits.”

“I just wanna do something first” I say, pulling Hope into a deep kiss.

“What was that for?” Hope smiles happily.

“It’s a ‘goodbye for now’ kiss because I am going to miss you and I doubt I would get away with kissing you like that at the airport” I say with a shrug and then I make my way to the car, Hope following closely behind me.

Chapter Text

“What is up with you sis?” Erin asks as we eat breakfast. This is the first time I have spent properly with Erin since I arrived.

“What do you mean?” I reply while picking at my bagel.

“You are acting really weird and secretive.”

“No, I’m not” I disagree, waving off the suggestion.

“You keep making secret phone calls, you flipped out when mom touched your phone, and you are practically glued to your phone honey” Erin tells me. “If I didn’t know any better I would say that you are acting like you did when you got with Hannah.”

“The more you go on about Hannah the more I think you secretly like her” I say with a shrug. “You are the only one that still talks about her, even mom doesn’t mention her that much.”

“Shut up” Erin says as she shakes her head. “I have a boyfriend.”

“So did I when I first met Hannah, are you in love with my ex-girlfriend?”

“I know you are in a relationship Kelley so stop deflecting” Erin says bluntly. “All the signs are there… well, apart from who you are in a relationship with.” I nod my head. “Are you?”

“Am I what?” I ask with a knowing smile before sipping my coffee.

“Are you in a relationship?”

“I am involved in lots of relationships” I answer. “I have a sibling relationship with you and Jerry, mom and I have a mother-daughter relationship, I…”

“Stop acting like a child, are you in a romantic relationship or not?”

“Yes.”

“Don’t lie, I… wait you just said yes?” Erin says. “So you admit it then?”

“Of course I do, it is not some teenage secret” I state truthfully. “I was just annoying you, I had every intention of telling you this trip. I just wanted to find the right time and I wanted to tell you first without Karen giving me the third degree.”

“Mom will be happy for you.”

“I know but she will also be a little too excited so I wanted to speak to you first” I say, earning a smile from my sister. “I always tell you first.”

“Oh my god, you are getting so shy” Erin says with a smug grin. “This girl… means something to you.”

“I feel like I am sixteen again Erin, this really isn’t me” I admit. “Normally I could just tell you I am dating someone new but this is so different, she makes me feel all these things I have never felt before.”

 “You are so smitten, how long have you been together?”

“We haven’t been together long but we were old friends who lost their way and have reconnected again” I say.

“Just to be clear… it’s not Hannah?”

“I will throw my coffee all over you Erin.”

“Not Hannah then, I was just checking” Erin says before she holds her hands up in innocence. “Who is she then?”

“It’s…”

“Good morning ladies, how are you both?” My mom asks as she comes striding into the kitchen with a large grin on her face.

“We are fine mom, how are you?” Erin replies politely.

“You are looking very happy this morning” I observe. “Is it because your favourite daughter is visiting?”

“You are both my favourites” my mom answers before joining us at the table. “I hope you are both free for dinner tonight.”

“I am” Erin says before I nod and confirm I will be free for dinner.

“Good because I want to have a small family dinner before all the extended family turn up for Thanksgiving tomorrow” my mom tells us.

“Sounds nice mom, count me in” I reply before standing up and taking my dishes over to the sink. “I was going to go to the gym today Erin if you want to come.”

“Sure sis, give me twenty minutes and I will be ready to go” Erin replies with a smile and I smile back at her. I’ve really missed my sister, we’ve had our ups and downs but she will always be one of the closest people in my life. No matter how much I get on her nerves, she is always there for me when I need her.

/

“How’s it going with you?” I ask Hope through the phone.

“I am actually just about to leave babe” Hope replies before I hear her muttering something to Onyx. “I called my mom and I am going over there tomorrow for Thanksgiving dinner, I am meeting up with my goalkeeping coach this afternoon to go over some drills.”

“I am just about to go to the gym with Erin” I say as I sit down on my bed. “Erin knows I am dating someone, she just doesn’t know it’s you yet.”

“Have you told your parents yet?” Hope asks before I hear something smashing. “Fuck.”

“Are you ok?” I ask, a mixture of amusement and concern in my voice.

“I am fine, the dogs are just misbehaving and when I turned to scold them I knocked a coffee cup off the counter” Hope says and then I hear her sternly telling the dogs to go to their beds.

“It’s not my favourite cup is it; the blue one?” I ask.

“No its not” Hope says and I smile, I love that cup.

“Good” I nod. “If it’s a bad time I can call you later.”

“No its ok, I have a few minutes” Hope responds. “So, yeah… did you tell your parents yet?”

“Not yet, I am going to do it at dinner” I answer. “I haven’t had my mom and dad’s attention at the same time yet so I thought it was best to wait until we are all together.”

“Makes sense” Hope says and then I hear her sigh. “I miss you already, is that weird?”

“Not at all, I miss you too” I reply truthfully. “It won’t be long until we see each other though.”

“You ready to go sis” Erin says after bursting into my room unannounced.

“Knock much” I mutter to Erin before I go back to my phone conversation. “I got to go babe, I will talk to you tonight.”

“Ok Kel, bye” Hope says gently.

“Bye baby” I reply back before we both hang up.

“Ever heard of boundaries” I ask my sister as I stand up and grab my gym back, ushering Erin out the door as I walk. I know it is a little hypocritical coming from me since I don’t know the concept of boundaries.

“Was that your girl?” Erin asks with a teasing smile.

“What gave it away?” I ask sarcastically. “Yes, it was her.”

“You better tell me everything” Erin warns, pointing her finger at me. “Except any sex parts, which I don’t need to know.”

“Not something I would share with you anyway” I reply.

/

“I have to admit, I can’t say I am entirely shocked that it’s Hope Solo” Erin says as we leave the treadmills. “You’ve always had a crush on her.”

“Can you just call her Hope, you don’t need to double name her every time?” I ask as I take a seat on the benches to retie my shoelaces.

“Sorry” Erin apologises as she sits next to me. “She’s quite sexy in a sort of brooding mysterious way, don’t you think?”

“Yeah but its more than that, there’s deeper layers to her than what everyone sees” I respond, trying not to smile too much. “We just seem to have a connection, one that I didn’t even know I could have with someone.”

“Do you think you could fall in love with her?” Erin asks seriously.

“I think I’ve already fell” I say timidly, I am just nervous that everything is going so fast.

“Really?” Erin asks and I nod.

“Is it too soon, I am just worried it’s too soon?”

“If you genuinely feel it then it’s not too soon, go with your gut” Erin tells me. “The fact that you want to tell mom and dad properly shows that it isn’t just some silly crush.”

“It’s hard to describe how I feel but like it feels like I am in love, it feels really good” I say with a smile. “It’s a stronger, deeper feeling than I’ve experienced with anyone else before.”

“It sounds a lot like love to me, I am guessing you haven’t told Hope yet?” I shake my head at Erin’s question.

“Not yet, it wasn’t really the right time and I didn’t want to rush it” I answer.

“Sometimes you just have to go for it” Erin says and I nod, I guess I do. I just get really nervous when I am trying to say something serious. That’s probably the reason why I have been avoiding mom and dad, I want them to know about Hope.

/

“How’s life Kelley?” my mom asks, making me chuckle.

“Life is life mom” I answer before looking at my mom suspiciously. She knows something, I can tell by the look in her eye. She knows something I haven’t told her yet. “What’s that look mom?”

“What look?” my mom replies, feigning innocence.

“Did you tell her Erin?” I ask, glaring at my older sister as she eats a mouthful of potato.

“No sis, we have a pact” Erin says with a firm nod. “We tell each other stuff and don’t share with mom.”

“Oh really?” my mom says, raising her eyebrow in question.

“That’s probably something that should’ve been included in the pact Erin” Jerry says snickering like he used to do when we were kids.

“I think you have already figured it out mom but I may as well tell you” I say, taking a deep breath as my mom smiles at me.

“Uh-huh” my mom nods, a pleased look on her face at figuring me out.

“Your suspicions are correct, I am pregnant” I say.

“I knew it” my mom smiles and then suddenly frowns. “Wait…what?”

Erin and Jerry can’t hold in their laugh as I try and pull a serious face.

“Don’t act so shocked mom, I knew you knew” I say, keeping up my serious façade.

“No… I… eh… Kelley how…” my mom stutters, must be the first time Karen O’Hara has ever been rendered speechless. “The… father… woman… date”

“She’s going Solo” Erin says, Jerry and her cackling like two school kids. I would laugh but the amount of times Erin has used Hope’s last name in some pathetic joke is just getting redundant now.

“I don’t… understand” my mom says, a look of horror on her face. “How can a woman get you pregnant…? Dan?” she says before looking at my father.

“Mom, I’m joking” I say, patting my mom’s shoulder. “You can relax, I am not pregnant. It’s not really possible for me at this point to be pregnant.”

“I want to kill you right now” my mom says, not looking amused at all.

“I will join you in killing her” my dad says, looking less amused than my mom.

“Then you won’t be able to meet my girlfriend and see how happy I am” I say with a smile. “That’s the real news by the way, no pregnancy just a new girlfriend.”

“Is this the truth?” my mom asks and I nod. “I thought you were dating someone, you haven’t looked this happy in a while, it isn’t…”

“Don’t say Hannah because it isn’t her” I butt in with a sigh. Why does everyone think Hannah is the only person who makes me happy?

“Who is it then?” my mom asks. “I can’t wait to tell your grandma.”

“Can you promise not to overreact?” I ask and my mom nods, she would tell me yes anyway whether she is going to overreact or not. “It’s a teammate.”

“Just tell me their name” mom says excitedly.

“Jeez mom, excited much” I laugh. Karen O’Hara really does love putting her nose in other people’s business.

“Obviously, if someone is putting such a wide smile on my baby’s face then I want to know who it is” my mom tells me before she starts guessing names. “Is it Sam?”

“Sam?” I ask in confusion, why on earth would she think its Mewis. I barely know the girl.

“Sam Kerr” my mom says as if it’s obvious. “Your roommate and teammate.”

“Not a teammate from Sky Blue” I say. “From the national team.”

“Now this is interesting…” my mom says with a gleeful smile.

“It’s Hope Solo” I say, preventing my mom from taking any more guesses.

“Very funny sweetheart, now tell me the truth please” my mom laughs.

“It really is Hope” I answer with a genuine smile.

“It is mom, as much as I hate giving my sister an ego boost but they actually seem really perfect together” Erin says sincerely.

“When can I meet her, as your girlfriend I mean” my mom asks. “I know I have met her before but I want to meet her properly.”

“Hope and I were talking the other night, since we are spending Christmas apart we wanted to spend New Year’s together” I say, taking a deep breath. I don’t know why I am so nervous to ask. “I was wondering if Hope could join in on our O’Hara style New Year’s plans.”

“Absolutely, I would love that” my mom smiles widely. “I think your grandma would love it even more.”

“Yeah about grandma, can you make sure she behaves” I ask with a small laugh. If anyone were to scare Hope or chase her away it would be my grandma. She says what she thinks and doesn’t care who hears, some people lose their filter as they get older but not my grandma; she never had a filter in the first place.

/

The next few days pass by without a problem, I loved being back home spending time with my family and reliving our past Thanksgivings. Now it is time to go and see my girlfriend. Since Hope had a meeting this morning we decided that I would just meet her at our hotel room. I am kinda excited, it’s not a vacation as such but I am looking forward to spending time with Hope here and hopefully trying to convince her to come surfing with me. I don’t get to visit Florida that much so it will be good.

After collecting my key from the hotel reception I quickly make my way to our room so I can shower and put on some fresh clothes before Hope gets back. I actually can’t believe how excited I feel to see her, I know it’s only been a few days apart but I feel like I have really missed her.

It doesn’t take me long to get myself freshened up and my suitcase unpacked when I hear the hotel room door open and Hope walks in.

“Hi beautiful” Hope says with a megawatt smile.

“Hi” I answer back, making my way over to Hope to hug her.

“Did you get here ok?” Hope asks after pecking me on the cheek.

“I got here fine, you picked a really nice hotel” I say with a smile before leading Hope over to the small couch in the corner. “How was Thanksgiving?”

“Not great if I am being honest babe” Hope says as we sit down on the couch, our thighs squashed together and Hope’s arm around my shoulder.

“Why?” I ask worriedly. “What happened?”

“It doesn’t really matter, let’s forget about it” Hope says, placing a gentle kiss on my lips. “I just want to have fun with my girlfriend.”

“Fine” I say with a gentle smile, I am not letting Hope off that easily though. I will revisit this topic at some point. “Did you miss me?”

“I actually did, I am not saying I didn’t think I would miss you but I don’t quite think I expected to miss you as much as I did” Hope says before laughing softly. “That sounded a little sappier than I meant.”

“It’s all good babe, I missed you a lot too” I reply with a wide grin before I try to move even closer to Hope if that’s even possible. “My family is cool with you coming for New Years, they all seem pretty excited to officially meet you.”

“Cool, I am looking forward to it” Hope says with a small smile.

“You don’t sound as excited as I thought you would be, if you think it’s too soon then its ok babe” I say but Hope shakes her head.

“It’s not too soon babe” Hope assures me.

“What’s wrong then?” I ask, taking Hope’s hand in mine.

“I guess I am just a little worried that I won’t make a good impression, I am quite awkward to begin with” Hope says before turning to look at me. “I want your family to like me but it makes me nervous because you and your family are so different to me and my so called family.”

“Something happened at Thanksgiving didn’t it” I say, squeezing Hope’s hand. “You were pretty excited and confident about meeting my family before and now you’re not. Did something happen with your family?”

“Sort of” Hope says with a shrug, looking away from me.

“Tell me about it” I say, gently placing my other hand on Hope’s face and guiding it around to look at me.

“There was a bit of an argument between me and my brother which resulted in me walking out before Thanksgiving dinner” Hope says causing me to sigh sadly. While I am having the time of my life with my family, Hope ended up doing the one thing I wished she wouldn’t do; spend Thanksgiving alone.

“What happened?” I ask, pulling Hope in for a hug.

“I knew it wouldn’t go as smooth as I hoped it would” Hope starts, turning to look at me. “I am used to all the stupid arguments and underhanded remarks but it just got too much for me. I just don’t want to be a part of so much negativity. I like it when I am around you because you are so positive about everything and it’s so refreshing, being with my family made me realise that I don’t want to live like that anymore.”

“I’m sorry babe” I say, kissing Hope gently.

“I told them about us dating” Hope says looking at me. “Apart from my brother being an ass, everyone else was happy for me. I know I am not an angel but I feel like my brother ruins everything. Is it so wrong to want my family to be able to get through one dinner without an argument?” Hope finishes, turning to look out the window.

“Hope look at me” I say as Hope turns to look at me.

“You’re amazing babe” I say with a smile. “Every family is different, they do things in different ways but deep down I know your family loves you. Your brother doesn’t realise how lucky he is to have a sister like you.”

“I am not normally this mopey about stuff, I don’t know…” Hope shrugs. “It just hit me a little harder this time for some reason, I just felt so out of place. Maybe I am just tired of arguing and fighting with them. I just want a normal life for a change.”

“You won’t get normal dating me honey” I say with a laugh. “I’m as weird and boisterous as they come.” Hope laughs softly. “I just want you to be happy Hope, I hate that you feel so alone sometimes.”

“You make me happy Kel” Hope says before taking a deep breath. “I’m so lucky to have you.”

“You are very lucky” I say cockily before kissing Hope’s lips gently. “Seriously though, are you ok now?”

“I’m good babe” Hope says before removing her arms from around me. “Are you taking me for a surf lesson then?”

“Really?” I ask excitedly, kissing Hope repeatedly when she nods her head.

“Don’t make me regret this O’Hara” Hope warns but I promise her I won’t.

/

“How would you rate me as a teacher then?” I ask as we make out way out of the sea with our surfboards and up to the dry sand to dry off.

“I would say, two out of ten” Hope says and I punch her arm lightly causing her to laugh. “Ok, ok… probably eight out of ten.”

“Why didn’t I get ten out of ten?” I ask with a pout that Hope kisses away.

“There is always room for improvement Kel” Hope says as we sit down on the sand, laying the surfboards next to us. “You were a good teacher, maybe don’t try and deliberately push your next student off the board so much.”

“I figured since you enjoyed a challenge you wouldn’t mind me trying to put you off” I say with a cheeky smile, peeling the top of my wetsuit down.

“I must admit, my first time surfing isn’t as bad as I thought it would be” Hope says, removing her wetsuit fully to leave her in just her bikini. “I can’t say I like the wetsuit though, it is a little tight.”

“That’s kinda the point babe” I say with a smile.

“I had a lot of fun anyway” Hope says, gently kissing me.

“Me too.”

“If you’re lucky I may consider letting you take me surfing again” Hope says and I smile. “What do you want to do for the rest of the day?”

“I just want to spend time with you” I say simply, feeling really content with how things are going between us.

/

“Are you avoiding me on purpose?” Hope asks, sitting down on the sand next to me. “Have I done something wrong, you seemed off last night when we were… you know?”

“I just…”

“Did I hurt you last night because if I did then I promise we don’t need to try that again?” Hope asks and I automatically shake my head.

“Babe, you didn’t hurt me” I say, squeezing my girlfriend’s hand and smiling at her. “Last night was good, amazing in fact. I definitely wouldn’t be opposed to you doing that to me again.”

“Why do I feel like you are not yourself, am I coming on too strong in public?” Hope asks and I shake my head.

“It’s not you baby, you are fucking amazing…”

“Please don’t say ‘it’s not you it’s me’ because that doesn’t work for me” Hope says jokingly.

“I am not breaking up with you” I say with a laugh. “This is the complete opposite of breaking up.”

“I don’t get it” Hope says, clearly confused as to what I am trying to say. I think it is probably best if I just swallow the nerves and say it. I want to say it, I just don’t want to scare Hope or make her think she has to be on my level.

“I… eh...” I start nervously, suddenly feeling very emotional. This isn’t me, why do I feel like this? I don’t even cry at sad stuff, why I have the urge to tear up when I need to be strong.

“Kel, what is it?” Hope says concerned. The caring look in her eyes and the way she is holding me gives me all the courage I need.

“I’ve fallen in love with you” I say, laughing a little out of nervousness.

“Wait… that’s why you’ve been acting weird?” Hope asks and I nod, confused at the smile on Hope’s face. “Baby, I thought you were having second thoughts about us or something” Hope says, laughing while shaking her head.

“You couldn’t lose me, I am in far too deep” I say, taking a deep breath. “I’ve never been this deep before, I know I am…”

“Kelley O’Hara I love you” Hope says effortlessly and simply, like it is something she says every day. “I am in love with you, I wanted to tell you yesterday but I was worried I would spook you.”

“I love you too” I sigh out. I’ve kept that a secret for so long and now I am finally glad I can say it out loud. “I love you Hope.”

Hope smiles widely at me before we decide to make our way back to the hotel.

“I was thinking” Hope says with a smile, taking my hand in hers as we walk along the beach. “How about we go back to my place in Seattle and have like a mini Christmas together before we both leave to spend Christmas with our families?”

“That sounds cool, we can swap gifts then” I say excitedly. “I’m so excited now, we should cook a Christmas dinner and everything.”

“We should” Hope smiles. “We can have our own little party.”

/

“Wake up Hopey” I say with a smile, bouncing Hope’s bed to try and wake my girlfriend.

“Do you really need to jump on my bed?” Hope asks, pulling the duvet closer to her neck and trying to close her eyes.

“Babe, this is our Christmas day” I say, shaking Hope before I throw myself on the bed and stare at her. “Wake up babe.”

“What time is it?” Hope mumbles into the pillow.

“Its six” I reply, laughing lightly at the loud groan from Hope.

“Go back to sleep Kel… six in the morning, seriously?” Hope says, desperately willing her eyes to close.

“No, you need to wake up” I say once again, kissing Hope on the nose.

“You could’ve woke me up in a nicer way” Hope says, turning around to lay on her back and turning her head to look at me. “Is it not too early?”

“Stop whining” I state, kissing Hope’s lips. “I did consider waking you up with sex but I am more excited for us to exchange gifts than for sex.”

“Oh wow… my girlfriend really is weird” Hope says and I slap her shoulder. “Give me a few minutes to fully wake up.”

“Ok babe, I will just cuddle you for a few minutes but then we are getting up” I say with a sigh, readjusting my position to snuggle in a Hope’s side.

“So I am guessing you want presents before breakfast?” Hope says as she lazily strokes her finger up and down my arm.

“Coffee first then presents then breakfast” I say, kissing Hope’s shoulder. “After breakfast we are going to take the dogs a walk, watch a movie or two then we will have lunch and then we can start prepping for dinner.”

“Will I be able to fit a run into this schedule?” Hope asks and I tut.

“No babe, this is Christmas day” I say. “There will be no work.”

“Technically it isn’t Christmas babe” Hope says and I turn to look at her.

“It’s not officially but it’s the closest we will get to have a Christmas Day together” I say with a smile. “I just wanna be with you today, pretend that there isn’t a world outside and we can just be together without anyone bothering us.”

“Ok, we can do that” Hope says with a smile. “You go make some coffee while I see to the dogs.”

“Ok baby” I answer, kissing Hope’s lips sweetly before I bounce out of bed. I am going to make this the best non- Christmas ever.

I make my way to the kitchen, switching the coffee machine on when Hope walks in looking rather unamused, Sasha and Onyx following behind with tinsel around their collars.

“I am going to presume the decorative collar is your doing or are my dogs just really clever?” Hope asks and I smile. “Kel, Onyx is covered in sparkles” Hope says and I just smile again.

“He’s cute like that, they both are” I say with a shrug. “You know who your girlfriend is Hope, surely you expected something like this.”

“I guess I did” Hope says, smiling softly.

“I love you” I say with a sincere smile, I don’t really know where the urge to say that came from. I just felt like I wanted to say it.

“Love you too babe” Hope says, kissing me on the cheek.

/

“Did you seriously get me another gift?” I ask as Hope slides a small but neatly wrapped gift towards me. We opened all our presents before breakfast but now Hope has surprised me with another. “Hope, you have given me so much already?”

“This is the last one, I promise” Hope says, smiling gently at me as I tear open the gift. “I like buying you presents.”

“Who knew badass Hope Solo has a soft spot” I say jokingly as Hope rolls her eyes. “I like you buying me gifts too.”

“Are we putting another rubbish movie on or not?” Hope asks and I frown.

“Christmas movies aren’t rubbish.”

“The ones you watch appear to be” Hope says before putting Elf on and then sitting on the couch with me.

“Do you know what I miss about your old house?” I ask. “The hot tub, I miss it.”

“My bath doubles as a hot tub, it has water jets” Hope says and I just look at her.

“Why are you only telling me this now babe?” I ask, sipping on my wine. “I wish you had told me sooner.”

“Sorry” Hope says with a laugh. “You can try it out tomorrow if you want.”

“You bet I will” I say with a smile, curling into Hope’s side. “Have you ever wondered what life would be like if we never played soccer?”

“I guess sometimes but I was so young when I was first introduced to soccer, it’s all I’ve ever known” Hope answers as she runs her hand up and down my arm. “I think soccer was the life I was meant to have, I honestly don’t know if I would be who I am today without it.”

“Soccer has always been my first love” I say thoughtfully. “I am not going to lie, part of the reason I got into soccer was because I wanted to prove to the boy that lived next door that he wasn’t better than me. Look who’s the pro now?”

“I think if I wasn’t a soccer player I would want to be like an athletic coach or something but end up actually working at some run down pub selling drinks to sleazy guys just to make rent on time” Hope says. “What I would want to be and what I actually would inevitably end up doing would be two completely different things.”

“Why do you think that babe?” I ask as I look at Hope.

“Soccer is the only thing that kept me on a straight path, if it didn’t exist then I am not sure I would either” Hope tells me. “I stayed in school to get a scholarship, I washed cars to pay for trips to play in away games… everything sensible I done was for soccer.”

“It would be a waste if you didn’t play soccer, you’re too good” I say, earning a smile from Hope. “Plus if there was no soccer then you may not have met me, imagine how terrible your life would be without me.”

“It’s too scary to imagine” Hope says playfully. “It may be a little more peaceful though.”

“I’m so awesome, everyone wants Kelley O’Hara in their lives” I say boldly as Hope just laughs. “On a serious note though, I don’t think my life would be as happy without you in it. I am really grateful to have you in my life.”

“I don’t really believe in that whole mumbo jumbo about destiny and fate but there must be something or someone out there doing something right” Hope says as she kisses my head. “Because I sure as hell haven’t felt this happy before either. I’ve been happier with you these last few months than I have ever felt in any relationship before.”

“Did you know I had a crush on you in London?” I ask and Hope shakes her head. “I wasn’t certain at the time if it was a crush or not, we roomed together a lot so I just took it that I felt quite fond of you because we spent so much time together.”

“I was never good at picking up things like that” Hope says with a laugh. “You could’ve probably kissed me and I wouldn’t have thought anything of it, you were just an overly affectionate person.”

“I am very affectionate but not to the point I would kiss someone without it meaning I liked them romantically” I say with a laugh. “I don’t fully understand personal space or boundaries but I wouldn’t go as far as kissing.”

“I didn’t mean you would, I was just trying to explain how unobservant I can be at times” Hope says. “Personal relationships whether platonic or not are always awkward for me, hence the reason I am more of a loner.”

“Well you don’t need to worry about forming a romantic relationship now, I got that part locked down and closed” I say smugly. “You are all mine now.”

“I would mock you for sounding so possessive but I actually quite like it” Hope admits with a smile. “I like being called yours.”

“I like calling you mine” I reply.

/

“Kiss?” I say as Hope walks into the room and I point to the piece of mistletoe hanging from the fridge.

“Have you put mistletoe in every room?” Hope asks after kissing me. “I swear I saw a piece above the bed and then I saw one next to the fireplace in the living room.”

“I didn’t put a bit in the bathroom” I say innocently.

“But everywhere else?” Hope says and I nod. “You will have me living in a forest soon.” I probably went overboard, not only did I force Hope to put up a Christmas tree but I also forced her to plant a small one in the garden and sit an even smaller one on the kitchen window sill.

“It’s Christmas-y” I reply, throwing a skip into my step as I approach Hope again. “Can you get me that huge mixing bowl from the cupboard up there, I can’t reach?” I say as I point above me.

“What do you need it for?” Hope asks with a suspicious look. “You are not making another Christmas cake are you?”

“No, I just want to make a non-alcoholic Christmas punch” I answer as Hope gets me the bowl. “Thank you.”

“Don’t go too overboard babe, I don’t know how we are going to eat all of this stuff between the two of us” Hope says as she checks on the turkey.

“You drink punch, not eat it.”

“You knew what I meant Kel” Hope responds. “I am going to feed the dogs and then we can start serving up our meal.”

Forty-five minutes later and we have finished our meal, I throw my napkin on the table and push my chair out to give me some breathing room.

“I have to admit, that’s one of the best Christmas dinner’s I’ve ever had” I say with a sigh, rubbing my stomach at how full I feel. “It’s certainly up there with Karen O’Hara’s meal.”

“Thank you babe” Hope says with a smile. “It’s a shame my cheesecake was such a disaster.”

“I don’t think I could’ve ate anything else anyway” I say with a wave of my hand. “Every time we have a dinner date at home, I think you should cook. There’s no point in me showing off my mediocre skills.”

“You would love that wouldn’t you?” Hope says with a smile. “I do all the hard work while you sit and be waited on.”

“Obviously I would repay you” I say with a wink. “Dessert in the bedroom?”

“Of course you would” Hope chuckles before putting our plates in the sink and then walking back over to me, offering her hand to me. “We can tidy up in the morning, let’s go and watch that movie you wanted to see.”

“Ok” I reply, taking a hold of Hope’s hand and allowing her to pull me through to the living room. “Can you put the fire on, I am feeling cold?”

“Sure babe, I will grab a blanket as well” Hope replies before switching on the fire and taking a blanket from a drawer on her cabinet and then she joins me on the couch. “Get comfy.”

“I like that you are so old fashioned and actually use a fire to heat the room and not just for decoration” I say as Hope looks at me. “What?”

“I don’t know whether that was a compliment or a dig” Hope says, nipping at the skin on my side gently.

“It was supposed to be a compliment” I reply, looking up at Hope. “I like a fire, it reminds me of when I was a kid and I would sit with my siblings and cousins around my grandparents’ fire and tell scary stories to each other.”

/

“Give me your cell phone, I want to take a picture” I say as I grab Hope’s phone. “Hope is that really your phone screensaver?” I ask with a smile.

“Yeah, why?” Hope asks.

“I just think it’s so cute that you have a picture of me with the dogs” I say, feeling all sorts of happy inside.

“You’re my girlfriend and they are my babies” Hope shrugs as if it is nothing.

“I don’t think anyone’s ever had a picture of me as their screensaver besides my mom when she had a picture of my siblings and I when we were younger” I say, a smile still on my face.

“That’s cute babe” Hope says before pecking my cheek and then taking her phone from me. “Let’s try and at least get one decent picture without you pulling crazy faces, are you ready?”

“Yeah” I respond as I feel Hope pulling me close and holding the phone above us to get the perfect angle for a selfie.

We take a few more pictures before things turn a little difficult when Hope refuses to wear the hat I bought for her.

“Just put the hat on Hope” I say with a sigh, I’ve been trying to persuade Hope to put on a party hat for the last five minutes so I can take a picture of us.

“You got me to wear the ugly couple’s sweaters, I am not wearing a hat as well” Hope says, sighing as well.

“Surely you love me enough to put the hat on for just one second so I can take a picture” I ask and Hope chuckles.

“Is this what it’s always going to be like?” Hope asks. “You wearing me down with your puppy dog eyes until I give in to your demands.”

“Maybe” I say with a smirk. “You will just need to find out.”

“I will put the hat on for one photo… that’s all.”

“That’s all I’m asking babe” I say, quickly grabbing the hat before Hope changes her mind. I put the garment on her head and pull her in close to me. “You ready?”

“Uh-huh” Hope replies, putting her arm around me and smiling at my phone so I can take the picture. I take a few selfies of us before turning my attention to the dogs to take a few snaps of them with their tinsel style collars.

“I can’t decide what’s cuter, the dogs looking festive or us in that picture” I say as I look at all the photos, Hope occasionally looking over my shoulder to see as well. “I should totally do you from the back.”

“Excuse me!” Hope says and I can’t help but laugh.

“I meant take a picture of you from the back, because of the phrase on the back of your jumper” I say as Hope smirks at me. “I genuinely didn’t mean for that to sound so wrong.”

“I know how your mind works” Hope tells me.

“I can help it that I find you so attractive” I say, pecking Hope on the lips.

/

“Hope!!” I shout through my laughter. “You’re going to drop me.”

“No I’m not babe, relax” Hope says as she wobbles through the house with me over her shoulder.

“If you hadn’t drunk so much wine then I would relax” I say, giggling nervously. “Hopey… you can’t walk in a straight line.”

“I am not going to let ya fall baby” Hope says and just when I think I can believe her, I feel us tumbling towards the ground. “Shit!”

“Jeez… Hope that hurt” I say, rubbing my upper arm. “I hope you know I bruise like a peach.”

“I’m sorry” Hope says, clearly stifling a laugh. “I actually thought I could make it… Kel, are you ok?”

“Not in particular” I say with a grumble before looking at Hope’s apologetic face. “Nothing a kiss and some cuddles won’t cure.”

“I can do that… let’s just walk the rest of the way to the bedroom” Hope suggests and I nod in agreement. “It will be safer that way.”

“Thank you for today, it really felt like Christmas” I say with a smile, taking Hope’s hand in mine. “I’ve never spent Christmas with anyone but my family before but I kinda liked it being just us.”

“Me too” Hope smiles back. “Everything felt relaxed and it was really fun, I liked cooking as well.”

“Maybe in the future, on the real Christmas day, we can spend it together” I say, feeling a little shy at being so presumptuous since our relationship is so new.

“I would like that Kel, it’s so easy being with you” Hope says as we reach her bedroom. “You make everything simple, but in a really good way.”

“That’s because life is so complex anyway, why make it worse when it doesn’t need to be” I say as I sit down on the bed and watch as Hope goes over to her Jewellery box to rid herself of her jewellery. “I love you and obviously I know we probably will have the odd argument, I don’t live in a fantasy world, but it doesn’t need to be complicated.”

“You are definitely the type of person I not only need in my life but want in my life too” Hope says as she sits down next to me. “I like that you can calm me down, I even like that I feel comfortable opening up to you. I am so awkward around other people sometimes that it feels so good not to feel so alone when I am with you.”

“That’s because you are not alone Hope…” I kiss Hope’s lips gently. “…you’ve got me and I am going to make it one of my missions to make sure that you know that.”

“I do know that” Hope nods and then places a gentle kiss on my lips. “Merry Christmas Kel.”

“Merry Christmas babe.”

We then finish getting ready for bed and then get under the covers.

“My back is actually really sore from when you dropped us to the floor” I say as I toss and turn on the bed trying to find the right level of comfort.

“Sorry Kel” Hope apologises before turning and giving me a kiss. “Do you think a massage would help?”

“I think it will just be bruising, thank you for the massage offer anyway” I say, smiling at Hope.

“I had such a great time today” Hope says with a beaming smile, resting her head on my pillow so we are as close as we can be. “I know I have probably told you that a lot already today but I truly mean it, the whole day just felt so calm and fun.”

“Didn’t it?” I ask, looking into Hope’s eyes as we share my pillow. “We got to do things whenever we wanted and got to be together, not to mention you cooked a kickass meal.”

“When you’re here it is like I don’t have any worries, I can more importantly just be with you” Hope tells me, gently pecking my lips.

“Best fake Christmas ever” I say with a smile. “I love you Hope.”

“Love you too Kel” Hope responds as we stare at one another, small smiles on both our faces.

Chapter Text

“I just wanted to wish you a merry Christmas, for real this time” I say as I look at Hope through the screen. I finally managed to convince her that she can work facetime.

“Happy Christmas to you too baby” Hope smiles before blowing me a kiss. “How has your day been so far, I am really liking your Christmas jumper?”

“My day has been ok, I was truly spoiled” I say with a laugh. “The day would be a lot better if I could physically hug you, maybe a cheeky kiss under the mistletoe.”

“You got plenty of kisses under the mistletoe before you left babe” Hope smiles at me. “Thank you for the sneaky little present you hid in my luggage, you had already given me enough.”

“I know but I saw the necklace and I thought it would look good on you” I say, I may have went a little overboard with my spending on Hope. I don’t care though, I love her and I know she is worth it.

“It’s gorgeous” Hope replies. “When are you having Christmas dinner?”

“Around four this afternoon, we usually have a really early dinner on Christmas day” I respond, unable to stop smiling at my girlfriend. “What about you?”

“I don’t know to be honest, schedules don’t really control my family” Hope says with a laugh. “Marcus and his wife are coming over for dinner but my mom doesn’t know what time, whenever grandma decides is an appropriate time to start cooking is when we will have dinner.”

“My grandma has been barred from our kitchen” I say with a laugh. “Too many comments about my mom’s cooking so my dad decided to take her out for a while to get her out of the way.”

“Sounds like you guys are having a fun time” Hope says and I nod with a smile. “I can’t say it’s as relaxed and fun here, I have been keeping out of the way all morning. I feel like I am a teenager again, not wanting to interrupt my mom and stepdad while they argue over the pettiest things.”

“I hate that I am having fun and you’re not” I say sadly and Hope shrugs.

“Its ok babe, I am sure I will have plenty of fun with you when I see you in two days” Hope says and we both smile at the thought. “Is your family still ok with me coming for New Years?”

“Absolutely, they can’t wait to meet you” I say truthfully.

“Cool” Hope says calmly but I know deep inside she is probably nervous.

“They will love you babe, obviously not in the way I love you because that would be weird but they will still love you” I ramble happily, I think Hope is happy to just let me talk at her all the time. Even when I am talking a lot of nonsense she still listens intently so she doesn’t miss something.

/

“I’m going to the airport to pick up Hope” I announce as I come into the kitchen to grab a bottle of water.

“Can you pick me up one of those chocolate pastries from the little bakery on the left as you enter the airport?” Erin asks and I just look at her. “Please Kelley, I really want one.”

“Ok but if I don’t have time then I am not getting you one” I reply before looking at my dad. “Remember, no silly dad jokes when Hope gets here.”

“I will be on my best behaviour” my dad tells me as he peaks over his newspaper.

 “Ok sweetheart see you soon” my mom says before I wave goodbye to everyone and then hop in my car.

It doesn’t take me long to get to the airport, the traffic wasn’t as bad as I expected it to be given that we are still in the middle of the holiday season. I quickly park my car, check my watch to make sure I have enough time to get Erin her pastry and then I walk into the bakery.

“Good morning, how can I help?” the smiling woman behind the bakery counter asks.

“Good morning” I reply, giving the woman a smile in return before I place my order and pay for it. “Thanks again.”

“Bye!” the woman replies, a grin still on her face. I think she has a bigger smile than Tobin.

I make my way over to the arrivals section and wait for Hope to arrive. Sitting still is harder than I thought, I am so excited to see my girlfriend that it’s making me all fidgety.

I play a game on my phone to try and amuse myself when I feel a hand on my shoulder causing me to turn around and see Hope.

“Hey Kel” Hope says before I am up on my feet and hugging her.

“Hey” I say as I breathe in Hope scent.

“Did you miss me?” Hope asks.

“Yeah” I answer truthfully, breaking from our hold as we start walking towards the car. “How was your flight babe?”

“The usual” Hope answers simply. “I still hate take-off and landing, which is nothing new.”

“I am so glad you are here” I smile widely, taking Hope’s free hand in mine as she pulls her suitcase with her other hand.

“I am glad I am here too, although I am a little nervous” Hope admits as I squeeze her hand.

“Don’t worry babe, there is no reason to be nervous” I assure Hope, offering her a comforting smile. “Everyone is looking forward to meeting you.”

“I am looking forward to it as well” Hope says with a nod. “I just can’t help getting a little nervous when I am outside my comfort zone.”

“That’s perfectly normal” I say as we reach the car. “I think it would be pretty abnormal for you to not feel nervous, if you’re nervous it means you care.”

“I do care, I just want people to see that I am good enough to be with you” Hope says and I kiss her. “Your family is clearly an important part of your life.”

“You are just as important” I say with a soft smile.

/

“Are you ready for this?” I ask, a nervous tone to my voice as we sit in my car on the driveway.

“I’m ready” Hope assures me with a comforting smile. “I love you Kel.”

“I love you too.” Hope then pulls me down for a gentle kiss.

“Let’s go inside” Hope says and then we exit the car.

“Leave your bag in the car just now, we will introduce you to everyone first and then we can do something together for the rest of the day” I say, grabbing Hope’s hand and squeezing it lightly.

“Sounds like a plan” Hope agrees and then we go inside the house. I felt ok during the drive but all of a sudden I feel really nervous. I think it’s because it means so much to me that Hope and my family get along, they are both huge parts of my life.

“I am back” I say as I enter the kitchen, Hope following close behind. “Mom, dad… this is my girlfriend Hope.”

“Lovely to meet you again” My mom says politely with a kind smile. “Call me Karen.”

“Nice to see you” Hope says, smiling nervously.

“I’m Dan” my dad says as he shakes Hope’s hand and then turns to me. “And you are?” My dad says as he holds his hand out for me to shake.

“Your favourite daughter” I reply with a smirk, shaking my dad’s hand.

“Erin, you really have changed sweetheart” my dad replies with a smirk before I slap him.

“You will get used to Dan’s terrible sense of humour” my mom says to Hope. “It’s pretty similar to Kelley’s, it’s very obvious she got her bad humour from her dad.”

“Right” Hope says with a smile.

“Sit down girls, Karen made lunch” my dad says, gesturing for Hope and me to sit down. “Just a plate of soup and a few sandwiches.”

“I mentioned Hope was a vegetarian and very fussy when it comes to food didn’t I?” I ask as I begin eating a chicken salad sandwich.

“Oh… I…” my mom stutters before Hope jumps in.

“I’m not a vegetarian” Hope says with a smile before gently slapping my leg. “I am also not picky with food, I can eat almost anything.”

“I can make something else for lunch if this doesn’t suit” My mom says and I try not to laugh.

“Honestly, this looks lovely” Hope says with a smile as she places a few sandwiches and some salad on her plate. “Thank you for going to so much effort.”

“You’re welcome” My mom replies.

“I wouldn’t thank her until you’ve eaten babe, this lettuce tastes off” I say with a frown.

“What?” my mom asks, a small hint of embarrassment on her face.

“Doesn’t taste off to me” my dad interjects, munching away on his food.

“Yeah, I was just joking” I say, holding in the laughter at the glare my mom is currently giving me.

“Very mature Kelley” my mom says before taking a seat at the table.

“Did you have a nice Christmas Hope?” my dad asks.

“Yeah it was good, we had a family Christmas at my mom’s house” Hope answers with a smile.

“Where is Erin and Jerry?” I ask, trying to change the subject before my parents start asking about Hope’s family. They would mean it with the best of intentions but they are unaware that Hope isn’t comfortable with sharing too much about her family.

“Jerry is at work and Erin is having lunch with some friends” my mom answers. “They will both be back in time for dinner so I thought we could go out for a nice meal as family, let Hope get used to our craziness before the party in a couple of days.”

“That sounds good mom but I kind of had my own plans” I say, feeling a little bad. I don’t want Hope feeling overwhelmed because my family can be a little much at times if you don’t know them all that well. “I wanted to show Hope some places.”

“That’s ok sweetheart, we don’t need to do dinner” my mom says with a smile.

“You could always show me tomorrow Kel” Hope says with a gentle smile.

“Are you sure?” I ask and Hope nods.

“Dinner with your family sounds nice” Hope says and I can tell she is telling the truth.

“Ok, dinner is back on then” I say to my mom who suddenly manages to smile even brighter than before.

/

“You must be crazy dating my sister” Jerry says as he takes a drink of his beer and I just frown at him. “I am joking Kelley.”

“How did you like growing up in Seattle?” My mom asks with a smile as we sit in the restaurant waiting on our meals being served. “I’ve never been there before, not even to watch Kelley play.”

“Seattle was ok” Hope says with a shrug. “There are worse places to live and better places to live, it didn’t really bother me.”

“I actually really like Seattle” I say with a smile. “There are lots of places to hike, the weather is decent pretty much all the time apart from maybe the winter or when it rains, there are lots of decent restaurants.”

“I have to admit, I like Seattle a lot more as an adult than I did as a kid” Hope says. “I don’t think it’s where I want to be when I retire though.”

“Do you live near your family?” my dad asks.

“Reasonably close, I’m lucky that there’s a NWSL team in Seattle because it means my grandma can come to most of my games” Hope says with a smile.

“We don’t get to nearly enough of Kelley’s games” my dad says and I nod, that’s the one thing I dislike about Georgia, there is no professional women’s soccer team.

“That’s ok though dad, you guys get to the important ones” I say with a smile.

“Have you guys always lived in this area?” Hope asks my parents.

“I have lived in this town all my life” my dad answers. “Aside from going to college or travelling that is but this has always been my home. Karen is originally from a small town about forty minutes away so she’s been around this area too.”

“From what I’ve seen it seems like a nice town” Hope says with a smile.

“It is, very community focussed” my mom says with a smile.

The rest of dinner goes by very smoothly, my parents and Hope getting a long quite well. There’s the odd awkward silence but that’s nothing two talkative people like Erin and I can’t fill.

/

“How did you feel, officially meeting my family?” I ask as Hope and I walk back to my parent’s house. After dinner Hope and I decided to make our own way home, opting to stop off for a few drinks at a small cocktail bar that I love before walking the rest of the way home.

“It was ok” Hope says with a nod. “I just hope I didn’t come off as a little awkward.”

“I thought it went really well” I say with a smile. “I can tell they already like you.”

“Really?” Hope asks. “Or are you just saying that to make me feel better.”

“I am being serious babe” I say, squeezing Hope’s hand. “I would be able to tell if they had doubts about you.”

“You think it went ok then?”

“Yes, one hundred percent” I assure Hope, giving her my best smile.

“Good” Hope nods. “And they are ok with me staying at your house because I can always get a hotel.”

“Babe, seriously stop fretting” I say, stopping us on the middle of the sidewalk. “My parents respect me and our relationship, of course they are ok with you staying with us.”

“I’m sorry Kel” Hope apologises. “Everything just seems so simple, I don’t mean to overthink.”

“That’s because it is simple” I say with a smile, kissing Hope gently on the lips.

“I love you.”

“Love you too” I hum against Hope’s lips. “Let’s go back to the house, it’s too cold out here.”

/

“How do you normally spend New Year’s Eve?” I ask as Hope and I get ready to go out running.

“I usually watch rubbish TV until midnight and then just go to bed” Hope says as she fastens her sneakers. “I’ve seen me not even bothering staying up until midnight sometimes.”

“Well this year, you are spending it with me and we are going to do something fun” I say with a smile, putting my running jacket on. “As you know my family throws a big party on New Year’s Day but we don’t have anything specific planned for New Year’s Eve, sometimes I will spend it with my parents and sometimes I meet friends. Since my girlfriend is in town I thought we could do something, just us.”

“Yeah, what did you want to do?” Hope asks, adjusting her sweater before we both make our way outside.

“How do you feel about fireworks?”

“I’ve never actually felt a firework before so I don’t know” Hope answers with a cheeky grin. “Fireworks are cool.”

“There’s an annual fireworks display that happens every New Year’s Eve, I thought we could check it out” I suggest, setting my watch to time our run and then Hope and I begin a slow jog. “If you don’t want to do that then I am happy to do something else.”

“That sounds like fun” Hope says with a smile.

“Let’s do that then” I say with a nod.

“Let’s pick up the pace, I am going for a personal best here” Hope says as her slow jog turns into a steady run as I run faster to catch up.

“What did your family give you for Christmas?” I ask as we run through the park.

“A sore head” Hope laughs. “My mom and stepdad actually gave me a really nice necklace and I got my obligatory scarf from my grandma, every year I swear she gives me a scarf uglier than the year before.”

“I had a distant relative that used to always give Erin, Jerry and I an ugly pair of socks for Christmas when we were kids” I say with a smile. “What’s ugly to you and I now was probably the fashion back in the day.”

“Do you get a lot of outdated clothing items from relatives?” Hope asks. “I take it that’s why your fashion sense is so questionable these days.”

“That blue dress you have… the fifties want it back” I say with a smirk as Hope laughs.

/

“Here babe” I say as I thrust a cup of takeout coffee in Hope’s hands.

“Thanks Kel” Hope replies as we walk around looking for the perfect spot to watch the fireworks. “There’s a bench over there, let’s hurry before someone takes it.”

We quickly make our way over to the metal bench as Hope throws the picnic blanket she forced me to bring down on it.

“There we go, at least it will be more comfortable than the metal freezing our asses” Hope says, pulling me down to sit next to her. “I think we will have the perfect view from here.”

“It’s a pretty good spot” I reply as I sip on my coffee. “I am actually looking forward to the new year, a new start and all that.”

“I definitely am, last new year’s eve I was looking at a divorce” Hope says, laughing lightly. “Divorced at the start of the year, in love at the end. Sounds like a movie doesn’t it.”

“Yeah” I laugh as I lean against Hope. “A movie with a pretty good ending.”

“The sequel is supposed to be even better, stick with me and you will find out” Hope says with a happy smile and I smile back.

“I’m not going anywhere babe” I whisper as I kiss Hope’s rosy cheek, it is definitely cold outside but my heart is warmer than the sun.

“Should I be nervous about meeting your extended family tomorrow” Hope asks, stroking her hand up and down my arm.

“All my family is laidback” I say with a smile. “You have nothing to worry about” I assure my girlfriend who smiles. It’s mostly true, sometimes my grandma’s mouth runs away with her but other than that there is nothing for Hope to be nervous about.

“If only my family was the same” Hope says, kissing the side of my head.

“When do I meet them?” I ask out of curiosity as Hope hums.

“Well, I kinda want you to stay with me so I thought never might be a good time” Hope says jokingly. “They are nothing like your family babe and I don’t know if I want you to experience that.” Hope sighs. “Don’t get me wrong I want you to meet my grandma and I suppose my mom but I don’t know when, my family are weird at times.”

“I just want you to be comfortable and if me meeting them isn’t that for you then I don’t have to meet them” I say, taking Hope’s hand and clasping it with mine.

“I will arrange something” Hope says, squeezing my hand. “As much as I don’t get along with my family at times, they are still my family and it is only right that my girlfriend should meet them.”

“It doesn’t need to be too formal, just whatever you are comfortable with” I say with a smile.

“Thanks Kel” Hope says as she kisses my cheek.

/

 “Can you believe it is 2017?”

“It feels like it has been a quick year” Hope says. “Some aspects I want to forget though, like the Olympics.”

“Me too” I agree. “The only way is up, they say.”

“I am guessing this is your girlfriend sweetheart” my grandma says, pulling up a chair next to Hope and me.

“Yes grandma, this is Hope” I say, introducing the two women. “Hope, this is my grandma.”

“It is nice to meet the woman that Kelley wouldn’t stop talking about over Christmas” my grandma says as I roll my eyes, I didn’t talk about Hope that much.

“Nice to meet you too” Hope responds.

“What did you two lovebirds do last night to celebrate?” my grandma asks.

“We went to the fireworks show at the park” I answer as I smile at Hope. “What did you do grandma?”

“Just my usual, spent it with the gang from the club” my grandma answers.

“She doesn’t mean a nightclub, she means the men and women from her social club” I tell Hope. “The women do book club, the men play poker and then they all join for a drink.”

“My nightclub days are over, way too old for that now” my grandma says. “So, tell me about this fireworks show?”

“There isn’t really much to tell, we watched the fireworks and had a few drinks” I answer. “Pretty low-key to be honest.”

“Doesn’t sound like you Kell-Bell” my grandma says as Hope sniggers at the nickname.

“What are you laughing at Hopey?” I retort, Hope hates when I call her that in public. We chat to my grandma for about ten minutes, mostly my grandma trying to fit in as many inappropriate questions as possible.

“What was your first argument about?” my grandma asks and I can’t help but laugh.

“Why are you so nosy?” I reply with a smile. “Anyway, I don’t think we’ve had a proper argument yet.”

“Your time will come my love, no couple goes through life without their arguments” my grandma tells me.

“I’m sure it will but when it does happen, it won’t be any of your business” I say with a smirk to my grandma. “How about you go and annoy Erin or Jerry?”

“They don’t get annoyed like you do so it’s not as fun” my grandma replies with a smirk. “Plus I already know all there is to know about their relationships. It’s yours I’m not as familiar with.”

“Well you don’t need to be familiar with it” I answer as the three of us sit in a comfortable silence, watching the rest of my family all having fun.

“What do you think of marriage Hope?” my grandma asks out of the blue.

“Grandma!!” I scold, feeling embarrassed.

“I am talking to Hope” my grandma tells me, a mischievous smirk on her face.

“Eh… marriage is… different for everyone I suppose” Hope answers, looking lost and if I must say a little scared.

“How so?” my grandma asks and I go to jump in before I am stopped by Hope’s voice.

“My marriage was ok to begin with but I didn’t exactly have high expectations” Hope answers with a shrug. “My parents were never a great example of what a marriage should be and neither was my marriage, I just thought it was something that couples did as a formality.”

“So you’ve already been married?” grandma asks and Hope nods.

“Once, and now divorced” Hope responds, looking very uncomfortable.

“Would you get married again?” grandma asks and that’s when I step in.

“Can you stop with the questions about marriage please?” I ask nicely. “I wanted you to meet my girlfriend, not ask her inappropriate questions.”

“Kelley, I’m getting old” my grandma says. “At the rate you and your siblings are going I am not going to see any of my grandbabies walk down the aisle, Erin’s boyfriend is too lazy to ask her, Jerry seems to enjoy having the century long engagement so that only leaves you. I want to see one of my grandchildren get married before I depart the earth.”

“Maybe I don’t want to get married” I say with a sigh. “I love you grandma but marriage isn’t the same as it was in your day, people get married later in life and some don’t at all.”

“When I go to my book club it gets very embarrassing with all the other women talking about their grandkids weddings and their greatgrandchildren and you three are giving me nothing” my grandma says, fake sadness on her face. “Everyone used to be jealous of me because I got three grandchildren before any of them had one, now I am jealous because it seems none of my grandchildren are as enthusiastic as their father. When my son first saw your mother he wasted no time in making her his.”

“Grandma” I say gently. “Do you actually care if any of us get married or do you just want to brag at book club?”

“I just want to show off” my grandma answers, laughing lightly. “I am not going to lie, I do want to see my grandkids get married. I know how happy your father was when he married your mom, I want to see the three of you that happy but, if getting married won’t make any difference then I can live with that. I just want you all to be happy, as long as I leave this earth knowing you are all content and happy then I don’t care if there wasn’t a wedding. The book club can suck it.”

/

“Babe, are you ok?” I ask as Hope and I get ready for bed, it has been a long day.

“I’m fine honey” Hope answers with a weak smile.

“My grandma spooked you didn’t she?” I say with a sigh as I sit on the bed.

“Put it this way, she’s very forward with her questions” Hope says as she gets on the bed and kneels behind me, gently massaging my shoulders.

“Truthfully she does it to embarrass me” I say, taking a deep breath. “She thinks it’s funny but there is also an undertone of seriousness.”

“It didn’t spook me as much as I thought it would, she is generally just an older version of you” Hope says with a small laugh. “Your humour is the same as hers, I could totally see you quizzing your kids or grandkids about the same stuff in front of their girlfriends or boyfriends.”

“What’s bothering you then?” I ask as I turn around to face my girlfriend and place my hands on her thighs. “You went very quiet after that conversation with my grandma, I know my family is loud but you went even quieter than before.”

“It was just something you said” Hope says, looking at me. “About marriage, it just got me thinking that we don’t really know what our future will be like.”

“How so?” I ask, rubbing small circles over Hope’s thighs.

“You think about your future, right?” Hope asks and I nod. “We both think about the future but we don’t really ever discuss it with one another.”

“I just presumed we were both on the same page, when I think of the future you are obviously factored in” I say, looking up and into Hope’s eyes.

“You are my future” Hope says with a small laugh. “We talk about the small stuff and I know we are definitely singing from the same hymn sheet on that, we just never really discuss the big stuff.”

“I guess” I say, thinking deeply about it.

“I know it is partly my fault because I am not great with those conversations” Hope says with a small smile. “I suppose I just thought that maybe we should talk about the bigger stuff.”

“Sure” I say before moving to sit at the top of the bed and pulling Hope with me.

“You said to your grandma that you weren’t sure if you wanted to get married” Hope says, placing her hand in mine. “Did you mean that?”

“I don’t know babe” I say, rubbing my thumb on Hope’s hand as they remain interlocked. “Is marriage something you would consider again?”

“Well… yeah” Hope says and I am taken by surprise, not just by her honesty but her answer being yes. “When I picture us in the future… we are married, that’s why I got a little spooked. It made me realise that we are possibly not seeing the same things.”

“You actually want to marry me?” I ask and Hope nods.

“In the future I do” Hope confirms. “I know our relationship is very new and it will possibly be years down the line but if we are still together then yeah, I would want to be married to you.”

“I thought after Jerramy and your divorce that perhaps you were sworn off marriage” I say, I genuinely thought that.

“After everything with him I swore off relationships” Hope says, chuckling lightly. “I honestly thought I would’ve been fine just being single but then there was you. You changed everything for me Kel.”

“I did?” I ask.

“Yes” Hope says as she takes a deep breath. “You mean so much to me, being with you made me realise what we have is so special. Maybe the reason my past relationships were so toxic is because they weren’t with the right person.”

“Does that mean I am the right person?” I ask jokingly but deep down I hope Hope understands that I am asking the question seriously.

“You are the right person” Hope answers and suddenly my heart is beating out my chest. “I used to wonder how couples were so happy, sure Jerramy and I had our good times but none of them felt as good as other people described. I realise now what people meant, Jerramy wasn’t right for me but Kel, you are.”

“What else do you see in our future?” I ask with a smile, excited to know the answer. “Do you see kids? Where do we live, did you retire before me?”

“Babe, slow down” Hope says with a chuckle.

“Sorry” I apologise, trying to calm myself down. “I’m just excited because I honestly didn’t know you felt this way, I never let myself dream about us getting married because I was scared you wouldn’t want to. It is something that I want though, one hundred percent.”

“Don’t get too excited, we are definitely not at that stage yet” Hope says, placing a kiss on my cheek. “I just wanted you to know my thoughts so we could be clear with one another.”

“For me personally, I’ve always dreamt that when I retire from soccer I will be married and have kids” I say, cuddling into Hope’s side. “In general, that’s what I wanted but when I am in a relationship I don’t tend to think that far ahead because it was never the right time. I know I am not in any position to want to retire yet so I knew it was a dream that I hope to achieve years down the line.”

“I agree, it’s not something I want at the moment” Hope says, kissing the side of my head. “You know when you are younger and think, I want to do this with my kids in the future or take them there but you don’t actually picture who you’re married to. It’s just a hazy dream but since we got together, my mind tends to wander and it’s not so hazy, my kids have vague faces and my partner resembles you in a way.”

“Really?” I ask curiously.

“Yeah” Hope says before laughing. “I think I’ve spooked you now, I’m sorry if this is a little much.”

“I’m not spooked babe, more so just surprised” I admit truthfully. “I love you so much Hope, our relationship means a lot to me and I am so grateful to you for sharing your feelings.”

“You know what they say, honesty is the best policy” Hope says and I kiss her. “Thank you for not running a mile.”

“You don’t need to thank me, I am not going anywhere.”

“Neither am I” Hope responds, kissing the side of my head. “Let’s get into bed, I’m so tired” Hope says with a groan and I laugh. Spending time with the O’Hara’s will tire you out.

Chapter Text

“Hope, guess what?” I ask as I noisily toss on the bed to face my girlfriend who is still half asleep.

“I don’t know, it’s a little early for games” Hope replies, squinting at me to avoid the light shining in her eyes.

“I will just tell you then” I say, settling myself next to Hope. “I am in love with you.”

“That’s what you wanted me to guess?” Hope asks, laughing lightly as she shakes her head.

“I didn’t say it was something earthshattering or unknown” I reply, kissing Hope’s cheek. “Do you love me back or…?”

“I don’t know” Hope shrugs and I punch her on the shoulder.

“You better or else I am not making you breakfast” I warn as I move even closer to Hope and wrap my arms around her.

“Kel, babe… I don’t want you making me breakfast” Hope says, squeezing my hand. “After that uncooked omelette you made, I just don’t know if I trust you.”

“That’s mean” I say with a pout that Hope manages to remove with a few kisses.

“You can still make dinners, just not breakfast” Hope says, leaning in for a proper kiss this time.

“How do you feel after last night?” I ask as I play with Hope’s fingers. “The conversation got quite deep when we were talking about the future and stuff.”

“I know” Hope says, breathing deeply. “I meant what I said and I am glad that we got things out in the open.”

“Yeah, me too” I say with a smile.

“I want to remain in the present though, focus on what we have just now and let the future roll around when it comes” Hope says and I smile. “You’re probably thinking who’s this calm and collected woman, what’s happened to closed off and panics at the smallest thing Hope gone.”

“I like this version of you, you wouldn’t show this side if you weren’t comfortable with me” I say, kissing Hope on the nose. “It gives me excited butterflies in my stomach knowing that you trust me and feel comfortable being who you really are with me.”

“You’re just different Kel, when I am with you it feels like I am free and safe” Hope says, trying to hide the blush on her face when I smile smugly at her. “It’s like, if I murdered someone I think I would confess to you right away without meaning too.”

“You’ve not murdered someone have you?” I ask.

“No, unless you count that spider I accidentally trod on yesterday” Hope replies. “I’m serious though, I feel so good around you that I would just about confess to anything.”

“Good, because communication is a big thing in relationships for me” I answer, rolling over to lie half on top of Hope who just smiles at me. “That includes physical communication.”

“Really?” Hope asks and I nod, a smirk firmly on my face. “If you are suggesting sex then the answer is no.”

“You said no the night before last, am I not sexy enough or something?” I ask with another pout.

“You know you are the most attractive person in this world but your grandma is in the room right next door” Hope tells me.

“I can be very quiet, I promise” I say, leaning in to kiss Hope to try and persuade her.

“Maybe it’s not you I’m worried about” Hope says as I smirk at her once again, placing my lips on her neck and sucking gently. “Kel… please baby.”

/

“Neither of us were loud there” I say as I begin to dress, watching as Hope slowly moves around the room in search of something to wear.

“I guess not” Hope says, finding a pair of sweatpants and putting them on.

“No one will be any wiser that we have been getting busy up here and not just having a lie in” I say as Hope laughs.

“Yeah, except from the fact that your appearance screams ‘just had sex’” Hope tells me, kissing me on the cheek.

“How did you come to that conclusion?”

“One, you have a huge smirk on your face; two, you are sporting sex hair and three, that hickey on your neck will take some explaining” Hope tells me. “Do I need to go any further?”

“Just go make me some breakfast while I try to cover my neck with makeup or something” I say, Hope laughing as she exits the room.

I join Hope in the kitchen a few minutes later, a mug of coffee already securely in her hand.

“What are you making me?” I ask, taking Hope’s mug from her and sipping on it.

“I am not making you anything” Hope tells me. “I would feel guilty clearing your parents’ cupboards so instead I am going to take you out for breakfast.”

“It better be someplace nice, I aint no cheap date” I say, giving Hope her coffee back. “You need some sugar in that coffee babe.”

“I like it like that” Hope says, taking a sip. “Since this is your hometown, tell me what the best places are for breakfast.”

“There is a really nice café about twenty minutes away that I love” I say. “You would like it, a lot of bookworms tend to go there.”

“What’s your excuse then, I can’t imagine you being able to just sit and read a book” Hope asks with a smile.

“I am offended that you would think that of me” I say.

“What was the last book you read?”

“Ok, so I don’t read books” I say as Hope smirks. “I am not boring enough to do that.”

“Are you saying that you think I am boring?” Hope asks, nudging me on the side. “You didn’t look that bored this morning.”

“You’re not boring” I say, moving to place a gentle kiss on Hope’s lips.

“Good morning” my grandma says as she walks into the kitchen. “I didn’t think anyone else would be up at this time.”

“When you are used to getting up early it is hard to break the habit” I respond.

“Can I make you two any breakfast?” grandma asks and I shake my head.

“No thanks, Hope is taking me out for breakfast” I answer.

“Look at that smile on your face” My grandma teases me. “You’ve found a good one, don’t ruin it this time. I actually like Hope.”

“What do you mean this time?”

“We all know how it ended with Hannah” My grandma says. “Let’s not pretend we all weren’t expecting a wedding.”

“I hope that is a joke” I warn as my grandma smirks.

“Yes, stop panicking dear” my grandma tells me. “What are your plans for today?”

“Probably train in the afternoon and then come back to pack our stuff up” I answer. “We’ve got an early flight to Seattle tomorrow.”

“You’re leaving already?” my grandma asks and I nod.

“Yeah grandma, we’ve got a national team camp in a few weeks so we need to get back to training” I say, kissing my grandma on the cheek. “Are you going to miss me?”

“It’s hard to miss you when I barely see you enough to miss your presence in the first place” my grandma replies. “I actually forgot Erin and Jerry had a sister.”

“That’s not funny, you know I miss you all” I say. I know my grandma is joking but it does get to me sometimes when I can’t see my family as much as I want.

/

“Since you are paying babe then I think I will order the dearest thing on the menu” I say with a smile as I glance over the menu.

“That’s fine, you can order whatever you want” Hope says, smiling back at me. “I’m just going to get French toast and a black coffee.”

“Pancakes and a glass of orange juice for me” I decide, closing my menu so that the waitress knows we are ready to order.

“I’ve booked a slot at my gym for you for the day after tomorrow” Hope tells me. “I wasn’t sure if you have any training lined up so I just reserved you a space in case you wanted it.”

“Thanks, that would be good” I reply. I don’t know Seattle very well so I am grateful for Hope giving me some tips on the best places to train. “You never know, trips to Seattle may become a permanent thing so I would need a decent place to train when I am there.”

“What’s so appealing about Seattle that could make you visit so frequently?” Hope asks.

“I don’t know… maybe my girlfriend” I say, smiling at Hope before the waitress’s presence breaks our gaze on one another.

“What can I get you?” the waitress asks.

“Can we get one French toast with bacon, one pancake stack, one black coffee and a glass of orange juice with no pulp?” Hope orders for the both of us. “Also can we get a large jug of maple syrup?”

“Anything else?” the waitress asks.

“That’s all thank you” Hope says politely before the waitress walks off. “What’s your plan then, are you staying with me in Seattle until we need to leave for camp or are you going back to New Jersey for a bit?”

“I’m thinking I will stay with you until camp” I say nervously. “Is that ok?”

“Yeah, of course it is” Hope replies.

“I know I kinda just invited myself but you can say no” I say, worried Hope feels pressured into saying yes. “Things are moving quickly, so if it is too quick then tell me and I can back off.”

“I like the way it is, I like spending time with you” Hope says with a smile. “You don’t tend to spend the offseason in New Jersey anyway, do you?”

“Not really, all my teammates leave to be with their families” I say, I would normally just spend more time in Georgia. “After the US camp I am going to spend a few days with Christen and a few other women we went to college with, it’s like a mini-reunion of sorts.

“That sounds fun” Hope says as our drinks arrive.

“It should be” I answer. “Although the trip was supposed to be longer but Christen and a few others decided we should cut it short because they want to spend Valentine’s Day with their lovers.”

“So you’re free February 14th?” Hope asks and I nod. “Good to know.”

“Just a heads up, my grandma has a special birthday in a few months so you’ve been included on the party list” I say to which Hope chuckles softly. “If you are busy I will find a way of getting you out of it but I just wanted to warn you.”

“I like your grandma, I wouldn’t mind going to her party” Hope says. “While we are on that type of topic, one of my friends is getting married in April and I need a plus one.”

“Are you asking me for advice on who to take or are you asking me to accompany you?” I ask with a playful smile.

“Well, you are my girlfriend now so I was thinking that you being my date wouldn’t be too shocking” Hope answers. “That is if you want to, it’s just the reception I am attending so it’s not like we need to go to the ceremony.”

“Any time I get to spend with you is a good time, consider it a date” I say with a smile, I honestly can’t stop smiling.

/

“Back to Seattle we go” I singsong happily as Hope and I make our way through the airport towards the departure lounge.

“How can you be this awake at this time of day?” Hope asks, sipping away on her third coffee. “Its four am, remind me never to pick a flight at six in the morning ever again.”

“Quit complaining” I say, nudging my girlfriend and almost spilling her coffee. “You should be excited that you will see your babies soon. I bet the dogs have missed you.”

“I’ve missed them too but not to the extent that a six am flight was mandatory” Hope replies and I can’t help but laugh.

“You really are grumpy this morning babe” I observe, pulling my boarding pass up on my cell phone so we can get through the next section. “I can only imagine you will get worse since flying isn’t your favourite thing to do.” Hope gives me a glare in return. “Turn that frown upside down.”

“Kel…?”

“Yes babe?” I ask.

“Go and get me a bagel or something before I spoil this coffee by throwing it all over you” Hope says and I nod, it’s clearly not the best time to irritate Hope more so I do as I am told.

I make my way into the café and order two bagels, one with cream cheese for Hope and one with egg, sausage and cheese for me. Normally I would buy Hope a coffee too but considering she’s had three already I don’t think that it would be wise, instead I just settle for getting her a piece of carrot cake. She won’t admit it to anyone but secretly I know carrot cake is her favourite.

“This is going to sound corny but can you put an, I heart you, on the carrot cake frosting?” I ask the barista who just laughs before adjusting the frosting. “It will keep me in the good books.”

“Is that ok?” the guy asks and I give him a thumbs up.

“Perfect” I reply before paying and then making my way back to my girlfriend with the items. “There’s my happy happy girlfriend.”

“And here’s my really really loud girlfriend” Hope replies, throwing me a fake smile.

“I got cream cheese on yours” I say as I hand the bagel over to Hope.

“Thanks Kel” Hope says politely, leading us over to a table to sit down.

“I also got you this” I say as I present Hope with the cake, the frosting message just visible through the packaging.

“You’re the best” Hope says, giving me a real smile this time. “I’m sorry for being grumpy.”

“I am sorry for being so annoying, next time you are a grump I promise not to make it worse” I say, kissing Hope on the cheek.

“I love you too Kel but I am not sure I love you enough to share this carrot cake” Hope tells me and I laugh.

“That’s ok, I don’t like carrot cake anyway” I smile back at Hope.

/

“Hope, I totally could” I say as we walk inside Hope’s house.

“Babe, there is no way you could fit seven cookies in your mouth” Hope says, we’ve been having a debate about stupid stuff since we left the airport.

“Want a bet?” I ask as Hope shakes her head firmly.

“No I do not” Hope answers. “Your bet would involve you attempting to do it and then us taking an impromptu trip to the ER because you’ve choked.”

“When we go to the grocery store later then I am buying cookies and proving it to you” I say as Hope shakes her head.

“I really am dating a child aren’t I?” Hope asks rhetorically, carrying the rest of our luggage inside.

“What time are you picking the dogs up, I miss them” I ask as I head straight to the kitchen in search of something to eat.

“I will leave in half an hour” Hope answers. “I will bring them back here then I am going to meet my trainer to do some drills and then I should be back within enough time to take you to dinner.”

“Sounds good, we need to fit in a trip to the grocery store though” I say. “There is nothing in your cupboards and I think eating out for dinner every night will be too expensive.”

“Check out my responsible girlfriend” Hope teases as I playfully shove her. “I will pick up some essentials on my way home later and then we can get more stuff tomorrow.”

“Ok, get me some chocolate milk” I say as Hope laughs. “I class that as essential.”

“Any other requests?” Hope asks and I shake my head. “Cool, I am going to change and then I will leave. I got a spare house key cut for you so if you are going out it is in the study.”

“This relationship must be serious, giving me a key to your place” I say with a wide smile, kissing Hope’s cheek.

“It makes sense” Hope replies, smiling back at me before she disappears and heads for the bedroom. I quickly text my mom to let her know our flight got here safe and to make sure my family aren’t drowning in tears because they miss me too much.

/

“Hi, I reserved a table under the name of Solo” Hope says when we enter the restaurant.

“This way Miss” the waiter says, leading us to our table. It’s very posh looking, I hope it isn’t one of those places where you need to eat a burger with a knife and fork or take tiny bites of pasta so you don’t get sauce on your face. I am a messy eater and I am not ashamed to admit that. “This is your table, someone will be over to take your drinks order.”

“Thank you” Hope says politely as we sit down.

“I am not sure I fit in here” I whisper across the table to Hope who frowns. “I don’t want to do something stupid and embarrass you.”

“What are you talking about?” Hope asks, grabbing my hand atop the table. “Babe, you could never embarrass me.”

“It’s very fancy in here” I whisper, voicing my concerns.

“If you want to go somewhere else then we can, I promise you though, this place is very good” Hope says, giving me a warm smile. “It’s up to you baby.”

“Don’t let me embarrass us” I say as Hope laughs softly.

“You’re not going to.”

“You don’t know that” I reply, opening up my menu to have a look. The menu doesn’t look as complex as I thought, the prices don’t look as high as I thought they would be either.

“Do you want to share a bottle of wine or would like a beer or something?” Hope asks. “I quite fancy some Cabernet Sauvignon but I am happy to just have a large glass if you don’t want a bottle.”

“I’m not really a wine drinker so I think I will go with a beer, you can still get a bottle though” I say with a smile.

“I will think about it” Hope says as the waiter approaches.

“Good evening ladies, what can I get you to drink?” the waiter asks. Hope orders a beer for me and then decides she will have a bottle of wine. “Thank you, I will return in a few minutes to take your food order.”

“Thanks” Hope says politely. “Any thoughts on what you are going to have to eat?”

“I don’t know to be honest, I am guessing you are opting for a steak?” I reply as Hope smiles.

“You know me better than I thought” Hope says, smiling widely at me.

Dinner was a million times better than I thought it would be, the place was intimidating at first but I definitely judged it too quickly. The menu wasn’t complicated, the staff were very nice, the food was delicious and I wasn’t judged on the sauce I got all over my face.

“Once again, thank you for an amazing date” Hope says and I smile, interlocking our hands as we walk back to Hope’s house.

“I should be thanking you, you really know how to create a successful date night” I say with a smile. “I definitely think I am one lucky woman, you always deliver.”

“Thank you” Hope says with a beaming smile. “I think my favourite part of our dates is at the end when we get to go home together, I don’t mean that in a sexual way but it just makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside.”

“I know exactly what you mean, the dates themselves are great but the feeling of getting into my pyjamas and just crawling into bed to cuddle with you is definitely my favourite part” I reply in agreement. “It feels very couple-like and in the past that would scare me but with you, it really doesn’t.”

“The few times Jerramy and I did go out on dates always ended badly, we always argued during them so I dreaded coming home” Hope says, squeezing my hand tighter. “Do you think I was meant to marry him so that it showed me exactly what I didn’t want, is it normal for everyone to have at least one disaster of a relationship so that when the right one does come along we hold onto it for our lives?”

“I don’t know babe” I say, slightly confused as well. “If fate and soulmates do exist then maybe the plan all along was for you and I to have some bad experiences to make us realise that the best was still to come.”

“Maybe, sometimes you need bad experiences and failures in order to work out who you truly are and what you want” Hope says and I nod. “From a professional point of view, I don’t think I could’ve won the world cup in 2015 had I not had the experience of failing previously, losing makes you even more determined to win.”

“Its does” I agree with a nod. “I totally think I am winning at life right now.”

“Very corny but also very true” Hope responds. “I am one in a million Kel, I would keep a hold of me.”

“I like my woman confident” I say, kissing Hope on the lips. “It’s very sexy.”

“Oh really?” Hope asks and I nod. “You know what I find sexy?”

“What?” I ask, leaning in for another kiss.

“You in that dress” Hope responds, staring me straight in the eye.

“Do you think hailing a cab will get us home quicker than walking?” I ask, desperate to get back to Hope’s house in the quickest way possible.

Hope doesn’t even answer before she is gently pushing me into a nearby taxi.

“Sorry ladies, this cab is reserved” the driver tells us but Hope just glares at him.

“I will pay you double the fare” Hope states, the driver thinking it over for a minute before nodding. “Get us there in under five minutes and I will increase the payment to triple.”

“Ok miss” the driver nods before speeding off.

/

“That will be…” the driver starts as soon as he parks the cab outside Hope’s house but she interrupts him.

“Take this” Hope hands the driver a bunch of money.

“This is more than triple” the man says, looking somewhat amazed.

“Keep it, thanks for the ride” Hope says, rushing out of the vehicle and pulling me along with her towards the front door. “You’ve got the keys.”

“Oh yeah, so I do” I respond, searching through my purse.

“Come on Kel, I don’t think I can wait much longer” Hope says, bouncing from one foot to another. “You had no right teasing me like that in the cab, what happens if the driver saw your hand under my dress.”

“I don’t care” I respond, finding the keys and hurriedly unlocking the door before pushing my girlfriend inside.

As soon as we are inside Hope’s lips are on mine, our tongues battling against one another.

“We’re not going to make it to the bedroom” I say as Hope shakes her head, agreeing with me and then she pushes me into the living room. It doesn’t take long before I am flat on my back on the sofa, Hope’s lips latching onto my neck. “Babe… stop” I say when I notice something out the corner of my eye.

“Hmm” Hope hums against my neck.

“Stop...” I say, gently pushing Hope away from me. “The dogs are staring at us.”

“Huh?” Hope asks as she looks up and sees Sasha and Onyx standing at the living room door. “GO TO YOUR BED!”

The dogs immediately move at Hope’s tone of voice before Hope leans across my head and reaches to slam the door shut, stopping the dogs entering again.

“That better?” Hope asks and I nod, pulling my girlfriend on top of me and kissing her gently, slowing the pace between us. I don’t want this to be rushed and fuelled by alcohol.

“You’re so beautiful Hope” I say as I reach behind Hope’s back and pull the zip of her dress down. “Tonight, at dinner, it felt different” I say as Hope looks at me for a moment. “Good different, I love every date we go on but this one felt more special.”

“It did” Hope smiles at me, allowing me to remove her dress. “It felt so real, I know it’s real between us but this felt like a step forward.”

Hope moves away from me, pulling me to straddle her lap so she can reach around and unzip my dress. She does it slowly, her eyes never leaving mine. Our staring becomes intense, almost too much so I break it with a kiss.

“I love you” Hope whispers against my lips when she pulls away. This is how it always starts now, she tells me she loves me.

It’s slow but fast at the same time, her touch on me is electric. My heart beats faster when she touches me but then it relaxes when she looks at me, I love how she gets me excited but is able to calm me down at the same time.

We’ve always had a connection, most of the time it went by unnoticed or ignored but it was always there. It scares me as much as it excites me to know that with one look, Hope can tell how I am feeling. The most satisfying thing is being able to explore that connection, both physically and emotionally.

The touch of her hand on my face makes me feel safe, the genuine sparkle in her eyes makes me happy and her caring words make me feel loved. I haven’t felt this before, the silence afterwards and the feel of her soft skin as she holds me is comforting. I always found silence uncomfortable, always had the need to fill it but after being so intimate with Hope, silence no longer scares me. Ironically it speaks volumes, Hope helps me with my fears but she never tries to change who I am.

I don’t live in a fantasy world, I know things won’t always be this simplistic and easy but there’s no point in making things more complex than they need to be. For now, I just want to be with Hope and I want to be the best person I can be.

“What are you thinking about?” Hope asks, kissing our jointed hands.

“Just us” I reply casually as I move to cuddle further into Hope.

“What about us?” Hope asks.

“Just how happy we are” I answer simply, a yawn escaping me.

“I’m happy too” Hope smiles before releasing me from her hold. “I think we would be even happier if we went to bed, this sofa isn’t very comfortable for sleeping on.”

“It’s good for other things” I say as I wink at Hope before I move to allow us both to sit up. Hope puts her underwear back on and grabs one of my sweaters I left lying on the love seat while I am too lazy to get dressed so I just wrap Hope’s sofa blanket around me.

/

“You really are a child sometimes” Hope says, lifting yet another unwanted item out of the shopping cart that I added sneakily. “I can put up with your beer, your potato chips and chocolate but there is no way I am letting you buy so much processed food.”

“It tastes good Hopey” I complain.

“Maybe it tastes good to you but I doubt your internal organs feel the same” Hope tells me. “This trip is really uncomfortable for me because I feel like I am mothering you, can you go back to doing stuff that makes me want to kiss you not tell you off.”

“Ok” I say in a fit of laughter. 

“Thank you” Hope says with a smile.

“Can I get ice cream though?” I ask as Hope just looks at me. “That’s not a no.”

“It’s your body you are harming with all the junk food” Hope says as she walks off towards the bakery. I make a quick detour to the ice cream section before catching up with Hope.

“I only got a small tub” I say as I hold up a carton of Ben and Jerry’s for me before showing Hope the tub of Ben & Jerry’s cookie dough in my other hand. “I also got this because I know it’s your favourite and even though you don’t want to admit that you eat a little unhealthy at times, I always got your back.”

“Just put them in the cart” Hope says with a smile.

“We’re a good team, you’re sensible and I’m the fun one” I say as I wrap my arm around Hope’s back.

“I can be fun too you know” Hope says, looking at me with a pout on her face.

“Yeah, I know that babe but I’m just a little more fun” I say as Hope continues to look at me, a hint of a challenge on her face.

“We will see about that babe” Hope replies, pushing the cart towards the last few aisles.

“You’re Hope Solo… oh my god” this little boys says, laughing giddily.

“I am kid” Hope replies with a smile.

“Can you sign this?” the boy asks, pulling on his t-shirt.

“It looks like a cool shirt buddy, how about I just sign a bit of paper?” Hope suggests as a woman rushes over, I presume she is his mom.

“Michael, I told you not to run away from mommy” the woman says.

“Mom… that’s Hope Solo” the boy says as Hope smiles.

“I know sweetie but it is rude to run up to someone” the boy’s mom says.

“I don’t mind” Hope says politely, signing her autograph for the boy.

“He just gets a little excited when he meets someone he really admires” the woman says as Hope gives Michael a high five. “Thank you so much.”

“Your welcome” Hope smiles, saying goodbye to the boy and his mom.

“You just made his day” I say, kissing Hope’s cheek as she shrugs like it was nothing.

/

I honestly don’t know where the last couple of weeks have went, one minute Hope and I are spending time together, training together, going on dates and having fun and then the next thing we know we are both immersed in January camp.

“I bet you can’t wait for this can you?” Hope asks as I laugh. “The rest of us are dreading the thought of the beep test and you are jumping around in anticipation.”

“When you have the stamina that I have then fitness is a piece of cake” I say with a smirk.

“Don’t say cake, it’s been so long since I had cake” Hope complains.

“No need to worry babe, as soon as this camp is over I will buy you some cake” I say, causing both Hope and I to laugh.

“Your group is up now” Hope says. “Good luck, not that you need it.”

“Thanks babe” I reply, jogging over and lining up with my teammates.

“Are you all ready?” Dawn asks, receiving murmurs and a few thumbs up from some of us. “Ok ladies.” And then we’re off, a few teammates dropping out when we get to the higher levels.

“Go Kel” I hear Hope shout amongst some of my teammates, I am beginning to lose my breath and can feel my muscles tingling. I make it through another five rounds before the beep beats me.

“Good work O’Hara” Dawn says with a smile, my teammates holding their hands up for a high five.

“Well done dude” Tobin says, giving me a fist bump.

“Come here” Hope says with a smile, lifting me up and spinning me around. “It doesn’t even surprise me how fit you are.”

“Thanks” I say with a blush at Hope’s small act of PDA. Thankfully neither Hope nor I notice the strange looks we are getting from some of our teammates.

“Ok ladies, group three it is your turn” Dawn announces, lining up the next group.

“I could do that again” I say to Hope as we watch the next group.

“I’ve no doubt you could” Hope laughs. “You need to save your energy for the rest of training.”

“That was good O’Hara” Carli says, moving to stand next to Hope.

“Thanks” I reply.

“I see you two are still as close as ever” Carli says with a nod. “It’s nice to see Hope with a smile on her face.”

“Well she’s got something to smile about now” I say with a smirk.

“Did you spend the holidays together?” Carli asks and I nod.

“We spent Christmas apart and then I went to Georgia” Hope replies, smiling at me.

“Meeting the parents already?” Carli asks. “That’s a big step for you Solo, you don’t usually meet the in-laws until after the wedding.”

“You are so funny” Hope says sarcastically towards Carli before wrapping her arm around me. “Why don’t you go and tease someone else Carli?”

“I prefer to tease you” Carli answers as Hope rolls her eyes. “I actually want to speak to you about something Hope, when you have a minute.”

“Oh right, what is it?” Hope asks.

“I am going to annoy Tobin, catch you later babe” I say, excusing myself.

“Bye Kel.”

/

I haven’t seen Hope all day, well I’ve physically seen her but I haven’t talked to her. I went down to breakfast early this morning so I could get to the bagels first because there wasn’t any left yesterday and then after our meeting the goalkeepers were quickly away for some specialist training. I’m not the clingy type but I actually kinda miss Hope. I am hoping since we have a rest day tomorrow afternoon that perhaps Hope and I could hang out.

“You should’ve seen her face Kelley, she looked so cute” Christen says with a smile. “Oh, and she…”

“Christen, I love you honey but please… can we stop talking about Tobin for a few minutes” I say to my best friend as I chuckle. “I did have a specific conversation in mind when I said I wanted to talk to you about something.”

“I’m sorry” Christen apologises with a bashful look. “Go ahead.”

“I’m seeing someone” I start.

“Tell me more” Christen says with a grin.

“It’s actually someone you know” I say as Christen looks on with a smile. “It’s Hope.”

“Goalkeeper Hope?” Christen asks in surprise. “Like… our teammate Hope?”

“Yeah” I say with a nod and a smile. “Hope Solo is my girlfriend.”

“Oh wow, how long have you been seeing her?” Christen asks, another few questions coming out of her mouth before I can answer. “I know you had a crush on her but I thought that was just one of those crushes that would pass.”

“You knew nothing about a crush?” I say with a laugh as Christen looks at me.

“Kelley, do you remember when you told me that I wasn’t subtle around Tobin?” Christen asks and I nod. “You were the same with Hope, I know you better than anyone and I can tell when you like someone.”

“I admit, I did like her but I always thought it was one of those things where you have a crush but nothing happens, your feelings pass” I say as Christen nods. “Like you and that girl Maria in college.”

"I knew you had a crush on her but I didn’t know it was something you would actively pursue, I always thought Hope was straight” Christen tells me. “Anyway, that’s not the point… what I want to know is how long and how serious?”

“About a few months and it is pretty serious” I say with a smile, it’s pretty hard to take this smile off my face these days. “We’re official and have already dropped the ‘L’ word, oh my god that sounded so high school.”

“Aw little KO is in love” Christen teases as I punch her arm.

“I am and since you are my best friend then you are the first to know, outside my parents obviously” I say, Christen still smiling at me. “What?”

“You do look really happy honey” Christen says with a smile.

“I am” I say seriously. “I am really really happy.”

“I want to know everything, how you admitted your feelings; how you got together; who said ‘I love you’ first… tell me everything” Christen says and I laugh happily, this is the reason she is my best friend.

“I will tell you everything but not right now, I need to speak to Dawn about my gym session tomorrow” I say as Christen nods.

“Meet me in the lobby later then, we can get some coffee and chat” Christen says and I nod in agreement.

“Sounds good, just make sure you can pull yourself away from Tobin” I tease as Christen sticks out her tongue and then we go our separate ways.

/

“Baaaayyy—beee” I say as I draw out the word.

“What do you want Kel?” Hope asks as she looks up from her laptop screen.

“Who says I want something?” I ask as I throw myself down on the bed next to Hope.

“Your tone of voice and the smirk on your face” Hope says as she looks at me. “What do you want?”

“You seem tense, your sentences are very abrupt” I say, the look on Hope’s face softening.

“Sorry babe, I was just in the middle of something and you interrupted” Hope says, kissing me on the lips. “I didn’t mean to sound grumpy.”

“It’s ok” I say with a shrug and Hope looks at me expectantly. “Oh yeah… I did want something.” Hope nods gently, urging me to carry on. “I wanted to know if you wanted to go on a date tomorrow night since we have a day off training.”

“Of course” Hope smiles.

“It’s a double date with Press and Tobin” I say, the smile on Hope’s face remaining.

“That’s cool” Hope shrugs. To be honest I thought Hope would be a little more reserved with the idea, she likes Christen and Tobin but they are more my friends than hers so I thought she would feel a little awkward.

“Right… ok then, it’s a date” I say as Hope chuckles softly.

“You sound surprised, did you think I was going to say no?”

“I didn’t think you would say no, I just thought I would need to convince you more” I say as I grab Hope’s hand. “I know you are cool with Press and Tobs but I also know that you like to keep your personal life separate from work and this date is a personal thing.”

“I do but those two were both your friends long before they were my teammates so I don’t mind” Hope says and I kiss her. “I know my boundaries, when we are training and doing team stuff then that’s when our relationship remains out of the way but outside team stuff then our relationship comes first.”

“That’s cool with me” I say, snuggling into Hope’s side. “Do you want me to leave you to get back to whatever I just interrupted?”

“No, it’s ok” Hope says as she kisses me. “I was just returning some of my agent’s emails, nothing I can’t finish tomorrow.”

Chapter Text

“Are you ready to go Kel?” Hope asks as we all get ready in the locker room after our match and I just look at her.

“Not yet” I answer, moving away from Hope.

“I can wait” Hope says and I shake my head.

“No, its fine” I reply. “I will just see you on the bus.”

“Ok” Hope answers, giving me a gentle smile before she disappears. We are all getting the bus back to the hotel together before going out to a local restaurant for a team dinner. We’ve just won our first friendly of this camp so we are going out for a low-key celebration dinner.

“KO, can I borrow your deodorant please?” Alex asks and I throw it to her.

“Careful, you nearly gave me a black eye” Alex says as she manages to catch it before it hits her on the face. “We’ve just won that game quite comfortable but yet you seem very pissed.”

“That’s because I am pissed” I answer, tying my shoelaces. “Let’s go to the bus, I don’t want us to be late to dinner.” And with that I lead the way to the bus, Alex and a few others following me.

“Do you want the window?” Hope asks when I get on the bus and approach our seats.

“No” I say, sitting down next to Hope.

“I’m sensing a little coldness from you” Hope says and I just hum. “Have I done something?”

“You mean other than talk to me like I am stupid?” I ask, shaking my head. “I don’t know who you thought you were screaming at during that corner kick.”

“Are you actually pissed?” Hope asks in disbelief and I shrug. “I’m sorry babe, I didn’t mean to yell at you. I was shouting at the team in general.”

“You yelled ‘Kelley move to the fucking left’ and then you started waving your hand animatedly at me as if you didn’t think I knew what left was” I say annoyed.

“Kel, I was in game mode” Hope says as she places her hand on my arm. “When we are on the pitch then you are not my girlfriend…”

“Oh really?”

“Well obviously you are but you are my defender first and girlfriend second, on the pitch we are all business. Soccer is my job.”

“You could have spoken to me in a nicer tone you know” I complain causing my girlfriend to sigh.

“Don’t you think you are acting a little immature, I yell at everyone on the pitch. I only spoke that way because no one would hear me if I didn’t yell” Hope says before she puts her arm around me. “You have blown this way out of proportion.”

“Maybe I overreacted.”

“I think you did” Hope tells me, giving me a cheeky smile and a nudge.

“Since it was on the pitch then I will forgive you” I say. “Yell at me like that off the pitch and we will have problems. Real serious problems.”

“Have I ever yelled at you before off the pitch?” Hope asks and I shake my head. “Exactly, I would have preferred our first argument to be more exciting than the fact that I yelled at you on the pitch though.”

“Our second argument can be even more explosive if you want” I say as Hope laughs.

“Does that mean the making up would be just as explosive?” Hope asks. “If so, then maybe we should argue soon, if there’s going to be make-up sex involved.”

“You wish babe” I say, moving to lay my head on Hope’s shoulder.

“Are we good again?” Hope asks and I nod against her. “Good.”

/

“Ashlyn, I think you need to make that your last beer babe” Ali tells her girlfriend. “You need to pace yourself.” After we had dinner we all headed to a nearby bar for a few more drinks, thankfully the coaching staff decided not to join us.

“Ok” Ashlyn nods, holding up her beer.

“You two are like an old married couple, that’s the type of thing my dad says to my mom” I say as I laugh, both Ali and Ashlyn aren’t bothered though.

“Speaking of beer, does anyone else want a drink?” Tobin asks. “I am going to get Christen a glass of wine.”

“Get me a large glass of wine as well please” Alex asks. “If I need to listen to one more boring story about Allie’s new car then I think I am going to cry.”

I laugh gently before I make my way over to Carli and Hope who are sitting at a table in the corner.

“What are you two talking about?” I ask, sitting down in the empty chair next to Carli.

“Nothing much, we are just catching up with one another” Hope answers, giving me a smile. “You seem to be having fun.”

“I am, it’s not often all of us get to spend time together doing something other than training during camp” I answer. “Are you two not drinking?”

“I am sticking to Cola tonight, I’ve been taking some painkillers for my hamstring issue so I don’t really want to mix them with alcohol” Carli answers.

“What’s your excuse?” I ask as I face Hope.

“I wasn’t in the mood for alcohol” Hope answers with a shrug.

“Everything ok babe?” I ask concerned.

“She’s having a pity party with herself” Carli says as Hope glares at her best friend. “Maybe you could get through to her because she’s just depressing my mood.”

“Right” I say, confused because Hope seemed ok earlier.

“I will leave you two alone” Carli says before leaving and I move to take Carli’s seat next to Hope.

“What’s wrong babe?” I ask as I take Hope’s hand in mine.

“Nothing” Hope smiles.

“I know my girlfriend and she doesn’t normally depress people if there is nothing wrong” I say, smiling at Hope. “You can talk to me babe.”

“Carli is exaggerating, you know what she is like” Hope says, leaning in to kiss me. “The conversation may have taken a slightly negative turn when I made a comment in passing about how I don’t know how long I have got left on the national team.”

“Ok, but if it is something deeper then you can tell me” I assure Hope who just smiles and shakes her head.

“It isn’t anything deeper, we all know I won’t be on the national team forever” Hope says, the smile still on her face. “I’m still undecided if I want to go for another cycle or call it quits before, that’s something you are already aware of.”

“Yeah, I know” I reply, moving to sit on Hope’s lap. “Why weren’t you drinking tonight if it wasn’t what Carli said?”

“I just didn’t feel like it, there’s nothing to worry about” Hope says, kissing me again. “I promise you babe.”

“Ok, I believe you” I reply, wrapping my arm around Hope’s neck. “You played really well tonight, aside from yelling at me but we are over that now.”

“We are” Hope says with a laugh. “I’m not going to lie, I probably will yell again. Only on the pitch though.”

“That’s ok, I can put up with it on the pitch” I reply, leaning in and catching Hope’s lips.

“How many beers have you had?” Hope asks with a soft chuckle. “I can taste it on my lips.”

“I don’t know, at least four” I answer. “I am surprised I am not even at least a little tipsy.”

“You did eat a large amount at dinner so that must’ve lined your stomach” Hope answers, squeezing me tighter. “Promise me something?”

“What’s that?” I ask, looking into Hope’s deep blue eyes.

“Don’t ever let me do that in public” Hope responds as she points to a very drunk Christen who is trying to give Tobin a lap dance.

“What if I wanted you to dance for me like that?” I ask with a fake pout.

“I said in public babe, I didn’t say anything about not doing it in private” Hope says with a smirk.

“I promise I won’t let you do it in public” I reply. “I don’t want anyone but me to see your sexy moves.”

“I don’t want to perform for anyone other than you” Hope replies, kissing me again. “Want to get out of here?”

“What are you suggesting?” I ask with a smirk.

“Probably not what you are thinking” Hope answers making me pout. “Let’s go for a walk.”

“Ok” I say with a nod, allowing Hope to pull me towards the exit.

/

“Fuck!” I mutter in pain. “My ankle.”

“Kelley, what’s happened?” Alex asks as she bends down next to me on the pitch. “There was no one near you.”

“I twisted it when I was running up the flank” I answer, we are not even six minutes into our second game and I’ve injured myself already.

“Did you twist it or did you just bend your ankle?” the trainer asks me and I just gawp at him.

“What’s the difference, all I know is that I was running and then I was on the ground because my ankle did something funny” I ask. “I rolled it I guess.”

“Can you stand?” the trainer asks. “I want to see if you can weight-bear otherwise you are going straight to hospital, we can’t take any chances because of your previous injuries to this ankle.”

“Let me try” I say as the trainer and Alex help me up. I manage to stand and put some weight on my foot which is a good thing. “It’s a little sore but I can walk on it.”

“That’s good, no need for the hospital then” the trainer says as I smile. “You can’t carry on though, I’m afraid you will need to see the rest of this game out on the bench.”

“Damn” I say, grabbing the trainer’s arm to assist me to walk off the pitch.

“You ok?” Hope asks as I approach the dugout where the rest of my teammates are gathered in an impromptu huddle.

“No, I hurt my ankle so I can’t continue” I answer as Hope looks at me sadly.

“Better safe than sorry” Hope says and I shrug, I hate it when I can’t play. I hate it even more when I earn my place in the starting line and then I need to come off early. “Kick some ass Dunn” I say to Crystal who is replacing me in the midfield.

“We will score a goal for you” Tobin says, giving me one of her wide grins making me smile back.

“Thanks” I reply.

The pain in my ankle eased off the longer I iced it but it could’ve improved further had I not jumped off my seat every time we had a good chance or made a good play. Eventually the trainer instructed Ash and JJ to hold me still during the remainder of the game so I didn’t aggravate my injury further.

“What a save that was in the eighty-first minute Hope” Kling says excitedly, “everyone was on their feet cheering. Friendly or not, that was kick ass.”

“Not everyone could get on their feet, my bodyguards wouldn’t let me” I mumble, looking straight at Ashlyn and JJ who both shrug indifferently.

“Ok, team” Ali shouts to get our attention. “Showered, back to the hotel and then Becky, Carli and I have arranged for a team dinner at the Italian restaurant down the road from the hotel. No coaches allowed.”

“Last dinner of this camp, let’s celebrate another win and great camp” Becky shouts, gaining shouts and cheers from the team before we all begin to get ready.

/

“How’s your ankle?” Hope asks as we sit on the bus on the way back to the hotel.

“It’s getting there, I’ve got it strapped so it should be ok” I answer with a smile. “It’s only a minor injury and I was just taken off as a precaution.”

“That’s positive then” Hope says, kissing me on the cheek. “Do you think we could sneak away after dinner?”

“Where do you want to take me?” I ask with a smile.

“I just thought we could hang out for a bit before we go our separate ways tomorrow” Hope answers, lacing her fingers through mine. “My roommate is out of the room for the night so some company in my room would be appreciated.”

“It’s a date” I reply with a smile. “What’s your plans for the next week or so?”

“I’ve actually got quite a busy week babe” Hope answers. “I’m on high demand, I’ve got a Nike event with Alex, I’ve got a trip to my parents’ house to drop off my step-dad’s birthday gift, I’ve got an interview for a magazine that’s doing a special on athletes from Washington, I’ve got technique sessions with the Reign’s goalkeeping coach and then at the end of the week, I have Sasha at the vet.”

“Is Sasha ok?” I ask worriedly.

“Yeah, yeah” Hope replies. “She had an issue with her teeth when she was a puppy so the vet just likes to check up every year or so.”

“At any point during this busy week will you be able to call or text me?” I ask as I smile. “I’m going to miss you, even if it is just for a week.”

“I guess I could try and find some time to pencil in a phone call or facetime with you” Hope says coolly. “Don’t get your hopes up, I wouldn’t want to disappoint.”

“You better not ignore me for a week” I warn as Hope laughs.

“What you going to do if I do?” Hope challenges and I just smirk.

“Let’s just say it’s a case of what I’m ‘not’ going to do when we see each other again” I answer, throwing a wink Hope’s way for good measure. “Do you see where I am going with this?”

“Not really, you will need to go into more detail” Hope says but I can tell by the smile on her face she knows exactly what I am talking about.

“Listen babe, if I went into detail about our sex life on this bus then it would harm you more” I say, the smile still on my face. “You would get more embarrassed than me if that topic was thrown around with our teammates.”

“Fair comment” Hope says, nodding her head. “I will text you every day and call you every night.”

“Yeah, you don’t need to suffocate me” I say as Hope laughs.

“Not contacting you could result in me getting a punishment but if I contact you then I am suffocating you” Hope says. “Tell me babe, what exactly is it that you want from me.”

“Didn’t you know, I only want you for your body” I ask as we both laugh.

“Is that how it is?” Hope replies before leaning over to whisper in my ear. “Did you know, this little game of yours works two ways? I can quite easily lock away the handcuffs I bought for us.”

“There’s no need to be rash” I say as Hope laughs lightly, her breath tickling my ear.

“We could’ve used them tonight when we had the room to ourselves but I don’t want to suffocate you” Hope says, moving away from me and turning to look out the bus window.

“Did you really bring them with you?” I ask as Hope turns and laughs at me.

“Of course I didn’t babe” Hope responds as I frown sadly. “Coming into camp, barely anyone knew we were together. Do you really think I was going to bring a sex toy?”

“I guess not” I say with a shrug.

“Babe, I wasn’t even sure we would get time to spend together never mind spend it doing that” Hope says. “Answering the door to the delivery guy with the huge logo on the box was embarrassing enough for me when it got delivered, never mind if I brought it to work and it somehow ended up in the wrong hands. Could you imagine if an Ashlyn or even a Pinoe got a hold of one of our toys?”

“I don’t get embarrassed easily but even that thought makes me nervous” I say as Hope nods. “Did you buy other stuff apart from the handcuffs?”

“Yes” Hope says with a gloating smile. “You don’t get to know what it is just yet though, you will get the surprise at the right time.”

“You don’t know how bad you are torturing me here” I say with a huff. “You really just played me at my own game there and actually won.”

“It’s like we are meant to be” Hope says with a laugh as I punch her arm. I may have said something cheesy along those lines earlier that Hope just won’t let me forget.

“Babe, deep down you know you actually believe that too” I say as Hope just smiles at me.

/

“Hope, give it back” I demand, trying to hobble closer to my girlfriend to get my snapback back.

“You are not wearing it indoors” Hope says, easily moving away from me with the hat in her hand. “That’s like me wearing a pair of gloves to dinner or socks in a swimming pool.”

“No its not” I say through my laughter. “The hat is a fashion accessory, it like you wearing a necklace to dinner or a ring when you go out shopping.”

“Fine, take it” Hope says as she gives me my hat. “I really don’t understand why you want to wear it when all we are doing is watching a movie.”

“It keeps my hair out my face” I say, putting the hat back on and then I go back to sit on the bed. “What movie are we watching?”

“Whatever you want to watch babe” Hope answers, sitting next to me on the bed with the TV remote in her hand. “Make sure the movie isn’t too long, I want to get you back to your room at a decent hour.”

“Excuse me?” I say, looking directly at Hope.

“What?” Hope asks, pulling me closer so we can get comfortable on the bed.

“I am not going back to my room tonight” I say. “You said Pinoe is out all night or sleeping in her girlfriend’s room so if you’ve got the room to yourself then I am sharing with you.”

“Maybe I don’t want you to stay” Hope says as I laugh.

“I can totally change your mind” I say, moving to straddle Hope as she grips at my hips.

“No doubt you can but we are definitely not having sex” Hope says, pecking me on the lips.

“Why not?” I ask, placing random kisses over Hope’s face.

“What about Pinoe?”

“I am not really into threesomes” I say as Hope rolls her eyes.

“She will be back in the morning” Hope says.

“I am not suggesting we have sex all through the night until morning” I say, gently rubbing Hope’s neck as I get comfortable on her lap.

“The last thing we need is to wake up in the morning with Pinoe and a camera” Hope replies. “All we need to do is get lost in the moment, fall asleep naked and then Pinoe catches us in the morning.”

“You’re so cute, you worry about the silliest things” I say, kissing Hope’s cheek. “Babe, everyone knows we have sex. We are a young and healthy couple, well one of us is young anyway.”

“I am not being weird or prudish, I am just really private about this sort of stuff” Hope replies and I smile warmly at her.

“Its ok babe, we don’t need to do anything you are not comfortable with” I say sincerely, kissing Hope. “Come on, let’s watch this movie.”

We must’ve fell asleep with the movie on because the next thing I know I am waking up to the low sound of the TV and Hope’s soft breathing in my ear.

“Babe, wake up” I say softly, kissing Hope’s cheek. “I should get back to my room so I can get ready for my flight in a few hours.”

“Can’t you stay a little longer?”

“Not really” I reply, I don’t want to be running behind all morning but Hope’s warm arms are temping me.

“Five more minutes of cuddling” Hope says and I easily give in.

“You snore, you know that right?” I say, laughing lightly against Hope’s chest.

“No I don’t” Hope mumbles, stroking patterns on my back.

“You do, I recorded it on my phone” I say as Hope looks on in horror.

“I swear to god if you have recorded it then you better delete it right now” Hope states and I laugh.

“So you admit that you do it then?” I ask.

“Sometimes I snore, but not all the time” Hope says. “Only when my nose is congested, I think I am getting a viral infection or something.”

“Hopefully you get over it while we are apart and I don’t catch it when I get back from my trip” I say.

“You’re so caring Kelley” Hope says sarcastically and I laugh.

“I just meant, I hope it is something minor that you don’t need to struggle with on your own” I say. “I will cancel my trip if you like.”

“No, I don’t want you to do that” Hope says. “It’s just a cold, I will be perfectly fine on my own.”

“Good” I say. “Is it safe to kiss you or are you too infectious?”

“Shut up and kiss me” Hope says, angling her head to kiss my lips.

“I should go now” I say.

“Ok babe, I’m going to sort my luggage but I will come and find you in twenty minutes” Hope says and I kiss her one last time before we get out of bed.

/

“Put her down Kelley, we are only going away for a few days” Press says, breaking my kiss with Hope. Press and I are just about to head off on our Stanford reunion trip with some women we went to college with.

“Honestly Press, you have no right commenting on this” I say as I gesture between Hope and me, our arms still wrapped around one another. “That display when Tobin left for the airport earlier was a heck of a lot worse than this, it was actually bordering on disgusting.”

“Be in the cab in five minutes or I will leave without you” Press warns, gesturing to her watch before she heads outside the hotel.

“Are you coming to Seattle straight after your trip?” Hope asks and I nod.

“Yeah, my flight is already booked” I answer with a smile.

“What date are you flying in?” Hope asks.

“I will land in Seattle on the 10th of February” I answer.

“Ok, I will make sure I have the locks changed by then” Hope replies cheekily as I slap her arm. “I am joking obviously, I wanted to know so I can arrange to pick you up from the airport.”

“That’s sweet of you.”

“You should probably go, you don’t want Press to get angry” Hope says as I kiss her one last time. “I love you.”

“Love you too babe, don’t have too much fun without me” I reply as Hope walks me towards the cab and opens my door for me.

“Bye Kel.”

“See you” I say with a wink before closing the cab door and waving to my girlfriend as I set off.

“You two are way worse than Tobin and I” Christen says as I laugh.

“As if, you and Tobin are so extra” I say, playfully hitting Christen who slaps my arm in return. “I bet you miss her more than I miss Hope.”

“I don’t want to bet” Christen replies.

“Scared you lose because you know it’s true” I smirk as Christen laughs.

“Yeah” Christen replies. “I don’t know how we are going to cope when the season starts back up.”

“We will manage fine Press, we’ve both been in relationships before and did it semi long distance” I reply, deep down I am not sure if I will manage as well as I think I will. I didn’t think I could be this attached to someone.

“Tobin is different Kelley” Christen says with a sigh. “This isn’t like my past relationships, I think she’s…like forever.”

“Forever, that’s a big commitment” I say as Christen rolls her eyes. “What happened to the Press in college who swore she would never settle down?”

“The same thing that happened to the Kelley in college who had a different girl every night” Christen retorts. “She fell in love and is ready for making a commitment.”

“Touché” I reply. “So you guys are super serious?”

“Yeah” Christen says with a blush. “Really serious, I don’t want to get ahead of myself but I swear she hinted at us getting married in the future.”

“Really?” I say surprised, not because I don’t want it to happen but because Tobin’s never been that bothered about that sort of thing before.

“Yeah, I’m sure I’m not making it up” Christen replies with a smile. “We were having lunch with a few of Tobin’s old school friends, I had ordered a slice of cake for Toby and I to share for dessert and then out of nowhere she said, ‘that’s so dope, I would seriously consider having that as our wedding cake’.”

“What did you say to that?” I ask excitedly.

“Nothing, I just sat there like an idiot” Christen replies as she shakes her head. “When I actually regained myself from the shock it was too late to reply, the group had Tobin immersed in another conversation.”

“Maybe that was a hint then” I say, the thought of two of my best friends getting married exciting me.

“Do you think she wants me to propose?” Christen asks and I laugh.

“No honey, this is just what Tobin does” I say as Christen looks on confused. “When she is unsure about something or doesn’t know how to approach a subject directly she uses deflection techniques to try and bring the topic into conversation subtly.”

“Right?” Christen nods, still looking confused.

“In this case she used the cake, she wants to know how you feel about marriage but she wouldn’t openly ask you about it” I reply. “Tobin’s always been too shy to be direct at times, just after she and I graduated from college she took a trip to LA to see me and my new apartment so we could go surfing together, numerous times she would mention how cool it was to stay by the beach and if only she could afford to rent a place in LA so she could surf every day, to cut a long story short that was her way of asking if she could live with me until we both got permanent club teams.”

“Oh, I know what you mean” Christen says in realisation. “That’s like when we went on one of our first dates, she took me to this buffet place because she didn’t know what kind of food I liked and didn’t know whether I would prefer Italian or Indian, the buffet had both.”

“Yeah, like that” I answer. “Also do you remember that time in the locker room when we were all discussing what we don’t like to do on a date, each of us took turns briefly describing what activities we don’t like, Allie doesn’t like movie dates, Alex doesn’t like going to see other sports…”

“Yeah” Christen nods.

“That was Tobin’s idea, all she really wanted to know was what not to do on a date with you” I say with a smile. “She pretended she was curious about everyone but really, she just wanted to know your answer.”

“This all makes sense now” Christen says. “How did I not realise this before?”

“Is marriage something you want?” I ask.

“Yeah” Christen answers, biting her lips nervously. “Is it too soon to think about that, it’s only been just over a year?”

“Tobin’s clearly considering it, if the most laid back  and chill person in the world is thinking about it then you can bet it isn’t too soon” I answer as Christen laughs. “There really isn’t a timescale, just be you and be together.”

“You’re right” Christen says just as the cab pulls up at the airport. “We timed that nicely.”

/

After we all met up last night, we had some dinner and drinks before retreating to our rooms to get some sleep. We were all pretty tired from our flights and decided we would kick-start the trip with a visit to the mall today.

As we are walking around the mall, I decide to text Hope.

Kelley: Blue or red? X

Hope: For what babe xx

Kelley: for the present I am going to get you obviously x

Hope: You don’t need to get me a present xx

“Kelley, are you listening?” Ali Riley asks.

“She will be too busy texting her girlfriend” Christen adds.

“What did you say Ali?” I ask as I look up from my phone after sending a reply to Hope.

“I wanted your opinion on where we can go for lunch?” Ali replies as she laughs. “Am I the only one here not constantly texting my significant other?”

“Hey, I’m not” Christen replies. “I haven’t spoken to Tobin in over an hour.”

“That’s a world record right there girls” I say as Press glares at me. “An hour is just so long.”

“Let’s get back on topic girls, where does everyone want to go for lunch?” Ali asks and after a few minutes we decide on a small Chinese restaurant not far from the hotel.

It’s nice to catch up with some of my old friends, reminiscing about our college days and updating each other on our lives. It’s so nice that I actually feel guilty for leaving it so long to organise the trip.

“Are we sharing Kelley?” Christen asks and I nod with a smile. Christen and I both really love Chinese food so any opportunity we get, we share so that we can order more and have a taste of everything.

“Of course” I reply. “Do you want the usual?”

“Yeah” Christen says as she closes the menu, the order memorised in both our heads.

“Check you two out?” one of our friends says. “Sharing food, Christen used to fall out with you if you so much as took a carrot from her plate, now you gals share meals.”

“I’m still pissed about that carrot” Christen responds as everyone laughs.

“It’s only Chinese food that we share” I answer with a smile. “There’s too much to choose from so this way we can have smaller amounts of a bigger selection.”

“It really brings a tear to my eye, you two are so mature now” Ali says with a cheeky smile. “When you two were rooming in college you would fight about anything and everything, now you are besties.”

“She may be my best friend but she is still as annoying as hell sometimes” Christen says with a cheeky smile and I give her one back.

“Press is still as whiny as well, you get past the flaws” I say with a shrug. “Deep down, we really love one another.”

/

“Guess what Hope?” I say as we facetime before going to bed.

“What babe?” Hope asks, a sleepy smile on her face as she lies in bed.

“Two days and then you will be graced with my presence again” I say happily with a grin. “Are you excited?”

“Yeah, I’ve missed you” Hope replies and I smile. I know it has only been a few days but I’ve really missed her too.

“Will we always miss each other this badly?” I ask with a laugh, deep down I am genuinely curious.

“It’s healthy, it means we care” Hope replies, stifling as yawn in the process. “It just means that when we do see each other it will feel more special.”

“It always feels special” I reply, feeling myself blush after saying that. “What are you doing tomorrow?”

“I am going to visit my grandma, she hasn’t been too well recently so I want to check in on her” Hope replies and I frown sadly.

“Oh no” I say sadly.

“I think it’s just a virus or something, she didn’t tell me until I had to force it out of her the other day” Hope answers. “She said she didn’t want me to worry.”

“From what you’ve told me about her, she seems like a tough little lady” I say positively. “If she is anything like you she will be fine.”

“I know” Hope smiles. “What are your plans for tomorrow, I am guessing from those texts last night that you had quite the amount to drink.”

“I had a bit much yeah” I answer with a smile. “As you could probably tell from the picture I sent you that drunk Kelley isn’t very good at pulling off sexy poses.”

“Was that picture supposed to be sexy?” Hope asks and I laugh. “It was certainly amusing, not really sexy though. If you want to try the picture again when sober and sending me it then I wouldn’t mind.”

“We will see, I may have something even better than a half-naked picture for you” I say with a smirk.

“A full naked picture?” Hope asks with a wink, that thought certainly woke her from her sleepy state.

“Something even better” I tease. “Just don’t let anyone go near your phone for the next day or so, the content is for your eyes only.”

“Now you are getting me worked up about what it could be” Hope complains, trying to pout. “Why will it take a day or so, can’t you send it now?”

“You need to be patient” I warn as Hope rolls her eyes.

“Yeah and you need to stop being such a tease, you managed to turn a normal facetime conversation into me practically begging to see you naked” Hope says and I can’t help but laugh. “I’m serious Kel, my mind wasn’t even going to that place until two minutes ago.”

“Sorry babe, I can’t help if I am so irresistible to you” I say with a shrug and a smile. “I should probably go to bed, Press will be back in a second.”

“Wait, are you guys sharing a hotel room?” Hope asks and I nod.

“Yeah, why?” I answer.

“You do realise you are not with the team, you guys don’t need to share outside of work” Hope says with a laugh.

“It’s cheaper this way, the room has two beds and it’s not like Press and I aren’t used to sharing” I say with a shrug. “If you and I went on a trip we would share a hotel room.”

“We are different, we are a couple” Hope says.

“Does it bother you?” I ask as Hope laughs lightly.

“Not at all babe, I just found it amusing” Hope says. “I just presumed you would’ve had enough of sharing if you didn’t have to.”

“Don’t get me wrong, I did regret it a little this morning when I had to hear that sappy telephone conversation she had with Tobin” I say. “Thank goodness it was before breakfast and I didn’t need to worry about throwing it back up.”

“The things you say to me are so sexy Kel” Hope says sarcastically as I laugh. “I will let you get to bed, love you Kel.”

“Love you too baby, goodnight.”

“Night” Hope smiles, blowing me a kiss through the screen before we disconnect.

/

“Press I need your help” I say as we reach our hotel room, full from dinner and tired from dancing at that club almost all night.

“What do you need help with?” Christen asks.

“I want to buy Hope something special but I don’t know what” I say as Christen looks on, taking off her shoes.

“What’s the occasion, her birthday isn’t until July?” Christen asks.

“No occasion, I just want to treat her” I say and Christen nods. “I’m trying to be all romantic and shit, but it’s not really in my nature.”

“I love romance” Christen says excitedly. “How can I help you?”

“Tell me how to be more romantic” I say with a laugh.

“Romance doesn’t need to be complicated or some big elaborate gesture” Christen says with a smile. “It doesn’t have to be something big like writing a love poem, I find the small things the most romantic.”

“Like what?” I ask curiously.

“Like when Tobin sends me flowers for no reason or when we text each other goodnight every night” Christen explains. “As long as it’s something you put some thought into then it would work. If you want to buy Hope some chocolate, make sure it’s one of her favorite types. It’s the little things.”

“Ok, I can do little things” I say with a nod. I’ve already got a present for Hope but I wouldn’t say its romantic which is why I want to get her something special.

/

“Did you like your present?” I ask Hope as we lie in bed, Hope’s soft fingers tracing patterns on my bare back, our sweat covered bodies pressed together.

“I love it” Hope replies, kissing me on the head. I am not going to lie, it didn’t take us long to get to the bedroom after Hope picked me up from the airport. “I have to ask though, how on earth were you comfortable travelling in that lingerie.”

“It was tough but the look on your face when you saw me wearing it was worth all the pain I felt” I say with a smile. Hope’s first present was me wearing a very revealing set of lingerie that I bought in LA and decided to wear on my way back to Seattle. I will give her her special present later.

“You looked incredibly sexy” Hope says, pulling me on top of her.

“Yeah, I know” I reply, a smug smile on my face. “I missed you a lot.”

“It was only a few days” Hope says through a chuckle. “We will need to spend a lot more time apart when the NWSL starts back up again.”

“I am trying not to think about that just now” I say, placing a kiss on Hope’s lips. “I don’t think we need to think about anything other than ourselves when I have you lying naked under me.”

“I agree” Hope says with a hum, squeezing me tighter and then pecking me on the cheek.

“We will figure it all out when the season starts” I say, kissing Hope’s chest before lifting the necklace around Hope’s neck into my hand. “Is this necklace special to you because I don’t think I’ve ever seen you take it off?”

“Yeah, I don’t think I ever do take it off unless it is to clean it” Hope answers, reaching up to touch the necklace in my hand. “My dad gave it to me, we had a rocky relationship but it seemed to be heading in a positive direction before his death. This was the last thing he ever gave me.”

“I didn’t mean to pry” I say gently.

“Its ok babe” Hope smiles. “At times he wasn’t the best dad and I certainly wasn’t the best daughter but we got closure on that, we forgave each other but unfortunately we didn’t have enough time before his passing to really get to know one another. I would love to say that he was my idol and the perfect role model but I didn’t get to know him well enough to see him in that way.”

“It’s a really pretty necklace” I say, it a small stone but very shiny.

“I don’t have a lot to remind me of him but this necklace means that I can keep him close to my heart” Hope tells me, a light tear rolling down her face. “Our relationship sucked at times but he was still my dad and no matter what happened I loved him and I will always love him.”

“Do you think he would like me?” I ask curiously.

“I would hope so” Hope says, smiling gently at me. “I never introduced him to anyone I was dating, our relationship revolved around just the two of us. I didn’t ask about his life outside me and he didn’t ask about mine.”

“Was there any particular reason?” I ask, clasping my hand with Hope’s.

“I just didn’t feel comfortable sharing stuff, we were still partly strangers to one another and I don’t open up to people at the best of times” Hope answers, taking a deep breath. “Eventually we would’ve shared more with one another but firstly we wanted to repair our relationship. I didn’t think I would lose him so soon.”

“Of course you didn’t babe” I say, kissing Hope’s lips before wiping her tears. “I’m sorry that I made you sad.”

“I’m not sad” Hope says with a smile. “It felt good to share a little with you.”

“If you ever need to talk again then you know I will always listen” I say. “Or if you just want to cuddle naked then I can do that too.”

“Thanks Kel” Hope says as I smile at her.

 “I love you” I say as I stare into Hope’s eyes.

“I love you too” Hope replies and that’s how we spend the rest of our afternoon, declaring our feelings to one another and making love until we both can’t physically move any more. Our bodies aching from tiredness and our breaths mingling as we manage to sneak a few kisses while we try and calm our racing hearts.

Chapter Text

“Who’s David?” I ask, noticing Hope’s phone light up with a Facebook request.

“David?” Hope says confused. “I don’t think I know a David, why?”

“He’s just sent you something on Facebook” I answer.

“I can check it later, I’m too busy cuddling my girlfriend just now” Hope replies, squeezing me tighter as we lounge on the couch.

“Ok” I say with a nod. I don’t mean to get suspicious but for the last few days Hope has been acting super weird, I think she is hiding something from me. On Saturday she said she was going out to run some errands and would be back in half an hour; she was away for four hours. She also won’t allow me to go near her study room, she always keeps it locked. “I’m sorry, I need to ask” I say, unable to hold my feelings in. “What are you hiding from me?”

“What?” Hope asks, pretending to not know what I’m talking about.

“You’ve been acting strange” I say, looking directly at Hope who is doing her best to avoid eye contact with me.

“I haven’t, I’m just busy Kel” Hope tells me but I’m not buying it.

“I know we are not attached at the hip and we both like independent time but you’ve been acting extra strange” I say. “Tell me what you’re hiding, it’s something to do with your study.”

“You’re so persistent babe” Hope says with a smile. “You need to learn to be less nosy.”

“Is it something bad, you can tell me?”

“It’s nothing bad, it’s good actually” Hope says with a laugh. “I can show you just now or you can wait until Tuesday.”

“Tuesday, why Tuesday?” I ask.

“Valentine’s day, I’ve been planning something for you” Hope says. “It’s supposed to be a surprise but since you seem to want to know just now then…”

“No, keep it until Tuesday” I say, feeling embarrassed.

“I’m sorry I made you suspicious, I just wanted to do something nice” Hope says and I wave it off. “I guess I am not very good at sneaking around.”

“I’m sorry I got suspicious, you said it yourself that I’m nosy” I say.

“It’s our first valentine’s day together so I wanted to make it special” Hope tells me, an excited smile on her face. “I never actually asked you but you’re not one of those people who hate Valentine’s Day are you?”

“Only if I am single I can get a little pessimistic about it” I reply, kissing Hope’s cheek. “I am not single this year so I am all for it.”

“Good because I love Valentine’s day” Hope says and I have to admit I am a little shocked, I really didn’t think Hope was interested in it. “I probably feel the same as you though, it doesn’t interest me when I am single.”

“The only good thing about being single on Valentine’s Day was the leftover candy reduced to half price at the store the day after” I say with a smile. “Those chocolate hearts you get with the caramel in the middle are so good.”

“I am glad you like them because there may or may not been some already bought for you” Hope says with a smile and I smile back.

“You might actually be the best girlfriend ever, you know that right?” I say, kissing Hope on the side of the mouth.

“I know that now” Hope responds, pulling me closer for a proper kiss this time. “I should’ve probably asked, but are you free to do stuff on Valentine’s Day because if you have plans to go to the gym or meet Pinoe or something then that’s cool.”

“I’m free all day on Tuesday” I say with a smile as Hope nods and then grabs my hand. “Even if I did have plans, you know I would cancel them in favour of you anyway.”

“Good, because I have already planned the whole day” Hope says with a laugh. “This is probably the first time I’ve went to so much effort for Valentine’s day so I hope you like it.”

“I’m pretty sure I will” I say with a confident smile.

/

When I got up for the toilet at six, Hope is lying in bed looking so peaceful that I do my best to try and not disturb her. I think I manged quite well given the fact that she didn’t seem to move an inch. Its turns out I am wrong though, when I exit the bathroom at four minutes past six Hope is running around the bedroom like a headless chicken.

“Whoa babe, where’s the fire?” I ask as Hope breezes past me.

“I slept in” Hope responds, clumsily pulling on a pair of sweatpants. When the pants finish half way up Hope’s leg I realise they are probably mine.

“Slept in?” I question. “Hope, it’s just gone six.”

“I know Kel, but I have a packed schedule today” Hope answers before offering me a smile. “It’s Valentine’s Day and the planning starts now.”

“Right” I say with a nod.

“You go back to bed, I will come and wake you up later when I am ready to give you your first surprise” Hope says, kissing my cheek.

“Ok” I say with an excited smile. “I will look forward to it.”

It feels like my head probably hasn’t been on the pillow for five minutes when Hope is gently shaking me awake.

“Kel, wake up” Hope says softly as I slowly open one eye and squint. “It’s time for breakfast.”

“What time is it?” I ask, it honestly feels like I only saw Hope ten minutes ago.

“It nine o’clock” Hope says, placing a kiss on my lips before readjusting my pillows when I slowly sit up. “Breakfast in bed for my gorgeous girlfriend.”

“Why thank you” I say gratefully as Hope places the tray on my lap. On the tray there is a glass orange juice, no pulp, just the way I like it; a plate with French toast, two rashers of bacon and a jug of maple syrup; a cup of coffee with cream; a small wrapped parcel and finally a large pink envelope which presumably contains a valentine’s card with the name Kelley and lots of hearts around it.

“You’re welcome babe” Hope says with a smile, lying on top of the covers next to me.

“I don’t know whether to open the gift first or eat this delicious breakfast” I say, taking a moment to think before I grab the card and open it.

“To Kel,

Happy Valentine’s Day to the most beautiful and kind person in the world, I love you with all my heart,

Hope xxx”

“Thanks baby” I say before kissing Hope on the cheek and then I begin eating before opening my gift.

“I thought you could wear the bracelet tonight, to dinner” Hope says and I nod with a smile. “Dinner is at six tonight but before then, I have a lot planned for us.”

“I am so excited” I say, leaning over the bed to kiss my girlfriend. “I do have a gift for you so I hope your plans include time for me to spoil you for a bit.”

“I am sure we can find some time” Hope says, drinking some of my coffee before scrunching her face in disgust. My coffee is way too sweet for Hope’s liking. “In the meantime, finish your breakfast and then take a shower because we are going out.”

“Out where?” I ask. “What’s the dress code Solo?”

“Casual comfortable O’Hara” Hope replies, kissing me one last time before bouncing off the bed and winking at me. “Be ready in half an hour babe.”

“I will be, we all know you take longer than me to get ready” I reply, eating my last piece of toast before getting out of bed. “Hope, wait?”

“Yeah?” Hope asks with a smile, her foot halfway out of the bedroom door.

“I love you.”

“Love you too beautiful” Hope replies, blowing me a kiss and then exiting the bedroom.

/

“Babe, how on earth did you manage to reserve a full private section in the restaurant” I ask in surprise. “Especially on Valentine’s Day.”

“I have my ways” Hope says, lovingly smiling at me. “You deserve the best and I intend on giving you just that.”

“You’re amazing, you know that right?” I ask and Hope shrugs.

“The night has barely started babe, hold that thought till later” Hope says. “You never know, I could mess up.”

“Are you crazy?” I ask in disbelief. “I am so in love with you that you could set an alligator on me and I would still love you, you’re never going to mess up in my eyes.”

“Thanks babe” Hope replies. “FYI, I wouldn’t ever set an alligator on you.”

“I know, I was just trying to show you the magnitude of how I felt” I reply as we both laugh lightly.

“Shall we sit?” Hope asks, pointing to the precisely set up dining table in the middle of the room. Hope then leads me over to the table before pulling out my chair for me. “I pre-ordered our meals but you can chose your drink when the waiter comes over, I wasn’t sure what you would fancy.”

“Ok babe” I say with a nod, my heart still beating like crazy about how perfect this all feels. “You look absolutely gorgeous tonight, you always do obviously but I feel like I don’t tell you enough.”

“Thanks Kel” Hope blushes, reaching over to grab my hand and squeezing it. “I think I am going to have a glass of wine, you can have whatever you want.”

“I think I will have a beer, will it go with the food you ordered for us?” I ask as Hope nods. “A beer it is then.”

“I will call the waiter over” Hope says, waving to get the waiter’s attention to order our drinks and request our food to be served in a few minutes.

“I am so happy right now, I actually can’t stop smiling” I say, grabbing Hope’s hand again and not letting go until our food is served and Hope needs her hand back to eat.

“What do you think of the food so far?”

“Perfect, just like my girlfriend” I answer, taking another bite of my food. “I love you Hope, I know we are still in the early stages of our relationship but I just wanted to say that I really like where it is going.”

“So do I” Hope smiles back at me. Even her smile makes my heart beat faster.

/

The way Hope looks at me, sets my skin on fire. She’s knows exactly what to do to make my legs turn to jelly and my mouth to spurt out incoherent words. The way she can so effortlessly tease me in itself is such a turn on.

“Are you going to come for me?” Hope whispers against my lips, her eyes boring into mine and her fingers lazily stroking through the heat between my legs. “If you promise to come for me then I will pick up the pace.”

“I will… I promise” I rush out, I know she is deliberately teasing me. As soon as I feel myself about to reach my climax, Hope suddenly stops or slows her movements preventing me from letting go. “Please… go quicker.”

“Look at me when you come?” Hope instructs and I nod, I’m not convinced I will be able to look at my girlfriend though.

“Hope… babe” I say, squeezing my legs tighter together to trap Hope’s hand in the hope it can push her hand further in me.

“Yeah Kel?” Hope asks, moving her fingers painfully slow.

“FUCK ME” I demand frustrated as Hope smirks. I usually love her smirk but it is just taunting me right now. “Hope I…”

She curls her fingers and suddenly I am tumbling over the edge, Hope’s name mixed with expletives rush out of my mouth.

“You were supposed to look at me babe” Hope says, softly kissing my lips. “Your eyes were closed.”

“I’m not even sorry” I reply with a breathless laugh, pulling Hope on top of me for a sloppy kiss.

“I can tell by the smirk on your face” Hope replies, kissing me a few times on the lips before moving to lie beside me, her arm resting over my stomach. “I had so much fun today, I am actually pretty proud of myself for organising the day so well. I’ve never put so much effort into Valentine’s Day before.”

“I’m proud of you too babe, I’ve never been spoiled like this before” I say, lifting Hope’s arm from my stomach so I can roll on top of her. “You really really love me don’t ya?”

“You know I do” Hope says bashfully, leaning up to kiss me on the lips.

“I love you too” I say, momentarily breaking the kiss. “I’m going to show you how much.” Hope doesn’t get a chance to respond when I connect our lips together, Hope’s fingers threading through my hair, holding my head in place.

/

“You like me don’t you?” I ask Onyx as I stroke between his ears, he just looks at me before placing his paw on my knee. “I like you too buddy. I just wanted to make sure we are cool since it looks like I will be spending a lot more time here with you guys.”

“Kel…” Hope shouts from upstairs making Onyx jump up.

“Yeah babe?” I shout back as I move from my place on the couch through to the hallway.

“I’ve lost my cell phone” Hope replies, coming into view at the top of the stairs.

“That’s a shame” I say as I look up at Hope from my position at the bottom of the stairs.

“Help me find it or else I will be late” Hope says, staring down at me. “If I don’t take it with me then you are never going to know when to pick me up from the bar, you don’t want me walking home drunk in the early hours of the morning do you?”

“Check the bathroom because I caught you taking a selfie in there earlier and I will check the kitchen” I say as I walk off to the kitchen, Onyx following me.

Ten minutes later and I still haven’t found the phone so I make my way upstairs to find Hope putting makeup on in the bathroom.

“I can’t find it babe” I say as I sit on the edge of the tub.

“That’s ok, I found it in here like you said” Hope says.

“Thanks for telling me, I just about turned the kitchen upside down” I say as Hope chuckles guiltily.

“Sorry” Hope says before turning to face me. “Is this dress ok?”

“If by ok you mean, do I want to rip it off you because you look so hot then yeah, its ok” I answer with a smirk. “You look beautiful.”

“Thanks Kel” Hope responds, kissing me on the cheek. “If things run on too late then I will call a cab, which will let you get to bed at a decent hour.”

“Just call me to pick you up, it doesn’t matter what time it is” I say, pulling Hope in close to me. “Have fun with your friends and whenever you are ready to go then call me, ok?”

“Ok” Hope nods as I kiss her lips gently, trying to avoid ruining her makeup.

/

“Hey Kel” Hope says with a soft smile as she clumsily gets into the car.

“Fun night?” I ask with a smile of my own.

“Brilliant” Hope answers through her drunken drawl. “Sorry it’s late.”

“Its fine babe, as long as you had fun I don’t mind” I say as I begin to drive off, the vehicle stuttering slightly due to my inexperience of driving Hope’s car.

“I did, you should meet my friends sometime” Hope says as she grabs my hand and squeezes it. “I will set something up, ok?”

“Sounds good” I answer as I continue to drive.

“What did you do tonight?” Hope asks. “I hope you weren’t too lonely without me, or did you enjoy the time to yourself.”

“I didn’t do much, I took the dogs for a long walk then I came back and watched a movie while texting Press” I answer before winking at Hope. “The peace from you was good.”

“Absence makes the heart grow fonder” Hope says with a wide smile as I laugh. “It was so good going out with my friends and them not trying to set me up on any dates. Don’t get me wrong, I love them but when I was single they were desperate for me to find someone new.”

“I’m sure they had your best interests at heart” I say, driving for another five minutes before turning the car onto Hope’s driveway.

“Thanks for picking me up babe” Hope says, swaying as she steps out of the car. “I think I had more to drink than I thought.”

“Let me help you” I say as I place my arm around Hope’s back to steady her. “I don’t think walking in those heels while drunk is a great recipe either.”

“Probably not” Hope agrees, leaning against the wall of the house as I try and find my keys to unlock the door. “It’s so quiet here at nights, I am not sure I like this neighbourhood as much as the old one.”

“Well you will have to settle here for the time being, you’ve only just moved in” I say with a small laugh.

“I know” Hope says as I unlock the door and help Hope inside. The dogs rush to the hallway when they hear us, ready to bark until they see Hope and then rush to greet her. “Hi babies, did you miss me?” Hope says in her doggy voice, stroking each dog.

The dogs just circle round Hope, jumping on her causing her to stumble.

“I got you” I say with a chuckle as I catch a swaying Hope. “I think it’s time you got to bed.”

“Ok” Hope nods, wrapping her arm around my shoulder as I lead her upstairs. “I had a good night, t’was fun.”

“I’m glad babe” I reply, helping Hope sit on the bed as I grab some clothes for her to wear. “It’s nice to see you so happy.”

“I’ve been really happy lately” Hope smiles, taking the t-shirt and shorts I hand her. “This time though, I am not worried about the happiness ending because I’ve got you.”

“That’s sweet babe” I say, kissing Hope. “You had a lot of vodka tonight huh?”

“Is my breath really bad?” Hope asks as I laugh lightly and nod.

“It’s ok, vodka doesn’t bother me” I say, helping my girlfriend get changed before I pull back the covers for her.

“Thanks” Hope says, getting comfortable in bed.

“You’re welcome” I respond, kissing Hope on the cheek. “I will join you in five minutes, I just want to check the dogs are settled and that everything is in order downstairs.”

“Mmhmm” Hope mumbles. “I luv ya Kel.”

“I love you too, goodnight babe.”

“Night gorgeous.” And with that Hope settles and I head back downstairs.

/

“I have a pounding headache” Hope mumbles, resting her forehead between my shoulder blades as I stare in the fridge, looking for something for breakfast.

“I am not surprised” I say quietly.

“Don’t shout Kel” Hope says, clearly the hangover is making her very sensitive to noise.

“I wasn’t” I say as Hope groans. “I don’t know what we could have for breakfast.”

“Eggs, I need eggs when I am hungover” Hope says, squeezing me tighter. “And wholemeal bread.”

“Let’s have scrambled eggs on toast then” I say, making the decision for both of us.

“Baby, don’t shout” Hope whispers.

“I am barely even whispering” I respond. “How can your hangover be so bad, either you drank a lot more than I think you did or you didn’t take precautions last night to prevent a hangover.”

“I guess I could have ate more before drinking to line my stomach and I probably could’ve drank more water before going to bed” Hope says through a whine. “Does this mean I am getting old because I can’t hold my drink like I used to.”

“Babe you’re not getting old, you are old” I say as Hope lets go of me and sulks off to sit down at the table.

“You’re not really selling your case for girlfriend of the year” Hope mumbles as I laugh.

“I’m sorry” I apologise, walking over and plopping down in Hope’s lap. “Do you still love me?”

“Of course” Hope answers, kissing me gently. “I should probably make breakfast because if I let you cook then I will have food poisoning on top of this hangover.”

“Now you’re being mean” I complain with a pout.

“Kel, you can’t cook and you know it” Hope says, kissing away my pout and causing me to smile. “You can help me prepare if you want, you can put some toast in the grill.”

“I can manage that” I say as I stand up and make my way over to the bread box.

“I’ve got technical training this afternoon” Hope says as she begins to make the eggs. “I will go to the store on my way home and pick us up something for dinner.”

“That’s cool, I was just going to head to the gym to meet Pinoe” I reply as I keep my eye on the toast to make sure I don’t burn it. When it comes to cooking I could easily ruin the simplest things. “Have you thought much about when the season starts?”

“How do you mean?” Hope asks.

“We will be apart” I answer. “I can’t help but feel a weird feeling in the pit of my stomach when I think about the new season, I usually like to get back to my team but this year I am dreading it.”

“I guess we will need to take it one step at a time” Hope says, moving closer to me and hugging me from behind. “The season doesn’t start until April and there will be breaks in the season where we can hang out.”

“I haven’t experienced this before” I say, taking a deep breath. “I’ve dated people and had long distance relationships but I guess dating someone with the same career is different. We won’t have enough time to make weekend trips or casually surprise each other with visits.”

“I know, which is why we should enjoy the time we have together before we go our separate ways for preseason” Hope says with a smile and I smile back.

I wish I could be as relaxed as Hope is but I’m not, preseason is a month away and that scares me. For the first time in my life, I am not looking forward to going back to my club. This isn’t like how it was with any of my ex-girlfriend’s, I can’t just fly to see them on an off week or have them come to me for a few days when they have a break in their schedule. Hope and I do the same job, we both train at least six times a week; we both will have away games; we both may not get called into the national team camp (that’s unlikely to happen for Hope because she’s the best in the world but I don’t have a spot locked down) and also Seattle and NJ are on different coasts.

“Kel… did you hear what I said?” Hope asks with a gentle smile.

“I didn’t babe, sorry” I apologise. “I was lost in my head.”

“I was asking if the toast was ready” Hope says as I quickly turn to the grill, yeah I’ve burnt the toast.

“Oops” I say with a guilty smile.

“It’s ok, there’s more bread there” Hope says. “I prepare for these things when I know you are coming to visit.”

“I should be offended by that comment but when you think about it, it is pretty accurate” I reply, grabbing more bread and putting in on the grill, ensuring I don’t take my eyes off of it this time.

/

“How’s it going?” PInoe asks, a teasing tone in her voice.

“Good” I reply, kicking the ball to her.

“How’s Hope?” Pinoe asks.

“She’s good, yeah” I answer.

“I thought that was the case” Pinoe smirks. “You’ve got a huge ass hickey on your neck dude.”

“I knew I didn’t put enough make-up on” I say as I adjust my collar to try and cover it, Pinoe smirking at me. “Stop smirking and pass me the ball back.”

“I still can’t quite believe that you and Hope are dating” Pinoe says. “You are just so opposite from one another.”

“You know what they say, opposites attract” I add as Pinoe smiles.

“It’s good to see you happy plus it should definitely help Hope’s mood if you are making her happy” Pinoe says, laughing lightly. “Honestly, I know Hope is always intense but she was super uptight last season, now that she has you in her life then hopefully she won’t be as grumpy.”

“She had a tough time last year, with her divorce and issues with her ex-husband” I say. “She’s in a much better place now.”

“I can tell, the only thing to probably make it even easier would be to get you to play for Seattle” Pinoe says jokingly as I laugh.

“That’s not happening” I say. “I am just holding out for a team closer to my family, hopefully I get a chance before the end of my career.”

“You and I could be unstoppable up top together” Pinoe says.

“Maybe” I laugh before changing the subject. I really would love it if I had a chance to play for a team in Atlanta or somewhere I could see my family more regular. “Anyway, I want to know how your big Valentine’s Day surprise went.”

“It didn’t go, we broke up instead” Pinoe says, surprising me into silence for a few moments.

“Megan, I am so sorry” I say in sympathy. “You seemed really excited about the big date you had planned.”

“And I was but we had another argument and ended up having a ‘crisis talk’ for lack of a better phrase” Pinoe says as I rub her arm. “It’s probably for the best, we had been fighting a lot.”

“I am sorry to hear that” I say sympathetically.

“Me too” Pinoe says with a weak smile. “I wish I could’ve tried harder, been a better girlfriend but I can’t change the past.”

“As hard as it is to hear just not but maybe it was for the best” I say. “You never know, maybe after some time apart you two will find your way back together.”

“Maybe… I don’t know” Pinoe shrugs. “All I know right now is that I am going to kick your ass in training today.”

“We will see about that?” I say with a smirk before nutmegging Pinoe.

“Oh it’s on KO” Pinoe smiles.

/

“BABE?” I shout when I enter the house.

“Yeah?” Hope asks, appearing from the kitchen with the dogs following her.

“I am so going to kill you, Pinoe didn’t stop teasing me for one second at training” I say as Hope kisses my cheek when we are within touching distance.

“Teasing you about what?” Hope asks.

“The huge ass hickeys all over me for a start” I say as Hope chuckles softly.

“I’m sorry babe, maybe I should place the hickeys in a more secluded area next time” Hope tells me, leaning in for a proper kiss. “I will make sure they are out of sight for anyone that isn’t me.”

“Good” I nod. “My mom called when I was out, she’s got the date for my grandma’s birthday in April.”

“Cool, when is it?”

“Just after US camp so if we both get called in we can fly to Georgia after and then fly back to our NWSL teams” I reply.

“Are you still free to be my plus one to my friend’s wedding at the end of April?” Hope asks and I nod. “We will need to wait and see what schedule the NWSL puts out but hopefully it should be ok.”

“I hope so” I reply. “In other news, Pinoe and Sera broke up” I say.

“Yeah honey, Pinoe and Sarah broke up years ago” Hope says, laughing lightly. “She’s dating that musician now.”

“Not Sarah, Sera” I say, shaking my head. “Sera is the musician and it was her and Pinoe that broke up on Valentine’s Day.”

“That’s a shame, it sucks it was on Valentine’s Day too” Hope says.

“I don’t think it matters what day it is, breaking up always sucks” I say. “Even if there were other parties involved or not. Which I think there were.”

“Don’t start making assumptions babe, Pinoe is our friend” Hope tells me but she knows as well as I do that the rumours of Pinoe cheating could be true. “We wouldn’t want people speculating about our relationship.”

“That won’t stop them” I say with a laugh. “Pinoe already thinks you are quite the animal after all the hickeys she saw on me today.”

“I am just marking my territory” Hope says with a laugh. “Are you ready for dinner?”

“You know me, I am always hungry” I respond as I follow Hope into the kitchen. “What are we having?”

“Grilled chicken with steamed vegetables” Hope answers.

“Cool” I nod. “Anything you want me to do to help?”

“I think I got it all under control” Hope smiles. “You can relax or do whatever you need to do.”

“I think I will go for a shower” I say, kissing Hope on the cheek. “See you soon babe.”

“Bye” Hope says as I walk out the room and head upstairs, Onyx following behind me. “What are you doing young man, you know you can’t come in the bathroom with me?”

Onyx just looks at me before lying down at the top of the stairs.

/

“Babe, give me the bed covers back” I complain as a gust of cold air hit me when Hope pulled the duvet from me.

“It’s cold” Hope mumbles and if my eyes were open then I would roll them.

“I know babe, that’s why I want the covers back” I say, moving to try and snatch the duvet.

“Don’t pull them off of me” Hope mumbles into her pillow. “If you are so cold can’t you just cuddle me and then we won’t need to fight for the covers.”

“Fine” I sigh, shifting closer to Hope and spooning her with my arm wrapped securely around her stomach.

“Oh god, you’re freezing” Hope says when she feels me against her back and I try not to roll my eyes.

“Yes baby, hence the reason of our conversation” I say, kissing Hope’s shoulder blade. “Go back to sleep.”

“It’s going to be hard now that you’ve woken me up” Hope complains. “Tell me about surfing, which usually would bore me into a sleep.”

“Go to sleep baby” I say, kissing the back of Hope’s neck before closing my eyes.

“I am trying but I am too awake now” Hope says as I smile.

“I could tire you out and heat you up in the process” I say, moving my hand from Hope’s hip towards her lower stomach.

“Oh yeah?” Hope asks, guiding my hand under the waistband of her pyjama shorts.

“Uh-huh” I answer, gently stroking my fingers against Hope’s skin, moving them lower with each touch.

“Kel?”

“Yeah baby” I ask, leaving a trail of kisses down Hope’s arm from her shoulder to elbow as my hand gently strokes through her heat.

“Fuck me” Hope whispers breathily and I do as I am told.

Ten minutes later and I lay back on my pillow with a satisfied smirk.

“Babe?” I ask.

“Hmm” Hope says, her eyes closed and her body glowing.

“Nothing, it doesn’t matter” I say with a smile when I realise Hope is on the verge of sleep. “Goodnight.”

“G’night” Hope mumbles, her breathing evening out to let me know she is almost asleep.

/

“My grandma just called” Hope says as she walks into the bedroom where I am doing my press-ups.

“How is she?” I ask, trying to keep count in my head.

“She’s good, great actually” Hope answers and I smile. “She wants to have dinner tonight, she’s making a roast.”

“That’s nice babe” I smile. “It will be good for you to spend some time with her.”

“She’s asked me to bring you along” Hope says, making me still. “I know it is short notice but my grandma is like that. She’s one of those woman where it’s her way or no way.”

“It’s ok, I can meet your grandma” I say, swallowing nervously as it suddenly hits me that I am meeting the most important person in Hope’s life. “If she doesn’t like me and wants you to break up with me then its fine; we had a good run.”

“Kel, she won’t make me break up with you” Hope says as she pulls me off the floor to sit on the bed next to her. “There’s no way she won’t like you, she will love you.”

“You think?” I ask, looking into Hope’s eyes.

“Of course, you make her granddaughter incredibly happy. Who wouldn’t love someone who does that?” Hope says with a kind smile. “You’re amazing Kel, anyone who tells you otherwise will have to deal with me.”

“I love you” I say before kissing Hope.

“I know” Hope smiles. “I will let you get back to your exercises, I am going a quick trip to the store to pick up a bottle of wine and some flowers for tonight.”

“Ok” I nod, kissing my girlfriend again. “Wait?”

“Yeah?” Hope smiles.

“Is it just your grandma or is it a lot of your family?” I ask. I hope it is just her grandma because I feel like I need more time to prepare if it were her whole family.

“Just grandma” Hope says and I smile. Yeah, ok. I can cope with that. “Are you ok with this because if you’re not then there’s no pressure, we can do it another time?”

“I’m good, I want to meet your grandma” I say truthfully even though I am really nervous.

“She will love you babe” Hope says, kissing me one last time before leaving the room. I am going to need to text Alex or Press for some outfit advice because I have no idea what to wear tonight.

/

“Ready?” Hope asks as we approach the door.

“I think so” I reply before Hope kisses my cheek and then she opens the front door to her grandma’s house.

“Hi grandma” Hope shouts as she takes off her coat and gestures for me to do the same.

“I’m coming dear” her grandma shouts before I see her approaching us. She looks different, I’ve seen her in photos at Hope’s house and at a few games but up close she is different. Not a bad different, maybe just a little older but she has a warm smile on her face.

“Grandma, this is Kelley” Hope introduces me. “Kel, this is my grandma.”

“Lovely to meet you dear” her grandma says, reaching for my hand and squeezing it. “You can call me Alice.”

“Nice to meet you too” I respond politely, trying not to show my nerves.

“I need to check on dinner but Hope will show you through to the lounge and get you a drink” Alice says, smiling again before going back into the kitchen.

“What do you want to drink babe?” Hope asks. “You can have beer, wine, juice, tea or water. My grandma doesn’t keep spirits in the house.”

“Juice will be fine” I reply as Hope smiles at me.

“Kel, relax” Hope laughs softly, squeezing my hand. “You look so scared.”

“Your grandma means a lot to you so I really want to make a good impression on her” I say, biting my lip nervously. “What if she hates me?”

“And why would she hate you?” Hope asks.

“I don’t know, I can be very annoying at times” I reply as Hope laughs.

“Babe, you really have nothing to worry about” Hope says, kissing me softly. “My grandma doesn’t judge people before she knows them, this isn’t the first time you have met her.”

“I wasn’t your girlfriend those other times, what if she doesn’t want me to be with you?” I ask. “What if she doesn’t think I am good enough for you?”

“You are being crazy now” Hope tells me. “She wouldn’t have invited you for dinner if she didn’t want to get to know you. Plus, you are the one who is coming across as judgmental right now thinking she is the type of person to think that way.”

“I’m sorry, I’m not good with meeting my girlfriend’s family” I say, taking a deep breath to try and relax myself.

“I promise you have nothing to worry about” Hope says, kissing me one last time before going to get the drinks.

/

“You have a really nice home” I say.

“Thank you dear” Alice replies. “I’ve lived here for over sixty years, Hope’s mom grew up in this house and Hope spent a lot of her childhood here.”

“There must be lots of memories” I say.

“Oh there is, some good and some bad” Alice says with a smile. “Hope’s grandpa and I bought the house after we got married, in those days you moved in together after marriage and not before.”

“I spent a lot of my time here as a kid” Hope tells me. “It’s where I came to avoid my parents and their volatile relationship and to avoid my mom when she was drinking.”

“You had a tough childhood at times sweetheart but I am so proud of the woman you have become” Alice says to Hope, smiling warmly at her. Sometimes I think Hope covers up how bad she felt as a kid because she is scared of showing weakness. I hope over time she will feel comfortable enough to share more with me.

“Thanks” Hope smiles back at Alice.

“How do you like playing for Sky Blue?” Alice asks, changing the subject.

“It’s good, my teammates are what makes it the best” I answer.

“It’s always a lot easier when you have people around you” Alice smiles. “It’s also better when you have a good coach, do you like your coach?”

“He’s ok, we’ve had a few disagreements but overall we get along ok” I reply. Every coach is different and there is always going to be differing opinions on a team.

“That’s good” Alice smiles. “Different players like different types of coaches, as long as you can get the best out of yourself then that helps.”

“Yeah” I nod. “Hope actually told me that you used to coach her team when she was little.”

“Oh yeah, at that time she was a forward” Alice says with a soft laugh. “I still find it amusing that she grew up telling me she was going to score the winning goal at the world cup when she ended up being the one stopping the goals.”

“I would’ve loved to see you playing forward” I say with a smile.

“I’ve got some film, it’s very old but the quality is good enough” Alice says. “I will get it looked out for the next time Hope brings you to visit.”

“Ok” I say with a smile as Hope looks on a little embarrassed.

“I do have some picture of her that I can show you” Alice says as Hope groans.

“Grandma” Hope complains but it doesn’t stop Alice from rushing off into another room and returning with a box full of photo albums.

“Here is a picture of Hope and her little friends from kindergarten in the sandbox” Alice says as I look on, bursting into laughter when I notice the angry look on Hope’s face and a smile on everyone else.

“Why do you look so angry?” I ask.

“Hope never liked getting her photo taken, did you dear?” Alice says. “She would be smiling and laughing with her friends and as soon as the camera was brought out a frown appeared.”

“I hope your opinion of the camera has changed now, you have a lot of fans who come to games and want selfies with you” I say as Hope looks away in embarrassment.

“I’m used to it now” Hope says as I kiss her on the cheek before looking at the other photos Alice is showing me.

“Is that your brother?” I ask when I spot a boy in the background, his facial features almost identical to Hope.

“That’s him” Hope says with a nod.

“That’s probably one of only two photos I have of my grandchildren together when they were kids” Alice says. “The other one is when their mommy put them in the bath together but I won’t embarrass Hope by digging that one out.”

“I was hoping you burned that picture” Hope mutters before her grandma is gently smacking her on the arm.

/

“I am so full, I feel like I ate a whole cow tonight” I say as we drive home, Hope laughing lightly.

“My grandma likes to make big portions” Hope says. “Just do what I do and do an extra session at the gym to burn it off.”

“I am sure we could think of better ways than the gym to work it off” I say with a teasing smile.

“Maybe we could” Hope says, winking at me. “I need to take the dogs out for a walk, they haven’t had a proper walk since this morning.”

“I will come with you, I will need five minutes to change when we get back if that’s ok?” I ask as Hope nods and smiles.

Ten minutes later and Hope parks the car.

“Do you have the keys to the house?” Hope asks as I get out the car and head towards the house. “It’s quite cold tonight, I think we will need sweaters on when we take the dogs out.”

“Yeah” I agree as I open the door and the dogs come running at us.

“Hey babies, you ready for a walk?” Hope asks, Sasha barking once before Onyx barks twice. He likes people to know he is heard too since Sasha is the boss. “Give me a few minutes to change and we will go, ok?”

The dogs just look at Hope for a few seconds before turning to look at me.

“We need to wait on your mommy?” I say as Onyx rubs against me before looking at the door, indicating he wants to go now.

I pet the dogs for a few minutes before rushing upstairs to change as well, I don’t think taking the dogs a walk in my favorite dress is the best idea.

“Can I wear your purple sweater?” I ask, helping myself to the sweater without waiting for an answer.

/

“How do you feel after meeting my grandma?” Hope asks as we walk slowly, watching as the dogs run around in the distance, grateful to be off their leads when Hope noticed the dog park was empty.

“I feel good” I say with a nod, finally grabbing Hope’s hand and interlocking it with mine after her hand accidentally kept brushing against mine as we walked. “I’m not going to lie, I was super nervous because your grandma is the most important person in your life but I actually feel good now, she put me at ease.”

“My grandma has always supported everything I did but this time I can tell that she genuinely likes you, she isn’t pretending for my sake like she would’ve done in the past” Hope says and I smile, it feels like a relief to know that at least one person in Hope’s family approves.

“I’m just nervous now about meeting the rest of your family” I say as Hope squeezes my hand.

“Don’t be, they aren’t your usual happy family but there isn’t anything to be nervous about” Hope tells me. “Maybe we could arrange dinner at my house before preseason starts.”

“Yeah, let’s do that” I agree, cuddling into Hope to keep warm from this cold breeze.

“Shall we call the dogs back so we can head home?” Hope asks and I nod, before I shout on the dogs and then Hope attaches their leashes when they run over and stop in front of us.

Chapter Text

“Do you like basketball?” I ask, jumping to stand in front of Hope.

“Like playing it or watching it?” Hope asks, kissing me on the cheek. “Good morning Kel.”

“Morning babe… and I meant watching it” I answer as Hope shrugs.

“Yeah, I don’t mind watching it” Hope says and I smile.

“Good, because Pinoe has a friend who plays for Seattle Storm and she got the three of us tickets” I say as Hope raises her eyebrow at me. “What?”

“Kel, did we not have this talk already?” Hope asks. “Pinoe is a good friend and I am glad you are hanging out with her but she isn’t made of glass. You don’t need to babysit her because you are worried she is lonely since her breakup.”

“You are just jealous because you have to share my company” I say, leaning in for a kiss which Hope gladly accepts.

“I’m not jealous” Hope says as I smirk at her. “Obviously I want you all to myself but there’s no jealousy.

“Are you sure?” I teasingly ask, allowing Hope to kiss me a few more times.

“I am” Hope nods. “Seriously though, I don’t have any issues with you hanging out with Megan as long as you’re having fun.”

“Will you come to the basketball game with us?” I ask as Hope nods.

“Sure” Hope says and I smile. “What day is it?”

“It’s tonight” I say as Hope groans.

“Kelley, we had plans tonight” Hope says with a sigh, clearly disappointed. “Are you really asking me to cancel dinner reservations again? This will be the third time we have bailed on this restaurant for Pinoe in the last six days.”

“I love you?”

“Yeah, you better” Hope says with a sigh. “I will phone and cancel.”

“Sorry babe” I say as Hope walks out of the room. “Do you want to go outside to play?” I ask when I notice Sasha following me around. “We can go outside once we find your brother.” I shout on Onyx a few times before resorting to shaking the tub that his biscuits are in.

As expected, that gets his attention when he come running into the kitchen.

“There he is” I say as I pet both dogs before leading them outside to the back garden and playing fetch with them. I always wanted a dog but never felt like I had the time to commit to one since I am always on the move with soccer and camps, now I can’t imagine what it would be like without these two dogs.

/

“Who’s your friend that got us the tickets?” Hope asks over the loud pregame noise.

“She plays on the team” Pinoe answers. “Her name’s Sue.”

“Sue Bird?” Hope asks as Pinoe nods, I don’t really know who that is but Hope must. “I didn’t know you knew her.”

“Yeah” Pinoe says. “We met at an event.”

“Cool, what event?” Hope asks, wrapping her arm around me.

“A charity thing” Pinoe says vaguely.

“Uh-huh” Hope nods slowly. “What charity was it for?”

“A kid’s charity” Pinoe says. “I am just going to the toilet before it starts.”

“Be quick” I say as Pinoe hurriedly leaves.

“What’s with the grilling?” I ask my girlfriend as I laugh lightly, grabbing a hold of Hope’s hand. “You are very interested in how Pinoe knows that woman.”

“To be honest with you Kel, I don’t think it is right” Hope says and I have no idea what she is talking about. “You are worried about how Pinoe is coping since the break-up and here we are watching a basketball game with tickets Pinoe got us from the woman she cheated on her fiancée with.”

“Ok, back up a bit there” I say, looking pointedly at Hope. “I thought we agreed not make assumptions about infidelity being involved.”

“Yeah because I was trying to be nice but Pinoe is clearly not as wounded as you think” Hope says. “She’s probably not even went to the restroom, just making an excuse to get away because she knew I was on to her.”

“When she comes back, keep your opinions to yourself and just enjoy the game” I say. “Okay.”

“Yes babe.”

“Good” I nod before I pull Hope down to sit on our seats. “You will need to remind me of some of the rules, it’s been a while since I watched basketball.”

“It’s not that hard to follow, just throwing the ball through the hoop” Hope says with a shrug.

“Thanks babe for your wisdom” I reply sarcastically as we both laugh.

“It’s not like soccer where you have an offside rule that confuses people” Hope says as Pinoe arrives back.

“I thought you were going to miss the start” I say to Pinoe as she sits next to me.

“There was a queue for the bathroom” Pinoe replies.

/

“Thank you for inviting us tonight” I say politely as we leave the venue.

“Thanks for coming” Pinoe says with a smile, finishing off yet another hot dog.

“We are going to grab a late dinner, do you want to join us?” Hope asks as Pinoe shakes her head.

“No thanks, I am going to wait behind for Sue” Pinoe replies with a smile.

“Ok, have a good night” I reply, pulling Hope along behind me before Hope has a chance to say anything she might regret.

“I wonder what she and Sue have planned for the night” Hope says as I slap her arm.

“Babe, just let them be” I say, handing Hope the car keys. “They are adults.”

“Fine, I will let it go” Hope says as we get inside the car.

“Good, now where do you want to go for dinner?” I ask as Hope manoeuvres the car onto the street. “I really want a burger.”

“We can go to that burger place that sells the awesome onion rings” Hope says as I smile, my stomach rumbling at the thought.

“It’s a date” I say as I gaze out the window as we slowly drive downtown.

“I’ve got something I want to ask you” Hope says, her eyes solely focussing on the road ahead.

“Sure, what is it?” I ask, turning to look at Hope.

“My mom and stepdad are going on a vacation to Europe for a few weeks and I thought it may be better if we arranged dinner with my family before they leave” Hope says, looking rather nervous. “I promised you I would arrange dinner before preseason starts and with my mom going away it is probably better sooner rather than later.”

“Cool” I nod. “When were you thinking of inviting them over?”

“Next week?” Hope asks, looking at me momentarily before turning back to the road.

“Next week is fine babe” I reply with a smile. “Don’t look so scared.”

“I just don’t want them to scare you off” Hope says with a sigh. “I know I keep repeating myself but Kel, they really are nothing like your family.”

“I’m not looking to make comparisons between our families honey, I will love you regardless of what your family is like” I say, reaching over to grab Hope’s hand.

“I love you too” Hope replies.

/

“No way Kel” Hope says, looking me up and down.

“We are only going for coffee” I say, pushing Hope towards the front door.

“I don’t care, I am not going anywhere with you wearing those slippers” Hope says as I laugh.

“Babe, I am the one who is wearing them” I reply, grabbing the car keys from the ledge as I push Hope outside. “If I don’t care what I look like going for coffee in slippers then you shouldn’t care either.”

“Fine” Hope says with a sigh, leading the way to the car and we both get inside. “At least try and park near the coffee shop so I don’t need to be seen with you in public for too long.”

“What a lovely thing to say to the woman you love” I say with a chuckle, backing the car out of the drive. “You need to let loose a little babe, you care too much about what other people think.”

“Maybe I do” Hope says quietly.

“Do you want to go to the cinema tonight?” I ask.

“Sure, as long as we don’t need to watch some mushy romantic film” Hope says with a frown. “I have seen enough mushy stuff already this week when you made me watch that thing the other night.”

“I might be way off here but what’s with the grumpy mood this morning?” I ask, placing my hand on Hope’s leg. “I don’t think you’ve smiled once.”

“I am just not in a very smiley mood” Hope says with a shrug, placing her hand atop mine.

“Is something bothering you?” I enquire. “You can talk to me.”

“My mom wants me to go to my sister-in-law’s birthday party this weekend” Hope says as I quickly glance at her before focusing back on the road ahead. “I just don’t want to go but I feel like I will be guilt tripped into going.”

“Why do you not want to go?”

“I don’t like my brother’s wife” Hope says bluntly.

“Don’t hold back” I laugh nervously. “Why don’t you like her?”

“I just don’t” Hope answers, staring out the window. “We have never gotten along.”

“Maybe you need to try for your brother’s sake” I say gently as Hope scoffs.

“Don’t particularly like him either” Hope says, she really does seem to be in a terrible mood. “They are just not the sort of people I want in my life.”

“Ok” I say with a nod, what else can I say? I don’t really understand the situation because I don’t know Hope’s family and I don’t think she is quite ready to tell me about her past either.

“I’m sorry for being grumpy with you” Hope says, turning to look at me and offering me a small smile.

“If you pay for my coffee then I will consider it forgotten” I say as Hope leans in to peck me on the cheek.

“Deal” Hope nods.

/

“Hi grumpy” I say with a smile as I walk into the bedroom. I’ve just came back from a gym session with pinoe. Hope has been a little grumpy over the last few days, clearly dreading the party her mom has forced her to go to today.

“Don’t” Hope says with a sigh.

“Why not?” I ask, bouncing onto the bed.

“Please don’t make me feel any worse” Hope asks. “I don’t mean to be grumpy with you.”

“I know you didn’t” I say, looking at all the clothes Hope has scattered across the bed. “Still trying to decide what to wear?”

“Yeah” Hope nods, sitting on top of the pile of clothes and leaning over to kiss me. “Do I need to go, it’s just a birthday party?”

“If you’re not comfortable going then don’t go” I say with a shrug. “You said yourself that you and your sister-in-law don’t get along.”

“Will not going not cause an even bigger rift?” Hope asks.

“I don’t know babe” I answer honestly because I don’t know. I’ve never met Hope’s family so I don’t know them well enough to answer that question. “Maybe just show up for an hour or so, you did buy a present.”

“I guess” Hope says. “It probably would make it worse if I don’t turn up, plus we are hosting a dinner for my family next week.”

“Just suck it up baby” I say as Hope laughs. “Just think, all you have to do is spend a few hours there before you get to come back home to me and the dogs. What could be better than coming home to that?”

“I guess I could last a few hours” Hope says with a deep sigh. “What do I wear then?”

“Oh… I know” I say as I rush off to the closet, pulling out an outfit. “It’s comfortable but not too casual.”

“Ok” Hope nods, kissing me on the cheek.

“You get changed and I will make us a quick lunch before you leave” I say, catching Hope’s lips in a quick kiss before I go downstairs and allow Hope to get ready in peace. It’s a strange feeling for me because the dynamic between Hope and her family is so different than it is for me and my family.

/

I am about to make the dogs’ dinner when I hear a crash coming from the front door. As soon as I make it to the hallway, the dogs racing in front of me, I see Hope slumped against the open door.

“Woops… I’ve fallen” Hope slurs before giggling. “Don’t mad… I is drunkey.”

“I couldn’t tell” I say sarcastically, reaching over and offering Hope my hand. “Did no one help you home?”

“Mom put me… in cab” Hope says, ignoring my outstretched hand and trying to get up herself.

“Let me help you” I say, holding both hands out this time.

“S’okay” Hope says, losing her balance again as she is unsuccessful in getting up.

“Hope, let me help you” I say sternly, giving Hope no option but to accept my awaiting hands to help her up.

“Ok” Hope says, reaching for my hands as I pull her to her feet. “For being so small you are actually really strongs.”

“I think we should put you to bed” I say, draping Hope’s arm over my shoulder and trying to guide her to the stairs.

“Is it not bit early?” Hope asks before burping and then giggling like a child.

“You need to sleep this off babe” I reply.

“Can you nap with me?”

“I need to feed the dogs first and then I will come back up and we can snuggle, ok?” I ask as Hope nods with a wide smile. I want to ask if there is a reason Hope is drunk; whether it be because she had too much fun or whether it was the opposite and was trying to drink her way through the awkwardness of the family gathering. I doubt she is capable of answering so I decide I will wait until she is sober.

“Okay okay okay” Hope nods, smiling lazily.

“Get into bed then babe” I say with a laugh as Hope sways from side to side by the bed, not bothering to get under the covers.

“Join me?” Hope asks.

“In a bit babe” I answer, helping Hope under the covers. “Relax and I will be up soon, I promise.”

“Ok” Hope answers, staring at me with a relaxed smile on her face.

“What?” I ask with a smile of my own.

“Luv you” Hope says as I laugh lightly before pecking Hope’s cheek.

“I love you too babe but you need to sleep” I say, kissing Hope’s temple this time before I go downstairs.

Hope sleeps right the way through until eleven that night before she is tossing and turning, clearly no longer tired. I joined her a few hours ago and must’ve fell asleep reading my book.

“Kel…”

“Yeah honey?” I ask, moving to sit up against the headboard.

“I really don’t feel good” Hope says, holding her head. “Did I drink too much?”

“Yeah babe” I reply as I kiss Hope’s temple. “If you wait a second I will get some stuff to make you feel better.” I quickly rush out of bed and hurry downstairs to grab a fresh glass of water before I head into the bathroom for some painkillers.

“I am never drinking so much again” Hope mutters to herself.

“Here we go” I say, handing Hope the glass and pills which she takes immediately.

“You’re the best Kel” Hope replies, relaxing against the headboard as I get back into bed with her.

“Did you have a good time?” I ask, pulling Hope gently to rest her head on my shoulder.

“It was ok, one of my cousins kept getting me to try different types of whiskey” Hope says, snuggling into me. “It went straight to my head and I was drunk after like two glasses I think.”

“Just get some rest babe” I say, kissing Hope’s hair. “You can snuggle with me as long as you like.”

“Ok” Hope responds, squeezing me tighter before resting her eyes.

/

“Hope, move your feet” I demand, swatting at Hope’s legs as she has them resting on the coffee table. “I need to clean the table.”

“Kel, you need to calm down” Hope tells me, removing her feet before leaning forward and pulling me onto her lap. “Stop getting so stressed, it’s just my family coming, I should be the one panicking.”

“I want them to like me though” I say, relaxing into Hope’s embrace.

“Ok babe, but whether my house is clean and tidy won’t change how they perceive you” Hope says, pecking me softly on the cheek.

“My family love you, I just want to give off a good impression to your family” I say as Hope chuckles softly. “Don’t laugh at me, it would mean a lot to me if my girlfriend’s family liked me.”

“Listen honey, my family isn’t that conventional” Hope says, squeezing me tighter. “They don’t like me half the time so…”

“…So that means they probably won’t like me” I interject, sighing loudly. “This is just great, I used to charm people’s families and now I can’t even get my own girlfriend’s family to at least like me.”

“I thought I was the dramatic one in this relationship” Hope laughs. “I didn’t mean they wouldn’t like you, I just meant you should lower your expectations a little.”

“Ok” I nod. “I will reign myself in.”

“Just be yourself Kel, that is why I fell in love with you” Hope kisses me on the lips this time. “Whatever happens, you got me and I am always on your side.” I kiss Hope this time, interlocking her fingers with mine. “IF, and I stress the if, if they don’t like you or you guys don’t get along then it won’t matter because their opinions are not something I follow or ever wish to.”

“I love you Hope” I say and Hope smiles, even just her smile relaxes me.

“Love you too baby” Hope kisses me. “I should make a start on dinner though, they are bound to arrive any time soon.”

“What can I do to help?” I ask, moving off of Hope’s lap to allow her to stand up.

“If you don’t mind, can you grab me a bottle of red wine from the garage” Hope asks and I nod.

“Of course” I reply, smiling at Hope before I go to the garage.

/

“Oh shit” I say when I hear the doorbell ring.

“Don’t look so worried Kel” Hope says, untying her apron before kissing me as she makes her way to answer the door.

“Ok” I whisper to myself, hanging back from the door a little.

“Hi” Hope greets everyone as she pulls the door open.

“My favourite granddaughter” I hear Hope’s grandma’s voice before I see Hope being pulled into a hug and then she speaks to the rest of her family. It only seems to be her grandma she hugs, her mom gives her a brief side hug and then she just nods at her step-father and brother. I am not one to judge but this is so weird for me, I can’t stop hugging my family when I see them.

Hope turns to me and gestures for me to stand beside her.

“Everyone, this is Kelley” Hope says as I wave awkwardly at everyone, I don’t bother trying to hug them like I would do to anyone else. “Kel, this is my family. You already know my grandma.”

“Hi Kelley” Hope’s grandma says with a kind smile, grabbing my hand and squeezing it. “It’s very nice to see you again dear.”

“You too” I reply politely, feeling more relaxed than I have been since they arrived.

“I will take your coats and you guys go wait in the lounge while Kel and me finish up on making dinner” Hope says, collecting her families’ coats and then gesturing for me to follow her.

“That was a bit awkward” I whisper to my girlfriend when we reach the kitchen.

“What part?” Hope whispers and I laugh nervously.

“All of it” I say, moving to hug Hope. “Your grandma seems as nice as ever, your mom looks a little shy but she gave me a comforting smile, your step-dad didn’t look interested but did smile a little at me and Marcus looked like he wanted to punch something. Is it me or is that normal?”

“It’s definitely not you” Hope assures me with a kiss. “I’ve never invited them over to meet anyone I am dating before so I guess they just feel weird about it. Marcus is probably just annoyed because he was either forced to come by my mom or he’s in a mood because his wife didn’t come.”

“Right” I say with a nod.

“I don’t want Marcus here but I don’t want to cause my mom any hassle because she’s been stuck between Marcus and I a few too many times, it can’t be ideal when you know your two kids can’t stand one another” Hope says and I nod.

“I would ask what happened between you and your brother but now probably isn’t the best time” I say and Hope nods.

“I will tell you babe, just not tonight” Hope says. “Tonight is about me showing off my amazing girlfriend.”

“As intimidating as your family are, I am going to make them like me babe” I say as Hope laughs, knowing I am right. I never back down from a challenge.

“I don’t doubt it” Hope says, preparing drinks for her family.

“Any tips for me, are there any conversations I should avoid or any I should bring up that may help” I ask, trying to get some information to make tonight go as smooth as possible.

“I haven’t got any tips, I am still trying to figure my family out” Hope says with a shrug. “My grandma is probably the nicest person you will meet, as long as you treat me well then she will love you. She’s been my biggest supporter and support to me since I was born, she looked after me when my parents were going through tough times.”

“She and I will have a lot in common then unless she hates me because she thinks I will love you more” I say jokingly. “I think I’ve already convinced her though so it is just the others.”

“Hey, don’t worry. I have plenty of room for everyone’s love” Hope says, smiling at me. “Just relax Kel.”

“I will try” I say as Hope delivers a kiss to my lips.

“The food is cooking away nicely just now so we can go and entertain for a little while” Hope says before I follow her into the lounge.

“Do you need any help in the kitchen dear?” Hope’s grandma asks her.

“No thanks grandma, everything is fine” Hope replies, smiling at her grandma.

Its seems to be Hope’s grandma who orchestrates every conversation which I am grateful for, normally I have no issues chatting to anyone but I am so desperate to not say the wrong thing that it is making me less chatty than normal. I don’t know Hope’s family that well and they probably don’t know me well enough either.

“Thank you for dinner, it was very nice” Alice says politely.

“I learned from the best” Hope smiles at her grandma before standing up to gather the dishes. “Does anyone want any dessert?”

“That would be nice thanks” Hope’s mom replies as everyone nods. “Can I help you tidy up?”

“No thanks mom, Kel will help” Hope says as I stand up and collect the rest of the dishes before following Hope into the kitchen.

“It’s going ok isn’t it?” I say, lowering my voice so no one hears me.

“Yeah, it seems to be” Hope says with a smile.

“Good” I smile back, leaning in for a kiss. “What’s for dessert?”

“Cheesecake, it was the only thing I knew everyone liked” Hope replies as she goes to the fridge to collect the food. “Can you grab some bowls out the cupboard please?”

“Sure babe.”

/

The night went quicker than expected, it was a little awkward at times but overall it seemed to be a success. I became less nervous as the night went on and everyone else seemed more at ease too.

“Thank god that’s over” Hope says as she throws herself backwards onto the bed beside me. “You were brilliant tonight.”

“Was I?” I ask with a surprised smile.

“Yeah” Hope smiles, looking at me. “I don’t know how you did it but I’ve never seen every member of my family conversing politely at the same time.”

“Do you think they like me?” I ask, moving to hover over Hope. “Even if they don’t, it doesn’t matter.”

“They would be crazy not to like you” Hope says, pulling me on top of her and kissing me.

“Enough talking about them, especially when we can make out instead” I say, Hope’s hot breath hitting my lips as she laughs.

“Make out, babe we’re not teenagers” Hope says and I shrug.

“Does it matter what we call it?” I ask, kissing Hope deeper this time.

“Not at all” Hope replies, grabbing me and flipping us over. “I think we need to get rid of these clothes, you are wearing far too many for what I have planned.”

“What do you have planned?” I whisper in Hope’s ear before gently biting on her earlobe. She doesn’t answer me with words, instead just showing me how much she loves me.

“Don’t tease me” Hope whispers breathlessly as I smirk from between her legs. “Kel…”

“What baby?” I ask, slowly leaning in and attaching my lips to Hope’s inner thigh. Her body twitches as I move closer and closer to her, my breath lightly tickling her centre. “You are so wet” I say, not meaning to vocalise my thoughts.

“Please Kel…” Hope almost begs, writhing on the bed. “Touch me… with your tongue.” I cheekily kiss just above Hope’s centre, making her groan in frustration. I can’t help the light laugh that escapes my mouth. “Kelley!”

“Ok baby” I give in, feeling that I am being more of a pain in the ass than a tease right now. I place light kisses against Hope’s skin before slowly licking my way along Hope’s slit, picking up my pace when I get into a more comfortable position. The faster I go, the tighter I feel Hope’s thighs around my head.

“Deeper… please” Hope sighs out, her breathing becoming ragged. I don’t answer; I can’t answer instead I just do as I am told. I force my tongue to go as deep as I can before removing my face and replacing it with my fingers, allowing me to actually see my girlfriend’s face.

“Oh” I say, slowing my fingers. “I almost forgot.”

“WHAT” Hope says, her head bouncing off the pillow to look at me. A look of frustration on her face because I have practically stopped my fingers moving. “If you do not finish what you started then I promise… I will never allow you to sit on my face again.”

“Sorry” I laugh out nervously. “Give me two seconds and I promise it will all be worth it.”

“Do not leave this fucking bed” Hope warns, grabbing my wrist as I tried to leave the bed.

“Trust me” I plead as Hope rolls her eyes before letting go of my hand and I quickly run to the closet. It doesn’t take me long to find what I am looking for, immediately pulling the strap-on over my naked body.

“I think I am going to come at the sight” Hope mutters, involuntarily licking her lips as I slowly walk provocatively towards her. “Hurry up!”

“Yeah babe” I answer, getting on the bed and resuming my position between Hope’s legs. I start slow, allowing Hope to get used to the feeling before I increase my movements. I watch as Hope bites her lip, her fingers digging into my hips as I thrust into her. I reach behind me, holding onto Hope’s legs to give me balance as I continue to move in and out, slowing when I can see Hope is about to come to make it last longer.

“Please…” Hope pants.

I give in, I always give in to Hope. I move faster and faster until I feel Hope letting go before I slowly remove the object and allow my fingers to finish off as Hope reaches her peak and is soaring over the edge. This time I am biting my lip, unable to take my eyes off of the gorgeous woman in front of me.

“That was…” Hope starts as she takes a deep breath, her naked chest rising and falling very quickly. “…good. So good.”

“Glad you liked it” I say with a satisfied smirk, moving to lie on top of Hope. Our sweaty bodies sticking together as Hope gently rubs my back.

“I didn’t even know you bought that” Hope says, looking at the item as it lays discarded on the floor.

“Yeah, I thought we could try something new” I reply, kissing Hope’s lips. “I think we both seemed to enjoy it.”

“I did” Hope says with a yawn. “Maybe next time we can try with the roles reversed.”

“Maybe we could” I reply, kissing Hope again before gazing into her eyes. “I am happy with how tonight went with your family.”

“So am I” Hope says with a smile. “I’ve never introduced anyone to them before so I have to admit I was a little more nervous than I was showing you.”

“How did they meet Jerramy?” I ask curiously. If I am the first person Hope has formally introduced to her family then what happened with her past relationships.

“He got busted for drunk driving and the newspaper that covered his story referenced me as his girlfriend” Hope answers with a shrug. “I have to be honest, I wasn’t too thrilled at the whole situation that I didn’t bother to set anything up with my family. I just admitted that I was dating him and that was that. They met him a few times but it wasn’t planned.”

“Didn’t he want to meet them?” I ask. “Surely he asked your parent’s permission to marry you.”

“Nope” Hope says with a laugh. “Trust me, our relationship was nothing like a healthy normal one. We didn’t even get engaged properly, just discussed getting married and then had the wedding.”

“Wow” I say with a nod, processing the details. “I don’t think I could imagine that, I am a bit more traditional in the sense that I would want the engagement and months of planning the wedding.”

“In hindsight, I actually can’t believe that person was me” Hope says, a confused look on her face. “That was not what I wanted at all but I guess that’s how I felt back then.”

“The more mistakes we make, the wiser we become in righting our wrongs” I say with a nod as Hope yawns again. “Let’s go to sleep, you keep yawning and we both have an early morning with your Nike meeting and my gym training.”

“Ok” Hope nods. “Night Kel, I love you.”

“Love you too baby.”

/

“Do you have everything you need?” I ask as Hope slowly glances around the room.

“I think so” Hope replies with a shrug. “If not then it doesn’t matter because we are going to be late getting to the airport.”

“The cab’s outside” I say when I notice it pull up behind Hope’s car. “Let’s go.”

“You go ahead, I will lock up” Hope replies before following me out of the house and locking the door, checking it three times like she always does.

Hope’s coming to New Jersey with me to help me set up for the new season, initially I was just going to go myself but since Seattle’s preseason training doesn’t start until next week then Hope suggested she make the trip with me so we can spend more time together.

“I hope this season is better than last season” I say as we travel in the cab to the airport. “I don’t just mean in terms of where Sky Blue finish on the table but also the team environment.”

“I don’t know what it is like for you as a player but I have heard the rumours about the club” Hope says. “These are unfortunately some of the issues that we need to put up with in our game.”

“Yeah” I say, moving Hope’s arm to wrap it around me. “I am so tired this morning, I didn’t sleep too well last night.”

“How come?” Hope asks as I shrug.

“I don’t know to be honest” I say. “I think I will go for a nap on the plane.”

“Go for a nap just now if you want, I will wake you up when we are almost at the airport” Hope says, kissing me gently on the cheek.

“Ok” I say, closing my eyes.

It feels like only minutes not an hour since I closed my eyes when I feel Hope gently shaking me awake.

“We are almost at the drop off point babe” Hope says softly, kissing me lightly to try and wake me up.

“I will pay the cab fare if you get the luggage out” I say to Hope when the cab comes to a stop.

/

“The first thing I want to do is get something to eat” I say as soon as we get into the apartment. “There probably won’t be any food because as you saw the last time you were here, my roommate doesn’t do grocery shopping.”

“How about I pick us something up from that deli you like and then we can book a restaurant for tonight?” Hope says, rummaging through her bag for her wallet.

“That would be good babe, it will give me a chance to unpack while you are out” I say, walking over to Hope and kissing her before she disappears out of the apartment.

I start off by unpacking my clothes in the lounge before separating them into piles and then making my way to the bedroom to put everything away.

“Wow, you have a lot of clothes roomie” Sam says from my bedroom door, surprising me with her presence.

“Yes I do” I smile before hugging Sam. “When did you get back?”

“Two days ago” Sam replies.

“So you’ve been here for two days and still haven’t managed to go grocery shopping” I say as Sam laughs guiltily.

“I would’ve went in time for you coming back but I figured since you love shopping so much that you would prefer to do it yourself” Sam says, a cheeky grin on her face. “Are you excited for preseason?”

“Yeah, I can’t wait to be playing again” I say with a smile. “I was saying to Hope on the way here that I hoped this season would be better than last season.”

“So do I” Sam says with a nod. “What’s that?”

“What?” I ask, turning to look at where Sam is pointing.

“Is it a spider?”

“OH MY GOD” I scream theatrically, jumping up on top of the bed with Sam. “It’s fucking huge.”

“I am not touching it” Sam says as she shakes her head. “You need to get it.”

“I am not going near it” I say, grabbing onto Sam as if that will help us as we wobble about standing on the bed.

“It’s your bedroom, it’s your responsibility to get it” Sam says, her eyes focussed on the spider to make sure she is aware if it moves. “You must’ve brought it back from Seattle with you because I can assure you there were no spiders around the last couple of days.”

“Don’t talk rubbish, how on earth could I bring it back from Seattle?” I mutter before sighing loudly. “Look, we can’t stay up here all day. Can’t you just get rid of it?”

“No way O’Hara, I don’t socialise with spiders” Sam says, jumping towards the head of the bed when she sees the spider moving further up the wall. “Ever since my neighbour back home in Australia got bitten by a tarantula and landed in hospital then I have steered clear of all arachnids since.”

“Thank you so much for that comforting story” I reply sarcastically as I roll my eyes. “How are…?” I start when I hear the apartment door opening and then shutting again. “Hope, help us. We are in the bedroom.”

“What’s going on?” Hope asks, laughing as she looks at Sam and I. “What are you doing, aren’t you guys too old to be jumping on the bed for fun.”

“There’s a spider on the wall over there and Sam is being a baby” I say, holding tighter to Sam. “I offered to try and catch it but Sam wouldn’t let go of me.”

“Says the woman who has a death grip on my arm” Sam replies before turning to Hope. “Hope can you please get the spider so your woman can stop hurting my arm.”

“Where is it?” Hope asks, dropping the bags in her hand onto the bottom of the bed.

“Down by that corner” I say as I point to the wall.

“Look at the little guy, he is so small” Hope says, bending down and picking the spider up with her bare hands. “Can someone open a window so I can let him outside?”

“Nu-uh, no way” I say, pointing at Hope. “You are not putting that spider out the window for it to crawl back in.”

“What else do you want me to do, I am not killing it if that’s what you think” Hope says with a frown.

“Take it out to the street” I say, finally letting go of Sam as we both get off the bed.

“You seriously want me to walk all the way out of the apartment and down eight floors with a spider in my hand to sit it on the street?” Hope asks as I nod.

“Yeah?”

“Ok… fine” Hope says with a loud groan. “I must be crazy.”

Hope makes her way out of the apartment with the spider.

“She’s crazy in love with me” I say to Sam, a bright smile on my face.

“She must be crazy then” Sam says as I slap her.

“That’s mean, would I say that about your girlfriend?” I ask. “I saw Nikki’s Instagram by the way. I can’t believe she got you to go snorkeling.”

“Yeah, well maybe I am crazy in love too” Sam says before we leave my bedroom and head to the kitchen. “How was your off season?”

“Yeah it was good” I say with a smile. “I spent the majority of it with Hope. How was your off-season, you seemed to be tearing it up for Perth.”

“It was amazing, I love playing at home in Australia” Sam replies just as Hope comes in the door.

“Ok, that’s the spider back on the street” Hope says, walking over to the sink to wash her hands. “I even managed to reunite it with some fellow spiders.”

“Thanks babe, you are the greatest” I say, kissing Hope for helping me out. “You’re my savior.”

Chapter Text

“Sam, do you want to join us for dinner?” I ask, sitting on the couch to tie the laces on my ankle boots.

“No thanks, I have plans” Sam answers.

“With who?” I ask with a frown. “I thought Nikki was busy tonight.”

“I do have other friends outside my girlfriend and you Kelley” Sam says with a laugh.

“I know that” I say with a nod, standing up and grabbing my jacket. “Well, I hope you have fun. Hope and I might be late back.”

“We better not be too late Kel, I am exhausted from the flight and early awakening this morning” Hope says as I smile at her.

“We won’t be late then” I reply. “We can be that boring old couple who goes to bed at seven at night.”

“I’m just saying, I need sleep” Hope says, smirking at me. “Being your girlfriend involves a lot of exertion.”

“Being her friend requires a lot of effort too Hope” Sam says. “I do appreciate that you have it tougher though, kudos to you.”

“Ok guys, if I am that hard work then why do you bother?” I ask, feeling mildly offended. “I mean why are you friends with me and wanted to be my roommate. And you Solo, why do you bother?”

“I am not saying I don’t like it, I was merely pointing out that I need to sleep to refuel my energy” Hope says, walking over to me and wrapping her arms around me. “I love you just the way you are.”

“Good” I nod, allowing Hope to peck my lips. “See you later Sam.”

“Bye” Sam responds with a wave as Hope and I exit the apartment.

“Did you make reservations anywhere?” Hope asks as we walk hand and hand down the eight floors, Hope isn’t happy with taking the elevator.

“No, I don’t think any restaurants will be that busy tonight so I thought we would be ok without a booking” I respond, walking out of the building as Hope holds the door open for me.

“That’s fine with me” Hope says, taking my hand again. “What kind of food do you fancy?”

“I am in the mood for Indian, if that’s ok with you babe.”

“Sounds perfect” Hope smiles.

/

“Did you really not go?” I ask. As we were waiting on dinner being served we got to talking about different times of our lives and our families. “I would be gutted if I missed my brother’s wedding.”

“It was best for all that I didn’t go to Marcus’s wedding” Hope says as she sips on her drink. “He and I don’t get on that well and as I told you before his wife and I don’t exactly see eye to eye either.”

“What happened between you and Marcus, why are you guys like that?” I ask, I hope I’m not overstepping by asking but Hope’s been telling me for a while that she will tell me more about her past.

“There was nothing major that happened” Hope says, taking another sip of her drink. “We just grew up differently, he was older than me so always did things before I could. Like starting school before me and stuff.” I nod my head, indicating that I am listening to Hope. “I think in a way he always resented me, he didn’t like that he wasn’t an only child any longer.”

“Oh right” I say, nodding again.

“I was to blame as well, my mom wasn’t home a lot so I always craved her attention when she was around” Hope explains. “Small things happened between Marcus and I and then those small things just turned into bigger things.”

“You still love him though, right?” I ask as Hope takes a deep breath.

“I’m not sure” Hope says, surprising me. Deep down I just thought they hated each other on the outside but secretly loved one another on the inside. “I used to, when I was a kid and he would show these glimmers of caring for me. He bet a boy up who was bullying me when I was in middle school and I was proud of him for that. I wasn’t proud that he bet someone up but that he stuck up for me.”

“Did something happen when you got older?” I ask, leaning across the table and holding Hope’s hand.

“There was always something between us” Hope says with a shrug. “He went to juvie for attacking a classmate of his who stole his pen, he blamed me for my grandma’s decision not to visit him because apparently I was grandma’s favorite and I asked her not to visit. That wasn’t true, I would never ask that of my grandma and she would never listen even if I did.”

“I just don’t understand how a brother and sister can’t love one another” I say.

“You grew up in the perfect family Kel that was never me” Hope says, looking at me sadly. “I guess I just wasn’t lucky.”

“I didn’t mean for that to sound like I was judging you babe” I say, squeezing Hope’s hand. “I just love you so much that it hurts me to think that someone like your brother wouldn’t love you.”

“I wasn’t innocent either Kel” Hope says. “If Marcus was mean to me then I was mean back, I got him in trouble for things he didn’t do, and I would resent him too at times. I even went as far as blaming him for my dad leaving us and for his death.”

“I just don’t think I realise how strained you two’s relationship was” I say.

“Kel, there is a lot more” Hope says with a laugh. “Honestly, what I’ve just told you doesn’t even touch the surface. There’s probably things I haven’t told you because even I don’t like admitting it about myself, never mind my girlfriend knowing about me.”

“You don’t have to tell me everything just now but when you are ready, I will listen” I say, leaning over the table to kiss Hope. “It doesn’t matter how bad or embarrassing or even shameful it is, nothing will ever affect the way I feel about you.”

“You say that now…”

“Baby, I love you” I say firmly. “Maybe some of the stuff you did in the past might be hard for you to talk about or hard for me to hear but it will never change the way I feel. I am so in love with you Hope, that includes your past, your present and your future.”

“I love you too” Hope says, squeezing my hand.

“We can table this discussion just now, ok?” I ask as Hope nods. It’s probably best not to discuss personal issues in a busy restaurant.

“Ok” Hope smiles just as we get served our meal.

“Your curry smells delicious” I comment, the spicy tomato smell hitting my nose. “I am definitely going to try some.

“Help yourself” Hope says with a smile, pushing her plate towards me as I taste the dish.

“Oh that’s gorgeous” I say, humming in satisfaction.

“Orgasmic?” Hope asks with a smirk.

“Shut up” I say with a laugh, sliding my plate closer to Hope so she can have some of my curry.

/

“I don’t think I could eat another thing” Hope says as we slowly walk back to the apartment, our stomachs too full to walk any faster.

“I agree” I nod, linking my arm with Hope’s. “I think I need to lie down, I am far too full.”

“Me too” Hope nods in agreement.

“Thank you for coming back to NJ with me” I say, I’ve probably thanked Hope before but I am really grateful she came with me. “I wasn’t quite ready to be apart from you just yet.”

“You don’t need to thank me, I want to spend as much time with you as I can babe” Hope replies, moving her arm to wrap it around my back. “You’ve got me so besotted with you that I would probably follow you to the end of the earth if I had to.”

“I don’t think that would be necessary but good to know” I say with a small laugh, cuddling into Hope’s side. “I’ve been thinking over the last few days and I think we should make a schedule of when we can visit one another, I personally think it would make more sense for me to travel to Seattle than for you to come here.”

“Kel, we don’t need to think about that just now” Hope says when we reach the apartment building and head inside. “We don’t know exactly what the NWSL schedule will be like and we don’t know what times we will be with the national team.”

“Yeah, I know but I want to be prepared Hope” I say as we walk up the stairs. “If we can make arrangements then I will feel better because I will have something to look forward to.”

“Ok we can make a plan tomorrow, is that ok?” Hope asks as I nod. “All I want to do tonight is get ready for bed and then cuddle with you, I am so tired.”

“That sounds good babe” I reply as we silently walk up the last few sets of stairs until we reach my apartment.

Twenty minutes later and we are both tucked into bed, Hope spooning me. Neither of us have fallen asleep yet but I can tell by the grogginess in Hope’s voice she is almost asleep.

“Babe, can I ask you something?” I say as Hope hums, indicating yes. “You know how at dinner, you were saying that you weren’t close to your brother.”

“Yeah” Hope replies and I can feel her body tensing.

“Is that a choice?” I ask as I turn in Hope’s arms to face her. “I mean, do you keep a distance because you want to or do you feel like you would love to be close to him but you’re scared because of the past.”

“It’s a whole mixture of stuff Kel” Hope answers, deep in thought for a second. “I’ve never been close to him so it’s not that I have a desire to be close to him now. Growing up, he was probably the only person who knew what I was going through because he went through the same thing but I’m past my childhood issues now, I like my life the way it is.”

“Don’t take this the wrong way but I think you and Marcus’s problems have a big impact on your family” I say, ensuring I tread carefully so as not to offend Hope.

“How so?” Hope asks, more awake now than she was before.

“I just think it can’t be easy for your mom and grandma knowing you two don’t get along” I say as Hope sighs deeply.

“I know Kel but I’ve tried with Marcus and we just end up arguing” Hope says before looking at me. “Can we not talk about this now, I just want to go to sleep?”

“Yeah, sure” I answer, leaning in and pecking Hope on the lips. “I love you.”

“Love you too Kel, goodnight baby.”

/

“I’m sorry if I was short with you last night” Hope says, walking over to the couch where I am sitting with my morning coffee. “My family, especially my brother, is a touchy subject for me.”

“You weren’t, I understand it’s not a comfortable topic for you” I say, smiling reassuringly at my girlfriend.

“I want to tell you everything” Hope says as she takes a seat on the couch next to me. “Just tell me you love me first, I need to hear you say it one last time in case this is too much for you.”

“Hope, look at me” I demand. “Don’t speak like that babe, there’s nothing you will tell me that will make me stop loving you. You trust me, don’t you?”

“Of course I do Kel, that’s why it is so hard for me to tell you stuff” Hope says before I place a kiss on her lips.

“I love you now and I will love you after, I promise you baby” I say as I see Hope taking a deep breath.

Hope starts at the beginning and tells me everything. She tells me about her family growing up, how her brother and her would physically fight, how her dad was in and out of prison, her mom would drink constantly, sometimes forgetting to feed Hope and Marcus; she told me about how she had to rake bins for food; how bad she made her father feel for leaving her with her drunken mom; how guilty she felt for telling her grandma about her mom abandoning them; how upset and shameful she felt when her ten year old self called the police on her mom for drunk driving; how she told Marcus that her grandma never liked him; how her dad kidnapped her and she had to listen to her father having sex with strange women. The list goes on, I can’t even imagine how Hope must’ve felt.

“When you are a kid, you don’t realise the difference between right or wrong unless someone teaches you it” Hope says, clinging onto my arm like she is scared I’m going to let her go. “My grandma and grandpa had no idea what was going on, Marcus threatened me that if I told anyone about mom abandoning us then I would need to sleep on the street with all the bad people so I didn’t speak up until years later.”

“I’ve got you baby” I say, tearing up myself at the way Hope is revealing her past.

“I think Marcus was scared too, I think he genuinely thought that if social service found out about mom then they would take mom away and we would be forced to live on the streets, streets where our neighbourhood’s ordinary week included things like rape or murder.”

“I don’t know what to say babe, other than that I feel so bad that you had to experience that” I say, hugging Hope closer.

“Everything spiralled out of control, even my grandpa suffered from anxiety and depression because of the guilt he felt for not realising sooner what Marcus and I were going through” Hope explains.

“None of this is easy” I say.

“I think that it didn’t help that I just left, I went to college and would be all over the country with soccer that a part of me thinks that Marcus was angry with me for leaving when I did” Hope says. “It was my ‘get out of here’ ticket.”

“Babe, I know it wouldn’t have been easy for you either” I say as I kiss Hope’s head. “You can’t blame yourself for this.”

“He had to deal with everything when I left and I know he resents me for it” Hope says. “My therapist really helped with making me see the bigger picture and not putting the full blame on myself but I also accepted that I wasn’t blameless.”

I soothingly rub Hope’s back, allowing her to continue opening up to me.

“Marcus and I will always have a fraught relationship and of course it hurts when I have to think back on everything that happened” Hope tells me. “But believe me when I say that, what Marcus and I have now is a hundred times better than it was before. We will never have the sort of relationship that you have with your siblings but I’m happy with that.”

“As long as you’re happy then I am too” I say, kissing Hope’s lips gently. “I know it’s hard for you to open up but that wasn’t me being nosy, you’re the person I love most in the world and I wanted to know everything about you so I can understand you better and support you.”

“So you still want to be with me after all that?” Hope asks as I look at her incredulously.

“Of course I do, I love everything about you babe” I say, kissing Hope again. “Your past is part of you and whether it’s a past you like or not, I still love you. I am in love with you Hope, for your past, present and future.”

“I’ve never told anyone about this before, I thought it would put you off being with me knowing all the bad stuff I did and how I just abandoned my family because I was too selfish to try and repair everything” Hope says as she shakes her head. “I didn’t mean that to sound like I didn’t believe your feelings for me, I just meant that it’s a lot to digest and I understand if it paints me in a different picture than what you thought of before, I…”

“Hope, stop rambling” I say, laughing softly before moving to sit in Hope’s lap. “I love you and nothing you can do or say will ever make me change the way I feel.”

“Ok” Hope smiles.

“I mean, if the reign beat Sky Blue then yeah I will probably go in a mood with you for a few hours but I will still be yours” I say jokingly to try and lighten the mood. “Honestly babe, you’re stuck with me for life whether you want to be or not.”

/

We spent the next few days relaxing and training, I made sure that I spoiled Hope to show her how much she means to me and how much I love her.

“I’m going to bed, don’t be too long” Hope whispers in my ear before kissing my cheek. She then walks off towards the bedroom.

“Look at that smile on your face, you really are in love” Sam teases me.

“She’s amazing” I say with a smile.

“I’m happy for you” Sam replies before standing up. “I am going to see Nikki.”

“I didn’t think you were visiting her tonight” I say, pausing my TV show to look at my roommate.

“I hadn’t decided but now I have, I will just sleep over at her apartment” Sam says before smirking at me. “I don’t particularly want to be in the room next door when you and your girlfriend are having special time.”

“Who said we were?” I ask with a frown.

“Ok, you are either really good at pretending you don’t notice Hope coming on to you or you are oblivious which makes you a rubbish girlfriend” Sam says as I throw a cushion at her.

“Dude, I have no idea what you are talking about” I say, frowning in confusion once again.

“That answers my question then; you are a rubbish girlfriend” Sam says, dodging another cushion that I throw her way. “Hope has been flirting with you all night; heck she even bit your ear and you didn’t flinch.”

“Did she?” I ask.

“Seriously, if my girlfriend was flirting with me like that then a TV show would be the last thing on my mind” Sam says, grabbing her sneakers from the corner and putting them on. “You must’ve been so absorbed in that housewives programme that you didn’t even notice Hope’s hints.”

“Do you think Hope’s waiting in there for me or do you think she is pissed?” I ask.

“I don’t know, she’s your girlfriend” Sam answers. “All I know is, if she isn’t pissed already then hanging around here any longer isn’t going to help.”

“You’re right” I say, jumping off the couch and switching the TV off. “Lock the door when you leave, I will see you tomorrow.”

I don’t wait for Sam to leave, instead I rush to the kitchen to grab a bottle of wine that I was sure was in the fridge but turns out it’s not. I don’t waste any more time before rushing to my bedroom.

“Hey baby I… oh wow” I say when I get through the bedroom door and Hope is lying on the bed in a black lingerie set and silk robe.

“Shut the door” Hope says, nodding to the open door behind me.

“Right, yeah… sorry” I say, turning and closing the door. “You look…”

“What?” Hope says, slowly moving off the bed.

“I just…” I start but give up on finishing my sentence to instead lean in and kiss Hope.

“Ah… not yet” Hope says as she pulls out of the kiss.

“But… why” I whine. “You’re so sexy and I just want to kiss and touch you.”

“So do I but you made me wait so now I’m going to make you wait” Hope says with a smirk.

“Babe no, I am getting wet just looking at you” I say, trying to grab Hope’s hips. “I can’t wait.”

“You seemed to be managing fine in the living room when you were ignoring my advances” Hope says as I roll my eyes.

“I wasn’t ignoring you” I say as Hope laughs.

“You were oblivious.”

“Yeah, look why don’t you just punish me?” I ask with a smirk. “You can tie me to the bed and punish me.”

“It’s not really a proper punishment if you enjoy it” Hope says, smirking back at me. “And I know for a fact you would enjoy being tied up.”

“Hope… we both know that I will get my way” I say, leaning in for a kiss that I know Hope can’t resist.

“Do you know what would be even sexier?” I whisper into Hope’s ear as she shakes her head. “If the label wasn’t on this bra.”

Hope looks on embarrassed before I resume kissing her neck.

“Kel...”

“Mmhhmm” I hum, gently biting the skin under Hope’s ear.

“You’re teasing me” Hope says as I laugh lightly.

“That was the plan” I say, kissing Hope’s lips before pulling away to look into her eyes. “I got to work you up.”

Hope groans as I slide my hand over her toned abs and slip my fingertips under the hem of her panties. Hope pulls me into a kiss by my neck, her fingers digging softly into my skin as I moan into her mouth.

I waste no time in moving down Hope’s body, placing light kisses over her bra covered chest before my mouth finds the skin on Hope’s hip. I make sure I leave a mark on each hip before I travel down to her thigh, kissing and biting softly.

“I need… more” Hope huffs breathily.

“Be patient… you will get more” I say, it’s my turn to set the pace.

“I don’t want to be patient” Hope says through gritted teeth, lifting her head off the pillow to look at me.

“Ok” I sigh loudly, my hot breath hitting Hope’s skin.

I use both hands to grab at the side of the panties and pull them down, the sight of Hope’s wet heat making me involuntarily lick my lips. I start off by placing light kisses against Hope’s soft skin before I pull her by the back of the thighs closer to me so that I can get better access, placing her legs over my shoulders before I dive in with my mouth, I think both of us have waited long enough.

/

“Morning baby” I say as Hope walks into the kitchen.

“Good morning” Hope says as she wraps her arms around me from behind. “Why are you up so early?”

“I was trying to surprise you with breakfast” I say, frowning at the pancake mix in front of me. “I know I am not very good at cooking but I actually thought I could pull off pancakes.”

“You just need to whip the mixture a little more” Hope says, kissing me on the cheek before taking the bowl of batter and mixing.

“Did you sleep any better last night?” I ask, making a pot of coffee as Hope attends to the pancakes.

“I did actually” Hope says with a nod. “I guess it was just from traveling that I didn’t sleep well the previous nights.”

“Well I have a busy day planned for us so you will definitely be tired tonight” I say with a smile, making a mental note to check my phone for what time we need to leave.

“What do you have planned for us?” Hope asks, expertly flipping the pancakes.

“New York is just around the corner” I say with a smile. “That’s the only clue I am giving you.”

“As long as it doesn’t involve you getting up to no good then I’m in” Hope says as I roll my eyes.

“Don’t you worry about that babe, I am perfectly behaved when I want to be” I say, kissing Hope on the cheek.

“Good” Hope says with a nod. “The pancakes are almost ready, would you like to get me two plates?”

“Sure” I answer, getting two plates out of the cupboard and holding them in front of Hope to put some pancakes on each. “Should I have syrup or fake dessert cream?”

“We finished the tinned dessert cream last night” Hope says with a bashful smile, clearly remembering our competition last night to see who could draw the best picture on the other person’s naked body with the can of cream.

“I totally won last night” I say with a smirk before getting the syrup. “Syrup it will have to be.”

“I don’t know how you can still taste pancake with that amount of syrup” Hope says as she watches me squeeze it on, completely covering my pancakes while she lightly drizzles it on hers.

“I like it like this” I say with a smile as we walk over to the couch and sit down to eat.

“Can you tell me more about our trip today?” Hope asks as I shake my head. “At least let me know the dress code, will there be a lot of walking or are you taking me to a show. I need to know more babe.”

“Sorry, it’s a surprise” I say as Hope rolls her eyes. “You’re going to love it, I can tell you that.”

“I better, I am giving up a day where I could be naked in bed with you all day for this” Hope says as I laugh.

“Like you would last all day having sex” I laugh, playfully poking Hope in the side. “You would have the stamina to have sex all day but there is no way you could lie in bed all day, you would get too bored. You don’t even like to lie in bed when your ill.”

“All I am saying is that I didn’t expect to be up this early this morning and was expecting a repeat of last night since we have the apartment to ourselves” Hope says as I lean in and kiss her.

“Did I say there wouldn’t be a repeat of last night before we leave today?” I ask as Hope shakes her head. “Who says I didn’t make breakfast merely for the point of raising your energy levels so we could go back to bed afterwards.”

“If that’s the case then you better eat those pancakes quick” Hope replies with a smirk, rapidly stuffing her face with her pancakes.

/

“I’m not complaining Kel, I am just pointing out that I think you bit me a little too hard” Hope says as she continues to rub at her neck.

“That sounds like a complaint to me” I say as I roll my eyes. “You can be such a baby at times, I mean someone could crash right into you on the soccer field and you wouldn’t flinch but your girlfriend bites you during sex and you act like you’ve just suffered a life changing injury.”

“Now who’s being dramatic” Hope says, this time rolling her eyes. “Let’s leave this conversation, I want to get my shopping on. We are in New York.”

“Ok” I say with a laugh, interlocking my fingers with Hope’s as we start our day by doing some shopping. I’ve got a restaurant booked for lunch and then a show booked for late afternoon.

“Hopefully I can find a dress for my friend’s wedding” Hope says with an excited smile. “I need shoes as well. Maybe like a clutch purse or something.”

“I know the perfect store for that, follow me” I say as I pull Hope down the street.

Two hours later and I am slightly regretting taking Hope to this store, I like shopping but two hours in the same store with my girlfriend debating over the same three dresses for over half of that time is just too much.

“Babe I don’t want to rush you but can you just pick one please?” I ask politely as I sit outside the changing room waiting.

“I don’t know what one to pick” Hope says from behind the curtain.

“Pick the one you will be most comfortable in” I say, trying to keep my opinion brief because the last time I tried to help ended up with Hope rambling about how one dress worked with the shoes really well but the other went with the purse.

“I don’t know what one that would be” Hope says, peaking her head out.

“Honey, we have been here for a while and my patience is slowly disappearing” I say nicely as I turn to face Hope. “Can you just choose please?”

“Fine, the blue one it is” Hope says with a nod as I smile, thank goodness for that.

/

“I’ve got a present for you” Hope says with a smile, surprising me with a kiss.

“Where is it?” I say excitedly, bouncing on the spot.

“Here” Hope says as she hands me a large jewellery box.

I waste no time and rip the gift-wrap off immediately and open the box.

“Babe, it’s gorgeous” I say as I admire the necklace, rubbing my fingers over the locket before opening it. “You already put a picture in here.”

“Yeah” Hope says with a smile as I look at the small picture of Hope and I fitted into the heart-shaped locket. “Now you have this necklace you can stop wearing that ugly necklace you stole from me and I can finally put it in the garbage.”

“Maybe I will wear both” I say with a shrug. A few weeks ago Hope was having a clear out of her jewellery and found this old necklace with the Latin word for Hope that someone gave her when she was a teenager. I took it because I wanted something to remind me of Hope when I wasn’t with her, as cheesy as that sounds.

“I will buy you a new necklace with my name if you really want, just throw out the one you have” Hope says as she rolls her eyes.

“I like it because it belongs to you though, not just because it is your name” I say, feeling the necklace that’s already around my neck.

“Do you really want to wear a necklace that an ex-boyfriend gave me?” Hope asks as I frown at her.

“Is that actually who gave you it or are you just saying that to convince me to put it in the trash?” I ask as Hope laughs.

“Truthfully Kel, I really don’t remember where I got it” Hope says, walking over to me and taking the new necklace from my hands. “Let me at least put this one on for you.”

“Ok” I say with a nod, allowing Hope to fasten it around my neck. “Just unclasp the Latin one from my neck, I’m not fashionable enough to wear two necklaces at once.”

“There you go” Hope says as she fastens the necklace.

“Thanks baby” I reply, kissing Hope on the cheek. I love it when she surprises me with presents for no reason.

/

“Do you two ever stop?” Sam asks cheekily as I pull away from Hope. “I swear every time I see you two you are either all over one another or smooching.”

“I didn’t realise you were home” I say turning to look at my roommate.

“I have to come back now and again, I can’t stay away all the time” Sam says before smirking. “As much as you would probably love getting the apartment to yourself for longer.”

“How’s Nikki?” I ask as Sam shrugs.

“She’s fine” Sam answers before pulling out nearly all of the contents in the fridge to make a sandwich.

“You do realise that the fridge doesn’t restock itself” I say. “If you are going to use that much stuff to make a sandwich then I suggest you take a turn at going to the grocery store.”

“But you love going, don’t you?” Sam asks cheekily, knowing pretty well how much I hate the chaos of trying to fight other customers to get to what I want as everyone bashes their shopping karts into one another.

“Seriously Sam, you need to take a turn at going” I say as Sam shrugs. “You’re so annoying.”

“Kel, do you want me to go to the store for you” Hope offers as I shake my head.

“No thanks, if anyone is going it is Sam” I reply, glaring at my roommate before turning back to Hope. “You and I have plans anyway.”

“We do?” Hope asks as I roll my eyes.

“I knew you weren’t listening last night” I say with a huff. “You said you weren’t asleep but you clearly were.”

“That’s so funny, you’re that boring in bed that your girlfriend fell asleep on you” Sam says with a cackle.

“It wasn’t during… you know what, never mind” I say with a wave of my hand. “Hope we are going to a photoshoot.”

“Oh couples shoot, how very modern” Sam says with a smirk.

“Can you please mind your own business?” I say to Sam before turning to Hope. “It’s an UA shoot for me, Hope said she would come to keep me company.”

“Did I?” Hope asks in confusion with a frown. “That doesn’t sound like something I would agree to do.” Ok so maybe I bent the truth, perhaps I asked Hope to go when she was sleeping last night because I knew she would say no if she was awake and coherent.

“You agreed last night so you are going with me” I say, pecking Hope on the cheek. “I am going to get ready, you should too.”

“I will in five minutes, I just need some time to psych myself up for this torturously boring day” Hope says as I roll my eyes.

“You need to be ready to leave within the next hour” I say as I disappear through to the bedroom, Hope eventually following me two minutes later.

“Am I at least going to get treated to dinner afterwards?” Hope asks, searching through the closet for some clothes. “If I have to sit and watch some dude clicking a camera while you do endless poses for hours I should at least get a little treat at the end.”

“Babe, if you don’t want to come then you don’t have to” I say with a sigh. “I just wanted you to keep me company, I will still take you out to dinner whether you come or not.”

“I will go with you” Hope says as she hugs me from behind. “I would’ve preferred to do something more fun with you but going to the photoshoot is better than being lonely in your apartment.”

“Thank you babe, I appreciate it” I say, spinning in Hope’s arms to kiss her. “I don’t want to be late so let’s get ready.”

“Yes boss” Hope says with a smirk.

/

“I am not being funny but are these poses really necessary?” Hope asks the director of the shoot.

“Hope, what are you doing?” I hiss, embarrassed by some of Hope’s comments.

“I know this is a photoshoot and you want to sell magazines but you do realise Kelley is a soccer player, right?” Hope asks. “Getting her to pose provocatively in UA underwear says nothing about soccer, all it says is here’s a hot chick for you to look at. It doesn’t matter what her vocation is.”

“Am I taking this shot?” the photographer asks, the director answering yes and Hope saying no. “Which is it?”

“Babe, surely you are finding this strange?” Hope asks me as I shrug. I guess I did presume it would be a little more soccer related. The article for the magazine is nothing but soccer so I don’t really understand why the pictures wouldn’t be soccer shots too.

“Look Miss, either you leave the studio or be quiet” the director says to Hope.

“Fine” Hope says as she goes quiet, pulling out her phone and texting someone. I don’t realise who she is texting until my agent comes flying into the photoshoot twenty minutes later after a detailed text from Hope.

“Who’s this guy?” the director asks as he shakes his head.

“I’m her agent, can I talk to you please?” he asks the director before they leave the room.

“Kel, I don’t think this is right” Hope says to me. “If you are comfortable with the shoot and you knew it was going to be like this then that’s fine but surely you understand how a magazine with an article about your soccer career with a picture of you in underwear is giving off the wrong impression.”

“I’m just doing what I’m told to do” I say with a shrug.

“You don’t play soccer looking like that so why promote soccer that way” Hope says as I kiss her cheek.

“I understand your point babe but I think you are exaggerating a little” I say, placing my hands on Hope’s hips. “I would wear this sports bra and underpants under my soccer uniform so how else can they promote it if my shorts and top are covering it.”

“I am not saying don’t promote it but some of the positions he had you in were a bit much” Hope says as I kiss her again.

“Baby, if I’m comfortable then you should be too” I say with a smile. “I am a big girl, if I didn’t like what I was doing then I would speak up. You need to chill honey.”

“Ok” Hope says with a nod.

/

“Hope?” I whisper into the darkness of the living room.

“Hey, what are you doing up?” Hope asks, turning the lamp on to illuminate the room.

“I could ask you the same thing” I say, sitting down next to Hope. “Its three in the morning, you should be asleep in my arms.”

“I know but I just couldn’t sleep” Hope answers. “I’m sorry if I woke you up Kel.”

“You didn’t” I say, taking Hope’s hand and gently kissing her knuckles. “Is everything ok? You’re not worried about anything are you?”

“I’m fine babe, just not tired” Hope says, smiling at me. “You should go back to bed, it’s the first day of preseason for you tomorrow.”

“I’m not going without you” I shrug, leaning my head against Hope’s shoulder. “It’s going to be tough not being able to wake up to you every morning.”

“We will get through it babe, you said yourself that it won’t be forever” Hope says, turning to face me. “I love you and I believe in us.”

“I do too” I say with a nod. “Come on, come back to bed with me.”

“Ok” Hope agrees, standing and following me back through to the bedroom.

We silently get under the covers and then snuggle in close to each other.

“I love you” I whisper against Hope’s chest.

“I love you too, Kel” Hope replies. “Sleep well.”

I squeeze my head onto Hope’s pillow, squinting my eyes into the darkness as I watch Hope close her eyes. It doesn’t matter what she does, she always looks beautiful to me.

/

“Sam, hurry the fuck up?” I shout through the apartment, first day of preseason and my roommate already has me panicking that we will be late.

“Will you chill out?” Sam asks as she leisurely walks into the kitchen. “We have plenty of time.”

“No we don’t, let’s go” I say.

“Ok” Sam nods, following me out of the kitchen.

“Babe, I am going now” I shout through the bedroom door to Hope.

“Wait wait wait!” Hope shouts, swinging the door open. “Did you get the lunch I made for you, it’s in the fridge?”

“Oh that’s so sweet, no I didn’t” I say with a smile.

“Wait there?” Hope says, rushing through to the kitchen before return with two boxes. “This is for you Kel and that one is for Sam.”

Hope hands us a box each before kissing me quickly.

“Good luck on your first day” Hope smiles as I lean in for another kiss.

“Oh shit, we are late… my watch has stopped” Sam says, tapping her fingers against the watch to try and get it going. “O’Hara, we should move.”

“Damn it” I say, hurriedly walking to the door. “Love you Hope, bye.”

“Thanks for the lunch, bye” Sam shouts, following me out the door as Hope just chuckles.

“I can’t believe we are going to be late on the first day” I hiss at Sam, throwing my things in our rental car. “Get in the car.”

“Just chill, we’re good” Sam says. “You drive like a racing driver anyway so we will be there in a flash.”

“I swear to god, if we…”

“How about you stop being mad and drive, the car won’t move itself” Sam says as I glare at her one last time before driving off. “I am going out with Niki this afternoon so I won’t need a ride home.”

“That’s fine” I say with a nod. “What time will you be back?”

“I am going to stay with her overnight so you won’t see me until training tomorrow” Sam says with a smirk. “Since its Hope’s last night I figured I would let you have the apartment to yourself. I don’t want to listen to you two going at it through the wall anyway.”

“Don’t be so crude” I say, focusing on the road and trying my best not to look embarrassed.

“Since I’ve known you, I don’t think I’ve ever heard you having sex as much as you have this week” Sam says, obviously trying to rile me up. “Even when you had that ex stay over you weren’t as loud as you are now.”

“How do you know it’s me and not Hope” I ask as Sam laughs.

“Trust me, it’s you” Sam says before frowning. “Unless Hope enjoys chanting her own name when you two are getting down to it.”

“Can we stop talking about this” I ask. “I am uncomfortable talking about my private life with you.”

“It’s hardly private when you make it so public” Sam says with a smirk.

“How do I make it public?” I ask, turning the car at the traffic signals.

“Let’s just say you are not shy with what you do with her when I am around” Sam says.

“If you are talking in the apartment then that’s hardly public” I say, shaking my head. “It’s not like we overdo it in front of strangers.”

“No but you make it public to me” Sam says. “The sight of you half naked where I eat my breakfast isn’t pleasant.”

“Shut up, you are exaggerating now” I say, the car coming to a stop as I park. “Let’s hurry, we should make it on time.”

/

“Good work today ladies, I hope you are all refreshed after the offseason” Our assistant coach says after we reach the field at the end of our first training.

“I would be a bit more refreshed if I got more sleep last night” Sam says quietly before winking at me. “My roommate kept me up all night.”

“Seriously, shut up” I say through gritted teeth. Thankfully the coaches never heard Sam, only a few of our teammates who are looking at us quizzically.

“This is where it starts ladies, are we all ready for another few weeks of this” the coach asks as we all murmur.

“You need to be more enthusiastic than that” he says, asking us again. “Are we all ready?”

“YES!!” Everyone shouts.

“Good, that was a great start today. I will see you all tomorrow” the coach says, dismissing us all.

It turned out to be a long and tiring day but overall good. It felt good to be back into training mode again and to see all of my teammates.

At the end of the day though, I am desperate to get home and see Hope. We texted for a bit during lunch but Hope was busy between packing and going to the gym.

“Baby, are you here?” I shout through the quiet apartment when I get inside, so glad first day of preseason is over. “I have takeout.”

“Hey babe” Hope says as she appears from the living room.

“I have Chinese” I say as I hold up the bag. “I thought we could have dinner on the couch with a movie.”

“Sounds great babe, I will get the plates” Hope says, taking the takeout bag from me and going to the kitchen while I go to the bathroom to change into comfier clothes and to freshen up.

I return five minutes later just as Hope is splitting the food onto two plates on the living room coffee table.

“How was your first day babe?” Hope asks as I sit down next to her on the couch.

“It was good fun” I say with a smile.

“That smile doesn’t look very bright” Hope says, placing her hand on my thigh. “What’s wrong?”

“Training was fine” I say honestly, it would’ve felt a lot more fun if I wasn’t so bothered that my girlfriend was at home and I couldn’t spend our last day together. “I just wanted it to end so that I could be back here with you since you are leaving tomorrow.”

“We can do this Kel, we have national team camp at the end of March for the She Believes tournament” Hope says. “It’s only a few weeks apart and with preseason earlier this year and She Believes later then it might work out better for us.”

“I just want to spend every minute I can with you” I say as Hope smiles.

“My girlfriend is a little sappy isn’t she?” Hope says teasingly, leaning in to kiss me. “Seriously Kel, we got this. Don’t worry.”

“I’m not worried, I’m just sad is all” I say with a shrug.

“Don’t be sad tonight” Hope says with a kind smile. “Forget about me going back to Seattle tomorrow and let’s just focus on being together tonight.”

“Ok” I reply, smiling at Hope. “I can do that.”

“Come here” Hope says, kissing me one more time. “Let’s eat before it gets cold.”

“What did you do today?” I ask as I take a bite of an egg roll.

“I went to the gym, answered some e-mails and then I went grocery shopping for you” Hope says, spooning some egg fried rice into her mouth.

“You didn’t need to go grocery shopping” I say truthfully albeit grateful.

“I know but I wanted to make sure you were taken care of” Hope says. “That and I was super bored.”

“Thank you honey” I say as I kiss Hope before we finish the remainder of dinner in silence. We ended up watching some TV show about rescue dogs and how they ended up at the rescue center.

“It’s so sad isn’t it?” Hope says, pointing at a Chihuahua on screen. “How can people be so cruel to defenceless animals?”

“I just want to adopt them all” I say with a sad smile. “Hopefully they find their forever homes soon.”

“Yeah, I hope so” Hope agrees before pulling up the TV schedule to see what we can watch next.

“I miss Sasha and Onyx” I say, that programme reminded me of them and how much I miss playing with them and taking them out for long walks while Hope was being lazy and having a lie in.

“They will miss you too, who else will throw a ball for them for over an hour and not get bored” Hope says with a chuckle.

“They’re both so cute” I say with a smile, thinking about them.

/

Before going to my second day of training for preseason I am taking Hope to the airport. Obviously I knew it was coming but it still hits me hard when I know I won’t see Hope for weeks.

“Are you crying?” Hope asks, giving me a sad smile. “Come on baby, I will see you in a few weeks with the national team.”

“I know but I can’t help it” I reply, sighing. “Just kiss me.”

“Ok” Hope nods, leaning in and kissing me. “I love you baby.”

“I love you too” I say back, leaning my forehead against Hope’s.

“Bye” Hope smiles, blowing me a kiss as she walks away.

“Bye” I say quietly, watching Hope until she disappears into the distance. This is it, the countdown begins until I see her again. I must be such a sucker for Hope Solo because goodbyes had never felt so sad until I started dating Hope.

Chapter Text

“Kelley… what are you doing?” Alex, my roommate, whispers into the dark.

“Nothing, go back to sleep” I say quietly while I try to tie my shoelaces.

“It’s three in the morning” Alex says turning in her bed before switching the bedside lamp on, almost blinding us both with the light.

“Jeez Morgan” I utter, trying to shield my eyes with my hands.

“Why are you dressed, are you going somewhere?” Alex asks as I walk over to her bed.

“Go back to sleep” I repeat. “I will be back soon, ok?”

“Ok” Alex says, switching off her light and muttering a goodbye to me. I quickly grab a sweater and then make my way out of the room and towards the lobby.

After waiting for fifteen minutes, I finally see Hope arriving through the front of the hotel. The smile on my face automatically appearing. As soon as she sees me, she smiles back and quickly makes her way over.

“Hey Kel…” Hope says before I am jumping into her arms and kissing her like my life depends on it. “I missed you so much.”

“Me too” I reply, chasing Hope’s lips for another kiss while she squeezes me tighter.

“You didn’t need to wait up for me” Hope says, placing me back on the ground.

“I haven’t seen you in weeks and I was desperate just to hug you or kiss you or something” I say as Hope chuckles lightly. “Do you need to check in with reception?”

“No, Dawn said she handled that for me since I would be getting in so late” Hope replies. “Carli is my roommate but she knows I wasn’t due to be here until the middle of the night.”

“Can we hang out for a bit before going to our rooms?”

“Of course babe” Hope says, pulling me over to a quiet seating area. “I know it has only been a few weeks but I’ve missed you so much.”

“I missed you too, I missed this” I say, lifting our interlocked hands. “And kissing you and hugging you and whispering to you when you are pretending to be asleep.”

“I love you” Hope says with a smile, delivering a sweet kiss to my lips. “How’s camp been so far?”

“It’s been ok, we’ve had a few meetings and gym sessions” I reply with a shrug. “Just how it usually is to be honest.”

“I haven’t missed anything then?” Hope says as I shake my head. “Jill’s still the coach?”

“Yeah” I reply with a small chuckle.

“That sucks” Hope smiles back.

“How are you, how’s your shoulder?” I ask, Hope took a bit of a knock in preseason with Seattle, obviously she downplayed it to me when she told me but now I can see it for myself in person then I will know how she really feels.

“Its all good baby, like I told you on the phone, its fine” Hope says but to be honest I won’t be convinced until I see how she copes at practice.

“Ok then” I say before changing the subject. We talk for another forty minutes before we are both yawning and decide it is probably time to go to bed.

“I will come by your room in the morning and we can go to breakfast together” Hope says as we stand outside her room.

“Sounds good babe, sleep well” I say, kissing Hope on the cheek.

“You too beautiful” Hope says with a smile and a wink before disappearing into her room and I head back to mine, trying not to disturb Alex.

/

“Hey Hope, what’s up?” I hear Alex ask my girlfriend as she answers the door.

“Not much, how are you Alex?” Hope replies as Alex leads her inside.

“I’m ok other than a little tired” Alex says as I roll my eyes, knowing exactly what is going to come out of Alex’s mouth next. “Kelley’s theatre performance in the night didn’t help.”

“Alex, how many times did I need to tell you that I didn’t purposely fall over my shoes and knock into the lamp between the beds?” I say as I shake my head, Alex has honestly not stopped going on about my fall when I came back from meeting Hope.

“You shouldn’t have left your shoes lying around” Alex says as I mock her. “I’m just saying, it could’ve been avoided.”

“Hope we should go to breakfast before my roommate pisses me off even more” I say, making my way to the door as Hope follows.

“See you on the pitch Morgan.”

“Not if I see you first O’Hara” Alex says as I laugh, Alex trying to stifle her own laugh at how pathetic that sounded. “I will see you both later.”

“Bye” Hope says as I wave, both of us leaving the room and making our way to the elevators.

“Did you sleep ok?” I ask as we wait to get on the elevator.

“Eventually but I couldn’t sleep at first” Hope replies as I smirk.

“Perhaps you were just missing me snuggling in next to you” I say with a smile.

“I’ve managed the last few weeks without you” Hope replies. “It’s actually been pretty peaceful without you, no one to hog the duvet or drool on my pillows.”

“Hey!” I object. “I do not drool, ladies don’t drool.”

“I have to admit, I have missed going to sleep in your arms at night and waking up to your kisses” Hope replies, stepping into the elevator as I follow behind. Pushing the button for the bottom floor.

“Who knew badass Hope Solo was so soft?” I tease as Hope shakes her head.

“Only you get to see my soft side so don’t go telling everyone I have one” Hope says, leaning in to kiss me properly for the first time this morning. “Good morning Kel.”

“Morning babe” I reply, leaning in for another short kiss before wrapping my arm around Hope in a hug. “If you could kiss me like that every morning that would be great.”

“Your wish is my command” Hope whispers, hugging me tighter until the elevator coming to a stop makes us pull away.

/

“What’s up dudes?” Tobin asks when she takes a seat next to Hope and across from me at breakfast.

“Nothing, we are just getting bored to tears listening to Ashlyn talk about some shark documentary” I reply as Ashlyn stops talking and frowns at me. “I am just saying what everyone at this table is feeling, isn’t that right Broon?”

“No actually, I am finding the whole thing fascinating” Becky replies. “The evolution is really interesting.”

“Let me guess you two find it interesting too” I ask Hope and Sam Mewis.

“Hey, be nice” Hope says. “You don’t see us making a fool of you when you launch into some random science story that has absolutely no correlation to the original topic of the conversation.”

“You just got owned” Ashlyn says as the group laugh.

“No I didn’t, she’s my girlfriend” I say with a frown of my own. “She can’t ‘own’ me.”

“You just got burned then” Ashlyn smirks.

“Whatever, sharks are lame” I reply before going back to finishing my breakfast.

“What time are the keepers leaving for training?” Hope asks Ashlyn.

“About ten to, I think” Ashlyn answers. “Maybe we should go and find Alyssa, she knows better than me.”

“Ok” Hope nods as she stands up from the table. “We will see you gals later.”

“Bye babe” I say as Hope leans down to kiss me as the group hollers, I roll my eyes in response.

“Bye” Home smiles before walking away with Ashlyn.

“How was preseason with your teams?” I ask the group.

“It was cool, I have so many new moves” Tobin says with a grin. “I’ve perfected this really cool flick over my shoulder and into a twist.”

“Don’t try it on us at practice, save it for the match” I say as Tobin laughs.

“Scared I embarrass you?” Tobin asks.

“Of course not” I reply, standing up. “I need to go back to my room before we go to training, come and find me in fifteen minutes Tobin.”

“Sure dude” Tobin replies and I leave the table, setting my plate down before taking the elevator back up to my room.

/

Training has been going really well over these last few days, I am actually really excited for the tournament to start and for us all to play together.

“Why are you sulking?” I ask when I enter the room and see Hope lying on her bed with a frown on her face.

“I’m not” Hope says, continuing to stare at the TV.

“Let’s not forget that I know you better than anyone babe” I say, throwing myself onto the bed making Hope bounce. “You are moping.”

“I wanted to play in this game Kel” Hope says finally turning to look at me. “I want to play in all three of these games, they are important.” The trainers think Hope’s injury is worse than they thought so they want to rest her for the first game which she isn’t happy about.

“Not as important as your health” I say, pulling Hope into my arms so she can rest her head on my shoulder. “I get that you want to play in every game but you have to rest your shoulder. The She Believes Cup is only a friendly tournament after all.”

“Friendly or not, I want to play” Hope complains with a pout.

“I know but your shoulder needs rest” I say with a bit more authority than before. “I know it sucks that you got hurt training with the Reign but you don’t want to damage your shoulder any more than you already have.”

“I guess” Hope replies, sighing deeply.

“I want to cheer you up, what do you wanna do?” I ask, kissing Hope on the head. “We could go out for a walk or watch a movie.”

“Let’s watch a movie since we have the room to ourselves” Hope says as I smile and nod, reaching over for the TV remote and searching through the channels.

“Comedy?” I ask as Hope nods, snuggling into my side.

“Is that a new perfume you have on?” Hope asks. “It smells sweeter than usual.”

“Yeah, I am trying something new” I reply.

“I like it” Hope says before laying her head on my shoulder.

“So do I actually” I say. “The box is in my room, you know, in case you want to take a note of it since I have a birthday in August.”

“This is March babe, your taste may change before your birthday” Hope says with a laugh. “My birthday is even before yours.”

“I know, May 30th” I say as Hope frowns at me. “I’m joking, I know its July 30th.”

“Good, I know your birthday is August 4th” Hope says as I nod. “You will be the big 3-0 this year.”

“No I won’t…”

“I know, you will be twenty nine” Hope says with a laugh. “We can both joke.”

“What does the wrong side of thirty feel like?” I ask cheekily.

“It will feel lonely for you if your girlfriend dumps you before you reach thirty” Hope fires back with a cheeky wink. “There is no right or wrong side babe. Life after turning thirty has been pretty good for me actually.”

“How so?” I ask.

“Well, I’ve won an Olympics and a world cup for starters” Hope responds. “And I’ve met the love of my life.”

“You’re definitely a winner in the girlfriend department” I say with a smug grin. “You must’ve thought all your birthday’s came at once when you discovered I was the love of your life.”

“Honey, who’s says you’re the love of my life?” Hope asks as I turn to look at her. “How do you know it’s not the woman I see behind your back?”

“Don’t even joke about that” I say.

“Sorry babe” Hope apologises. “You are everything to me Kel, you’re the only person I want.”

“You’re the only person I want” I reply, leaning up for a kiss before Hope’s flinching stops us. “Are you ok?”

“Yeah Kel, I think I just moved my shoulder the wrong way” Hope says as she places her hand over her shoulder. “I got a bit of a shooting pain.”

“Oh dear” I say as I move away from Hope. “Can I do anything?”

“No its ok, I am just going to grab some ice” Hope says, moving to get off the bed.

“I will get it for you, you stay there babe” I say, stopping Hope from moving. “You get comfortable and I will be quick.”

“Thanks” Hope smiles, cautiously moving up the bed. “Whoa… Kel…”

“What?” I ask, one foot outside the door and one foot inside.

“Where are you going?” Hope asks.

“To get ice” I say, letting out a confused laugh.

“Honey, there’s an ice bucket in the bathroom that the trainers got me” Hope says as I come fully inside the room and shut the door.

“I didn’t know that” I say embarrassed before going into the bathroom then returning with the ice.

/

“Good game so far babe but just a few points” Hope says as she comes off the bench and I walk off the pitch with the other starters at half time. “When you are attempting a low cross with the inside of the boot you should angle your body more to the left.”

“Ok” I say with a nod as we walk up the tunnel.

 “Also, when number eight is running at you, you need to close them down quicker and stay tighter to the right back when they come at you with speed” Hope tells me. “Remember when Christen is running in field then you need to make the overlap.”

“Babe, I know what I’m doing” I say, squeezing Hope arm.

“I know but making a few adjustments may help” Hope says.

“I will take it on board” I say, walking into the locker room in front of Hope who then makes a beeline for Ashlyn.

“Is your ankle ok?” Dawn asks me, she’s been monitoring my ankle because I can’t seem to shake off the issues I am having with it.

“It seems fine, I don’t have any pain” I answer as Dawn nods.

“That’s good, let me know if it changes” Dawn says and I nod in agreement.

“Hey Ali” I say as I approach the right back. “I wondered if I could talk to you for a moment.”

“Of course” Ali says with a smile before I ask her advice on some tactics. We talk for a few minutes before Hope corners us just as we were about to leave the locker room.

“Hope, chill out babe” I say as Hope starts some big speech about the backline and playing higher. She is talking so fast that it’s hard to understand exactly what she is trying to say.

“I am just giving you some tips” Hope says as I cover her mouth with my hand.

“Hope, we’re good” I say, silencing Hope.

“Fine” Hope says as she folds her arms, a pout on her face.

“Let us play our game, ok?” I ask as Hope nods.

“Team, let’s go!” Carli shouts, leading everyone out of the locker room as we make our way out to the pitch. Hopefully we can wrap the game up and take the win, it’s always tough when we play England.

We managed a tight two to one victory, our play wasn’t good in the second half but we managed to scrape through with the win. My ankle did take a few knocks but I am hoping it is just bruising.

“I will meet you on the bus, ok?” Hope asks as I nod and smile, watching Hope walk away.

“How’s your ankle?” Christen asks as she takes a seat next to me.

“Yeah its fine” I reply with a smile. “I will ice it and rest it, it will be fine.”

“It’s always physical when we play them isn’t it?” Christen says as I nod. “Have you seen Tobin anywhere, she seems to have disappeared.”

“I haven’t since we left the pitch” I answer with a frown. “I don’t know where she is, maybe she went to the bus already.”

“She usually waits for me though” Christen answers, a frown on her face as well. “I will text her and see.”

“She maybe just wants some time to cool down, she was getting frustrated at the end of the game” I say, draping my arm over Christen’s shoulder.

“Yeah, she’s so chill off the field but can get really wound up during games” Christen says, rapidly typing out a text.

“Let’s slowly start walking to the bus, she may text you soon” I say, pulling Christen outside.

As soon as we get outside, Tobin is standing waiting with her foot resting on the wall behind. Her face breaks into a smile as soon as she sees us; the smile is probably for Christen.

“Why did you not wait inside?” Christen asks as the three of us walk towards the bus.

“I just wanted some air” Tobin says with a shrug, her demeanour a lot calmer than it was earlier.

“Sometimes you just need time to gather your thoughts” I say.

“Exactly” Tobin says with a nod.

/

“What is that song you are singing?” Hope asks me as I bob my head to the music coming through my headphones. “It sounds familiar.”

“It’s Destiny’s Child, Crazy in love” I answer.

“Isn’t it just Beyoncé that sings it with Jay-Z” Hope asks as I shrug.

“Possibly, it’s catchy anyway” I say, muttering to the song; occasionally throwing out the wrong lyric. “I know how she feels.”

“Who?” Hope asks, raising her eyebrows.

“Beyoncé” I say as it if it’s obvious. “I too am crazy in love.”

“Well it’s different for you because you are crazy in love with soccer and Beyoncé is singing about a person” Hope says as I look at her.

“I’m not crazy in love with soccer” I say, placing my hand on Hope’s thigh. “I love it and I couldn’t imagine doing anything else with my career but I was talking about being crazy in love with you.”

“Oh really?” Hope smirks as I roll my eyes.

“Yeah and you know it” I say with a smile, leaning in to whisper in my girlfriend’s ear. “You knew I was talking about you all along but you just wanted me to say it because you love hearing me saying it.”

“I know” Hope smiles before kissing my cheek. “I am sorry if I was coming across as bossy tonight, it’s just hard sitting on the side-lines and wishing I was out there with you.”

“Its fine babe, I didn’t take any offence to it” I say with a smile, placing my head on Hope’s shoulder. “Your pointers actually helped so it’s cool. Just so you know, you may get to be the boss on the field but not off it.”

“I am totally the boss in this relationship” Hope says with a laugh.

“How did you come to that conclusion?” I ask amused, moving my head to look up at Hope.

“Honey, you do realise there wouldn’t be a relationship if it weren’t for me” Hope says as I sit up fully and look at her.

“What makes you think that?” I ask, grinning at Hope. “I made the first move.”

“Actually I did” Hope smirks. “The night we got drunk after the Olympics, I made a move on you and our first kiss after that was also down to me.”

“Ok so I agree about the kiss, that was definitely you who initiated it but I was pretty sure I took the first step in the bar” I say as Hope shakes her head. “I invited you back to the room.”

“We already had to go to the same room because Tobin and you swapped so that point doesn’t stand” Hope says, folding her arms and waiting for my response.

“Ok, how about when we got back to the room I kissed you first?” I ask, a smirk on my face because I know I am right.

“Kel, I had already almost undressed you by that point babe” Hope says as it dawns on me.

“Oh yeah” I say in realisation, suddenly remembering Hope somehow being able to unhook my bra when we stumbled out of the elevator. “Ok, it was you then but I made the first proper move when we admitted our feelings.”

“What are you two talking about?” Pinoe asks from the seat in front. “All I can hear is mumbled voices and Kelley’s silly laugh.”

“Nothing really” Hope says, smiling at me. “You sound grumpy Pinoe.”

“I am just trying to relax and have a nap” Pinoe says poking her head to look at us through the gap between her seats. “You two’s giggling is waking me up.”

“It’s not the noise from your seatmate snoring but us giggling?” Hope asks which seems to shut Pinoe up. “Blame Ashlyn not us.”

“Your giggling doesn’t help” Pinoe says as she turns back around in her seat.

“I was thinking, we should totally do that thing when we are back in Seattle together and go to that place” I say as Hope laughs at me. “What babe?”

“That was a bit vague, I don’t know what thing and what place” Hope responds, smiling at me.

“The thing with the animals and water” I say as Hope continues to look at me. “You know what I mean.”

“The aquarium?” Hope asks and I nod my head vividly.

“Yeah that’s it, I couldn’t think of the name” I say, turning to face Hope. “We should totally do that.”

“Sure we can” Hope smiles. “That was a bit of a random suggestion though.”

“I got an alert on my phone about new discounted offers for points of interest in Seattle and it reminded me” I say as Hope just smiles adoringly at me.

/

Our second game is against France today and then our last game will be against Germany in three days. I am starting on the bench today, my ankle didn’t recover as well as I had hoped and the coaches don’t want to risk anything. Hope’s also on the bench, the trainers are still monitoring her shoulder injury.

“It’s so cold” I say, rubbing my hands together as I cling to Allie Long.

“Jumping up and down helps” Allie says as we both start jumping on the spot as we wait for the national anthem to start.

“It doesn’t help the ones standing next to you” Hope says. “Can you both settle down?”

“Don’t be so grumpy Solo” Allie says as Hope rolls her eyes and moves away from us to stand with Pinoe. “Your girlfriend gets annoyed so easily.”

“It’s not that, I think she’s just upset that she can’t play” I say, looking over at Hope who is staring out onto the pitch, her hands shoved into her pockets. Hope knows Ashlyn and Alyssa are more than capable of playing, it’s nothing personal against them, she just wants to play every game because she loves playing for her country and loves the game.

After the national anthems are over, we have a quick team huddle before the starters take their positions on the pitch and the subs head to the bench. I quicken my step so I can catch up to Hope and sit next to her.

“Hey, you ok?” I ask as I follow Hope into the back row of the bench.

“I’m fine Kel” Hope replies, gesturing for me to sit down next to her and then she lays a blanket over our laps.

“You can talk to me, you know that” I say as Hope smiles at me, placing her hand over mine and squeezing it lightly.

“I know babe but I’m honestly ok, just a little annoyed that I’m not out there” Hope tells me, giving me a brighter smile and a wink. “Trust me, I’m good.”

“Ok” I say with a nod.

“Is your ankle ok?” Hope asks. “I presume it is since you were jumping up and down on it earlier.”

“Yeah, its fine” I answer.

/

“Ow… son of a…” I hiss, stopping myself before a curse word comes.

“That’s what happens when you mess around” Alex tells me as we are walking out the tunnel at half time, I may or may not have been dancing and didn’t notice I walked into a pole.

“That was so funny dude” Tobin says as Ashlyn and her walk by sniggering at me.

“Do I have a bruise on my forehead?” I ask Alex, rubbing gently where it hurts.

“I don’t see a bruise just now but it does look red” Alex says as we turn the corner and head to the bench. “Check with the trainers and see if they have any cream you can massage into your forehead to prevent bruising and swelling.”

“Kelley has a big enough head already, we don’t need swelling to make it bigger” Allie long says, a few of our teammates laughing as I just frown and ignore them and continue making my way to the bench.

We have another group huddle before I take my seat again, Hope arriving a few seconds later after talking tactics with Ash.

“Tobin just said you were pole dancing and got hurt?” Hope says with a curious look on her face. “What does she mean?”

“I wasn’t pole dancing, like dancing on a pole” I say as Hope laughs. “I was dancing and fell into a pole that I didn’t realise was in front of me, Hope stop laughing at me.”

“I’m sorry Kel” Hope says, wiping a tear from her eye as she tries to stifle a laugh but it doesn’t work.

“I’m glad my pain and embarrassment is amusing to you honey” I say with a pout as I fold my arms across my chest.

“It’s just so you” Hope replies, calming her laughter but I can tell there is still a smile on her face. “Of course I am not amused when you are hurt, I am concerned but… even you have to admit that it’s funny.”

“It really hurts” I complain, hissing when I touch the spot and feel the inflammation.

“I will go talk to the staff and see if I can get some ointment to put on it” Hope says as she gets out of her seat and goes to talk to the trainers, returning a few minutes later with a cold compress and gel I can rub into the area.

“Thank you babe” I say when Hope takes her seat next to me, gently pressing the compress to my head and then telling me how to hold it in place properly.

“What happened to you?” Moe asks.

“Pole dancing injury” Hope says before I even have a chance to answer. “I wasn’t involved in case your mind goes there.”

“I heard it was a solo injury” Pinoe says before laughing loudly, whether she meant that pun or not I am not sure.

“Should I have even asked?” Moe asks with a frown.

“I was dancing and walked into a pole, bumped my head and now it’s sore, end of story” I say, Moe trying not to laugh while Pinoe can’t help but cackle. “It was a solo injury as in it happened by myself not by Hope Solo.”

“Tobin said it was hilarious” Pinoe says as I roll my eyes.

“It wasn’t so hilarious for me, shall we get back to watching our teammates” I say, for once not in the mood to have the attention on me.

/

The game ended in a tie, I was on the field for the last half an hour but my play was a bit off. The full team seemed off tonight, Christen scored a great long range goal to tie the score at one each but after that both teams struggled to break down the other’s defence. Our last game is a must win if we want to take home the trophy.

After we signed some autographs and took some pictures with the fans, we all headed back to the locker room to change. The mood is pretty low, everyone feeling deflated after the tie. We had a few good opportunities and really should’ve won the game but it wasn’t to be.

“How’s your head?” Alex asks, taking a seat next to me as she ties her shoelaces.

“Its fine, just a little bump” I answer as I put my sweater on. “You are all going to tease me about though.”

“Yeah, pretty much” Alex laughs as we both stand up and make out way out of the locker room. “It was pretty funny, it’s a shame no one caught it on camera.”

“It’s a blessing, not a shame” I reply, holding the door open for Alex as we continue to walk outside. “Do you have my room key?”

“No, I’ve just got my own” Alex answers before frowning. “Don’t tell me you’ve lost it.”

“I haven’t lost it, I just can’t find it” I reply.

“That means you’ve lost it” Alex says as she shakes her head. “When did you last have it?”

“We went to breakfast together this morning and you took the key so it must’ve been last night” I answer, trying to think back to yesterday. “I definitely had it last night because I got back to the room and you were out so I had to have had it to let myself in.”

“It must be in the room then, it can’t be anywhere else” Alex answers as I nod. Hopefully it is in the room, I’ve already had to go down to reception because I locked my key in the room at the beginning of camp and they had to let me in, I don’t fancy going back down and explaining to reception that I am having another issue.

“I will check as soon as we get back to the hotel” I say, stepping on the bus ahead of Alex.

“Good” Alex says with a nod as we take out seats. Hope’s already on the bus and saved a seat for me.

“Can I take the window seat?” I ask Hope before I sit down.

“Sure” Hope answers, standing up and allowing me to take the seat she vacated before she sits down next to me.

“Can I cuddle you?” I ask, getting comfortable on my seat and laying my head on Hope’s shoulder without waiting for an answer. “I want to have a nap on the journey back to the hotel.”

“Ok babe” Hope says quietly before adjusting her position so we are both comfortable, Hope placing a kiss on my head and then wrapping her arm around me.

/

“I’m only getting a half for the Germany game” Hope tells me as we eat breakfast. “My shoulder is healing ok but they want to phase me back into playing.”

“That’s good, it will give you a chance to see how you feel in a game setting” I say, looking at the positives. “You don’t want to push yourself too far and make it worse down the line.”

“I know, it’s just hard having to do what I am told” Hope says as I laugh. “I don’t like being told what to do.”

“I know you don’t” I say, kissing Hope on the cheek. “Look at it this way, your injury will be well rested come the NWSL season and next camp so it’s good you can take a break before you’re playing a game a week.”

“Yeah” Hope smiles. “Since we have the afternoon off, I thought we could go on a date if you’re up for it.”

“Always” I smile, finishing my coffee. “Where are you planning on taking me?”

“I thought we could go for a hike and take a picnic, I’ve cleared it with the coaches and we don’t need to eat dinner with the team” Hope says. “Don’t worry though, I know we are not quite in spring yet so a picnic seems strange but I have a plan.”

“It sounds perfect babe” I smile, excited to spend some alone time with Hope. We don’t get much time alone when we are in camp.

“I will pick you up from your room around two” Hope says and I nod.

“Do I need to bring anything?” I ask as we both stand up from the table.

“Just yourself, I will take care of everything else” Hope says with a smile before kissing me on the cheek and then she rushes off to find Ashlyn and Alyssa so they can go to goalkeeper training.

“Kelley, a few of us are leaving in a van just now if you want to join us” Alex offers, standing with Broon, Christen and Ali.

“Yeah, I want to grab another coffee first” I say.

“Oh me too” Christen says, following me over to the coffee station. “I need all the coffee I can get, I am so tired this morning.”

“Late night last night?” I ask as I pour us both a to-go cup each.

“Yeah, Tobin’s got some old college friends visiting so we were out with them” Christen answers, gratefully accepting the cup of coffee I give her. “I didn’t want to be rude and bail on them when they travelled a long way to see Tobin.”

“I know what you mean” I say as we walk back over to the others. “Maybe you could have a nap later since we have the afternoon off.”

“I think I will do that” Christen says.

“Are you two ready to go?” Ali asks and we both nod, the five of us making our way outside to the vans.

/

The date Hope took me on was perfect, we went for a hike and then stopped to have our picnic. The weather was ok, it was cool but Hope was prepared for that.

When we get back to my room, I notice Alex has left me a note to say she will be out for a few hours because Servando is in the area.

“Alex won’t be back for a while, do you want to stay and watch a movie?” I ask Hope as she moves to sit down on my bed.

“Sure babe, not a Disney one though” Hope says as she slides her shoes off. “Or any animation type movie, I am not really in the mood.”

“I’ve got the perfect movie in mind” I say, grabbing my laptop to find the movie.

“I am going to use the bathroom before the movie starts” Hope says as she gets off the bed and heads to the bathroom.

“Ok babe” I say, looking through the list of movies on my screen before finding the one I am looking for.  I put the movie on and then press pause when it is about to start so I can wait for Hope.

“Wow, your bathroom is such a mess” Hope says as she resumes her position on the bed. “One of your bras are in the bath.”

“How do you know it’s my bra?” I ask as Hope pulls me close to cuddle her. “It could be Alex’s.”

“I know it’s yours because Alex isn’t messy like that” Hope answers as I play the movie. “Plus it looks like your bra. It’s like a black version of the red one you had that I ripped.”

“They came in a two pack” I answer. “They are so comfortable to wear, you can wear them with anything.”

“It’s not going to be much use to you lying in the bath now is it?” Hope says as I just chuckle.

“Probably not, no” I say.

/

“Kel, babe what are you doing?” Hope asks me.

“I’m bored” I complain, inching my hand closer to the waistband of Hope’s jeans.

“You were the one who wanted to watch this movie” Hope says, grabbing my wrist so I can’t move my hand further like I want to do.

“Yeah because I didn’t think it would suck this much” I answer, pulling my hand out of Hope’s grasp and moving to straddle her, her hands immediately finding my hips.

“Kel, we both know anytime you pick a movie it sucks” Hope says cheekily, running her hands from my hips and around onto my back. “It happens all the time.”

“Not all the time” I protest but Hope just looks at me. “Let’s do something else fun, Alex said in her note that she wouldn’t be back for hours so we have the room to ourselves.”

“What do you want to do then?” Hope asks as I lean down to kiss her.

“This” I say, placing another kiss on my girlfriend’s lips. “Plus a little more.”

“I don’t think we should do this now” Hope says weakly as I attach my lips to her neck. “We are in camp, plus you share this room with Alex.”

“The first time we had sex was during camp in a hotel room” I answer, pulling away from Hope and sitting back on her pelvis, grinding myself into her as I stare at her. “You’ve got that turned on face.”

“Obviously, you are grinding into me” Hope answers as I laugh lightly. “Come here.” Hope then pulls me into a heated kiss.

I pull away to catch my breath, pulling my top off as I do before I reach for the zipper and button on Hope’s jeans. I raise myself off of Hope to allow her to shimmy her jeans off and lift her own top over her head. She then grabs onto the waistband of my pants and pulls them down as I clumsily pull them off before sitting back down on Hope’s hips.

I kiss my way down from Hope’s lips to her neck then her chest until I reach her breasts, not even bothering to unhook her bra I just pull it to the side to give me access to her nipple, tweaking it between my fingers as Hope bites her lip.

“Harder Kel” Hope instructs, requesting that I pull harder on the sensitive nub. Hope angles her hand between our bodies, placing her palm against the wet patch on my panties. “You’re soaked.”

“Yeah” I say breathlessly when I feel Hope’s hand putting pressure on me, the wet spot on my panties rubbing against me with the pressure from Hope’s hand. I am finding it hard to concentrate on what I am doing to Hope when she is doing this to me. “Inside… please.”

Hope smirks at me before pulling my panties to the side and slowly inserting two fingers inside me. I immediately moan at the feeling, Hope has really long fingers which make the feeling…

“Ride my fingers” Hope demands, curling and twisting them to cause me to moan louder. I do as I am told, watching as Hope somehow manages to please me with one hand as her other hand slides into her own panties. I don’t know what is turning me on more, Hope teasing me or the sight of her left hand pumping in and out of herself. “Harder baby, you need to ride harder so we can come together.”

I move quicker, slamming my body down onto Hope’s fingers at a more rapid pace before I feel the sensation inside me, ready for my release. I come a few seconds before Hope but soon we are both moaning together as our orgasms tumble through us.

When my breathing begins to even out, I grab Hope’s left hand and suck the juices from her hand, tasting that familiar taste of Hope in my mouth as I clean her digits. “When I get my breath back I want to taste you from the source.”

Hope nods her head, seemingly a little more breathless than me.

I waste no time in positioning my head between Hope’s legs, quickly pulling her panties off before diving in. I know we don’t have much time and I am too eager to wait, I need to taste more.

/

We drew with Germany which means France won the cup, they beat England in their last game taking them to a total of seven points and us with five points. We were still unbeaten in the cup but we really needed to win the games we tied.

Now we need to put this tournament behind us and move on, all of us have club teams to go back to that we need to divert our focus to now. Most of us have our first NWSL game in just under two weeks so we are all eager to get back to our teams and train.

After dinner everyone started heading back to their rooms in small groups, eventually just leaving a few of us.

“Walk me back to my room?” I ask Hope who smiles and nods. We both say goodbye to whoever is left before making our way towards the elevators.

“When did you say your flight leaves?” Hope asks.

“Leaves at twelve so I will aim to be at the airport for ten o’clock” I answer as Hope nods, pressing the button for the elevator.

“My flight isn’t until two, Pinoe’s on the same one” Hope answers and I nod. “Come on babe, don’t look so sad.”

“I can’t help it, we’ve only had two weeks together” I say as we walk inside the elevator and Hope presses the button for our floor. “We hardly got to spend time together during the two weeks because of training and games.”

“That’s the nature of our job Kel, we both know that” Hope says as she wraps me in a hug.

“I know but it sucks” I mumble into Hope’s chest.

“It does but there will be other times when it will be so great” Hope says, kissing me on the head. “I mean the NWSL is weird because the offseason is just as long as the playing season, there will be other camps, and there will be times where we can visit each other on bye weekends.”

“You know I am going to moan about this every time we need to separate right?” I ask, both of us laughing lightly.

“Yeah, I know” Hope smiles. “And I will tell you we can do this every time, because we can. I love you more than I’ve ever loved anyone and I will do whatever it takes to make you happy.”

“I love you too Hope” I say, lifting my head from Hope’s chest so I can kiss her.

Chapter Text

The next few weeks flew by after the She Believes Cup, Hope was right when she said time would go so quick as soon as we were back with our teams and immersed fully into the NWSL season. Sky Blue and I have played three games already and I feel like I haven’t been away. It has been a mix of results, we tied our first game, lost the second and then won our third.

“What time shall I pick you up at the airport?” I ask down the phone as I head inside my mom and dad’s house, leaving Jerry to carry my luggage from the car.

“Around three” Hope answers from the other end of the phone. “I can take a cab if it is too much hassle.”

“Of course not babe, I will pick you up” I say. “I will borrow my mom or Erin’s car.”

“Thank you” Hope says gratefully. “I should go just now, I will see you later.”

“Love you.”

“Love you too, bye Kel” Hope replies before we hang up the phone and I go in search of my parents.

“What do you have in here?” Jerry asks as he carries my stuff, being the brilliant brother he is he offered to pick me up from the airport. Not only that, he had a coffee and lunch waiting for me when I arrived.

“I couldn’t decide on what outfit to wear to the party so I threw a few outfits in so Erin can help me decide” I answer, knowing I packed way more than I needed to.

“Couldn’t you not have Skyped or Facetimed Erin before leaving NJ?” Jerry asks and I shrug, I probably could’ve done that but I didn’t really think.

“Hi princess” my dad says when I find him and my mom in the kitchen.

“Hi daddy” I reply, jumping into my dad’s arms like I am kid.

“Hi sweetheart” my mom says next, pulling me into a hug when I let go of my dad. “How was the flight darling?”

“It was ok, I slept through most of it” I answer.

“Where’s Hope?” my dad asks as my mom rolls her eyes.

“Dan, darling I’ve told you twice already that Hope and Kelley’s flights were arriving at different times” my mom says before turning to me. “As you can see sweetheart, your dad is still the same, never listening to a word I say.”

“You say a lot dear, it is hard to keep track of every little detail” my dad replies to my mom who just ignores him.

“Is grandma excited for her birthday party?” I ask. That’s the reason Hope and I are coming for the weekend; to celebrate my grandma’s birthday.

“Yeah, she and your mom have been planning it for weeks” my dad says, clearly opting to take a backseat with the planning and leaving his wife and mother to do everything. “I just follow their instructions and do as I’m told.”

“Do you want anything to eat sweetheart?” my mom asks as I shake my head, telling her about the lunch Jerry bought me. “A salad, that’s not much. Let me make you something more substantial.”

“Honestly mom, the salad filled me right up” I answer back, every time I am home my mom is always trying to make me these big home cooked meals. I love them and my mom for doing it but when we are in the middle of the season I need to keep an eye on portion control and ensure I am eating a balanced diet.

“You let me know if you get hungry and I will put something together for you” my mom says and I nod gratefully. “Shall I throw something together for Hope’s flight getting in, she will be hungry.”

“That’s not necessary mom, she will have eaten before she left” I answer.

“Plus, Erin and I wanted to take Hope and Kelley out tonight” Jerry says. “We were going to do dinner and drinks.”

“Where’s our invite?” my dad asks, pointing at him and my mom.

“You are going out with the couple next door tonight” Jerry replies.

“Oh yeah, I was trying to block that out” my dad says as my mom scolds him. “The slap on the arm was a bit rough Karen.”

“Sorry honey” my mom replies before kissing my dad.

“At least wait until Kelley and I are out of the room” Jerry says with a frown.

“It was a peck son, grow up” my dad says before offering to take my luggage to my room.

“Can I use your car to pick Hope up from the airport later?” I ask my mom as Jerry follows my dad out of the room.

“Of course you can, I can pick her up if you want to rest before going out with your brother and sister” my mom offers but I decline, I sort of want a moment alone with Hope since we haven’t seen each other in a few weeks. “My car is in the garage, do you want me to get dad to reverse it out?”

“I can manage mom, thank you” I say gratefully as my mom hugs me again.

“I missed you so much.”

“Missed you too mom” I say as I hug her back.

/

I wait in the arrivals area of the airport, freshly made coffee in my hand for Hope when she gets here. It’s nice that I get to not only have this weekend off to visit my family but to see Hope as well. Hope and Seattle have a bye week in the NWSL and I played last night so it worked out pretty well actually.

“Hi there” Hope says with a smile.

“Hi babe” I reply, pulling Hope in for a hug. “How was your flight?”

“It was ok, a bit turbulent” Hope answers as we walk towards the car.

“Coffee for you” I say as I hand Hope the drink and I take a hold of her luggage for her.

“Thanks Kel” Hope says, taking a long sip. “This will calm me down, you know how nervous I get on flights.”

“Jerry and Erin wanted to take us out for dinner and drinks tonight” I say as we exit the airport and make our way towards the parking lot. “If you are too tired and just want to rest then I can decline.”

“I’m ok, I don’t mind going out” Hope says as I nod.

“I will tell them we can make it then” I say, opening the trunk of the car and putting Hope’s luggage in. we both then get into the car and I start the engine.

“Hi” Hope says with a smile, leaning over the center console to kiss me.

“Hi to you too” I reply. We don’t really like too much PDA when we are in public places so now that we are in the car we can greet each other properly. “Do you need me to stop at the grocery store on my way back or have you eaten?”

“No, I’m ok” Hope replies. “I think I should manage to wait until dinner later.”

“Ok then, straight back to my parents’ house then” I say as I put the car in drive and we set off.

“I saw the game last night, you played really well” Hope says and I nod. “Do you not think so?”

“Yeah but I don’t know…” I say trailing off, Hope allowing me to take a minute. “I know it’s only the third game of the season but I just feel like my play isn’t as good as I want it to be.”

“It is early in the season, you just need time to find your rhythm” Hope responds, reaching over and placing her hand on my thigh. “Don’t be so hard on yourself babe.”

/

“I heard you were in town” someone says to me as I wait at the bar, the voice sounding oddly familiar. I realise why when I turn around and see Hannah, my ex-girlfriend. “How have you been Kelley?”

“I’ve been good, how are you?” I ask, turning so I am looking at Hannah. I haven’t seen her in forever. It’s a bit of a surprise to see her.

“Yeah, I’m doing fine” Hannah says with a smile and a nod. “Is this just a flying visit to Georgia, I imagine you’ve just started your season.”

“I am only here for a few days, grandma’s birthday” I reply as Hannah nods.

“Oh yeah, that’s right” Hannah says with a soft smile. “You look really well, I don’t think we’ve seen one another for over a year.”

“It has been a while” I say with a nod as the bartender lays my drinks in front of me. “How is everything with you? Your job, still a lawyer? Your family?”

“Everything is pretty good at the moment” Hannah smiles. “I got a promotion at work so I’m really happy about that, my family are all well. I have a nephew on the way.”

“No way, that’s cool” I smile back. “Tell your sister I send my congratulations.”

“I will do” Hannah says before smiling again. “It really is good to see you, I’ve been following the national team now and again. Are you still in New Jersey?”

“Yeah, been there for a few years now” I answer. “It a good team there, a lot of good players.”

“I don’t really follow the league, just the national team if I can” Hannah says and I nod, I would probably find it awkward watching my ex-girlfriend on TV. “I’m probably talking too much and keeping you back, I’m guessing you are not here alone judging by that tray of drinks.”

“No” I reply with a laugh as I glance at the tray of six drinks. “I like a drink, just not six at once.”

“Don’t let me keep you” Hannah says as I wave it off.

“You’re not, it’s good to see you” I respond, Erin, her boyfriend John, Jerry, his girlfriend Kirsty and Hope are probably wondering where I am but I am not going to be rude. “They can wait another few minutes, Erin is probably boring everyone anyway so it gives me time.”

“Are you having a party or dinner for your grandma?” Hannah asks.

“A small party, my dad suggested we have a family dinner but grandma insisted on having a party instead” I say, laughing lightly at the memory of my grandma telling my dad she would disown him if he didn’t throw a party. “My grandma’s the boss.”

“Sis, how long does it take to get the drinks?” Jerry asks, appearing from nowhere. “Oh sorry, I didn’t realise you were chatting to someone.”

“Hannah you remember my brother Jerry, and Jerry this is Hannah” I say, introducing the two.

“I haven’t seen you around in a while, how you doing?” Jerry says as he and Hannah enter a short but polite conversation. “I will take the drinks over, good to see you again Hannah.”

“You too” Hannah says politely as Jerry leaves. “I will let you get back, take care Kelley.”

“You too, bye” I say with a wave before heading to the table.

“Now you join us” Erin says.

“Sorry, I was chatting to Hannah” I say, taking a seat next to Hope.

“Ex-girlfriend Hannah?” Erin asks and I nod.

“I met her at the bar so we were just catching up” I say.

“Was that not awkward?” Erin asks as I take a sip of my drink.

“I suppose it was a little, it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be” I reply truthfully. “We are both mature adults, our past is in the past.”

“I’m not sure mature is a word I would use to describe you” Jerry says as Erin sniggers, I roll my eyes at the pair.

“I thought it would be really awkward, I mean you did break her heart” Erin says as I frown at her.

“I know I hurt her but we’ve both left it in the past, I was hurt too you know” I reply as I look at Erin. “We are both older now and trying to move on.”

/

“Why did things really end with Hannah?” Erin asks quietly while everyone else is immersed in a discussion about some TV programme that Hope and Jerry love. “You never tell us the real reason.”

“Yes I do, we wanted different things” I answer sighing, knowing that Erin will not give this up. “We were in different places in the relationship, she wanted a house, marriage, kids and all that comes with that. I just wanted to continue playing football and seeing where the journey took me.”

“I can see you are extremely happy with Hope” Erin says with a smile. “I understand now that it was the right decision but I still feel like there must’ve been more to it at the time, you were so in love with her.”

“I was but it hurt not being able to give her what she wants” I say as I turn to Erin. “It hurt me too that she couldn’t give me what I wanted, sometimes love isn’t enough and you need more.”

“I didn’t realise you felt like that” Erin says as I nod.

“Hannah’s a great person and when things were good, it felt amazing” I say truthfully. “I can’t deny that but we grew apart and I guess I stopped fighting for the relationship. We spent more time apart than we did together.”

“With both your jobs it’s not surprising” Erin says. “I’m sorry for always trying to get you and Hannah back together, I know it wasn’t my business.”

“Its fine” I say with a smile before turning to momentarily look at Hope. “As much as I regret hurting Hannah, I wouldn’t have found the person I am meant to be with if I was still with her.”

“No you wouldn’t” Erin says with a smile, nudging me so I will look at her. “You’re really besotted with Hope aren’t you?”

“Yeah I am” I say with a smile. “She’s the Karen to my Dan or the Dan to my Karen, whichever way around.”

“Oh my god” Erin says as she laughs. “If mom heard you say that she would never let you live that down. You would totally be the favorite child.”

“Come on, you, Jerry and me all wished we could have a relationship like mom and dad have” I say with a smile. “I’ve got that wish now.”

“Do you think it’s easier dating Hope because she understands your commitment to soccer a bit more than your exes?” Erin asks. “She knows what you feel because she is feeling the same.”

“Maybe but I also think Hope and I just seem to click” I say. Obviously I would’ve never met Hope if we weren’t both football players but even away from soccer, we just seem to suit each other really well.

“You only need to take one look at you and Hope, and it’s obvious how much you love one another” Erin says with a smile. “You’re opposites but it works so well.”

“I know” I say, looking over at Hope laughing with my brother.

“I don’t know how you didn’t see it before now” Erin says. “Was it just the wrong time, like I mean how did you guys never figure out your feelings before? You have been on the national team since 2011.”

“She was married, there’s no way I would involve myself in that” I say truthfully. When I joined the national team in 2011, Hope and I weren’t that close. It was the London Olympics in 2012 that made us closer but we were both in relationships then, mine was fizzling out and Hope’s was just beginning. “She was a great person to be around and yes, I did develop a crush on her but I wasn’t going to break up a relationship.”

“I know you wouldn’t” Erin says with a nod. “Maybe its best that you both experienced, shall we say bad relationships, because it helped you know what you weren’t looking for if that makes sense.”

“It does” I say, Hope and I have already had a discussion along those lines.

“You know what mom and grandma told me the other day?” Erin asks.

“What?” I reply back.

“They think Hope’s your soulmate” Erin says as we both laugh.

“You know I actually mentioned the whole soulmate thing to Hope before we were together, she was a bit down over her marriage breakdown” I say, thinking back. “She was thinking that Jerramy was as good as it got for her but I was convinced her soulmate was still out there. I just don’t think I realised that it was me.”

“I was never sure about the whole soulmate theory, apart from mom and dad being soulmates” Erin says. “I used to just say it to tease you but I genuinely believe that that one person out there who’s your person, it is Hope.”

“I know” I say seriously. “It’s quite scary to think sometimes but it’s also quite calming to know and feel that my life is somewhat more settled, in a personal way anyway. My professional life with regards to soccer certainly isn’t settled.”

“Still feeling a bit off?” Erin asks as I nod.

“Yeah, I can’t quite figure out what it is” I say before shrugging. “That’s a conversation for another time though.”

“You know I am always here for you” Erin says with a smile and I give her a quick side hug.

“Thanks sis” I reply.

/

“Did you never learn to do body shots in high school?” I ask Hope.

“No” Hope says. “I didn’t realise that was something they taught you in high school.”

“I didn’t mean actually in high school” I say as I roll my eyes. “I meant when you were high school age, did you never go to any parties that got a bit wild.”

“I didn’t really go to parties that much in high school” Hope says. “I was never a party person when I was that age.”

“I didn’t start going to parties until college” Jerry says as Hope nods.

“Me too” Hope says.

“You guys are lame, you missed out on a whole lot of high school fun” I say.

“Kel, when I was in high school I was getting called up to the senior national team” Hope says. “I would rather go to a camp than some high school party.”

“Oh yeah, you’ve been on the national team since you were three” I say cheekily as Hope rolls her eyes at me. “What?”

“What was your point with the whole body shot question anyway?” Hope asks and then I remember why I brought it up.

“Oh yeah, there was this group of chicks in the bathroom doing body shots right there on the counter. They must be around college age, certainly didn’t look old enough to be in here” I start. “It just got me thinking about when people first started doing that stuff.”

“I wouldn’t do it now” Erin says as Kirsty agrees. “That’s the sort of antics that happens in college or when you are single.”

“Was I the only one who did that in high school?” I ask as all the group more or less nods.

“You were the wild child” Erin says as Jerry nods. “Mom and dad would get a bit stricter on you sometimes because they knew how out of control you could get, hence the reason you had stricter curfews.”

“I thought I had stricter curfews because I had soccer and they didn’t want me out late the night before a game” I say as Erin and Jerry laugh.

“That’s what they told you but it had nothing to do with soccer, it was just a good excuse they could use to try and keep you out of trouble” Erin says as I look to Jerry who nods in agreement.

“I guess I will be having a word with Karen tomorrow” I say.

“What, to request they extend the curfew after Grandma’s party tomorrow?” Jerry asks as the group cackle in laughter.

“Very mature” I say as I fold my arms, Hope’s arm finding its way around my waist.

“I’m going to dance, anyone coming?” Erin asks as Jerry, John and Kirsty follow her up to the dance floor leaving Hope and I alone.

“Stop pouting” Hope says, gently shaking me. “You know if the shoe was on the other foot you would be right there in the middle of the laughter if it was someone else being teased.”

“I am not pouting” I say with a pout on my face.

“Really?” Hope asks. “I just think you’re annoyed because you like to be the joker of the pack and now the joke is on you.”

“You think you know me so well” I say as Hope chuckles.

“Am I wrong?” Hope asks but I don’t answer because she is right and she does know me so well. “Don’t ignore me baby.”

“I’m not” I answer, leaning towards Hope and kissing her gently on the lips.

“Do you want to know something?” Hope asks and I hum as I lean in for another kiss. “One of the reason I love you is for your humour.”

“Really?” I ask as Hope nods.

“What I mean is, sometimes I can get too serious and internally I am getting myself wound up but then you do something funny or silly and it makes me laugh” Hope says with a smile. “You help to distract me from my thoughts and my overthinking to pull me back down to earth. Not only do I find it attractive if someone can make me laugh but you help me to take a step back and realise that I don’t need to be so serious about everything.”

/

“Is that her?” Hope asks, gesturing her head to the side.

“Babe, that’s a man” I say with a frown as Hope rolls her eyes at me.

“No, not him” Hope responds. “The girl two people down from him. Is that Hannah?”

“Yeah, that’s her” I answer, turning Hope’s chin around to face me. “Don’t look at her, she will know we are talking about her if you do.”

“She looks different to the photo I’ve seen of her” Hope says as I laugh.

“When have you seen a photo of her?” I ask, knowing I certainly don’t have any photos of Hannah left. After our breakup I got rid of anything that reminded me of Hannah, including deleting things from my social media.

“You showed me a picture when we were in London” Hope says as I chuckle softly again.

“That was five years ago, she will have changed” I say, wrapping my arm around Hope.

“Erin may have also showed me her Instagram earlier” Hope says with a shrug.

“Are you annoyed that I was talking to her earlier?” I ask as Hope shakes her head.

“Of course not” Hope replies, putting her arm around me. “You can talk to who you want babe, even if it is an ex.”

“Ok” I say with a nod, turning to face Hope fully and clasp my hands behind Hope’s neck. “All my feelings for her are in the past. You are the person I love and want to spend the rest of my life with.”

“As long as Hannah knows you’re not available then I don’t care” Hope says with a shrug.

“I guess she will know” I say, leaning in to kiss Hope but she pulls away.

“You guess?” Hope asks. “Did you not tell her?”

“Our conversation wasn’t that deep, it was more of a ‘how are you, how’s the family’ type of conversation” I explain, pecking Hope on the lips. “It’s not her business whether I am dating someone or not, she and I are completely over one another.”

“I just don’t want her getting any ideas” Hope says. “From what Erin’s told me, you meant a lot to Hannah.”

“In the past I did but I can assure you that we are both over that now” I say, placing my hands on Hope’s hips and kissing her. “You’re the person I want to spend my life with, no one else can come close to what I feel for you.”

“I didn’t realise you were so sappy” Hope says with a laugh.

“I’m being serious, you don’t need to worry about any of my exes” I say, kissing Hope again. “It is in the past.”

“Good” Hope says as I smile.

/

Just as Erin and I were leaving the restroom we bumped into Hannah and a few of her friends.

“What did you do that for?” I ask as Erin holds her hands up in an apology after Hannah left.

“I am so sorry sis, I panicked” Erin replies as I shake my head.

“Panicked about what?” I ask, rolling my eyes this time. “She’s my ex-girlfriend not yours.”

“I know but I just got nervous and blurted it out” Erin says as we both walk back to the others. “I do and say silly stuff when I am nervous.”

“What’s happened?” John asks.

“We bumped into Hannah” I reply. “Which was fine, I didn’t find it that awkward but Erin over here did. She found it so awkward she invited Hannah to the party.”

“Why?” Jerry asks.

“I panicked and thought it would be rude not to” Erin says, clearly regretting it. “She told us to have a good party and I panicked and ended up telling her to stop by.”

“She probably won’t come” Kirsty says. “Hopefully she just thought you were being polite.”

“Let’s hope so” I say.

“I am so sorry” Erin says.

“It’s ok, I just don’t want her to think if she doesn’t come then she is being rude since you invited her but I also don’t want her to come and feel uncomfortable” I reply.

“I’ve made a small awkward situation a big awkward situation” Erin says with a nod.

“Maybe I should invite Clark” I say.

“Why would you invite my ex-boyfriend?” Erin asks as I just look at her.

“I don’t know Erin, maybe I got nervous talking to him and had to ask” I say, Erin finally realising I was being sarcastic.

“Ok, I’m sorry” Erin says.

“I am going outside to get us a cab, I will see you all out there” I say as Kirsty walks out with me and we look for a cab that will fit all six of us.

“Kelley?” I hear Hannah shout my name as I am waiting outside for everyone else. “I am glad I caught you.”

“Hi again” I laugh nervously. Running into your ex three times in one night is a little weird.

“I am grateful for Erin’s invite to the party but I think I am going to have to decline” Hannah says as I internally sigh in relief. “You and I are cool and I don’t want to be rude but I don’t really know your grandma that well, I only knew her through you or my grandparents.”

“No that’s fine Hannah, don’t worry about it” I say with a soft smile. “It was really good to see you again and I am glad everything is good with you.”

“You too” Hannah replies.

“As much as I am trying not to feel awkward this does feel strange.”

“It does” Hannah says with a laugh. “We’ve never been friends, we were in a relationship but it never started as friends so there’s no point in us both pretending that it would be normal to be friends now. I hope you understand what I mean by that and it didn’t seem rude.”

“I understand” I say with a nod. “We can be friendly with one another because our history is in the past but we’ve never had a connection as friends. We need to leave it in the past.”

“We do” Hannah agrees. “Tell Erin I said thank you though.”

“I will do” I reply with a soft smile as Hannah walks off.

“You can breathe a sigh of relief now” Kirsty says as we both laugh.

/

“Slight problem Kel” Hope says as she walks out of the en-suite bathroom in her underwear.

“What?” I ask from my place on the bed, as I lay snuggled under the covers with my phone.

“I’ve forgotten my sleepwear” Hope says with a laugh. “I could’ve sworn I packed a pair of pyjama shorts and top but I cannot find them.”

“I may have something you can borrow” I say as I move to get out of bed.

“You don’t need to get out of bed babe, tell me what and where it is and I will grab it” Hope says. “Although I think I am a size too big to fit into your clothes.”

“It’s technically not mine” I say as Hope looks on in confusion. “I mean it’s mine now but it wasn’t originally mine.”

“What?” Hope asks.

“I will grab it” I say as I head over to my luggage and pull out an oversized white t-shirt. “You can wear this and a pair of your training shorts.”

“Kel, this looks like one of my lounging around t-shirts” Hope says with a smile. “Did you steal this from me?”

“It smells like you and sometimes I lay it over my pillow to help me sleep” I say bashfully.

“I actually wondered where this went to” Hope says, taking her bra off and throwing the t-shirt over her braless chest. It’s even a little big on Hope.

“I am taking it back once you are finished with it so don’t think you can take it back to Seattle” I say as Hope laughs. “I’m dead serious, I stole it for a reason. You can borrow it for the next couple of nights but then it’s mine again.”

“Don’t worry, I will give it straight back when I’m done” Hope replies, grabbing a pair of shorts and putting them on in place of her panties. “I am ready for bed now.”

“Bring on the cuddles” I say as we both get under the covers and then I scoot closer to Hope as she holds out her arms for me to cuddle into her. “I need to help set up the party tomorrow but you can do whatever you want.”

“I don’t mind helping” Hope says with a smile.

“You don’t have too, you can go out and explore or go to the gym or something” I say.

“I wanna help you babe” Hope says. “I really don’t mind.”

“Ok well we will go over to the hall mid-morning to set up all the decorations and arrange the tables” I say. “Before that my mom will probably have made a family breakfast so that will be around ten, then we will all head over to the hall and set up, and then in the afternoon we will pick up the buffet and cake and take it over.”

“That’s cool” Hope says, placing a small kiss on my head.

“We should get some sleep” I say as Hope nods.

“Goodnight Kel.”

“Night babe” I reply, already knowing I get a better sleep when Hope’s next to me.

/

“Kelley, will you be quiet?” Hope asks, placing her hand over my mouth.

“It’s hard when your head is between my legs” I hiss back after removing Hope’s hand from my face. “You were the one who pounced on me in the shower.”

“Kel, you walked naked from the bed to the shower” Hope says, placing her hand on my ass. “Don’t tell me that wasn’t an invitation. I am pretty sure you were trying to get me to join you in the shower.”

“I…”

“Don’t even try to deny it” Hope says pulling me close and kissing me before she moves us under the running water. “Let’s just shower properly.”

“You’ve got me all worked up now, please finish what you started” I ask as I place my hands on Hope’s shoulders. “I promise to be quieter, not that anyone is going to hear us anyway.”

“They may hear us” Hope says but she moves anyway, placing light kisses all the way from my neck until she is kneeling on the shower floor and kissing my stomach. I tangle my hands in Hope’s wet hair, leaning against the shower wall knowing that in just a few minutes I will be unsteady on my feet.

Hope places a gentle kiss on both my inner thighs before moving her mouth closer to where I want her the most. She starts slow, her tongue teasingly running up and down my opening before she is sucking on my clit. She uses her hands to grip behind my thighs and hold them apart to give herself better access and then she dives right in; her tongue penetrating slowly through my folds as I can’t help but involuntarily try to squeeze my thighs against her head.

It doesn’t take long for me to feel the uncoiling deep in my stomach, I know I am almost there when Hope delivers one long lick that has me convulsing. My body goes weak as the orgasm rattles through me, the only way I am still upright is because Hope is using all her strength to hold me up.

“I thought you were going to be quieter” Hope says with a smirk, her strong arms pulling me in close for a kiss.

“Stop looking so smug” I admonish but I can’t help the smile that forms on my face, every time Hope smiles at me I can’t help but smile back. “Help me wash my hair.”

“Sure baby” Hope smiles, grabbing the shampoo and squeezing it onto her hands before she massages it into my scalp and then she grabs the shower head and rinses it all off for me. “We perhaps should move a little quicker so we make it to breakfast on time.”

“We should” I agree, swapping places with Hope so she can wash her own hair while I lather my body with my sponge and shower gel, both of us taking turns under the streaming water.

“You all done, can I switch this off?” Hope asks as she points to the running water. I nod my head and then Hope presses the off button.

Hope gets out the shower first, wrapping a towel around her body before she holds her hand out to help me step outside the cubicle and then she wraps a towel around me. My body is shivering from moving from the hot shower to the cold air of the bathroom.

We move around each other in the bathroom, both of us taking turns at cleaning our teeth and moisturising before we head into the bedroom to dress.

“Do you think its cold outside?” Hope asks. “I don’t know whether to wear a long sleeve or just a t-shirt.”

“It will be mild so even a t-shirt and a light sweater should be fine” I answer, rummaging through my luggage to find my favorite jeans.

/

“Good morning mom” I say as Hope and I enter the kitchen hand in hand.

“Morning girls” my mom smiles. “You are both just on time, breakfast is almost ready.”

“Can I help with anything?” Hope asks.

“You could actually take the coffee flasks through to the dining room dear” my mom replies before turning to me. “Kelley if you wouldn’t mind grabbing your father and brother from the garden that would be great.”

“Sure” I answer, heading outside where my dad and Jerry are huddled around the lawn mower.

“What are you guys doing?” I ask.

“Dad’s broke it” Jerry says before breaking into a grin. “And I am just about to tell mom.”

“Don’t tell your mom, she’s already told me not to mess about with it” my dad says, Jerry’s threat obviously panicking him. Every time something goes wrong, my dad will decide he can fix it and then take it apart and then the item is even worse off because dad has forgot how to put it back together. It happened with a vacuum cleaner a few years ago, my mom couldn’t get it to work but dad assured her he could fix it. After taking it to pieces he put it back together the wrong way and the technician said it was beyond repair.

“Remember the vacuum cleaner incident” Jerry says.

“That’s exactly what I was thinking” I say. “How about no one tells mom, you both leave the mower alone and I will get Erin to ask John to come and take a look.”

“That sounds good because if John can’t fix it we can just say he broke it” my dad says as I frown.

“No dad, whatever the outcome we all know you broke it” I say.

“Karen is going to kill me” my dad mutters under his breath as Jerry and I both laugh.

“We need to go for breakfast” I say, my dad and Jerry heading straight to the restroom to wash their hands while I go to the dining room. The coffee is calling me.

“Morning sis” Erin says as she and John are sitting with Hope and my mom at the table.

“Morning” I reply, sitting down next to John.

“I poured you some coffee babe” Hope says as she slides the cup across the table to me as I take a sip. As usual Hope has made the perfect cup of coffee with just the right amount of cream.

/

“Kel please stop?” Hope asks as I laugh. “I’m serious babe, stop fooling around and help us. I don’t think I’ve seen you do one helpful thing since we got here.”

“I carried stuff from the car into here” I say as I gesture around the venue we are decorating for the party tonight.

“You carried one box while the rest of us had to make a few trips to the car and back” Erin says. “Instead of kicking the balloons around, can you not help Hope and I hang these banners.”

“I could but annoying you two is much more fun” I reply with a smirk.

“Are we kids again and I need to go and tell mom on you?” Erin asks as I shrug. “MOM!”

I can’t help the laughter that comes when I see Erin marching over to my mom.

“Seriously babe, you are beginning to piss me off now” Hope says while frowning at me. “It was cute in the beginning but now you are getting on my nerves, there is a lot to do and your help really would be appreciated.”

“Ok fine” I say, giving in. “What shall I do?”

“Grab the box over by the door and bring it here” Hope says and I do as I am told, quickly retrieving the box and bringing it over to my girlfriend.

“Here we are” I say as I lay the box on the ground.

“Thank you” Hope smiles. “I want you to get three ‘happy birthday’ banners from the box and lay them on the table over there and then I want you to blow up five silver balloons and five gold balloons and put them with the banners.”

“Got it” I say as I get to work.

“Kelley I hope you are pulling your weight” my mom says from behind me.

“Yes mother” I say as I turn around, giving my mom a wide smile.

“Good” my mom nods.

“I have been so busy since we got here” I say as Erin scoffs.

“All she has done is annoy Hope and me” Erin says, rolling her eyes when I mock her. “She kept throwing balloons at us and shaking the table when we were standing on it to reach higher.”

“Technically, health and safety rules dictate that you should never stand on a shaky surface so I was just checking how shaky the table was” I reply. “The result; very shaky.”

“You are both acting like a pair of bickering kids, not two grown adults” my mom says as she shakes her head. “Kelley do I need to stand over you and make sure you are doing what you should be or can I trust you.”

“You can trust me mommy” I reply with a grin.

“Uh-huh” my mom says suspiciously before walking off.

“I don’t know how you put up with her antics Hope” Erin says as Hope looks at me. “Ten minutes here and I was ready to scream at her.”

“Hope loves me” I say with a smirk.

“I do but Erin has a point, you took it too far earlier” Hope says. “Like I said, it was cute until you went overboard.”

“I am sorry, to both of you” I say sincerely before going back to blowing up a balloon and then it accidentally bursts, Hope and Erin jumping. “That totally wasn’t meant, I tried to make it too big.”

/

“You look so hot babe” I say, not hiding the fact that I can’t take my eyes off of Hope.

“Thanks Kel” Hope replies. “Can you check my dress is zipped up at the back?”

“Sure” I answer, walking over to Hope and pulling the zip upwards. “Yeah, seems fine.”

“Bathroom is all yours honey” Hope says, walking over to the bed and sitting down to put her shoes on.

“Thank you” I reply, grabbing my own dress and taking it into the bathroom with me.

A few minutes later and I am all ready, I had put my makeup on earlier so it was just putting my dress on that was left.

“How do I look?” I ask as I twirl around and end with a pose.

“You look beautiful babe” Hope replies, kissing me on the cheek. “Are you ready to go?”

“Yeah” I reply, linking my arm with Hope’s as we make our way downstairs.

“Looking good girls” Erin says with a smile.

“So are you that dress is gorgeous sis” I reply.

“Thanks Kelley” Erin smiles. “Mom and dad have already left. Jerry is going to take us three and pick Kirsty up on the way and then John will meet us there.”

“Perfect, we are ready to go when you guys are” I say as Erin nods.

“Let’s go then” I say as we all head outside to the car.

“Hope you can take the front since you are bit taller, it can get a little tight for legroom at the back” Erin says as we all get into the car.

“Grandma was a little upset earlier” Jerry says. “It’s another birthday without grandpa.”

“We need to make sure she has fun tonight and take her mind off of it” Erin says as I nod in agreement.

“Hope did you lift our present?” I ask, momentarily freaking out because I didn’t lift it.

“Yeah, it’s in the trunk” Hope replies.

“Thank goodness, I was about to panic there” I say, breathing a sigh of relief.

After another twenty minutes in the car we arrive at the venue.

“Happy Birthday grandma” I say, hugging my grandma tight before giving her the present. “This is for you.”

“Thank you sweetheart” my grandma replies, hugging me again.

“Happy birthday” Hope says before my grandma has her pulled into a tight hug.

“You know we hug in this family” my grandma says, smiling at Hope. “I am glad you could make it dear, Kelley probably would’ve sulked if you weren’t here.”

“No I wouldn’t” I disagree. “Ok so maybe I would’ve been a little upset but that’s only because I barely get to see her or take her to our family events.”

/

“Let’s get some dance tunes on” I say, pulling Erin towards the DJ. When I say DJ, it’s really my cousin who has a small unit set up. He does sets at weddings where his girlfriend is the photographer in his spare time.

“We want to hear some party anthems Derek” Erin says.

“Is that what grandma wants?” Derek asks.

“I don’t know, don’t you have the set list?” Erin asks. “There must be some more party songs on the list, grandma is the biggest party animal here.”

“I will see what I can find” Derek says as he laughs at Erin and I fist bumping each other.

“Your flight back to NJ isn’t tomorrow is it?” Erin asks as we wait for better music to come on.

“No, Monday” I reply as Erin nods.

“Good, so that means we can get as drunk as we want tonight” Erin says as I laugh.

“Within moderation, I don’t want to make an ass of myself” I reply.

“It’s a party sis, we need to let loose” Erin says.

“Yeah, it’s a partaaay!” my dad shouts.

“Calm down dad” I say with a laugh before my dad is grabbing Erin and my hand and twirling us around.

“Have you ladies saved a dance for your father later?” my dad asks. “I’ve got some new moves, I think you will both be very impressed.”

“I guess we will need to see later” I say.

“Hit me up when you’re ready for me” my dad says to us both before giving us the finger guns and then walking off.

“Dad is so weird, I think he is trying to embarrass us” I say as Erin nods.

“Yep” Erin says. “I used to get so embarrassed when he would do or say something silly in front of John in case he thought my family were weird. John’s used to it now though.”

“Thankfully Hope takes it in her stride too” I reply.

“Girls?” my grandma says as she approaches Erin and me.

“Yes grandma?” I ask.

“Where is Hope?” my grandma asks and I shrug.

“I don’t know grandma” I answer as my grandma frowns.

“Well you need to find her” my grandma answers. “I need to introduce her to my friends.”

“Why?” I ask confused.

“So they can meet my future granddaughter-in-law” my grandma says.

“Don’t call her that, you will scare her away” I say quietly but firmly. “What’s the real reason?”

“My friend’s great-granddaughter, who’s five loves soccer” my grandma starts. “See I have friends with great-grandchildren so it’s about time my grandchildren got onto that.”

“Get to the point grandma” I say as I shake my head.

“So the little girl loves soccer, she’s a goalkeeper and her favorite player is Hope” my grandma says. “I was thinking, if Hope wouldn’t mind signing an autograph for the little girl that would really make her day.”

“I am sure Hope would be happy too” I reply with a smile. “I will get her to see if she can send the girl a signed shirt.”

“Excellent” my grandma replies. “Go and find her then.”

“What, now?” I ask.

“Yeah” my grandma replies.

“She won’t have a shirt just now” I respond. “She will probably need to wait until she gets back to Seattle and then ship it here.”

“That’s fine but at least ask her just now” my grandma says as I roll my eyes. Maybe I get my impatience from my grandma.

“I guess I better go and find her then” I say as I walk off, leaving Erin with my grandma.

/

“Dance with me” I say as Hope shakes her head.

“No” Hope says, sipping on her drink.

“Dance with me” I repeat, pulling on Hope’s hand.

“No Kel” Hope declines again.

“Hopey, dance with me please” I say, giving Hope my best puppy dog eyes.

“Ok, fine” Hope gives in as I smirk at her. “Just one more song, my feet are so sore from all the dancing earlier.”

“One song, that’s it” I say, pulling Hope to the middle of the room.

“As soon as a fast song comes on I am sitting right back down” Hope says as we sway to the music. “These heels are really hurting me.”

“They look super cute but I can’t say I am liking the height difference between us” I say. “I don’t mind that you are taller than me but those heels make me look about four feet, I had to jump to kiss you earlier.”

“I couldn’t resist buying them in the store, I just didn’t realise how uncomfortable they would be” Hope says as a quick song comes on. “That’s my cue to go.”

“No babe that was only half a song” I complain, pulling Hope closer to me. “I wanna dance, I don’t like dancing alone.”

“There are plenty of people here, you won’t need to dance alone” Hope says walking towards the table we were sitting at.

“I want to dance with my girlfriend though” I say with a pout. “Usually when I go to family stuff I am dateless but you are here this time so I want to enjoy it to the full.”

“Ok fine but I am taking these shoes off” Hope says, reaching down to unclip the buckle on her shoes.

“You’re the best” I reply as Hope mutters something that I can’t understand. “I love you.”

“Let’s get up there” Hope says as she pulls me towards the dancefloor. Even with Hope taking her shoes off I am still smaller than her in my heels.

/

“Smile for the camera” I say, pulling Hope in for a selfie.

“Babe, you could’ve waited until I finished eating this piece of cake” Hope says, quickly wiping her lips before grabbing my phone from me. “See look…”

“What?” I ask as Hope holds my phone in front of me to show me the selfie I took.

“I have chocolate cake all over my face” Hope says before deleting the photo. “Let’s take a proper photo this time.”

“Ok” I reply, allowing Hope to take the picture as I wrap my arms around her.

“That’s better” Hope smiles as she looks at the image. “We actually look pretty good in that.”

“You say that like you’re surprised” I say with a wink. “It’s you and me, we look hot in every picture.”

“Every picture?” Hope asks.

“Yeah babe, I am hot without even trying” I smirk.

“You are so right” Hope says. “Honestly, that picture of you versus Germany where you burst your nose and had blood pouring out was the hottest I have ever seen you.”

“Your sarcasm loses its effect when your sentence is inaccurate” I say with a smirk of my own. “I didn’t burst my nose against Germany, it was China.”

“You know the picture I mean” Hope says before kissing my cheek. “Let’s get another drink.”

“I am going to the restroom, grab me a beer and I will meet you at the table” I say as Hope nods and then I walk off.

“Enjoying the party” Jerry asks and I nod.

“You?” I ask.

“It’s good, Kirsty and I got cornered by grandma asking when we are getting married” Jerry says as I chuckle. “That made it a little awkward.”

“Erin and I subtly got the ‘when do I get great-grandchildren’ question” I say, Jerry chuckling this time. “To be fair, you are engaged to Kirsty so I am not surprised you are getting the question of when for the wedding.”

“I know but we are enjoying just being engaged, we don’t properly live together yet” Jerry says with a smile. “We know we want to spend the rest of our lives together so why rush the wedding.”

“That’s sweet, you two are cute together” I reply, a smile of my own on my face. I love seeing my baby brother happy.

/

“I need some coffee or water, I need to sober up a little” Hope says and I nod in agreement. Both of us don’t like drinking too much during the season.

“Me too, let’s get some coffee before we head back to my parents’ house” I say as Hope and I walk towards the small kitchen.

“Hey girls” my mom greets. “I am just tidying some of this buffet away, it has been a good night.”

“yeah, grandma seemed to enjoy herself” I say with a smile, picturing my grandma earlier on when some of my younger second cousins were trying to show her some new dance craze. “Dad was certainly showing off his dad dancing.”

“You know your father sweetheart” my mom says with a smile. “Jerry will give you both a ride home whenever you are ready, he’s already dropped Erin and John off.”

“That’s fine” I say with a nod. “Can I help you tidy anything up mom?”

“No it’s ok, I have booked the hall until tomorrow lunchtime so I will just come back tomorrow to clean everything up” my mom replies. “You girls leave whenever you want, there isn’t many people left anyway.”

“Ok” I nod, pouring coffee for both Hope and I. “We are going to drink this coffee first and then we will be on our way.”

“That’s ok, take your time” my mom says with a smile before Hope and I head outside to get some air as we drink our coffees.

“Thank you for coming with me tonight” I say as Hope smiles at me.

“You don’t need to thank me, I had a lot of fun” Hope replies, placing one arm around me to shield us from the cold breeze. “Your family are cool, it’s so good when you can go to a family gathering and there are no physical fights.”

“People actually fight at your family events?” I ask as Hope nods.

“Oh yeah, I have the scars and all to prove it” Hope says, pointing to a tiny scar above her eyebrow. “This is a scar from a plate that was launched across the room at one of my cousin’s thirtieth birthday parties.”

“Why did she throw a plate at you?” I ask, lightly running my finger over the scar. I had seen it before but just presumed it was a soccer injury.

“It wasn’t intended for me” Hope says. “My cousin, the birthday girl, found out her husband had been sleeping with my other cousin. She tried to throw the plate but because of how drunk she was she wound up throwing it behind her and the corner skimmed my forehead, thankfully the full plate didn’t hit me.”

“Don’t take this the wrong way but your family are kinda crazy” I say as Hope chuckles.

“I agree babe, which is why I try to keep my distance now” Hope says, sipping the last of her coffee. “I try to stay away from as much drama as possible.”

/

“That was a fun night” Hope says with a smile, throwing herself backwards onto the bed. “Your family are so fun to be around.”

“I love it when we are all together” I say, throwing myself next to Hope. “I am lot happier that you were involved this time.”

“Me too” Hope smiles. “I am exhausted though, I can’t even be bothered changing out of my dress.”

“Me neither, I think I ate too much of the buffet too” I say, taking a deep breath before turning to look at Hope. “We will be more comfortable if we change, come on.”

“I can’t be bothered” Hope mumbles, turning over to lie on her side and look at me. “I just wanna cuddle and go to sleep.”

“You will regret it in the morning if you don’t remove that make up now” I say as Hope sighs deeply.

“I guess you are right” Hope says as I try to pull her off the bed.

“Come on, you can have the bathroom first” I say, ushering Hope into the bathroom once I get her off the bed. “The quicker you do it then the quicker we can cuddle, ok?”

“Yes babe” Hope smiles before shutting the bathroom door.

I quickly change out of my dress before carefully folding it into my luggage and then I grab some clothes to sleep in.

“I forgot to take clothes in with me” Hope says as she walks out of the bathroom in her underwear and over to the shorts and t-shirt she wore last night. “I am done in the bathroom.”

“Ok” I nod, quickly making my way into the bathroom to take my makeup off and use the toilet.

When I come out, Hope is already snuggled in bed with the covers pulled high up to her chest.

“Why are you on my side of the bed?” I ask, lifting the covers and waiting for Hope to move over.

“So we can cuddle” Hope says, moving over so there is just enough room for me to squeeze in. “We usually wind up on your side anyway.”

“It sucks that your flight leaves so early on Monday” I say as Hope wraps me in her arms. “I wish we could’ve had more time together.”

“It’s not that early, it doesn’t leave until eight” Hope replies. “We have all day tomorrow to spend together and we will have time on Monday before my plane leaves.”

“We won’t have much time on Monday” I reply.

“Isn’t your flight before mine?” Hope asks.

“Mine is seven at night” I reply.

“Which is an hour before mine” Hope says as I lift my head from her chest to look at her.

“Wait, yours isn’t eight in the morning?” I ask as Hope shakes her head.

“No, it’s at night” Hope says. “Good luck trying to get me awake for eight in the morning when I am not training.”

“That’s good then, we will have more time together” I say, feeling happier knowing I have more time to spend with Hope.

/

After breakfast, we all went back to the hall to tidy up from last night before my mom and dad treated us all to a family lunch at a local restaurant.

“Your lawn mower doesn’t sound right” Hope says to my dad later that day. “Let me take a look.”

“Ok, sure” my dad says.

“I didn’t know you knew about lawn mowers babe” I say surprised.

“Yeah, my dad was into a lot of mechanical stuff” Hope answers. “Can you pass me the toolkit?”

“Here you go” my dad says, handing Hope the box.

“My dad had a workshop in his garage and he would fix all sorts of machinery” Hope says. “When we were reconnecting, he would often take me there and I would learn some tips from him.”

“That’s so cool, I didn’t know that” I say as Hope nods.

“When he was in prison he took a mechanics course” Hope says. “After he got out and got himself back on track he took what he learned seriously and made a business out of being like a handy man type of thing.”

“It was good he could teach you some stuff” I say with a smile.

“I just wish I had given him more time to get to know me” Hope says sadly before smiling at me. “Can’t dwell on the past, I know he loved me and I loved him. That’s all that matters.”

“Yeah” I smile, squeezing Hope’s shoulder.

“Lawn mower fixed” Hope says as she stands up off the ground. “Give it a try Dan.”

“Yeah, that’s it now” my dad says happily. “Thank you very much.”

“Your welcome” Hope smiles. “Whoever put it together for you had put some parts upside down and the blade needed cleaned.”

“I think it was a friend of mine” my dad says as I try not to laugh. He knows fine well that when he tried to take it apart to fix the blade issue the other day he has put it back together wrong. “I better get this lawn cut, thanks again Hope.”

“It’s not usually this mild outside in April, we should make the most of it” I say. “What shall we do today babe?”

“I don’t mind” Hope smiles. “I am happy to relax here if you want, we don’t need to go out anywhere.”

“How do you fancy a family game day?” Erin asks me. “An outside one I mean, I don’t mean board games.”

“That sounds fun” Hope says.

“Yeah?” I ask, I wasn’t sure Hope would be into that sorta thing.

“Of course” Hope nods.

“Ok, how about baseball to get us started?” Erin suggests and I nod.

“Maybe make it softball because I’ve lost the ball for baseball” I say as Erin laughs.

“Softball it is” Erin nods before shouting for the others. “Family game of softball, Kel and I are captains.”

“Mom, dad… are you both in?” I ask as my dad answers yes for both of them.

“Let’s do this” I say before we get into teams of four. In my team we have Jerry, Mom and John and Erin’s team has dad, Hope and Kirsty.

“You are so competitive Kelley” Erin says.

“Obviously” I answer before taking the ball from my dad. “You guys are going down, let’s do this team.”

/

“How’s my little loser?” Hope asks, tickling me on the side just to annoy me. “You do realise you don’t slide tackle in softball right?”

“I slipped when trying to get to second base” I say, I hate losing. I especially hate losing to my dad because he always rubs it in. I am just waiting for him to make comment.

“Its ok babe, you don’t need to make excuses” Hope says as she kisses my cheek. “You need to admit defeat.”

“I don’t need to do anything, thank you very much” I say with a huff, folding my arms and turning my head so Hope’s kiss hits my cheek again and not my lips.

“Baby, look at me” Hope says but I don’t respond, not until Hope starts tickling me again and I can’t help but giggle.

“Can we let it go now?” I ask as Hope smirks.

“Fine but at least admit that if it was me that lost you would tease me much worse” Hope says and I suppose I have to agree.

“Let’s play something else now, how about soccer?” I ask as Erin and Jerry shake their heads.

“We are not playing soccer” Erin says defiantly. “That is so not fair, Hope is a professional soccer player and I guess you are ok at playing it Kelley.”

“I am a professional too” I say as I slap Erin on the shoulder.

“Some of your tackles are a little unprofessional if you ask me” Erin replies, a smirk on her face.

“I will go easy on you, I won’t take it too seriously” I say, trying to persuade everyone.

“Ok fine” Erin says. “Remember it is just fun though.”

“I know” I say with a nod.

“Kel, you are in the net” Hope says and I just look at her.

“Babe, you’re the goalkeeper” I say.

“Yes, which is why it would be unfair of me to go in the goal” Hope replies. “You can take a shot.”

“I am not going in goal” I say as I shake my head. “That’s your job Hope.”

“I know it’s my job which makes it more fun if we can change things up” Hope says, kissing me gently before whispering in my ear. “I will make it worth your while later.”

“Fine” I give in.

“Thank you” Hope smiles before kissing me one last time.

“I swear to god, if one of you blast that straight at my face then you won’t live to see another day” I threaten as Hope helps me put on her gloves. Even though Hope didn’t expect to play soccer during the trip, she always has a pair of gloves with her.

“Use your hands to cover your face then” Erin says but I can tell by the twinkle in her eye she is going to do everything she can to make sure she scores on me, whether it is legal or not.

/

“BABE!” I shout at Hope. “What the fuck was that?”

“Kelley, language please” my mom scolds as I shake my head and look back at Hope.

“Hope, what happened to taking it easy on me?” I ask, shaking my hand to hopefully shake the pain from my wrist before I pull the ball out of the net. Hope just hit a powerful curveball right at me, she scored because my hand wasn’t strong enough to deflect it anywhere other than the back of the net.

“That was easy, I hit it right towards you” Hope says. “You should’ve saved it Kel.”

“Get in goal” I say as I pull the gloves off and hand them to Hope. “You’ve had your fun, now it’s your turn.”

“Fine” Hope says with a laugh as she puts the gloves on.

The game starts off ok until it becomes clear that Hope is not even trying to save everyone else’s shots on goal but she is going out of her way to stop me scoring.

“This is meant to be a fun family game Hope” I say as Hope smiles.

“I know that Kel, which is why I am not taking it seriously and allowing everyone the opportunity to score” Hope says with a smirk.

“You’re not going easy on me” I reply as Hope nods.

“I have no reason to” Hope says as I shake my head, internally making it my mission to ensure I get at least one shot past my girlfriend.

I manage to get a few shots on target but only one gets passed Hope, which I plan to tease her about for the rest of the day.

“With your style of play sis, you would definitely fit in with the Canadian national team or even the thorns” I say to Erin, making Hope chuckle. “Rough play over tactical play.”

“I don’t care what you say, I scored on you earlier and that’s all that matters” Erin says with a smile and a shrug.

“As much fun as it was to score those goals today, I do prefer the thrill of being in the net and saving shots” Hope says and I nod.

“I prefer you in the net rather than me” I reply. “I don’t want Jill getting any crazy ideas.”

“She’s already got enough of those” Hope says with a laugh.

/

“I am going up to bed” Hope says as she stands up. We were sitting outside taking in the cool night air after having a late dinner. My mom, as per usual, made a kickass meal but it was so filling none of us could move.

“Ok babe, I will be up soon” I reply as Hope leans down to kiss me before she says goodnight to my parents and then she departs.

“You’ve got a good one there” my mom says with a smile, sipping on her glass of wine.

“I know” I answer with a smile of my own.

“How are you coping now the season has started and you don’t see each other as much?” my mom asks and I take a deep breath.

“It’s ok so far” I answer truthfully. I don’t like us being apart but we have managed so far and we will get time together during national team camps. “I think she’s coping better than me.”

“What make you say that?” my mom asks, a kind smile on her face.

“Because I am always the mess when we need to say goodbye” I say with a laugh but it is true. Every time we say goodbye, I feel like crying.

“Everyone copes differently” my mom responds, placing her hand over mine. “This is a different situation for you, you’ve never dated a fellow player before.”

“I know” I say with a nod. It’s a good thing because we both understand each other’s jobs but it’s also not so good because it means both of us have jobs that limit the time we spend together and not just one of us travelling around the country. “We will adjust eventually, I just want to be with her all the time. I’ve never felt like that with someone before.”

“Maybe that’s because you’ve finally found the one” my mom says.

“My soulmate?” I say with a laugh.

“Exactly” my mom says with a smile as my dad just shakes his head amused. “Now you can make your grandma happy and marry her.”

“Don’t even joke about that mom, we are nowhere near a commitment like that” I admit honestly, I am happy with the way things are between Hope and me in our relationship.

“I know sweetheart” my mom smiles. “Everyone is different.”

Chapter Text

“Its game day, I’ve been waiting four weeks for this” I say excitedly as Sam frowns at me.

“What?” Sam asks. She hasn’t been listening to me at all today.

“I’m excited for the game today” I repeat.

“Are you actually excited for the game or to see your girlfriend after it?” Sam asks

“I am excited for us to win and then I will be excited to see Hope” I answer, sitting down to put my shoes on. “Are you almost ready to go?”

“Go where?” Sam asks and I sigh.

“To training” I answer. “Have you listened to anything I have said today?”

“My mind is elsewhere” Sam replies.

“Is everything ok?” I ask. “If you want to talk about something then I will listen, all jokes aside. If something is bothering you then maybe talking about it may help.”

“I am fine, it’s just some personal stuff” Sam answers. “Let’s go to training, we have a game to win tonight.”

“Yes we do” I agree, picking my keys up and heading out the door behind Sam.

“Are we walking or taking the car?” Sam asks.

“Taking the car, I need to get some groceries on the way home” I answer.

“Talking about going home, I won’t be back to the apartment after the game tonight” Sam says. “You and Hope can have the place to yourselves.”

“Ok” I say with a smile before I unlock the car and we get inside. “When do you leave for Australian national team camp?”

“Friday” Sam answers and I nod.

“Are you sure you’re ok, you’re really quiet?” I observe, turning to look at Sam.

“I’m ok, just not feeling well” Sam answers, smiling weakly at me. I decide to let it go, Sam will tell me more if she wants to.

I am excited and nervous for the game tonight; I desperately want us to win but Seattle have been in good form over the last few games so it is going to be a really tough match. It’s also my first match against Hope this season, playing against her feels a bit weird but it’s something we need to adjust to.

/

The game’s finished now, I didn’t even get a chance to talk to Hope on the field. The most contact we got was shaking hands before Hope got pulled away.

I wait outside after showering and saying bye to my team when I spot Hope in the distance. As soon as I see Hope, I want to run over and kiss her. I know I probably shouldn’t, not only because we are in public but because she will probably be annoyed about the game. I want to give her time to let the game feelings subside. Her team has just lost, the last thing she would want is me trying to pretend it didn’t happen when deep down I am happy that it did.

“O’Hara, what are you doing?” Pinoe asks as she comes over and stands next to me.

“Nothing” I say as I look at my friend.

“Cool, so you are free to comfort Hope then” Pinoe says. “She’s pretty annoyed about the goal.”

“Yes, the goal that my team scored to beat her” I say, it should be obvious to Pinoe why I don’t want to rush over to Hope. “She’s not going to want to see someone from the team that she lost too.”

“Probably not” Pinoe replies before elbowing me lightly. “I know she would love to see her girlfriend though, take the metaphorical Sky Blue hat off and put your girlfriend hat on.”

“I wanted to give her space” I say as Pinoe looks at me.

“We both know giving her space is just giving her more time to overthink and work herself up in her head” Pinoe says. “You can be happy about your team winning tomorrow, for tonight just be her girlfriend and take her mind off the game.”

“I’ve never been in this situation before” I say.

“What winning?” Pinoe asks. “You’re not going to be there often, Sky Blue will hardly win again this season.”

“I am being serious, I don’t want to my presence to annoy Hope” I say. “Reminding her that I just bet her.”

“She fucking adores you, you won’t annoy her” Pinoe says. “Go and give her a hug please, I will meet you two tomorrow to head to national team camp.”

“I will pick you up in the morning” I say.

“Thanks, see you tomorrow” Pinoe replies before disappearing with some of her teammates.

I slowly make my way over to Hope, I can tell by the look on her face that she is lost in her thoughts.

“Hey” I say quietly so I don’t startle my girlfriend.

“Hey baby, I wondered when you would be out” Hope says with a smile, a genuine one. The frown on her face a moment ago is completely gone.

“I’ve been out for a while” I reply.

“Do I get a kiss?” Hope asks and I laugh bashfully before kissing her tentatively. “Have I done something wrong, you seem weird?”

“If I am being honest, I don’t know how to act or what to do” I say as Hope looks at me. “Are you annoyed with me?”

“About what?” Hope asks with a laugh.

“The game?” I reply. “Is being around me making you angry?”

“No, why would I be angry?” Hope questions, all we seem to be doing is questioning one another.

“I just beat you” I reply as Hope smiles.

“No you didn’t” Hope says with a smile, kissing me on the cheek. “Your my girlfriend just now, on the field is different.”

“What do you mean?” I ask.

“You’re just another player on the opposing team when we are battling one another” Hope says, grabbing my hand and interlocking our fingers. “In my mind, I separate it. Anytime Seattle plays Sky Blue, I just pretend that you’re not there. You’re just another player, so although I got beat by the team you are with, I don’t associate my girlfriend with them if that makes sense.”

“Maybe it does, I don’t know” I say, looking up at Hope. “I will be honest, I’ve never been in a relationship with another player, never mind someone I have to play against so I didn’t want you to feel like me being around is making it harder to let go of the loss.”

“That’s why I separate it” Hope says. “The person on the other side of the pitch was Sky Blue’s number five, the person in front of me is MY girlfriend. If I consider it two different people then it doesn’t make it awkward at all, I don’t mean that to sound like I don’t care about you when we are out there but…”

“I get it, maybe I need to start thinking that way too” I say with a nod.

“Can we go back to your apartment now, I really wanna kiss you properly but I am not doing it with so many people around” Hope says as I laugh. We didn’t even get to see one another before the game.

“Yeah, let’s go babe” I say as I pull Hope towards the parking lot.

/

“Are you sure Sam won’t be home?” Hope asks, pulling away from my lips as I straddle her on the living room couch.

“She said she was staying out all night” I reply, moving back in for another kiss.

Hope mumbles in response against my lips before I feel her hands moving under my shirt to caress my back.

“She’s not back until tomorrow” I say, finding Hope’s lips on my neck.

“Good” Hope says, pecking me on the lips. “What I have planned for tonight doesn’t need an audience.”

“Oh really?” I ask as I raise my eyebrows as Hope smirks at me.

“I’m taking you to bed” Hope groans, quickly manoeuvring us and carrying me through to the bedroom.

“Gentle” I say when Hope throws me onto the bed, not because I don’t like it rough but because the bed nearly broke the last time we had sex on it.

“I’m in charge baby” Hope responds, crawling onto the bed and immediately seeking my lips.

“I know” I mumble against my girlfriend’s lips, getting lost in the moment and letting Hope take control.

“I need you in a lot less clothing” Hope mumbles, kissing me on the lips before she pulls away and helps me remove my shirt.

I quickly remove my sweatpants before unhooking my bra, not missing Hope subconsciously licking her lips as I do so.

“Come here” Hope says, pulling me in for a heated kiss. “You are so sexy.”

/

“I think you need something to eat” Hope says, her breath hitting my chest as she chuckles. “There are only so many times I can hear your stomach rumble before I know we need to do something.”

“I don’t want to move from this bed though” I reply, running my hand up Hope’s naked back. “I don’t want you to move from my arms either.”

“Let’s just order a pizza” Hope says, looking up at me before leaning in to place a kiss on my lips. “I promise I will only be gone for two minutes to order it and go to the toilet and then I will be back in your arms.”

“Be quick” I say as Hope moves off the bed and I just watch her walk naked out of the room.

She’s back five minutes later, this time with a shirt and panties on which makes me pout.

“I didn’t want you to get dressed” I say with a pout that Hope kisses away.

“And I don’t want to answer the door naked to the pizza delivery” Hope says, taking up her position in bed and cuddling into me. “Once the pizza is here I promise I will get naked for you again.”

“You better” I warn. “So, did they say how long the pizza would take?”

“No, I just said we want it is as soon as possible” Hope replies, laying her head on my chest.

“That’s cool” I answer as I tangle my fingers in Hope’s hair. “I missed this so much.”

“What… my hair?” Hope asks as I slap her arm with my other hand.

“No, us” I reply, taking a deep breath. “Spending time with you and holding you, just being with you.”

“I missed it too” Hope says, tilting her head up so I can kiss her. “At least we get to spend the next week together at camp.”

“Yeah, together but not together” I reply. We get to be physically in the same place but we won’t get much time to spend alone.

“Stop being so pessimistic and enjoy what we have babe” Hope says, chuckling lightly. “I know it’s hard but it’s the nature of our job, we should count ourselves lucky.”

“I know” I say with a nod.

“Did you eat at all today?” Hope asks with a chuckle after my stomach rumbled for the countless time tonight.

“I ate you out half an hour ago, does that count” I ask with a smirk as Hope shakes her head. “To answer your question, I had my usual pregame meal.”

“Hopefully the pizza is here soon, I am really hungry as well” Hope says, moving out of my arms and off the bed.

“Babe, where are you going now?” I ask, annoyed that Hope keeps interrupting our cuddles.

“I am going to the kitchen to get some plates for the pizza and to get us a drink” Hope answers as I huff before reaching over and throwing my shirt and sweatpants back on.

“You better give me cuddles later” I warn as Hope laughs.

“I will, don’t worry” Hope answers, disappearing out of the room.

/

“Babe, you need to get up” I say when I walk back into the room and find Hope still in bed the next morning. “I’ve given you an extra twenty minutes but we are tight for time now.”

“I just want to sleep” Hope mumbles into the pillow.

“Hope, come on” I say, trying not to get too annoyed. “We are meeting Pinoe in less than an hour and you haven’t showered or eaten breakfast.”

“Will you shower with me?” Hope asks, tentatively opening one eye to avoid the sunlight shining through the window.

“And makes us even more late?” I say, pulling the covers off of Hope. “I’ve already showered anyway, please just get up.”

“Fine” Hope groans as she slowly moves off the bed and sits up, giving herself a few seconds to rub her eyes before she stands up. “I guess I am going for a shower alone then.”

“You guessed correctly” I reply as I start to make the bed now that Hope has vacated it.

“Wow, you are really grumpy this morning” Hope says as I stop and look at her.

“I just don’t want us to be late” I say, grabbing a pillow and fluffing it. “If we are late to leave here then we will be late picking Pinoe up which means we will then be late getting to the airport, checking in, going through security and then getting to our departure area.”

“I will text Pinoe and tell her to wait outside the hotel for us so she is ready to go and then I will use online checking in so we don’t need to wait in a queue when we get there” Hope says, walking over and kissing my cheek. “I also have a secret.”

“What?”

“Our plane doesn’t leave until an hour after the time I told you” Hope says, winking at me. “I didn’t want us to be late so I told you and Pinoe an earlier time so that we would get there in plenty of time.”

“I actually could kill you right now” I say, sitting on the bed and sighing in relief.

“I will shower and then make us some breakfast” Hope says as I nod, I can take a breath of relief now that I know we won’t be late.

I triple check that I have packed everything and tidy up the apartment while I wait for Hope getting out of the shower.

“Hey babe, have you seen… Kel, why are you staring at me like that?” Hope asks from outside the bathroom.

“Have you looked in the mirror?” I ask.

“No, why?” Hope asks. “I just went straight for a shower, there’s too much steam to see in the mirror.”

“You have a hickey on your neck… a big one” I say as Hope shrugs.

“Yeah, I saw that earlier” Hope answers, walking through to the bedroom. “I will just need to wear a scarf or something to cover it up.”

“It looks pretty nasty, did I hurt you last night?” I ask as Hope laughs softly.

“Of course you didn’t hurt me” Hope smiles. “I have one of my hip as well but that will be covered anyway.”

“It looks more like a bite than a love mark” I say, moving closer to inspect the mark.

“Don’t worry about it babe, I don’t care” Hope says with a shrug. “Have you seen my black bra, I can’t seem to find it?”

“Maybe you’ve packed it away” I say as Hope nods.

“Probably, I better find it because I am not going out in public without one” Hope says as I chuckle.

“What do you want for breakfast, I don’t have a lot of food” I ask, I went grocery shopping yesterday but didn’t buy much since I would be leaving for camp.

“Something simple will be fine, I can have cereal or toast” Hope answers and I nod.

“I will put some coffee on and then we can make something to eat” I say, making my way to the kitchen.

/

“Can you chill out, I am trying to relax here?” Pinoe asks Hope who has been bouncing her knee for the last ten minutes. There was an issue with another plane so we have been sitting on the runway for a while, waiting until it is safe for our plane to take off.

“How can I chill out when I don’t know what is going on?” Hope asks, sounding panicked.

“Babe, don’t worry it will be fine” I say, trying to comfort Hope but it’s hard when Pinoe is sitting in the middle seat between us both. Hope had to have the window seat and Pinoe ‘doesn’t do’ aisle seats as she put it.

“If it was fine we would be up in the air by now, that’s where we should be” Hope says, bouncing her other leg this time. “I fucking hate planes.”

“We know” Pinoe snaps before looking a little guilty. “I am sorry but you are stressing me out Solo.”

“Meg, swap places with me please?” I ask.

“I am not sitting on an aisle seat” Pinoe says as I roll my eyes. “I’m not. My first choice is the window, then it would be the middle. I do not do aisles.”

“Fine” I say frustrated. “Babe, why don’t you sit in the middle?”

“Is it better?” Hope asks.

“Yeah because I can have the window” Pinoe says as I glare at her. Who would’ve thought I would be the least dramatic one today.

“You will be better in the middle” I say to Hope as she hesitantly begins to move.

“Ladies, seatbelts on please” the woman from the cabin crew says.

“Give them a minute” I snap this time, already this journey is getting us all worked up.

Pinoe and Hope swap as quickly and carefully as they can given the small amount of space they have.

“You’re ok babe” I whisper in Hope’s ear, taking her hand in mine and squeezing it gently. “Why don’t you shut your eyes and try and fall asleep.”

“Yeah, ok” Hope nods, getting as comfortable as she can in her seat before resting her eyes.

“I remember reading this article once about a drunk woman who was refusing to leave a plane, you know she kept all the other planes waiting for five hours” Pinoe says as I glare at her.

“In what world did you think a comment like that would be helpful?” I ask, Hope looking more panicked than ever.

“I do not want to be stuck on this plane for five hours more than I need to” Hope says, looking between Pinoe and I. “I don’t even want to be on it for a minute longer than I need to.”

“We will be landing before you know it, just relax and close your eyes” I say, kissing Hope on the cheek.

/

“What is wrong with you?” Alex asks when I arrive at the hotel.

“I have just had the worst plane journey of my life” I say, taking a deep breath. “I simply cannot be left to travel alone with those two.”

“Who?” Alex asks.

“Hope and Megan” I reply, hugging Alex. “It was a disaster from start to finish.”

“What happened?” Alex asks, laughing lightly.

“You know how Hope hates flying?” I ask as Alex nods. “I was prepared for that but not for Pinoe making the whole situation worse.” I tell Alex the whole story, starting with the issue with the other plane, the delay leading up to take off, the seating arrangements, Pinoe deliberately telling horror stories to panic Hope more.

“It sounds intense” Alex says as I nod.

“It was” I say. “Hope’s a lot calmer now than she used to be but I could’ve murdered Pinoe, I think she was deliberately trying to rile me up. I actually felt like a mom with two uncontrollable kids.”

“You know what I find the funniest?” Alex asks as I groan. “The fact that you were the most grown up out of the three of you.”

“I would find it funny myself if I wasn’t so scared” I say, taking a deep breath. “Hope really hates flying, like I knew she had a fear but today was on a different level. She almost had a panic attack and I didn’t know how to help.”

“Flying is a real fear for some people” Alex says as I nod.

“I think Pinoe just made it worse today” I say. “Hope probably flies on her own more than she does with company so she must manage ok.”

“Where are Hope and Pinoe?” Alex asks as I look away guiltily. “What?”

“I left them at the airport” I say, shaking my head.

“Kelley!” Alex exclaims.

“I know I shouldn’t have but they were pissing me off with all their bickering” I say. “I just told them I was taking a cab to the hotel and they can wait for our luggage.”

“So you just left them?” Alex just asks and I nod. “Kelley, that’s terrible.”

“It’s not that bad” I say as Alex shakes her head.

“It is honey” Alex tells me. I am getting nervous now, it probably wasn’t one of my better ideas.

“I can’t change it now” I say, anxious for Hope and Pinoe to arrive. “Is anyone else here yet or were you the first?”

“Ashlyn is here, Moe and JJ as well” Alex says. “Christen text me to say she was on her way as well, but that’s all I know.”

“I am guessing we have a meeting tonight and then training starts tomorrow” I say, that’s our usual routine when we start a camp.

“Let’s pray you live to see the meeting, who knows what Hope and Megan are feeling just now” Alex says, laughing at me.

“Don’t, I am trying to forget about it” I say, I guess I can see how it would seem funny but I know Hope will not be happy with me.

/

“There she is, my gorgeous girlfriend” I say as Hope walks towards us.

“I will kill you” Hope says, walking past Alex and I towards Dawn who is waiting to check everyone into the hotel.

“She means it” Pinoe says to me before following Hope.

“I guess Hope isn’t too happy with you” Alex says as I nod. “I just hope she waited around to collect your luggage and didn’t leave it at the airport.”

“Surely one of them would’ve got it for me” I say as Alex shrugs.

“I don’t know KO, your girl seems pretty pissed off” Alex says.

“I was an absolute angel on that plane, trying to deal with both of them” I say as I huff. “How is it me that is in the bad books now?”

“You ditched your girlfriend at the airport” Alex says. “If Servando ever did that to me, he would be paying for it for weeks. No punishment too harsh.”

“I have some making up to do” I say with a sigh.

“You do” Alex laughs before starting to walk away. “I will leave you to it, see you later.”

“Hopey?” I say in my sweetest voice, running my hand down Hope’s chest and playing with the zipper on her jacket. “You’re not really mad are you?”

“Would you be mad if I left you at the airport with Pinoe?” Hope asks. “I am sure you would’ve been happy to sit and listen to Pinoe’s theatrics while you waited for fifty minutes on the luggage arriving and then having to wait another forty minutes because the conveyor belt stopped working and no-ones luggage was getting around the luggage carousel.”

“I will take that answer as, you’re a little mad” I say as Hope frowns at me.

“I am fuming that you would leave me alone with her after she was so mean to me on the plane” Hope says as I lean in to kiss her but she stops me. “Don’t kiss me.”

“I know you are mad but at least let me kiss you” I say, trying again but Hope stops me once again. “Babe, I…”

“There’s a guy with a camera over there” Hope says, subtly moving her head to point him out to me. “He may just be a guy on vacation but he may also be a creepy fan.”

“Oh right, ok” I say with a nod, putting a little distance between Hope and I.

“Let me get my room assignment from Dawn and then we can catch up” Hope says as I nod, I don’t actually know who I am rooming with yet.

I wait patiently for Hope before I check with Dawn myself about my roommate. I got Tobin which is cool, she’s quite an easy-going roommate.

“Shall we go up to my room?” Hope asks as I nod, both of us making our way towards the elevators with our luggage.

“Who’s your roommate?” I ask as we wait for the elevator to arrive.

“Ali” Hope responds. “Krieger not Long.”

“That’s cool” I nod, Ali is also a pretty easy roommate to be around. I am not implying that some of my teammates are not good roommates, everyone is just different. Ali is very relaxed and doesn’t cause a fuss whereas someone like Allie Long or Pinoe are the kind to pull a prank on you, some people say that about me right enough.

“I am on floor six, where are you?” Hope asks as we get inside.

“Five” I answer.

“We can drop your luggage off and then go to my room” Hope says and I agree.

“Can I at least kiss you now?” I ask, moving closer to Hope and wrapping my arms around her back. “Please.”

“Ok” Hope laughs, leaning down and allowing me to kiss her.

“You can’t stay mad at me for too long can you?” I ask with a smirk.

“Stop smirking” Hope responds, turning to look away from me as I plant another kiss on her lips.

/

The first few days of training pass by relatively quickly. Like any other camp, we start off with a few meetings, some fitness tests, work in the gym, talking tactics and working on some set plays.

“Do you want to go to the beach later?” Christen asks me as we warm up.

“Yeah, we can go after our team dinner” I answer with a smile. Hope’s ditching me later anyway to hang out with Carli.

“I will put it in my planner” Christen says, smiling widely at me.

“Ok” I laugh, Christen and her planner are inseparable. “I thought you were trying to let go of the planner a little.”

“I am but I still need to put some things in it” Christen says with a smile. “I don’t plan every fifteen minute period like I used to, just occasional stuff.”

“Cool” I nod.

“I’ve even managed to get Tobin to use a planner” Christen says.

“Really?” I ask in surprise.

“Well, it’s on her phone and I schedule everything for her but she still looks at it” Christen tells me as I laugh, I can actually believe that. “Does that make me controlling?”

“No, of course not” I assure my friend. “It makes you, you and Tobin, Tobin.”

“Thanks… I think” Christen laughs.

“It was a compliment” I smile. “You two are so good together, you fit so well.”

“We do” Christen nods with a grin.

“When we were in college I knew you had a crush on her so it’s good you finally got your act together and did something about it” I say as Christen shakes her head.

“I didn’t have a crush on her” Christen disagrees but I just smirk, she totally did.

“Ok ladies, five minute warning” Dawn shouts, giving us our warning to wrap up our warm ups before separating into our training groups.

/

I lightly knock on the door, hoping Hope and Ali weren’t sleeping, and wait until someone answers. It’s Ali who answers, a bright smile on her face.

“Looking for Hope?” Ali asks with a smile and I nod.

“Yeah, I just wanted to say goodnight” I reply as Ali opens the door wider and invites me inside.

“Hope’s in the bathroom but she should be out soon if you want to wait” Ali says, leading me further into the room.

“Thanks Ali” I say, striking up a conversation with Ali while I wait for my girlfriend.

“How was the beach?” Ali asks, offering me a bottle of water which I gratefully accept.

“It was good, we watched the sunset” I answer. “It reminded me of college when Christen would beg me to watch the sunset with her so she didn’t need to watch it alone.”

“I love watching the sunset” Ali says with a smile.

“How was your night?” I ask.

“It was good too, Crystal took me to a small science museum” Ali says. “It was quite interesting.”

“It sounds interesting” I nod as we continue our conversation.

“I am going to say goodnight to Ashlyn before it gets too late, let Hope know I have my key card” Ali says as she changes her shoes. “If I don’t see you when I get back, I will see you tomorrow.”

“Yeah, come and get me and we can go to breakfast together” I say as Ali smiles and then leaves.

I lay on Hope’s bed playing with my phone, waiting until she is finished in the bathroom.

“Ali… oh hey babe” Hope says when she exits the bathroom and notices me and not her roommate.

“Hi gorgeous” I respond, sitting my phone on the bed as Hope walks over to me and places a kiss on my lips.

“What are you doing here?” Hope asks as she throws herself on the bed next to me. “Not that I don’t want to see you.”

“I wanted to come and say goodnight” I say, pulling Hope closer into a deeper kiss.

“I am glad you did” Hope grins, leaning in for another kiss. “Did you have fun tonight?”

“Yeah” I answer before smiling at Hope. “I missed you though.”

“You only saw me at dinner” Hope chuckles softly into my neck before I feel her nipping it lightly with her teeth. “I thought we weren’t going to be one of those couples that has separation anxiety.”

“I don’t have separation anxiety” I say as I playfully slap Hope. “I just miss you… Hope stop laughing at me.”

“I’m sorry” Hope says, her laugh dying out.

“I am trying to be serious here” I say, turning to face Hope. “Normally I am the one who ruins moments by being unserious.”

“Sorry baby” Hope apologises. “Say what you were going to say.”

“It doesn’t matter, the moments over” I say with a shrug, laying my head on Hope’s shoulder.

“You know, when we are apart…” Hope starts as she plays with my fingers, interlocking our hands. “All I think about is when I will see you next and when I will get to cuddle you or kiss you.”

“Do you?” I ask as Hope squeezes my hand.

“Of course, I even get excited at the prospect of doing boring stuff with you because it’s with you” Hope says as she laughs lightly. “I love grocery shopping with you and how you sneak in really unhealthy food but convince me to eat it anyway; I love when we are walking the dogs and you take me a shortcut ensuring me it is correct and we end up in the middle of nowhere… it doesn’t matter what we do, it’s always fun because I am doing it with you.”

“Hope Solo, you are sweeter than you let people believe” I say, kissing Hope’s lips.

“You’re the only person that gets to see that side of me” Hope says. “I don’t let my guard down easily.”

“I will protect your heart with everything I have” I promise as Hope smiles.

“I am confident you will” Hope smiles with a nod. “You are the only person in my life that I believe would do anything for me.”

/

“Babe, I have to go” I say, trying to pull away.

“No, don’t go” Hope pouts, chasing my lips. “Kiss me.”

“If I kiss you, I won’t be able to stop” I reply, trying to open the hotel door but Hope shuts it.

“I don’t want you to stop babe” Hope says, kissing my neck. “I want to be with you all night.”

“Hope, don’t do this” I groan, turning in my girlfriend’s arms and allowing our lips to connect. I can’t resist any longer and give in to temptation.

We kiss until we hear the door opening, forcing us to pull apart.

“Sorry… did I interrupt something?” Ali asks, taking in our guilty looks.

“No its fine, see you both tomorrow” I say as I run off, throwing Hope a wink on the way.

Just as I am about to enter my room, I see Christen leaving.

“Excuse me, why were you in my room?” I ask with a smirk as Christen rolls her eyes.

“Why do you think?” Christen asks.

“Because you wanted to see me and were annoyed you didn’t spend as much time with me at the beach” I reply as Christen nods.

“That’s it” Christen replies sarcastically as she begins to walk back to her own room.

“You better not have had sex in there” I say but Christen just ignores me, she throws a wave to me before disappearing around the corner and I go into the room.

“Hey” Tobin says with a grin when I get inside.

“Hey roomie, just saw your girl” I say as I go straight for my pyjamas, eager to get ready for bed as soon as possible. “Her grin was as wide as yours, what did you guys do?”

“We watched a movie” Tobin answers, getting into her bed.

“It was that innocent was it?” I ask with a raised eyebrow.

“Yeah” Tobin nods. “Chris and I are very capable of sticking by the rules, I bet it was a different story with you and Hope.”

“No it wasn’t” I answer.

“What’s with the fresh hickey on your neck then?” Tobin asks as I immediately place my hand over the area Hope bit earlier.

“Damn, I told her it would leave a mark” I say as Tobin bursts into laughter.

“There isn’t a hickey on your neck by the way” Tobin smirks. “Thanks for telling me that your hang out with your girl was a little more than innocent.”

“I am going to the bathroom to change” I say, Tobin is probably grinning smugly from behind me.

/

“How’s the injury?” Tobin says to me at breakfast and I frown. Did I injure myself at practice yesterday and have forgotten? “Your neck?”

“Did you hurt your neck?” Alex asks. “What happened, did you turn the wrong way or fall awkwardly?”

“She got bitten” Tobin says and then I realise what she is doing, she’s clearly trying to tease me but it won’t work.

“By what, an insect?” Alex asks, looking at my neck for any visible signs.

“I believe it was a goalkeeper that bit her” Tobin says, sniggering as she munches on her toast.

“She think Hope gave me a hickey” I say to Alex, this conversation really doesn’t bother me. Surely people don’t expect Hope and me to sit around, ten feet apart when we are alone. “I am in an adult relationship.”

“I know that but there are rules in camp” Tobin says. “If Chris and I can follow the rules then so can you and Hope.”

“Honey, when was there a no kissing rule in camp. Is it still considered ‘camp’ when it is after training and during our free time” I ask as I laugh. “Alex and Servando just got caught kissing by some insanely creepy fan and she wasn’t punished.”

“You know, since this conversation started I can’t help but notice that you have a really suspicious mark on your neck Tobin” Alex says, squinting at Tobin’s neck to see if that will show her more. “Oh my god, it is a hickey.”

“You little hypocrite, trying to make out Hope and I broke the rules when you and Christen were just as bad” I say as Tobin sighs, mumbling inwardly to herself.

“Hey, are you three ready for practice?” Christen asks, standing behind Tobin and placing a hand on Tobin’s shoulder.

“Quick Alex, tell the coaches that Christen just touched Tobin’s shoulder” I say dramatically. “This is scandalous, an absolute outrage.”

“Really?” Tobin asks, questioning how dramatic I am being.

“She touched you Tobin; that is breaking the rules” I say as Tobin stands up.

“Grow up” Tobin says as Alex and I laugh.

“You can tease me but when I tease you its wrong?” I ask as I shake my head. “Chill out.”

/

“Look at this cute dog blanket” I say as I feel the soft material. “I should get one.”

“Why?” Christen asks with a frown. “You don’t have a dog.”

“Yeah I do” I reply as Christen still looks confused. “Sasha and Onyx are sorta mine.”

“Oh yeah” Christen says, nodding in realisation.

“Maybe I should get two, one for each of them” I say, looking to see if they have any other colors.

“My parents just got this really nice dog bed for Morena, it has anti-allergenic material” Christen says.

“Morena is a boy and Kahleesi is a girl, is that right?” I ask as Christen frowns at me.

“No, they are both girls” Christen says.

“Oops, sorry” I laugh nervously. “I think it is so good that your parents rescued the dogs, there are unfortunately too many dogs out there in desperate need of a loving home.”

“I know, I would adopt them all if I could” Christen says with a sad smile. “Tobin has promised me that the first thing we will do when we are more settled is go to the shelter and adopt a dog.”

“That’s nice” I say with a nod. “I can just imagine you and Tobin, in a big house with three kids and five dogs.”

“I don’t think we would have five dogs, that’s a bit much” Christen says with a laugh.

“You would have the three kids though?” I ask as Christen smiles.

“I don’t know” Christen shrugs. “It still feels like that will be years down the line but, yeah, I think I want at least two.”

“I loved growing up as one of three siblings” I say with a smile, I love that I proved my mom right that the middle child is always the most troublesome.

/

“Your sister is coming to the game” Hope tells me and I frown, Erin didn’t tell me that.

“How do you know?” I ask as Hope puts on her shoes.

“She text me earlier” Hope says as she looks at me. “She said she tried to text and call you but you didn’t respond.”

“I never received anything” I say as I take my phone out and see no new notifications.

“Actually while we are on that topic, I text you four times this morning and you didn’t reply” Hope says and I check my phone again, no sign of Hope’s messages.

“I don’t see any messages from you either” I say with a frown. “Do you think Erin’s and your phone are broken?”

“No, I think the general consensus is that your phone is broken” Hope says with a laugh.

“There is nothing wrong with my cell phone” I say. “My mom said she had trouble calling me though.”

“Maybe you need a new cell” Hope says, standing up from the bed. “Are you ready to go Kel?”

“Yeah babe, let’s go” I reply as we leave the room and head out of the hotel to get our morning coffee.

We slowly walk towards the coffee shop, Hope stopping a few times to look in the window of different jewelry stores and me stopping to pet the occasional passing dog.

“That dog was so cute, did you see it?” I ask as Hope nods.

“I saw it babe” Hope smiles.

“Would you ever get another dog?” I ask as Hope shrugs.

“I don’t know, I feel like two is enough for now” Hope says. “I don’t think I could cope with three on my own and I don’t think the woman at the kennels has enough room so I wouldn’t want the dog to be separated from Sasha and Onyx when I am away.”

“That makes sense” I say with a nod. “While we are on the topic of dogs, I got Sasha and Onyx a present.”

“You didn’t need to get them a present” Hope says kindly.

“I know but Christen and I were shopping and I saw these really nice dog blankets, so I bought them” I reply. “They will be so comfortable.”

“Thank you but you really don’t need to be spending your money on the dogs” Hope says and I wave it off.

“I wanted to” I smile. “I am their stepmom, I got to make sure they like me and think I am good enough for their mom.”

“I am pretty sure they already like you” Hope says. “Judging by the howling they do when you leave and the barking when they see you on facetime.”

“I love them too” I say with a grin.

“Do you want your usual coffee?” Hope asks when we reach the coffee shop and I nod. “Sit in or take out?”

“We can drink it here” I say with a smile before I find us a table and Hope goes up to order.

“Are you too good to sit with us?” I hear from behind me before I turn around and spot Crystal and JJ.

“I didn’t even see you two” I say, apologising before I stand up and take at seat next to JJ.

“Too busy staring at Hope” Crystal says with a smirk. I suppose I did stare a bit too long at Hope as she was walking up to the counter.

“No, she… well yeah” I say with a shrug. “I didn’t think either of you two were capable of being up this early in the morning.”

“I didn’t think I was either until my loud roommate woke me up” Crystal says, glaring at JJ.

“In exchange for waking her up this morning I had to promise to buy her coffee, hence the reason we are here” JJ replies, rolling her eyes at Crystal.

“Oh right” I nod.

“Babe…” Hope says as she approaches the table. “This is really embarrassing but I don’t seem to have any money or my bank card with me… obviously they won’t give me the coffees if I don’t pay.”

“Sneaky baby, real sneaky” I say with a laugh as I make my way up to the counter to pay and then I return with the drinks.

“Thank you” Hope says bashfully.

“Does Zach and Pierre do this to you two?” I ask the other two women. “Offering to buy you coffee and then conveniently forgetting their money.”

“Zach used to forget his all the time” JJ replies. “At first I thought it was a joke then I realised it was genuine, now I carry his wallet in my purse for him.”

“You’re going to tease me all day aren’t you?” Hope asks me as she sips her drink.

“Yup” I answer with a proud smile.

/

The game didn’t quite go as planned, we won but it was very unconvincing. There were too many missed passes, a lot of individual errors, sloppy back passes on my part… for some reason the team didn’t connect well tonight. It was like we were playing a different game from each other at times. It definitely gave us plenty to think about and how to improve.

“Erin’s meeting me outside” I say to Hope, kissing her cheek. “I better go but I will see you later for drinks with the team.”

“Ok Kel” Hope smiles and I rush off outside.

“Hey” Erin says. “Good game sis.”

“Thanks” I reply with a laugh, pulling Erin into a hug. “Thank you for coming to see me and surprising me. Even though I played horribly.”

“I thought it was about time I made another trip to see you play for the national team” Erin says.

“Thank you again, I’ve missed you” I reply.

“I missed you too” Erin replies.

“I thought we could grab something to eat and then maybe meet up with some of my teammates for a drink” I suggest as Erin nods.

“Sounds like a plan” Erin replies. “What do you want to eat?”

“I want some pasta” I say. “I know a really nice Italian restaurant, if you are ok with that.”

“Sounds perfect, lead the way” Erin says with a smile.

“How long are you here for?” I ask Erin.

“I leave tomorrow, mom told me what flight you were on so I will fly back to NJ with you” Erin says with a smile. “I thought we could hang out for a few days.”

“That would be so awesome” I reply excitedly, I can’t wait to spend time with my sister.

“I haven’t booked a hotel so I hope its ok that I stay with you” Erin says and I nod.

“Of course it is” I respond, excited to spend time with my sister.

“Hope’s a beast on the field isn’t she?” Erin says and I nod with a smile. “She was so good tonight, she had every cross covered and every shot stopped.”

“She’s amazing and I am not just saying that because she’s my girlfriend” I say, leading us through an alleyway. “She works hard and most of all she is so passionate about the sport and finding ways to not only enhance her game but the game in general.”

“She’s quite fiery too, I like that” Erin says and I agree.

“She’s commanding and straight to the point, that’s the kind of goalkeeper we need behind us” I reply. I know I am biased because she’s my girlfriend but Hope generally is an asset to the game, she’s the kind of player that everyone needs. Even before Hope and I got together, I knew how lucky the US were to have someone like her.

“You’ve got heart eyes just talking about her” Erin says with a smirk as I slap her hand.

“Shut up and keep walking” I say with a smile.

“Just saying” Erin singsongs before laughing.

“How is everything back home?” I ask. “Any gossip.”

“Not really to be honest” Erin says, pausing to think. “Anything that happens I usually tell you right away, Jerry is in the process of picking a wedding date though. They are thinking next year.”

“About time, they have been engaged for a while” I say, laughing softly. “I can’t wait for our little brother to get married.”

“Neither can I” Erin smiles. “For some reason I always knew he would be the first one of us to get married.”

“Me too, I knew it wouldn’t be me” I say. “I wasn’t sure about you.”

“John and I are happy as we are, we are not in any rush” Erin says before laughing. “Despite grandma harassing us.”

“Talking about weddings, we need to sort something for mom and dad’s anniversary” I say. Every year Erin, Jerry and I like to plan something for our parent’s wedding anniversary whether it is a milestone or not.

“I have some ideas actually, I will run them by you over the next few days when I am staying with you” Erin says and I nod.

/

“Here we go ladies” Hope smiles, setting a beer in front of me and a red wine in front of Erin. After dinner we went straight to the bar to meet my teammates.

“Thanks Hope” Erin says with a smile, taking a sip of her wine.

“Where’s my drink?” Allie asks.

“You’ve got one” Hope says with a frown. “Kelley and Erin didn’t.”

I spend the next few minutes introducing Erin to my teammates, she knows most of them and has met them before but there are some of the younger ones she hasn’t met.

“As you can tell, some of them are as crazy as your sister” Hope says as Erin chuckles. “Allie Long and Kelley are always having a competition to see who can cause the biggest scare to one of our teammates.”

“You never really grew up did you sis?” Erin asks, sipping on her wine.

“She knows better than to scare Hope again” Ashlyn says with a smirk as I flip her off. I’ve got too much to lose if I scare my girlfriend, the last time I did it Hope wouldn’t kiss me for three days.

I end up having to amuse myself when Erin gets absorbed in a conversation with Kriegs and Hope. Both my sister and my girlfriend, practically ignoring me.

“What’s with the frown?” Christen asks me.

“I need another drink but the bar is too busy and I can’t be bothered fighting for a place” I say as Christen smiles.

“No need to worry, I will send Tobin up to get us drinks” Christen says before shouting Tobin over.

“Yeah babe?” Tobin asks, moving in close to Christen so she can hear her over the music.

“Can you get Kelley and me another drink please?” Christen asks her girlfriend, whispering something in Tobin’s ear that I can’t, correction don’t, want to hear.

“Two beers?” Tobin asks and I put my thumb up, Christen nodding along. “Coming right up.”

“Thanks baby” Christen replies, watching Tobin walking away before she turns back to me.

“You have her wrapped around your finger” I say with a smile.

“Not necessarily, I would say we both can get our own way when we want to” Christen says and I nod with a smile.

“I can’t believe camp is over again, can you?” I ask.

“Not really” Christen replies. “I love all this travelling but it can get tough sometimes.”

“I know, I was so happy that I got to see Erin tonight” I say with a wide smile, looking over at Erin who seems to be having a fit of laughter at something Hope or Ali has said.

“Both my sisters are coming to see me in two weeks, I actually can’t wait” Christen grins widely. “Even just seeing your family for a few hours at least can change your whole day.”

“If LA had a team, would you go for it to be close to your family?” I ask as Christen takes a deep breath.

“I think so” Christen nods. “It’s hard because they don’t have a team at the moment so it’s not something I allow myself to think about, I am trying to stay in the present but, yes I think it is something I would want.”

“I think I want to move to a new team” I say, moving closer to Christen so I can talk quieter. “I love my teammates at Sky Blue but I feel like I’ve done all I can for the club, I need a bit of a change.”

“I can tell it is making you feel down” Christen says, placing her arm around me. “Don’t be scared to ask for a trade at the end of the season, maybe a fresh start is what everyone needs.”

“Maybe, I don’t know” I say with a shrug. I do want a change but Sky Blue has been my team for years, there are so many good memories there as well. “I will need to have a think about it.”

“Are there any teams you want to go to?” Christen asks.

“I don’t know” I say honestly. “Orlando is closest to Georgia, then Houston isn’t too far away but there’s also teams on the west coast…”

“Perhaps Seattle” Christen smiles. “You could hang out with Pinoe every day.”

“Even for someone like me, Pinoe can be a bit too much” I say, both of us laughing. “On a serious note, I am not really sure how Hope would feel with me being on the same team.”

“The woman has it bad for you Kelley, I think she would love it if she could see you more” Christen says and I nod, turning to look at Hope who winks at me when she catches me looking.

“We would both love to spend more time together but I just don’t know if it is too soon in our relationship” I say, turning back to look at Christen. “No offence to Seattle but if Hope wasn’t there then I don’t think it would be the team for me. Laura Harvey seems like a brilliant coach but in terms of the team’s facilities and where they play, it doesn’t appeal to me as much as some other teams would.”

“I would love to be closer to Tobin but I don’t think we would ever be on the same team” Christen says. “Portland isn’t the right fit of a team for me and Tobin would never leave. I would never ask her to leave when I know how much the team means to her.”

/

“I am going back to the hotel now sis, I will see you in the morning” Erin says as I frown.

“Wait up and I will walk you back” I say as Erin smiles.

“Ali and Julie are walking back with me” Erin says. “Spend some time with your girlfriend, you and I have the next few days to spend together so I would prefer if you had some time with Hope before you separate.”

“But…” I go to protest but Erin stops me.

“Honestly sis, I am tired anyway” Erin says and I nod. “Come and get me in the morning, ok?”

“Ok” I say with a smile. “Text me tonight when you get back to your room.”

“I will” Erin says before hugging me. “See you tomorrow.”

“Bye” I say with a wave as Erin leaves with Ali, JJ and Crystal.

I quickly stop by the bar to get Hope and me our last drink of the night before I make my way over to our table and see Hope chatting to Carli and Pinoe.

“Here babe” I say as I hand Hope a beer, placing myself on Hope’s lap since there are no free seats available.

“Thanks Kel” Hope smiles.

“Where is our drinks?” Pinoe asks as I roll my eyes.

“You can get your own drink, you’ve done it all night without offering anyone else” I say cheekily. “Don’t think no one saw you sneaking up to the bar.”

“Yeah, whatever” Pinoe replies.

“I think I am going to head back to the hotel, I have a semi-early flight tomorrow” Carli says.

“Christen and Ashlyn were about to go back too, if you are quick you will be able to walk back with them so you don’t need to go alone” I say as Carli nods.

“I think I will do that” Carli says.

“I am not playing third wheel with you two” Pinoe says to me and Hope. “I will walk with you Carli.”

“Ok” Carli responds.

Both Pinoe and Carli says their goodbyes to us before they head off, leaving Hope and I alone.

“Finally, I get you alone” Hope says with a chuckle, pecking me on the lips.

“It’s hard trying to spend time with everyone before we all go our separate ways again” I say, moving off of Hope’s lap to sit right beside her and wrapping my arm around her.

“I know baby” Hope says with a sigh. “You look really beautiful, I don’t know if I’ve already said that but if I have then I am saying it again.”

“Thank you” I smile, kissing Hope’s cheek.

“Erin was telling me she is going to stay with you for a few days, which will be nice” Hope says and I grin.

“It will be” I nod. “I’ve missed her and all of my family.”

“It’s a tough job” Hope says with a nod. Hope and I have a slightly different situation from each other because Hope only lives a drive away from her mom and grandma whereas I’m in a different state. “Sometimes the picture isn’t clear on whether these sacrifices of not seeing loved ones is worth it but in the end, we will understand.”

“I know” I say with a nod. “I am going to miss you most of all, time always goes quicker when we are together.

“It’s true what they say, time flies when you are having fun” Hope says, leaning in and pecking me on the lips.

/

It’s been a couple of days since Erin and I got to NJ, I’ve had some training to do but other than that I’ve managed to spend as much time as possible with my sister. We always have the best time together, she is my best friend and I wouldn’t ask for a better sister.

“Are you two drunk?” Sam asks as Erin and I giggle like two teenagers.

“Just lil bit” I say, holding up my thumb and forefinger as a measurement. “Erin got us shots.”

“Lots and lots of shots” Erin says as I nod eagerly. Erin and I are just back from having dinner and drinks, the drinks did continue through a few bars.

“Can I trust you to behave because I am going out?” Sam asks as I wolf whistle.

“Are you going to see your girlfriend?” I ask, Erin laughing along with me.

“Yes” Sam answers before grabbing her things and making her way out of the apartment, a goodnight thrown out.

“Actually, I should call Hope” I say, fumbling in my purse for my cell phone.

“I am going to the bathroom, tell me when it is safe to come out and you have finished your phone sex” Erin says as I frown.

“Don’t be crude” I say, going straight to my bedroom and shutting the door.

I quickly dial Hope’s number and wait impatiently for her to pick up. Finally after six rings I hear Hope’s soft voice.

“Hey sexy” I say through a slur.

“Hey baby” Hope replies.

“I mish you” I say, my drunkenness preventing me from talking properly. “I mish you lots.”

“I miss you too” Hope says. “You sound strange.”

“Drunk” I answer with a sigh. “I am drunk, Erin got me d’wunk.”

“Are you sure you didn’t get her drunk?” Hope asks with a laugh.

“I don’t know, maybe” I say, shrugging my shoulder theatrically. “I wanna kiss you so bad.”

“Do you indeed?” Hope asks amused.

“To be honest, I wanna fuck you but I was tryna be polite” I say, Hope laughing through the phone. “I do… I want to get you up against the wall, use my tongue to…”

“Honey, stop there” Hope says as I pout.

“I wasn’t finished, I wanted to tell you what I want to do to you” I say, dropping the phone before clumsily picking it back up. “Still there?”

“I’m here Kel” Hope replies.

“Good, I dropped phone” I say, moving to sit against the headboard. “What was I saying… oh yeah, I want to put my fingers…?”

“Kel, seriously” Hope says firmly. “Let’s not do this now.”

“But why?” I whine.

“We are not doing this when you are drunk” Hope tells me. “We would both enjoy it more when we are sober and there isn’t the risk of you falling asleep on me.”

“I wouldn’t fall asleep on you” I say as Hope chuckles. “I wouldn’t.”

“Kel, we both know you would” Hope says. “How about you tell me about your night?”

“Fine” I say with a huff, annoyed that Hope wouldn’t let me have some fun.

Chapter Text

I can’t believe we are almost at the end of July already, these last few months felt slow at the time but now it feels like they passed by very quickly.

The NWSL is taking a break for a couple weeks due to Tournament of Nations so it means I won’t miss any matches with my team. The first match of TON on twenty-seventh of July is being played at the CenturyLink field in Seattle. It is good that it is in Seattle because it has allowed me to plan a birthday barbecue for Hope a few days before our first match at Hope’s house, so not only will Hope’s family be there but I can invite the team as well. Since we have our second match on Hope’s birthday, Hope and I thought it would be good to have the party before any of the games.

I am on my way to Hope’s house just now, the party isn’t for another few days but I wanted to spend some time alone with Hope before camp starts. I told Hope I would be arriving tomorrow but I found a last minute booking online and managed to get on an earlier flight.

“Thanks” I say when the cab comes to a stop outside Hope’s house, I quickly pay before grabbing my luggage and making my way to the front door.

I knock loudly so Hope can hear and then I wait, praying Hope will come to the door soon before the rain gets any heavier.

“Hey” I smile as Hope slowly opens the door, probably wondering who would be at her door at this time of night.

“Hi babe” Hope says surprised, pulling me into an embrace.

“I got an earlier flight” I say as Hope grabs my luggage and ushers me inside.

“Why did you not call, I could’ve picked you up” Hope says, leaning in for a kiss.

“I was going to but I didn’t see the point when there are cabs outside the airport anyway” I answer, shedding my coat and hanging it up on the hook in the entryway.

“Next time, call me” Hope says and I nod. “Can I make you something to eat?”

“Can I get a sandwich or something?” I ask as Hope smiles.

“Of course you can” Hope smiles. “You go sit down and I will make it for you, I got this really nice bread from the market today.”

“I am going to change my clothes I think” I say as Hope nods.

“No problem babe” Hope smiles, pecking me on the cheek before we go our separate ways.

/

“This sandwich is so good” I moan in satisfaction as Hope laughs softly. “Seriously babe, it’s orgasmic.”

“Hurry up and eat it, I know of something else that is orgasmic” Hope says, raising her eyebrow before winking at me.

“I have only been here an hour and you are trying to get me into bed already” I say as Hope laughs.

“What can I say?” Hope shrugs. “I can’t get enough of you, I haven’t seen you for weeks. That must be our longest time spent apart.”

“I will finish my sandwich later” I say, standing up and putting the plate on the table before I grab Hope’s hand. “Let’s go baby.”

“Ok” Hope smiles, allowing me to pull her upstairs and through to the bedroom.

“I missed you so much” I say in a whisper as I straddle Hope, taking a moment to take in my girlfriend’s form.

“I missed you too” Hope replies, leaning onto her elbows and kissing me.

I get so lost in the kiss that I don’t even feel Hope unhooking my bra until suddenly its falling off my shoulders. Hope’s soft fingertips graze my back as her hands travel down from my shoulder blades and land on my hips.

“I love you” Hope says softly, she is constantly assuring me how much she loves me but there is just something so intimate about the way she says it when we are making love.

Hope’s passionate and deliberate with her movements, her kisses soft yet firm, her strong hands holding me up as she peppers kisses all over my neck and chest. I can already feel the wetness pooling in my underwear, my body getting sticky from the heat.

I need Hope to remove her clothes so I can feel her skin, I tell her this before helping her to lift her top over her head.

I’ve never been this intimate with someone, there’s an intensity and powerful feeling in the air. The way Hope’s eyes pierce into mine, even in the dark I can see her eyes. With anyone else, the eye contact would be too much and too strong but with Hope, it’s like she has me fixed.

I allow Hope to pull us into a lying down position before I find myself being rolled over as Hope hovers over me. It doesn’t take long for every item of our clothing to be thrown into the darkness and for the room to be filled with nothing but our moans and heat from our bodies.

No words need to be said, Hope knows exactly what she wants and more importantly she knows exactly what I want. She starts slow, soft bites on my collarbone before she’s got my nipple in her mouth. She sucks hard and I moan louder, writhing on the bed as I try to rub my thighs together. As she moves to the other nipple, her leg slides between mine and I can’t help but involuntarily rub against her thigh.

Her talented mouth moves down my body, I immediately miss the contact I received from her thigh but that’s soon forgotten. Her mouth is on my pelvic bone, her breath hitting my heat as her hand palms my breath. I don’t want to come yet but it’s getting hard.

As soon as her tongue makes contact with my slit, her mouth enveloping my clit I lose my mind. I can’t describe what happens next, I can’t remember my name let alone describe what Hope is doing to me.

/

“Are you just going to walk around naked all day?” Hope asks with a laugh as she looks at me from her place at the kitchen table over the top of her coffee mug.

“If you let me” I reply with a smirk. She can’t keep her eyes off of me and that was the plan, I was going to get dressed but then I changed my mind. Hope’s house is private and no one would be able to see anything through the windows unless they purposefully stood right outside.

“It may be too distracting” Hope answers, her eyes hungrily taking me in from head to toe.

“That’s a shame” I reply, pouring myself a cup of coffee before seductively walking towards the fridge for the milk. I am not going to lie, opening the cold fridge while completely naked isn’t the best feeling but the feeling of my girlfriend ravenously taking in my appearance gives me even more confidence than I needed.

The next thing I know, Hope is behind me. Her hands immediately on my hips and her lips on my neck. I’ve got the reaction I wanted.

“You have no time for coffee” Hope says in my ear as she takes the milk carton out of my hand. “I would be an idiot if I didn’t do something when my girlfriend is parading around naked in my kitchen.”

“And we all know you’re not an idiot” I say, letting out a short scream in surprise when Hope lifts me and places me on the cold granite counter. “Too cold.”

“Sorry” Hope mumbles, lifting me again and allowing me to wrap my legs around her waist and my arms around her neck. She expertly carries me through to the lounge, there’s really no time to get upstairs and the couch is the next best place.

“Can I ask you something?” I ask as Hope quickly removes her t-shirt, her answer coming out as a hum. “Will you fuck me?”

“Yes. Absolutely YES” Hope says, no hesitancy to her response as she immediately gets to it.

It’s passionate but not quite the same as last night, it’s quicker and more physical but by no means any less thrilling. I love how Hope can please me and satisfy me in many ways, there’s more than one dimension and I don’t think I’ve ever felt so connected to someone in my whole life. She gets me and seems to know exactly what I want and how I want it, both physically and emotionally.

/

“Baby?” I ask as we both lie squashed on the couch, our naked bodies just about covered by the blanket on the couch.

“Yeah honey” Hope asks with a soft smile.

“Can we just lay here all day?” I ask. There’s no better feeling than being wrapped in Hope’s arms and the whole world outside forgotten about. “I’ve missed you and I just want to forget anything else exists other than us right now.”

“Ok babe” Hope responds, placing a gentle kiss to my head. “I have made dinner reservations for tonight though.”

“We can still do dinner” I answer, moving my head on Hope’s chest so I can hear her heart beat. As weird as it sounds but I love the sound. As much as I like to fill a silence, this isn’t the type of silence I want to fill. There’s nothing more peaceful than the sounds of our breathing and our hearts beating, it’s a powerful feeling. It’s also satisfying because there is absolutely no-one in this whole world that I could do this with, Hope brings out a calmness in me that I need.

I love being the centre of the attention; being the joker and being loud and bubbly but I love this more. Even I can admit that being the loud and outgoing one of a group can get tiring and boring at times, sometimes you need that one person who can show that other side of you. Don’t get me wrong, I will always be loud and I love that but sometimes I do surprise myself with how mellow I can be.

“Are you tired?” Hope asks, stroking her fingers through my hair.

“I am a little tired, just adjusting to the west coast” I answer, closing my eyes as I allow the feeling of Hope’s hand in my hair to calm me.

“Do you want to go to bed?” Hope asks, this time placing a kiss on my head.

“No, I am happy right here” I respond, grabbing Hope’s other hand and placing a gentle kiss on her knuckles. “I just want to stay where I am and allow you to hold me.”

“Ok babe” Hope says, sighing loudly in satisfaction. “I am happy to hold you in my arms all day.”

“Can I ask you a question?”

“Of course you can” Hope responds, placing another kiss on my head.

“Does this ever scare you?” I ask as I trace light patterns on Hope’s stomach.

“Does what scare me?” Hope asks.

“Us?” I ask and then I feel Hope loosening her hold on me. “I love you so much that it makes me emotional, I get a lump in my throat when I think about you and you’re not there.”

“I thought it would scare me more than it does” Hope replies, tightening her hold again. I guess I spooked her for a moment. “You know how hard it is for me to be so open and share things about my life but, with you I can tell you stuff and I know you will protect me.”

“Of course I will protect you” I smile, leaning up for a kiss. “It scares me sometimes because I’ve never felt this way before so it’s scary to think what would happen if I ever lost you.”

“Babe, you won’t ever lose me” Hope tells me. “It may be tough and we don’t know what’s around the corner but one thing I do know; you’re my world.”

“I love you” I respond, kissing Hope again.

/

“This is going to be epic” I say excitedly, effectively waking Hope from her light sleep.

“Kel… why are you waking me up so early?” Hope complains, turning over to bury her head in my pillow and groaning loudly.

“We need to get ready for the barbecue later” I explain. “We are going to throw the best party ever, it’s our first big event as a couple.”

“Baby, the barbecue is at three this afternoon” Hope mumbles before groaning. “You have woken me up far too early.”

“Stop being grumpy” I say, crawling on the bed and hovering over my girlfriend. “We have a lot to do, you have to go shopping for the supplies and I need to set the house up.”

“It’s not going to take all day babe, a couple of hours at most” Hope says, turning over to allow me to kiss her lips.

“Oh… morning breath” I say as Hope groans.

“Shut up, my breath is not that bad” Hope says as I laugh at her annoyed face. “I am literally so angry with you baby, I wanted a lie in this morning.”

“You can have a lie in tomorrow, today you are too busy” I say, shaking Hope gently. “This is a big day for me, not only am I trying to give you the best birthday barbecue ever but I am also meeting some of your friends and family I haven’t met, plus I am trying to prove to the team that no one throws a barbecue quite like O’Solo.”

“Not that flaming name again” Hope says as I laugh again.

“Babe I’m serious, I really want to impress the people you love” I say nervously. “I want people to see that I am good enough for you.”

“Kel, you are the person I love the most” Hope says, pulling me in for another kiss. “I know you absolutely love yourself so technically you have already impressed the person I love the most.”

“You are not going back to sleep, no matter how much you try to sway me with your sweet words” I reply as Hope groans loudly.

“Fine!” Hope sighs, throwing the covers off herself. “I am getting up.”

“Thanks” I say with a smile as I sit at the bottom of the bed.

“Can I at least have a shower first before you send me out to run errands?” Hope asks as she slowly moves around the room.

“Sure you can, just don’t take one of your super long showers” I reply before I stand up and hand Hope some clothes. “Put these on after your shower and then you can change into something smarter for the party later.”

“At what point in our relationship did we agree that you would start picking out my clothes?” Hope asks before answering her own question. “At no point.”

“I am just trying to speed you along” I retort, kissing Hope on the nose. “Babe, if you do as I ask just now then I promise to do that thing you love with the handcuffs.”

“And the whip?”

“And the whip” I confirm, kissing Hope on the lips this time.

“I will go and shower” Hope says before walking off to the bathroom.

/

“Come here” I say as I beckon Hope closer. “This is the list I have made for you” I say as I gesture to the piece of paper in my hand. “The food is on the front and the party stuff like balloons are on the back, make sure you get everything on here. Don’t come back until everything is ticked off the list.”

“Your bossy side is usually quite a turn on but I can’t say I am feeling that way right now” Hope says with a smirk, deliberately trying to rile me up.

“I don’t care, just go to the store babe” I say with a smile. “Wait until your actual birthday in a few days when you get your gifts from me, it will be hard to turn you off.”

“You are such a dork” Hope laughs before kissing me on the cheek and then she leaves for the store.

While Hope is out, I busy myself by tidying the house. I let the dogs outside with an old soccer ball to amuse themselves so I can focus on cleaning. I took them a big walk this morning so hopefully between playing outside and the walk they will be tired later and will settle down during the party.

I am not a perfectionist by any means but this party is like my way of showing people that Hope and I are serious. I know I don’t need to prove myself to anyone but I do want Hope’s friends and family to like me plus I get to throw a kickass party while doing so.

I have enlisted some help to help set this thing up, since the team are here to prepare for our first game of the Tournament of Nations in a few days I have arranged for Christen to come over this morning.

“What is she doing here?” I ask when Christen walks in with Tobin behind her.

“Nice to see you too KO” Tobin replies as I roll my eyes.

“I didn’t mean I didn’t want you here” I reply. “I just meant why are you here when I text Christen this morning to get you to collect the cake for me.”

“The cake is not ready yet” Tobin replies. “I went to the bakery earlier and the woman said it won’t be ready until 1pm so Chris has me on strict orders to be there by quarter to one.”

“I just figured Tobin could help us just now” Christen says as I nod. I think I am getting a little too worked up about this.

“Ok, great” I reply with a nod.

“What do you want me to do?” Tobin asks and I hand her a list with all the things I need done. “Ok, I guess I can set up the barbecue.”

“I will help you babe” Christen says before I pull her arm.

“No you don’t” I say as I grab Christen’s hand. “There is too much that needs to be done and you will only distract one another, Christen you are helping me.”

“Fine” Christen answers with a sigh, following me into the pantry. “When is Hope back?”

“As soon as she has ran all the errands” I answer. “Which is hopefully soon.”

“Have you invited a lot of her family?” Christen asks and I nod.

“Her mom, stepdad, grandma, a few of her cousins and some of her close friends, who I haven’t actually met yet” I reply. “I’m a little nervous to be honest, her grandma and mom are nice but I don’t know the rest of her family.”

“It’s a bit different for Hope, she doesn’t seem as close to her family as you and I are with ours” Christen says and I nod.

“She had a different childhood” I say, not wanting to say too much.

/

“Did you get beer?” I ask.

“No babe, I just ignored the writing in block capitals and triple underlined” Hope says.

“I’m ignoring your cheeky comments” I say as Hope sneaks a kiss from me.

“Hey Christen, has Kelley forced you into helping?” Hope asks as she wraps her arms around me.

“I am happy to help” Christen smiles. “Actually, I better go and find Tobin. It’s about time she left for the bakery.”

“Good idea” I say with a smile as Christen walks off.

“What’s my next task boss?” Hope asks as I playfully slap her arm. “You know you are being bossy today.”

“Can you check Tobin has set up the grill and make sure everything is tidy outside?” I ask as Hope nods.

“Sure babe” Hope replies, heading outside while I check all the food is here.

Once I put the food away and check I have everything I make my way outside and find Tobin and Hope kicking around with a soccer ball.

“Tobin you need to go to the bakery now” I tell my friend. “And where is Christen?”

“She disappeared” Tobin answers, flicking the ball in the air before Hope heads it back.

“Disappeared?” I ask. “How can you not know where your own girlfriend has went?”

“I think she went down to the bottom of the lawn” Hope says, catching the ball on her foot before she kicks it in the air and then hits it with the back of her heel to pass it back to Tobin.

“Tobin!” I say loudly. “Go to the bakery for the cake.”

I then walk off to find Christen, eventually finding her playing with Onyx and Sasha. I shouldn’t be surprised to be honest.

“These dogs are so cute Kelley” Christen says, petting between Sasha’s ears.

“Yeah they are” I smile before remembering why I came to find Christen. “You need to go and pick up the cake, I don’t trust your girlfriend to do it alone.”

“Oh right” Christen nods. “I will grab Tobin and we will get on that.”

“Thank you.”

/

“Kel, can you get the door babe?” Hope asks as we hear a knock on the front door. “I am marinating the chicken.”

“Sure” I answer, making my way to the door and letting our teammates in.

“I’ve brought meat and Ali has wine” Ashlyn says and I smile. “Christen has brought some small desserts.”

“Thanks guys” I say, opening the door wider.

“And I’ve brought them” Tobin says as she gestures to the other three woman with a shrug.

“Everyone else is outside, go through” I say, gesturing for my teammates to head to the back of the house to go outside.

“Cool” Tobin says with a nod as she leads the other three through the house while I go back to the kitchen and find Hope covered in sauce.

“Are you struggling?” I ask with a chuckle.

“It’s just so messy” Hope answers. “I will need to go upstairs and change my clothes.”

“Can you make it quick, I really think we should be outside since we are the hosts?” I say as Hope kisses me.

“Chill out babe, you don’t need to panic” Hope tells me, placing a few more kisses on my lips. “I will be quick.”

“You better” I reply as Hope goes upstairs and I go to the front door to let our next guests in.

“Hopefully I can have a conversation with someone sane now” Carli says, a look of frustration on her face. “Why I had to ride with Pinoe and the kids is beyond me.”

“You’re here now and there’s alcohol” I say as Carli laughs and then I lead everyone outside.

I make sure everything is set up before going into hostess mode.

“Who wants beer?” I ask when I get outside. Ashlyn, Christen and Carli respond with a yes while Kriegs, Alex, Allie and Moe opt for a glass of wine.

“What kind of beer is it?” Tobin asks. “I don’t like that fancy stuff that you always try to get me to drink.”

“It isn’t fancy” I reply, Hope doesn’t like the fancy stuff and it’s her party.

“I will have a beer as well then” Tobin answers as I go to collect the beers.

“Kel, where are the dogs?” Hope asks as she enters the kitchen.

“They are in their area at the bottom” I reply, referencing the fenced off part of the lawn that it is only for the dogs. It’s an old horse paddock that the owner of Hope’s house no longer uses for his horses so he said the dogs can run around there.

“Good” Hope smiles. “I wasn’t sure if they were sleeping upstairs or outside.”

“I thought they would be better off outside and can run around” I say, taking the top of the beers. “Can you take these beers outside for me, I am going to get the meat out the fridge. Also send Christen in here.”

“I sure can” Hope replies, kissing me on the cheek before she disappears outside.

I busy myself with getting the sausage, chicken, burgers, veggies and the vegan options out of the fridge before Christen comes into the kitchen.

“Do you need help?” Christen asks.

“Sort of” I answer. “I don’t know the protocol with the vegan burgers, I don’t know how to cook them.”

“I will get Tobin on it” Christen says with a smile. “Anytime we have a barbecue, I put Tobin in charge of the grill.”

“Ok cool, I just need to organise the salad” I say as I check every cupboard for my favorite salad bowl.

/

“Are you ready to get grilling?”

“Of course” Hope answers with a smile, leaning in towards me. “Kiss?”

“Happy early birthday baby” I say as I pull out of the kiss.

“Thanks Kel” Hope responds before opening a pack of burgers.

“Don’t you guys clean your garden?” Tobin asks as she walks behind the grill to stand beside Hope. “There’s dog poo on the bottom lawn.”

“What?” I say shocked, panicking internally. The dogs aren’t allowed on the lawn, they have their own fenced off patch of land to run around on.

“Your face was hilarious there” Tobin says as she bursts into laughter.

“Only you would come up with such a mean joke Tobin Heath” I say as I punch my friend on the shoulder.

“You need to lighten up a bit, you’re so tense today” Tobin says, flipping a few burgers as Hope opens a packet of sausages. “You are acting like today is your wedding today or something, you are way more stressed than Press when she throws a function.”

“I just want people to know that I’m good enough for Hope” I say.

“Kelley, we all know you two are the best things to happen to one another” Tobin says with a supportive smile.

“Yeah, you and the rest of the team know” I reply. “But some of Hope’s family are sceptical plus there are some of Hope’s friends here that I haven’t met before and I want to make a good impression on.”

“Hope’s family are weird” Tobin says before turning to Hope. “No offense Solo, but they are. Who cares if they like you or not?”

“I care” I say as Hope smiles at me.

“Babe, my family don’t mean anything to me if they don’t like you” Hope tells me. “Stop worrying.”

“Ok” I nod.

“Come on, I want to introduce you to some of my closest friends” Hope says, pulling me over to a group of people and introducing me to everyone. The conversation flows naturally which makes me feel a bit more at ease. I don’t know why I was getting so worried.

“It is nice to see you looking so happy Hope” Hope’s friend Susan says. “You’re getting old though.”

“Thanks very much” Hope responds sarcastically to her friend as she wraps her arm around me. “At least I am younger than you.”

I can tell Hope is really close to these women, judging by the way they talk and joke around with each other. Not that I don’t think Hope is a strong and independent woman but it is nice to see her act so free and open around other people, she seems really relaxed. She’s a lot more relaxed around her friends than she is with her family so it’s nice to see that she has her people.

“If they tell you any weird stories about me Kel, just remember that you love me” Hope says with a laugh, placing a kiss on my cheek.

“Oh we have some good stories Kelley” Susan says, playfully winking at Hope.

/

“I should’ve guessed this is where you would be” Carli says with a smirk causing Hope and I to pull away from one another. “If you wanted to make out all day then why did you bother throwing a party?”

“It’s one kiss” Hope replies as she rolls her eyes.

“Three of us have caught you two sneaking off together” Carli says. We weren’t sneaking off, it’s just unfortunate that Ashlyn caught us kissing when we went to get more beers from the fridge or that Hope’s cousin caught us kissing out front when we went to collect some bottles of wine that Hope had in the trunk of the car.

“Can we help you with something Carli?” I ask as Carli holds up a broken plant pot. “Pinoe and Tobin had a kick around outside.”

“A kick around with the plant pot?” I ask as Carli frowns.

“No, Tobin brought a soccer ball with her and they broke the pot when Pinoe tried to copy the move Tobin was showing her” Carli answers. “Do you have any glue or something to fix it?”

“I will just throw it away, I can always buy another one” Hope answers.

“Why would Tobin bring a soccer ball to a birthday party?” I ask as Carli and Hope just stare at me.

“It’s Tobin, that should explain it” Carli says with a laugh. “That girl takes a ball everywhere.”

“To be fair Kel, it is a barbecue so the party is outside” Hope answers. “There’s nothing wrong with a little game.”

As the saying goes, time flies when you are having fun. It’s good to hang out with the team and our friends, especially since we get so little time to hang out outside of training.

“It’s time for cake, let’s do this” I say excitedly. “Christen, gather everyone around and I will go grab the cake.”

“Ok” Christen smiles, telling everyone to congregate around the table while I run to the kitchen to get the cake.

I successfully manage to carry the cake from the kitchen and outside without dropping it or tripping, that’s an achievement in itself to be honest, before I set it down on the table. It probably would’ve made more sense to light the candles when it was out here rather than when it was in the kitchen and I had to walk at a snail’s place to carry it.

Everyone starts to sing Happy Birthday, Pinoe as usual really just yelling the song.

I wink at Hope, who looks a little embarrassed by all the attention.

“Make a wish baby” I say as Hope leans over the cake to blow out the candles.

“What was your wish?” Pinoe asks.

“I am not telling you that, it won’t come true” Hope says to our friend before she turns and kisses me. “Thank you babe.”

“Your welcome” I say as I hand Hope the knife to make the first cut into the cake.

/

“You have cake all over your face” Hope tells me, using her thumb to clean a bit of cream off my face before she sucks her thumb.

“I’m not surprised” I say with a chuckle, it’s hard for me to eat without getting my face covered in food.

“Thank you for throwing this party for me today” Hope says and I smile.

“You’re welcome” I reply, leaning in to kiss Hope. “I’ve got more presents for you but I thought we should wait until your actual birthday for those.”

“Honestly, I don’t need any more presents” Hope responds as she wraps her arms around me. “Just being with you is enough. No one’s ever made me feel this loved and appreciated on my birthday before.”

“I’m going to make sure you feel loved every single day of your life” I state truthfully. I would do absolutely anything for this woman, which scares me a little but it also excites me.

“Thank you” Hope says, leaning in and kissing me.

After another hour, everyone has left and it’s just Hope and I alone. Hope and I tidy up before going upstairs to bed, promising we will tidy the house properly before we leave for camp tomorrow.

“Kel, are you ok in there?” I hear Hope shout from the bedroom.

“I will be out in a second baby” I shout back from the ensuite bathroom. I have one more surprise for Hope. I adjust the lingerie I am wearing before strapping on the heels, ensuring I am showing enough skin in the correct places before grabbing the whip and heading out of the bathroom.

“WOW” Hope says when I leave the bathroom and stand at the bottom of the bed.

“You like?” I ask with a teasing smile.

“Yes, I really do” Hope replies, licking her lips before she tosses her book to the other end of the room.

“How do you know what page you left the book on?” I ask as the item lays haphazardly on the floor, no bookmark in place.

“I don’t care, not with you looking like that” Hope says, trying to move off the bed but I stop her and lightly press the end of the whip against Hope’s chest.

“I don’t think so baby, stay where you are” I say, watching as Hope licks her lips once again and doing as I say.

As I move closer to my girlfriend, her eyes are travelling all over my body. They start on my lips before travelling down, stopping to look at my breasts peeking through the bra before her eyes continue their descent down my stomach, stopping to stare at my thighs where there’s a tiny bit of material covering between my legs and then Hope is eyeing my legs, my leg muscle accentuated by the heels.

“Fuck me” Hope mutters under her breath.

“Oh I will baby” I reply, Hope’s eyes fixated on me.

“I think I am going to come at the sight” Hope says, reaching over and touching my hip but I push her away. “It’s my birthday, let me touch you.”

“Be patient” I warn.

“I am being patient, do you know how much effort it is taking me not to just grab you and fuck you?” Hope asks, her eyes only now noticing the handcuffs sitting at the bottom of the bed.

“Are you ready for your birthday treat?” I ask as Hope nods eagerly.

I don’t waste any time, I make sure my girlfriend knows how much I want her and how much I love her.

“Harder” Hope shouts, the room filled with nothing but our moans and Hope’s hissing every time I use the whip against her skin. “That’s it… oh god.”

“Say my name” I say, hitting Hope’s ass with my prop. “SAY IT.”

Hope does as she is told, screaming my name along with some expletives.

“This is about you” I say, my breath hitching when I feel Hope’s fingers caressing my inner thigh. “It’s your birthday.”

“Well, for my birthday I want to make my girlfriend feel good” Hope says, leaning in and kissing me. “Let me make you feel good.”

I nod my head, unable to formulate a proper response when I feel Hope’s long fingers inside me.

“Uh…” I moan, quickly getting used to the feeling. It always catches me off guard when Hope looks at me, her warm eyes piercing into mine. It’s hard not to get lost in her eyes, they are like the ocean; so blue and calming.

“Look at me” Hope says gently, her fingers doing unimaginable things to me. “I want to really see you.”

It doesn’t take me long to come tumbling over the edge, Hope holding onto me throughout. She continues to thrust her fingers into me, keeping me writhing against her.

“Open your eyes” Hope instructs but it’s really hard. “Baby, look into my eyes.”

I do my best, staring straight into Hope’s eyes as the orgasm rumbles through me. My breathing is uncontrollable, my chest rising and falling rapidly as Hope looks at me and bites her lip.

“You’re beautiful” Hope says, kissing me repeatedly.

/

“Baby, let’s go” Hope shouts up the stairs to me.

“I’m coming” I answer, rushing down the stairs and pecking Hope on the lips. “Let’s go.”

“I will lock up if you can put the luggage in the cab” Hope says as I nod, making my way outside to the cab. Hope and I are going to meet the team at the hotel in preparation for our first match in a couple of days.

After the Tournament of Nations is over, we will both go back to our club teams for a few weeks before the NWSL season is over. Sky Blue aren’t in a position to make the playoffs but Seattle might depending on other team’s results.

“Did you lift your cell phone from the kitchen?” Hope asks as I nod and hold my phone in the air.

“I’ve got it here” I answer.

“Good” Hope says, leaning forward and telling the cab driver our destination. “I am so tired after the party.”

“Me too” I say before smiling. “The after party was particularly tiring too.”

“My ass is still sore when I sit” Hope answers as I laugh lightly. I may have got a bit too adventurous with the whip. “It was worth it.”

“It was” I nod, moving closer to Hope so I can cuddle into her for the rest of the journey.

/

The tournament didn’t start off in the most positive way. Our first game against Australia wasn’t our best by any standards. We lost one to zero and our play was not convincing at all. I didn’t start the game but came off the bench in the second half, my passes were weak, my shots were off target and I just couldn’t find the rhythm of the game. I don’t think any of us managed to play well today, our whole team just seemed off. I have to give credit to Australia, they played really well and managed to sneak a late goal.

Hope is very quiet during the bus ride back to the hotel, she always takes defeats personally so it’s best that I give her some time to be in her own bubble. The best thing we can do is just regroup at training tomorrow, focus on correcting our errors and then hitting the field for our next game against Brazil.

It’s always a short turnaround in these small tournaments so we need to ensure we stay focussed and improve on tonight’s performance.

“Ok ladies, I will see you all in the morning for practice” Tony tells us as the bus comes to a stop outside the hotel. “Team meeting after breakfast so be there for nine.”

We all filter off the bus, grabbing our belongings before saying goodnight and then making our way to our rooms.

“I will see you in the morning Kel” Hope tells me, placing a very quick kiss on my cheek before she is away. I didn’t even get a chance to respond because she left that quick.

“Are you coming?” Christen asks and I nod before I follow my roommate to the elevators.

A group of us squash into the elevator while the others take the stairs.

“Does anyone know what channel that documentary about spiders is on tonight?” Tobin asks as a few of us look at her.

“No, why?” Christen asks with a frown.

“I wanna watch it” Tobin answers as a few of us laugh.

“Really?” I ask. “You are scared of spiders and you want to watch a documentary about them?”

“Yeah” Tobin nods as I shake my head.

“I hope you have fun” I say, amusement still in my voice.

“Thanks” Tobin smiles just as the elevator stops. “Night everyone.”

“Goodnight” I reply back to the group.

“I will see you in the room Kelley” Christen tells me and I nod, walking towards my room to leave Christen and Tobin to have a moment alone.

/

Just as I am beginning to fall asleep, my phone buzzes with a text.

Hope (11:23pm): You awake? X

I quickly text back.

Me (11:24pm): Aware of what? Xx

Hope (11:24pm): Awake lol. I am guessing you were sleeping but awake now since you answered x

Me (11:25pm): Yeah I am awake now, I must’ve misread the text x

Me (11:25pm): Can you come to my room? I didn’t get a goodnight kiss x

Hope doesn’t respond for the next few minutes until I hear a soft knock at the door. I tiptoe my way across the room, careful not to wake Christen up, before I pull open the door and see Hope. She is standing in a hoodie, pyjama pants and a pair of fluffy looking socks on her feet.

“Two seconds” I whisper, quickly grabbing Christen’s sweater that’s by the door and then I slip my feet into my sneakers. “Let’s go.”

We silently make our way to the end of the corridor and take a left into a small lounge area called the reading lounge, a place where hotel guests can go to read while getting peace from other guests. It’s empty, just as I would’ve expected at this time of night.

When we get inside, Hope takes a seat on one of the couches and I place myself on her lap. I could’ve sat next to her but I preferred to do this.

“Can I get a kiss now?” I ask as Hope smiles, leaning up to peck me on the lips. “Babe, I want a better kiss than that.”

“Sorry” Hope laughs, leaning up and kissing me deeper.

“Thank you” I reply, cuddling into Hope. “Is the game still on your mind?”

“Yeah but I’ve had some time to get it out of my system” Hope responds and I nod. “You know what I am like, I am ready to work again tomorrow so we can get a better result on our next game.”

“You smell really good, what is it?” I ask, pulling away from Hope slightly to look at her.

“It must be the shampoo or a lasting smell from my shower gel” Hope answers. “I am not wearing any other fragrances.”

“It’s sweet but also a little fruity” I say, sniffing Hope’s hair before I sniff her skin. “I can smell whatever it is on your neck.”

“Can you?” Hope laughs before squirming when my breath tickles her skin.

“Yeah” I answer, nuzzling my face into Hope’s neck.

“We should get back to our rooms” Hope says as I pout. “It’s getting late and you only wanted to see me to get your kiss and now you’ve had it.”

“That’s not the only reason I wanted to see you” I say, lifting my head from my girlfriend. “It’s the main reason, but there were other reasons too.”

“Let’s go” Hope says, patting my ass to get me to stand up.

“Can you not just sneak me into your room and we can cuddle?” I ask, reluctantly standing up but not letting go of my girlfriend’s hand.

“Kel, do you have any idea the trouble we could get in if we get caught?” Hope asks as I smirk.

“We wouldn’t get caught” I answer, standing on my toes so I can reach up for a kiss. “We can cuddle all night and then I can wake you up with kisses, just how you like to be woken up.”

“That all sounds great but what about the fact that Megan Rapinoe will be in the next bed” Hope asks. “Not only does she have a big mouth and would probably tattle on us but I don’t want her seeing you and I having a private moment.”

“A private moment?” I ask with a laugh. “I suggested kisses not sex.”

“Make fun of me all you want, the answer is still a no” Hope says, pulling me towards the door. “Now come on, let’s go back to our rooms.”

“Ok fine” I reply, allowing Hope to lead me back to my room.

“Goodnight baby” I say as we stand outside my room.

“Goodnight Kel, sleep well” Hope responds, kissing me on the lips.

“I would sleep better if you were there but whatever” I mutter before Hope kisses me again and then she disappears back to her own room.

/

It’s the day of our second game and it’s also my girlfriend’s birthday. I hope we can really kickass tonight to get a win for my baby on her birthday, we also need the win if we have any shot of winning the tournament.

“Good morning” I say with a wide smile, presenting Hope with a bouquet of flowers. “Happy birthday babe.”

“Aw, thanks Kel” Hope replies, pressing a short kiss to my lips before inviting me into her hotel room.

“You’re welcome” I smile, taking a seat on Hope’s bed. “I wanted to be the first person to wish you a happy birthday.”

“Thank you again” Hope says as she pulls a sweater over her head and then sits on the bed next to me. “Shall we go down to breakfast?”

“I guess we should” I say with a sigh. “I would prefer to stay here with you and we could’ve done something special for your birthday but I know we can’t.”

“You threw me a kickass party the other night so I’m happy” Hope says, leaning in for a deeper kiss. “Just getting to see you on my birthday makes me happy.”

“I’ve got more presents for you” I say as we stand up. “I will give you them later and I think the team has organised a birthday dinner tonight.”

“I don’t want too much fuss” Hope says as I wave it off.

“I will always make a fuss of you baby” I reply, taking Hope’s hand in mine. “I especially want to make a fuss of you when it’s your birthday.”

“Maybe I can let you do that then” Hope smiles as we leave the hotel room and head towards the stairs. “The first thing I am doing is getting some coffee.”

“We both know you can’t function without your coffee” I reply, holding the door to the stairwell open for Hope.

“That’s true.”

We walk the rest of the way to the breakfast hall in silence, Hope’s hand securely wrapped in mine. Even the small things make me happy like just holding Hope’s hand or talking about silly things to her.

“I will get us both some coffee” Hope says and I nod. “If you are putting toast on, can you make me some too please?”

“Of course babe, I will meet you at the table” I say as we go our separate ways.

/

“That was some save” I say excitedly, jumping up and down as I grip onto Hope’s shoulders. “Not that I am surprised, you are Hope Solo after all.”

“It’s my job” Hope responds with a shrug as we shake the opposition’s hands. We’ve just beaten Brazil in a tough match, we won it four to three.

“A job that you do extremely well” I say, jumping onto Hope’s back as we go towards our team. Hope hooks her hands under my knees to give me a piggyback towards the middle of the field.

“I’m not sure I have any energy left to carry you across the field” Hope says as I bounce around on her back.

“You’re almost there Solo, hang in there” I say as Hope chuckles.

“Maybe you can give me a piggyback later?” Hope says, more of a question than anything else.

“What are you suggesting?” I ask, nuzzling my face into Hope’s neck.

“I will show you later” Hope says, bending down to allow me to jump off her back.

“Will you?” I ask with a smile.

“Yeah” Hope replies, throwing me a wink before she goes over to Carli.

“Good game dude” Tobin says, patting me on the back. “That last tackle at the end was insane.”

“Yeah, I’m just glad I timed it well” I reply. “It could’ve went dangerously wrong.”

“Yeah and you could’ve ruined your girlfriend’s birthday by letting another goal in” Tobin replies.

“Don’t be mean” Christen says to Tobin before patting me on the back. “That was a hard fought win.”

“Yeah it was” I nod. We found ourselves three nothing down just after half time, I knew we had a fight in us and we could pull off the win. We did leave it really late between our first and second goals. “You look like you hurt your knee Tobin.”

“Yeah, I will be fine” Tobin replies. “It was just a minor knock, nothing a bit of rest won’t fix.”

“Time to think about the next game” Christen says.

“Time to think about dinner, I am starving” I say as Tobin laughs.

“We should do our cool down exercises” Christen says as the three of us begin.

Hope’s birthday dinner went really well, it helped that the team was in a good mood after we won our game.

/

Since it’s my birthday in a couple of days, Hope wanted to take me out for dinner and treat me this time so we could spend some time together. The best thing about both our birthday’s being during a tournament is that we could celebrate together.

“Come on, we don’t want to be late for dinner” Hope says as I laugh.

“Chill out babe, there’s no rush” I say, going back to my conversation with Syd.

“Kel, we have a reservation” Hope says.

“Ok jeez” I laugh, I quickly finish my conversation with Syd before following Hope out of the hotel. “Why are you so impatient tonight?”

“I’m not” Hope says. “I just don’t think it is nice that we booked a table and can’t even show the restaurant some respect and turn up on time.”

“We have plenty of time” I say, not understanding Hope’s urgency. So what if we are a few minutes late, it’s only the two of us going to dinner so it is not like we have people waiting on us.

“Let’s just walk a little quicker” Hope says, picking up her pace and I follow.

“Where is it we are going?” I ask, swinging our interlocked hands. “I don’t think you actually told me.”

“It’s a surprise” Hope says. “All you need to know is that I think you will really love it.”

“Ok” I smile, following Hope as she leads us to the restaurant.

We only walk for another ten minutes until we are outside a small European style restaurant. Hope opens the door for me and allows me to enter first before we are greeted by a waitress.

“I have a reservation under the name of O’Hara” Hope tells the waitress, I wonder why she reserved the table under my name.

“This way miss” the waitress says, leading us towards our table as I grip onto Hope’s hand.

“Hope, wait…” I say, stopping dead in the middle of the restaurant.

“What babe?” Hope asks.

“That’s my mom… and my dad, wait that’s…”

“Oh yeah” Hope smiles. “I forgot I invited your family out here so you could celebrate your birthday with them.”

“You are amazing you know that, right?” I say, looking at my girlfriend.

“You can tell me how amazing I am later but now I think you should go and see your family” Hope says as we walk towards the table.

“Hi” I smile.

“There’s my little girl” my dad says, the first one to stand up and hug me.

“I can’t believe you are all here” I say after hugging my family. “I didn’t think you would make it out to any of the games.”

“We wanted to surprise you” my mom says. “Hope helped us arrange everything.”

“We know your birthday isn’t for a couple of days but since you have a game tomorrow we wanted to see you” my dad says.

/

“We should raise a toast” my dad suggests, picking his drink up off the table. “I will keep it short since I know you don’t like me doing this Kelley.”

I nod my head as my dad says a quick birthday speech before we toast.

“Thanks” I reply.

“Happy birthday sweetheart” my mom says with a smile. “I am glad we can spend time with you this year.”

“I am glad you are all here too” I reply before turning to Hope and smiling. I am glad I can spend my birthday with Hope as well. Last year I got to spend time with Hope on my birthday but it was different, we weren’t together and we were in the middle of the Olympics.

“I guess we should take a look at the menu” my mom suggests and I nod eagerly. I am so hungry, which isn’t really new.

“Shall we share babe?” I ask Hope who nods.

“Sure Kel” Hope responds before she picks two things from the menu for us to share.

Over the next two hours, I have the best time. It is so good to see my family and spend time with them, I really do miss them. I love soccer and I love how we are trying to improve the game but I really do dislike being so far away from my family.

I also love how Hope seems to just fit in with my family, she gets on with everyone and I know my parents really like her. Sometimes I feel like I should pinch myself, not quite believing how lucky I actually am. I don’t like not seeing Hope or my family as much as I would like but I also feel really grateful that I have a family and girlfriend that support me as much as they do. From when I was a little kid to now, my parents are still fully behind my dream and will do anything to make sure I am happy.

“We should let you girls get back to your hotel” my mom says as my dad pays the check. “You will need to get some sleep for the game tomorrow.”

“Yeah” Hope says with a nod. “We also don’t want Kelley getting us into trouble for being late for curfew again.”

“Never change sis” Erin says with a laugh as I frown. We weren’t that late, it was only like a few minutes and Dawn was just being particular.

“Good luck with the game tomorrow girls” my mom tells us before I hug her goodnight. “We will be cheering from the stands.”

“Thanks mom” I reply, finishing up my goodbyes with my family before they go back to their hotel and Hope and I go back to our hotel.

“Do you want to come to my room to hang out?” Hope asks and I nod. “I’ve got another present for you.”

“Another present?” I ask. “You really are amazing.”

Hope smiles at me before she interlocks her fingers with mine and we make our way upstairs to Hope’s room.

“Thank you so much for getting my family out here” I say gratefully, even if it technically isn’t my birthday for another two days, today definitely felt like it was.

“You don’t need to thank me” Hope replies.

Once we get into Hope’s room, she tells me to go and sit on the bed while she finds something in her luggage.

“You are not getting your proper present until the 4th but you can have this just now” Hope says, handing me a medium sized gift. “Open it.”

“Ok” I respond, excitedly tearing through the wrapping paper and revealing a bottle of my favorite perfume with a teddy bear wrapped around it. “Thank you baby.”

I place a gentle kiss on Hope’s lips before I take a better look at the teddy. It has a heart sewn onto its stomach with the words ‘I love you’ in white writing across the heart and a white ‘H’ on the sole of its right foot and a white ‘K’ on the sole of its left foot.

“I just saw it online and it said you could personalise it” Hope says with a shrug. “I thought it was cute, plus it’s small enough that you can travel with it so you have something to hug. You are always complaining that you have nothing to cuddle.”

“I love you so much” I say, moving so I can kiss Hope properly. “Tonight has been perfect, you’re perfect.”

“I love you too Kel” Hope says, pulling me closer and wrapping her arms around me.

/

We beat Japan in our last game but unfortunately it wasn’t enough, Australia won all their games so they won the tournament.

Pretty much everyone is flying out tonight to go back to their teams. My plan was to go back to NJ tomorrow but since it is my birthday tomorrow then I am flying to Seattle tonight and then I will head back to Sky Blue on Sunday, in time for Monday’s training.

“Are you ready to go babe?” Hope asks and I smile with a nod.

“Yeah, I just want to speak to Christen before we leave” I say as Hope kisses my cheek.

“I will get you outside the hotel in ten minutes” Hope says before leaving while I go and find Christen.

“Hey” Christen smiles.

“Hey, I’ve got the tickets” I say as Christen smiles wider at me.

“Thank you so much” Christen says gratefully. She wanted to take Tobin to see a basketball game but couldn’t get the tickets so I got my brother to contact a friend who works behind the scenes for the Portland Trail Blazers.

“I don’t physically have the tickets but I’ve got them reserved” I say as Christen hugs me.

“I owe you, you are the best friend ever” Christen says.

“You would do the same for me” I reply, pulling out of the hug. “I better go, Hope’s like you. She hates to be late.”

“Have a good birthday tomorrow” Christen smiles. “If Hope wants to spoil you then let her.”

“Don’t worry, I will” I answer, giving Christen one last hug before I rush down to the lobby and outside to where Hope is waiting.

“Ready?” Hope smiles.

“Let’s go babe” I reply as we enter the cab and make our way to the airport. “Thank you for suggesting we go back to Seattle, I wasn’t looking forward to spending my birthday alone tomorrow.”

“I didn’t want you to be alone either” Hope tells me. “I am going to make it my mission to ensure you are never alone on your birthday.”

/

My birthday starts off in the best way possible, Hope waking me up with a kiss and breakfast in bed. Our flight landed super late last night so as soon as we got back we went straight to bed. The more time I spend in Seattle the more it is beginning to feel like a home to me, mostly because of Hope.

“What do you want to do today?” Hope asks. “I have a few things planned but since we changed our plans last minute then I haven’t made a plan for the full day.”

“I just want to spend time with you” I reply, happy to do nothing all day as long as I am with my girlfriend.

“I need to take the dogs out for a walk, we could take them on that trail you like” Hope suggests. “I can pack some food and we can have a small picnic.”

“That sounds perfect babe” I answer. “If you give me ten minutes and then I will shower.”

“Ok” Hope nods. “Do you want your presents before or after your shower?”

“There’s presents?” I ask as Hope laughs softly.

“Duh, it’s your birthday baby” Hope says, pulling out a gift bag from the closet.

“You gave me presents the other night when we celebrated” I say.

“Your birthday only comes once a year” Hope says as I open the gift bag. The first present is a gold necklace with matching earrings and the second is a book that I had wanted for a while but never could get because it was always sold out. I could’ve got it electronically but I really wanted a hardback.

“Can you be any more incredible?” I ask, leaning in for a kiss which Hope immediately grants.

“I can try” Hope says, removing the breakfast tray and my gifts before she pulls me down the bed with the back of my thighs.

“I like a dominant woman” I say as Hope winks before I find her hands roaming my body and her lips on mine.

Two hours later and I still haven’t showered yet. Personally I blame Hope for being so irresistible that we couldn’t take our hands off of one another.

“Shall we shower together?” Hope asks, nipping my neck softly with her teeth. “That is if you can handle it or are you too tired.”

“I guess you will need to see” I respond, kissing Hope deeply before I get out of bed. “I will get the water started.”

I don’t need to turn around to know that Hope is looking at me.

Chapter Text

We ended the season with a loss, Sky Blue I mean. It was a poor performance by all of us today, there’s just something about this team that isn’t working. It’s hard to pinpoint the reason and its hard trying to figure out what I can do to make it better. I am not someone who gives up but with the season finished, I am seriously considering a move. I have spoken to the Sky Blue staff and we have come to an agreement that if the offer is good then they will let me go.

I do feel a slight bit of guilt, like I am bailing when the team need me but I’m just not happy here anymore. The last few seasons haven’t felt good and at times, I was beginning to really hate soccer. Christie has been really good, she had assured me that whatever decision I make she will support. She’s not only my captain but a good friend, she knows that I need to put myself first.

I am flying out to Seattle tomorrow, the Reign need to win to secure their place in the playoffs. A draw won’t do for them, they are relying on goal difference at the moment.

“Are you ready to go?” Christen asks me. Chicago were the team that beat us tonight so Christen, JJ and I are all heading out to dinner. They both promised there would be no football talk.

“I’m ready” I answer. “Where’s JJ?”

“She’s in your room fixing her makeup” Christen answers as I nod. “Her makeup got ruined on the walk from the hotel to here.”

“What time did you reserve dinner for?” I ask.

“Half past so we have time” Christen answers, she’s very specific when it comes to planning and ensuring everything is completed on time.

We do get to the restaurant on time, we were actually ten minutes early.

“This is a nice restaurant” JJ says as she looks around. “Do you come here a lot?”

“I’ve been a few times but a lot of my teammates don’t like it” I answer. “So I would only go if Hope or my family were here.”

“Is the food bad?” Christen asks. “Is that why your teammates don’t like it.”

“No, I really like the food” I answer, calling the waitress over so we can order some drinks. All three of us decide against alcohol. JJ and Christen are travelling back to Chicago tomorrow and I am flying to Seattle.

/

“Hey baby” Hope greets as she answers the phone.

“Hi babe” I reply back, a smile on my face. “I was just calling to let you know that my plane has landed and I am at the airport.”

“That’s good” Hope replies. “I wish I could pick you up but I am still at training, I could be here a while.”

“That’s ok babe, I am happy with getting a cab” I respond as I walk towards Starbucks to get a coffee. “I am just about to get a coffee and pastry.”

“Are you going to Starbucks?” Hope asks as I hum in response. “Babe, you know they overcharge.”

“Babe, you know I need coffee” I respond as Hope laughs down the line.

“I need to get back to training” Hope says. “I won’t be too late.”

“That’s ok, I will see you later” I say, making a kissing noise down the phone.

“See you when I get home” Hope says as we end the call. Home; I like that. I like the feeling I get in my stomach when Hope refers to her house as our home.

Once I get my coffee and collect my luggage, I go outside and wait for my Uber. Since the season is over, I get to spend more time here than I normally would. To be honest I just want to spend the next few days with Hope, trying to forget about Sky Blue and what my next move will be. Trades don’t happen overnight and the NWSL has a very weird system when it comes to players moving so I am not expecting to hear anything too soon.

/

As soon as I hear keys entering the lock and the front door opening, I race downstairs. To say I am excited to see Hope would be an understatement.

“Honey, I’m home” Hope says with a laugh before I am throwing myself at Hope, she catches me expertly in her arms like she always does. The impact of my jump doesn’t even make her flinch.

“Yes you are” I respond, immediately leaning in for a kiss. It’s hungry and intense but this is my girlfriend and I’ve missed her like crazy.

“Now there’s a welcome I wish I got every day” Hope says, placing me on the floor but keeping her arms securely around me. “If I wasn’t so gross and sweaty from training then I would do more than kiss you.”

“What would you do?” I ask as Hope smirks, using one of her hands to move my hair to lie over my shoulder.

“I would start with this” Hope answers, kissing my neck now that my hair is no longer preventing access.

“Yeah” I hum out, instinctively tilting my head back as I grip my girlfriend’s hips. I don’t care if she is sweaty from training.

“I would then do this” Hope says, biting on my shoulder before she goes back to kissing my neck. Her hand finding its way to my ass as she squeezes it. “I would probably take you to bed next, laying you across the covers before taking your clothes off, pulling your panties down with my teeth.”

I can feel the wetness pooling my underwear at the thought.

“I would kiss my way down your body, ensuring that I give your nipples plenty of attention as they stand hard for me” Hope says, causing me to involuntarily bite my lip as she sucks on my neck. “After leaving a trail of hickeys all over you, I would dip my tongue into your entrance; sucking and biting on your clit before fucking you with my tongue.”

“Take me upstairs” I demand, my breath ragged and my knees going weak at the thought.

We clumsily rush upstairs, Hope pulling me inside the bedroom and throwing me on the bed. The desire I feel is too much; I just want Hope to fuck me right now.

She tries to take it slow but I don’t let her, I undress quickly before I pull Hope’s pants and panties down in one motion. I flip us over once I have Hope naked, I can see the want in her eyes as she pulls me by the neck for a passionate kiss.

“I am going to ride your face” I say, moving my body closer to the top of the bed before I grip onto the headboard and slowly lower myself onto Hope, allowing her to get into a comfortable position.

She doesn’t waste time, she just grips onto my hips tightly and allows her tongue to explore me. The deeper she pushes, the more I moan. I grip onto the headboard tightly, my knuckles turning white and my body convulsing with each stroke and feeling of Hope’s nose nudging my clit every time she moves a certain way.

Hope digs her fingers into my hips, using her hands to force me to gently rut against her face. She uses her hands to guide me round in a circular motion as I rub against her face.

When my climax comes, I am slumped against the headboard as my body involuntarily shudders. My death grip on the headboard loosens but Hope’s strong hands hold my hips as she laps up as much of my juices as she can. Just the sight of Hope’s face, covered in me is enough to make me almost come again.

“I want you to taste yourself” Hope says, wiping her chin to catch the moisture before she holds her fingers up to me and requests that I suck them clean. I do as I am told before I feel my body weakening and then I lie slumped against Hope, my forehead pressed against my girlfriend’s shoulder. I allow the remaining wetness between my legs to coat Hope’s stomach as Hope places delicate kisses to my head.

/

I return the favour twice before Hope suggests that we both shower. I wanted to shower together but Hope declined; advising me that if we want to make it to dinner on time then we should do it separately. I am apparently too much of a tease and would cause us to be late because we would never get properly clean.

“Can’t we cancel dinner?” I ask as I walk out of the bathroom naked and wet after my shower.

“No, we…” Hope starts but stops talking when she turns around and notices I am naked. “Kel please, dinner with Pinoe was your idea. Stop trying to distract me.”

“How am I distracting you?” I ask, making my way over to Hope where she is finishing drying her hair.

“With your nakedness” Hope answers. “When I finished in the shower I left enough towels in there for you. You have no reason to walk out the bathroom naked.”

“I thought I would forego the towel and allow myself to air dry” I say, plopping down on Hope’s lap as she sits at her dressing table. “It’s better for your skin apparently.”

“Is it or did you just make that up?” Hope asks as I wrap my arm around her neck as I sit sideways on her lap.

“It is better than rubbing a towel over the skin” I reply. “You should get naked too.”

“Not happening” Hope says with a chuckle before she is kissing my cheek and then patting my thigh to get me to stand up. “Get ready for dinner Kel.”

“I am ready” I answer as I stand up.

“So you’re going to dinner with your hair wet and no clothes on?” Hope asks with a smile.

“Yeah, it’s a nudist restaurant that I booked” I fire back as I slowly walk back towards the ensuite bathroom. “Did I not tell you that baby?”

“You didn’t” Hope shrugs with a smile. “And I don’t think Seattle has one of those.”

“Worth a shot” I sing-song as I get inside the bathroom and grab a towel.

“Not really when you consider you invited Pinoe and Sue to dinner” Hope says as I re-enter the bedroom wrapped in a towel. “I wouldn’t be seen dead in a nudist anywhere, especially not with Megan Rapinoe.”

“Oh yeah… yeah that’s not a thought I want” I say with a frown. That’s like seeing a family member naked, eugh.

“Are we driving or taking a cab?” Hope asks as she puts her makeup on.

“I will drive, I am not in the mood to drink” I answer as Hope nods.

“You’re not pregnant are you?” Hope teases.

“Shut up” I respond. “No, I just don’t feel in the mood for alcohol.”

“That’s cool baby, we can still take a cab though” Hope says as I wave it off.

“I am happy to drive” I smile, going into the closet to find the outfit I want to wear.

/

“Thank you for inviting us to dinner” Sue says with a smile. “It’s very rare we get to go out with other couples, Megan usually says something borderline offensive which stops other couples asking us out again.”

“That was one time” Megan says as she rolls her eyes. We have already ordered our food so now we are just waiting on it arriving.

“What was one time?” I ask as I place my hand on Hope’s thigh and unconsciously move closer to her.

“She asked my friend how many weeks pregnant she was” Sue answers as Megan shakes her head. “Which to me is a forward question to someone you have only just met, but it seems extra forward when the woman isn’t even pregnant.”

“Pinoe!” I gasp.

“I truly didn’t mean any offence” Pinoe says with a sigh. “From my angle it looked like she had a curve to her stomach.”

“You still don’t presume someone is pregnant and you still don’t ask unless they tell you” Hope says, chuckling lightly with the rest of us. It is such a Pinoe thing to do.

“I didn’t think she looked fat plus Sue does have a pregnant friend so I just assumed it was the same person” Pinoe answers.

“Hope thought I was pregnant” I say as Hope nudges me.

“No I didn’t, it was clearly a joke assumption just because you said you weren’t drinking” Hope says. “It was pretty obvious I was joking considering there’s no way you could ever be pregnant just now. Pinoe’s assumption is way worse.”

“Thanks Solo, keep us on this topic why don’t you?” Pinoe says.

“Let’s change the subject then, how’s your basketball season?” Hope asks which gets Sue into a discussion about her team. I am not really clued up on basketball so I just let the other three talk, giving my input when needed. It’s rare for me to be so quiet but there’s something I love about listening to my girlfriend getting so passionate about stuff.

/

“I think that guy is watching us” Hope says, staring to the left at a man who is three tables in front of us. “Every time I take a sip of my drink, I can see him out of the corner of my eye.”

“Just ignore him” Pinoe says, focussing on her food.

“I think I am going to say something” Hope says as she puts her napkin down and goes to stand up.

“Babe, don’t” I say as I grab Hope’s hand. “Just leave it.”

“No” Hope says, pulling her hand away gently. “I am not having us being watched as we eat.” And with that Hope walks over to the man.

“What’s she saying, I’ve got my back to the table so I can’t see?” Pinoe asks.

“I don’t know, she’s just gesturing with her hands” I answer, taking a sip of my water as I keep my eyes on Hope.

“What does the guy look like?” Sue asks, she’s next to Pinoe so she’s also got her back to the guy’s table.

“Dark hair, maybe my age” I answer with a shrug.

A few minutes later and Hope is back at the table.

“Claims to be a fan of the national team” Hope says as she sits down. “Apparently he was staring because he was debating whether to approach us for an autograph.”

“Did you give him an autograph?” Pinoe asks as Hope shakes her head. “Why not?”

“Would you give him an autograph if he asked about his chances with your girlfriend?” Hope says. “If it was a genuine interest in the team then yeah, I would’ve given him one or got Kelley to sign something for him since he claims she is his favorite player but it wasn’t genuine.”

“How do you know it wasn’t genuine?” I ask.

“He asked if Kelley O’Reilly was single.” Hope says as Pinoe laughs. “Fair enough to get a name mixed up but why tell me someone is your favorite player of all time and you have been following their career for years when you don’t even know their name.”

“Maybe it was a slip up” Pinoe suggests.

“Was it also a slip up when he couldn’t tell me what team she played for, how can you follow someone’s career without knowing which team they play for?” Hope says. “He didn’t seem so interested when I mentioned she was married to an NFL player and did he not see the wedding pictures in people magazine.”

“You didn’t, babe that’s mean” I say as Hope laughs.

“The best of it is, he suddenly remembered seeing the pictures in People” Hope says as Pinoe bursts out laughing. “I wasn’t being difficult because he asked me if Kelley was single, I am not that jealous but come on. Don’t tell me you’re a fan if you don’t know the person’s name or team they play for.”

“I guess” Pinoe says.

“I would prefer he was honest and said, I know of the team and am a casual fan, can I get an autograph. He didn’t need to tell me his favorite player and I didn’t ask” Hope says. “He did also almost manage to convince me that he knew your name Pinoe.”

“Did he?” Pinoe asks.

“He called you Jess Fishlock but he was a bit more convincing because he was able to tell me who you play for” Hope says as Pinoe laughs.

/

“Do you think we have a song?” I ask as Hope looks down at me. Once we got back from dinner we got into our sweatpants and snuggled up on the couch.

“What do you mean?” Hope asks, kissing my head.

“Like a song to represent us” I answer. “You know, a song that represents us and our relationship. What’s our song?”

“I don’t know Kel, I never really thought about it” Hope answers, a look of thought on her face. “There are some songs I hear on the radio and it makes me think of you.”

“Really?” I ask in surprise.

“Yeah, sometimes the lyrics just hit you” Hope says with a smile. “I will hear a love song or a romantic song and you are my first thought.”

“Even after a year together, you still make me blush” I reply, feeling genuinely touched by that.

“A year is nothing babe, not when you think about all the years we still have to come” Hope says, squeezing me tight. “I know it in my heart that you’re the one Kel, you are who I am meant to spend my life with.”

“I actually can’t wait to spend my life with you” I say with a smile. “I am so excited for what the future brings.”

“Talking about the future, I wanted to discuss something with you” Hope says, sounding serious. “I’ve been thinking about my playing career.” Hope and I have had a few discussions back and forth about this, Hope’s not sure if aiming for another world cup is possible or not. She loves playing and is not ready to give that up yet but her shoulder is causing her some issues.

“What were you thinking baby?” I ask, threading my fingers through Hope’s.

“Do you think I would regret it if I stepped away from the national team before the next world cup?” Hope asks. “I don’t feel finished yet Kel, I don’t know that I want the Rio Olympics to be my last tournament.”

“Only you know how you feel babe” I answer. I know I’m not ready to retire so I honestly don’t know how Hope feels. “You know your body and you know your mind. Physically and mentally you need to decide what you want.”

“I don’t know” Hope says. “Sometimes my shoulder is fine and other times it isn’t, I know mentally I don’t want to retire but maybe it’s my time.”

“Only you know” I answer as Hope hums in thought.

/

“Good luck at the game today baby” I tell Hope as I kiss her as she leaves to head to meet the team. “I will be cheering you on from the stands.”

“Thanks Kel, see you later” Hope says as she walks down the path towards her ride. We agreed I would drive Hope’s car to the stadium later and then we can leave together and Hope will get a lift with her teammates just now.

“Right you two, time for a walk?” I ask the two dogs, both of them circling around my legs and jumping on me. The ‘W’ word always gets them happy, they love when they can go out on a walk.

While out walking, I call Erin. We haven’t spoken for a few days since we have both been busy with work commitments.

“Who are you supporting tonight?” Erin asks down the phone. “Seattle or Portland.”

“It has to be Seattle” I answer, even if Hope wasn’t on the team I would still support Seattle over Portland.

“I thought you would say that” Erin answers. “I will look out for you amongst all the fans when I watch on TV later.”

“Thanks” I laugh. “Are you still at work?”

“Thankfully I’m not” Erin answers before I allow her to vent about work. She’s always listening to me when I am moaning about my issues.

“Sasha, put that down” I say when I notice the dog with something in her mouth. It turns out to be a water bottle. “Give me it here, good girl.” Sasha reluctantly lets it go and I put it in the trash.

“I don’t know why I find it so funny that you are walking Hope’s dogs” Erin says and I can almost hear the smirk in her voice. When we were younger, my grandparents had this little dog and I absolutely hated it. I only hated it because it hated me, every time I went near it, it would bark or snarl at me.

“I actually enjoy it” I answer. “When Hope comes with us, she is always striding ahead with her long legs so it’s nice when Hope isn’t here so the dogs and I can walk at a comfortable pace.”

“Glad you are enjoying yourself” Erin tells me.

We talk for another few minutes before I need to get the dogs settled at the house and I get ready to go to the stadium to watch Seattle’s last game of the season. A place in the playoffs up for the taking if Seattle wins.

/

The night didn’t quite go as planned. Hope and I had an argument over dinner which spoiled the night. It started after the match, Seattle lost which I think put Hope in a mood. Hope and I agreed to meet at the car to head to dinner but for some reason Hope seems to think we agreed to meet outside the stadium. That caused the first bit of tension before I put my foot in it by saying the wrong thing about Seattle’s loss. I made a comment that didn’t leave my mouth the way I intended it too.

I decided to give Hope some space so I am going to sleep on the couch tonight. Our disagreement was caused by a minor issue but sometimes it is better that we have some space.

The next thing I know, I am waking up in darkness. When I check the time, it is just before six in the morning. I notice Onyx sleeping on the floor next to the couch. He wanted to keep me company last night. Every time I tried to get him to go into his bed he would always wind up back in the living room so eventually I just let him stay.

I decide to get up and make my way towards the bedroom, the house is still in darkness so I presume Hope is still in bed. When I get inside the room, I see Hope snuggled under the covers as she clings onto my pillow.

“Hope?” I whisper as I get on the bed and straddle my girlfriend.

“Yeah?” Hope responds, opening her eyes ever so slightly.

“I don’t like sleeping on the couch” I answer as Hope opens her eyes fully.

“You didn’t come to bed?” Hope asks as I shake my head. “Why not?”

“I wanted to give you space after our disagreement” I answer as Hope grips on my hips and discards the pillow.

“Don’t sleep on the couch again” Hope tells me. “It doesn’t matter if we’ve had a disagreement, I still want you in our bed. It was just some silly argument and means nothing.”

“I’m sorry for sleeping on the couch” I apologise as Hope kisses me.

“I’m sorry for causing an argument” Hope says, pulling me to lie on top of her. “I was in a mood because of the game and I shouldn’t have got grumpy around you.”

“Make-up sex?” I ask as Hope chuckles.

She doesn’t answer, instead she kisses me deeply. She bites my lip as we pull away to breathe, our chests already rapidly rising and falling.

I grip Hope’s tank top and pull it over her head, thankfully she has no bra on so it gives me immediate access to her breasts. Her nipples are already standing to attention due to the cold air in the room. I lean down and take a nipple in my mouth, gently sucking and biting it as I feel Hope buck her hips up against me.

As I pay attention to her breasts, Hope reaches under my tank top and runs her hands over my back before her finger tips dip into the waistband of my shorts and then she’s pulling them down. I momentarily let go of Hope’s nipples so I can lift my hips off of Hope’s pelvis and allow her to pull down my shorts before I quickly stand up and take them fully off, I yank my tank top off at the same time before I resume my position on top of Hope.

I eye her breasts hungrily, I can just see the wetness on her nipples where my mouth just was. Just as I am about to capture a nipple in my mouth again, Hope stops me.

“Touch yourself” Hope demands softly as she takes my hand in her hand. “I want you to fuck yourself with your hand.”

I nod my head before sliding my hand down my stomach and entering two fingers into my already soaking heat. Hope watches on as she bites her lip.

“Tug on my nipple with your other hand” Hope says, pulling my left hand towards her sensitive nub.

I can’t quite get the coordination correct to begin with but then I manage a rhythm, every tug on Hope’s nipple I thrust my fingers into myself and I slowly manage to do both at once. Hope just watches me, hissing in pain slightly when I tug too hard. I twist the nub between my fingers until I get too distracted with what my other hand is doing that I have to let go of Hope’s nipple.

Personally, I don’t think she notices that I’ve let go. She is too busy watching my hand as my fingers thrust and twist into my heat. I’m getting sloppier and sloppier with my movements, my hand tiring and my orgasm looming.

Hope somehow manages to shimmy out of her own shorts before she focusses her eyes back on me.

“When you begin to come, I want you to come all over me” Hope says, thrusting her hips into me so I can feel her naked pelvis below me.

“I’m almost there” I say breathily, my hand is getting really sore now but I don’t care. “I…” I let it go, my body limp as I fall on top of Hope as I allow the orgasm to rip right through me. She holds me tight like she always does, running her hands over me while alternating her kissing between my lips, neck and head.

“That was so hot” Hope whispers in my ear.

After I have had just enough time to control my breathing, Hope adjusts our positions. She lays me down on my side against the mattress before she lifts one of my legs and angles her body in between.

I almost come again when I feel Hope’s wet center pressed against mine. She slowly begins to rub herself against me and then I can’t think straight. I can’t think about anything.

/

“We need to get up” Hope says as I groan. “I’m sorry but I’ve got recovery to do after the game yesterday.”

“I want to lie in bed with you all day” I say with a pout that Hope kisses away.

“I want that too babe but I need to look after my body” Hope says as I smirk.

“I am quite happy to take care of your body” I say, winking at Hope before I attach my lips to her neck.

“I would be happy for that too babe but I really do need to attend to my shoulder” Hope says and I nod. “It was quite painful after the game so I need to make sure I don’t aggravate the injury.”

“Ok” I nod. I know she has a serious issue with her shoulder, that’s the reason there is doubt over her playing career. I don’t think I quite understood the severity of it until I saw the pain she was in after a Seattle match a few weeks ago. I was watching on TV but even I could see how much she was struggling.

“Do you want me to take you out to lunch?” Hope asks as she gets out of bed, I don’t register that it is a question because I am too busy looking at my girlfriend’s naked body. “Kel?”

“Sorry, what?” I ask, taking my eyes away from Hope’s breasts and looking at her.

“Lunch?” Hope laughs. “Shall I pick you up after I’ve done my recovery session? I need to go into the training centre.”

“Yeah, sounds good” I answer as I move to get out of the bed. “I am going to go to the gym this morning and get a workout myself.”

“I will take the dogs on a short walk before I leave and then they can get a longer walk later” Hope says as she throws her robe on. “I am going for a shower.”

“Ok” I reply, watching Hope walk away before I throw a t-shirt and shorts on.

I make my way to the kitchen and open the door to let the dogs outside while I busy myself with preparing the dogs’ food. I make sure that I stick to the instructions Hope left, pouring the exact amount of dried food into their bowls. The vet has them both on strict diets of two small meals a day rather than one large meal at night.

All it takes is one shake of the food bowls and both dogs are racing back into the house and gobbling up their food. I may not be good at preparing food for humans but I make a mean bowl of dog kibble.

What I can do for humans is make a good pot of coffee, so that’s what I do while I wait for Hope to get out of the shower.

Both dogs just look at me when they are finished their food, clearly asking for more but Hope’s the boss.

“You doggies know I can’t give you more” I say as I stroke them both. “Mommy and the vet said so.”

They both continue to look at me, Onyx nudging my hand with his nose as he licks me. Sasha lifts her left paw onto my thigh and stares at me, one thing I have noted about her is that if she puts her left paw on you that means she wants food and if she puts her right paw on your foot or shoe that means she wants outside.

“They’ve been fed but want more” I tell Hope as she enters the room, now dressed in her training clothes.

“That’s all you are getting” Hope says, tickling behind Onyx’s ear. “You both know better than to pester mommy Kelley.” I stop rubbing Sasha’s fur for a second, Hope’s never referred to me as their mom before. I know it’s a small detail but to me it means a lot, it makes me feel accepted in Hope’s life. She never made me feel unaccepted but just knowing she considers something of hers as ours makes me weak. I’m pretty sure she called her bedroom, our bedroom earlier and she always refers to the house as ours.

/

I spend the next three weeks in Seattle with Hope, probably the most time we have ever spent consecutively together, and it has been the best three weeks of my life. I have loved every single minute I got to spend with Hope.

We’ve had the occasional disagreement, just like any couple but for the first time in our relationship I actually feel like this is how it’s meant to be. I love going to the gym or going out and then coming home to Hope in the evening. It’s also good for us to spend time together, we’ve been on day trips together and we’ve also managed to train together.

“Baby, can we talk?” Hope asks as I nod.

“Sure, sounds serious” I say as I quickly dry my hands and then sit down across from Hope at the kitchen table.

“I want to discuss something with you” Hope says as I nod. “You know how Laura Harvey is the new head coach at Utah Royals.”

“Yeah” I nod, Hope was pretty sad when Laura left the Reign. She always told me that Laura was one of the best managers she has ever had.

“Her and Vladko are in discussions with their staff about trading me from Seattle to Utah” Hope says. I am a little shocked to be honest but Hope seems calm about it.

“Wow” I say. “How do you feel about it babe?”

“That I really want it to happen” Hope says, which also shocks me. I know she talked about potentially moving to another club but I always thought deep down that she would never leave the Reign, she loves living here.

“Really?” I ask. “I didn’t think you would ever want to leave living here.”

“I’ve got my reservations but I don’t know…” Hope says, pausing for a moment before smiling. “I think a change would be good for me.”

“When did you hear?” I ask, trying to take everything in. I know it doesn’t impact me directly but Seattle’s been like my second home, obviously I would have no reason to visit if Hope isn’t here.

“A few hours ago” Hope says before grabbing my hand. “I am sorry I didn’t mention it right away but I wanted time to think it through.”

“Of course” I say, all these thoughts whirling around in my head.

“Are you annoyed that I said I was open to it before consulting you?” Hope asks as I shake my head.

“Of course not babe, this is your decision” I say, squeezing Hope’s hand. “I am surprised how cool and enthusiastic you seem about it.”

“Why?” Hope asks with a soft smile.

“I honestly didn’t think you would want to leave Seattle” I say, looking at Hope. “Not just the Reign but you grew up not far away and your mom and grandma are so close. You are moving to another state.”

“I know but when I weighed it all up, I genuinely think it is a good move” Hope says. “I feel like a fresh start is what I need. Plus I get to continue working with Coach Harvey.”

“I guess I am just a little sad because I will miss this place” I say truthfully. “I will just need to get used to visiting you in Utah.”

“I just feel like this is the right move for me” Hope says as I move to sit on her lap. “My lease is up on this place anyway so I won’t be losing money, I still needed to look for another place to rent anyway.”

“If you are sure about this then I am obviously one hundred percent behind your decision” I reply, hugging into Hope. “There is a lot you need to consider, from a personal point too. You need to speak to your mom and grandma soon, if the deal goes through I don’t want your grandma reading about it before you tell her.”

“I know, I was thinking we could have dinner with her tonight” Hope says. “I can get her to make that chicken you like.”

“She may already have dinner plans, it’s a bit short notice” I reply as Hope shrugs.

“She can change them for her favorite granddaughter in law” Hope responds with a smirk. Her grandma and I have a good relationship, probably founded by our love for Hope.

“You can ask her but don’t pressure her babe, I don’t want to take advantage of her good nature” I reply. “We can treat her to lunch tomorrow if tonight doesn’t work out.”

/

“Come in girls” Alice says, leading us both into the house. “Dinner is just cooking.”

“Ok grandma” Hope smiles.

“We have other dinner guests too” Alice says.

“Is mom here?” Hope asks as Alice shakes her head. “Who then?”

“Your brother” Alice says as Hope frowns. “Don’t try and argue this, I invited him here because I hate that you two are fighting again.”

“Grandma, we’re not fighting again” Hope says with a loud sigh of dissatisfaction. “There’s no again, we were in a constant fight so we just don’t speak now.”

“You need to start speaking” Alice says.

“With all due respect grandma but I am going to need to pull out of dinner” Hope says. “You should’ve told me earlier that he was coming.”

“If I had told you then you wouldn’t have come here” Alice says. “Is it too much to ask for both my grandchildren to have a meal together.”

“Yes grandma” Hope answers. “You don’t like seeing Marcus and I fighting and that’s exactly what will happen if we are around a table together.”

“Kelley, have you ever met Marcus, apart from that first time?” Alice asks me and I shake my head. “Hope, you’ve been with Kelley over a year and she has only met your brother once. Is that not weird to you?”

“Nope, not at all” Hope replies stubbornly. “Kelley is the best thing that has ever happened to me, why would I ruin it by introducing her to someone like him.”

“Hope…”

“Seriously grandma, I love you but I can’t have dinner with him” Hope says as she walks towards the front door but I stop her.

“Babe, is it such a bad idea?” I ask. I know about Hope’s past and her relationship with her brother but this can’t be easy on Alice.

“I am not even going to dignify that with an answer” Hope responds as I roll my eyes.

“Alice, why don’t you check on dinner” I say, wanting a moment alone with Hope. “I won’t let her out that door.”

“Thank you dear” Alice replies before disappearing into the kitchen.

“We are staying for dinner whether you like it or not” I say sternly as Hope sighs loudly.

“No we’re not” Hope says, folding her arms across her chest. “I am not having dinner with him Kel, and I am certainly not sharing my news with grandma when he’s there.”

“I don’t get the problem, I know you don’t get along but even you said your relationship with him is better than it ever has been” I reply.

“Better as in, I only want to punch him five times rather than fifty” Hope says as I burst out laughing at how absurd this all seems.

“Seriously babe, don’t be childish” I reply, shaking my head.

“This is how it is Kel, you need to accept that I don’t want him in my life” Hope says. “Things are better now, you’re right but that’s because we keep our distance and avoid one another.”

“Which isn’t good for your grandma or mom” I say as Hope shakes her head as her grandma returns from the kitchen.

“I’m sorry grandma, I will come and visit you tomorrow but we are not staying for dinner” Hope says, her hand poised on the front door handle.

“I’m staying for dinner” I say, walking away from Hope. “If you are leaving then either leave me with the car or leave me money for an Uber.”

“You’re not staying” Hope says as I glare at her.

“Excuse me” I reply sternly. “I think you will find that I am, I came here for my dinner and to see your grandma so that’s exactly what I will be doing.”

I take a hold of Alice’s arm and lead us through to the living room. Just as I expected, Hope is hot on my heels. She’s sighing loudly but she’s staying. She knows that I know she wouldn’t leave without me.

“Hope and Kelley are here” Alice says. “Kelley, I don’t believe you have met Marcus’s wife.”

“I haven’t” I reply as Alice introduces us.

The night has went well, we found out that Marcus and his wife are expecting a baby. Alice is desperate for Hope and Marcus to try harder so she sneakily invited Marcus to dinner so he could share his news in person rather than telling Hope through their grandma.

I actually got along really well with Marcus’s wife Melanie, much to Hope’s disappointment. She is a little bit like Hope so I guess she and Hope clash because they are so similar. I am not saying I am going to suddenly become good friends with Marcus and Melanie but I will be civil towards them.

“Can we go now?” I whisper loudly in Hope’s ear as she drives us home.

“Shut up” Hope says as I laugh. Three times Hope whispered ‘can we go now?’ in my ear at her grandma’s house. “Stop making a fool of me.”

“You were acting like a little kid who was bored” I reply, laying my hand on Hope’s leg. “Admit dinner wasn’t as bad as you expected it to be.”

“I mean…”

“Hope?” I warn.

“Ok, it wasn’t that bad” Hope says as I smile. “I won’t be making a habit of it.”

“I am not asking you too, I just want you to at least try” I say, squeezing Hope’s thigh. “I saw you trying tonight.”

“I did it for you since you were so persistent” Hope says and I nod. I know she did it for me but hopefully in the long run it will help.

“Your grandma is an amazing woman Hope and I can see how much it pains her that you and Marcus don’t get along” I say as Hope smiles lightly, she knows I’m right.

“I will try and be better” Hope says and I kiss, that’s all I want.

/

Hope and I have just arrived in New York, we are here for Allie Long’s wedding. The wedding isn’t until tomorrow but we booked into the hotel from today.

“Hi, we have a room booked under the name of O’Hara” Hope says as we approach the check in desk. The receptionist goes over all the details with Hope while I play around with my phone.

“Here is your information” the receptionist says. “I will have someone take your bags upstairs, do you have any questions?”

“No, that’s great” Hope smiles. “Thank you.”

“You’re welcome, have a nice stay” the receptionist tells us before we follow the small map of the hotel Hope has so we know where our room is.

“We should get a couple’s massage” I say as I look through all the pamphlets we were given, advising us of the things the hotel offers.

“Why?” Hope asks as she presses the button for the elevator.

“Because we are a couple and massages are relaxing” I answer, following Hope into the elevator that just arrived and I press the button for the fourth floor.

“That’s not really my thing Kel” Hope replies. “If I need a massage, it’s because of an injury so I would get one of the trainers to do it.”

“What if you wanted a massage to help you relax?” I ask.

“I wouldn’t, I would prefer to do something else to relax” Hope says and I nod. “I don’t like strangers touching me.”

“That’s their job” I say.

“Look Kel, the only people who can touch me are Physios, trainers or you” Hope says. “You can still have a massage, I am sure the hotel offer similar treatments for individuals and not just couples.”

“Yeah, well this hotel seems kinda romantic so I want to do something with my girlfriend” I say. “I didn’t come here to do stuff on my own, I want to be with you.”

“There must be something else we can do” Hope says, taking the pamphlets from me. Unbeknown to me, Hope has already planned a host of activities for us to do that fits around the wedding tomorrow.

“This is our floor” I say as the elevator stops and we walk outside to go and locate our room.

“The concierge should be there with our bags already” Hope says as we turn left and then see our room. She’s correct, the concierge is already there.

“Thank you” I reply to the man who hands me an envelope.

“Thanks” Hope says, tipping the man before he leaves the room.

“I wonder what this is” I say, gesturing to the envelope in my hand.

“You won’t know unless you open it” Hope replies as she busies herself with moving our luggage while I open the envelope. “What is it?”

“You know what it is” I reply as I smile at Hope. “I am presuming you booked it.” In my hand is a letter of confirmation of our booking at one of New York’s finest Italian restaurants, there’s always a long waiting list to get a table.

“I did” Hope nods and I walk over and place a gentle kiss on her lips. “I may have some other plans for us too. Check the bathroom.”

When I walk into the bathroom I see a large bath filled with steaming hot water and rose petals in the shape of a heart. When I look closer I notice a small card at the side of the bath, it has a sweet but simple love poem.

“I hope my poem isn’t too cheesy, I am not good with writing about my feelings” Hope says. “Especially formulating them into a poem.”

“It isn’t cheesy at all” I say in admiration. “I am the luckiest woman ever.”

“We don’t want the bath water to get cold, I may join you in the tub” Hope says as I nod eagerly.

“Please do” I say, pulling Hope into a heated kiss before we are both undressing and stepping into the tub. I lay against Hope, my head on her chest as we relax amongst the bubbles and bath salts. “This feels amazing.”

“It does” Hope says, placing gentle kisses on the back of my neck before she holds me close against her.

/

 The restaurant is amazing, from the food to the service. The company was pretty good too, Hope keeps surprising me with all these little things. As soon as we got to our table, Hope had a bouquet of roses waiting for me. She told me that she wants to spoil me because we don’t get much time together to take trips and just be us.

“I have one more surprise” Hope says with a smile as we are walking back from the restaurant.

“Ok” I nod with a smile.

“This” Hope says, pointing to a horse and carriage. “Your carriage awaits… quite literally.”

“You booked us a carriage ride through New York?” I ask as Hope smiles and nods.

“Yeah” Hope smiles as she leads me over to our carriage and we get on. After getting a quick briefing on the carriage ride, we set off.

“You are a lot more romantic than you let me think” I say, tucking into Hope’s side as we head through New York.

“I remember when I came to visit you in New Jersey and you would tell me about how close you were to New York but were always too busy to experience it” Hope says. “Our jobs are hectic so when we do get the chance to be together then I want to grab it with both hands.”

“It is nice to just relax and forget about football or training” I say, watching as New York passes by us. “Its moments like this that really remind me that; football isn’t everything.”

Hope nods in agreement. I wouldn’t change anything about my life, I really love football and I truly feel really grateful for the opportunities that have come my way but ever since Hope and I got together, I realise that she is the most important thing in my life. Football has given me a lot but my family and Hope are what makes my life great.

“Are you cold?” Hope asks. “There’s a blanket here if you need it.”

“I’m fine babe” I smile, cuddling closer to Hope. “I’ve got you to keep me warm.”

“I only booked the short carriage ride since we have been up early this morning and we have Allie’s wedding tomorrow” Hope says and I nod.

The rest of the ride is spent in mostly silence, Hope will occasionally point out different things to me like quaint shops or tourist attractions. In another world this would seem cheesy but I am loving it, I’ve never been on a carriage ride before but there is just something about New York that makes it special.

“Oh my god Kel, that guy is proposing to his girlfriend” Hope says as she points out a man and woman in a carriage on the opposite side of the road. The man is down on his knees with a ring in his hand.

“That’s sweet, they look so happy” I reply.

“I’m guessing she said yes since she is all over him” Hope says with a laugh. “They look quite young.”

“I was thinking that” I agree. “As long as they are happy, that’s all that matters.”

“Exactly” Hope smiles, kissing me on the cheek.

/

“Shall we go down to the hotel restaurant for breakfast?” I ask as Hope smiles and shakes her head. “You’ve already planned something haven’t you?”

“Yup” Hope answers, popping the ‘p’. “This weekend is my treat to you, it’s my way of showing you how much I love you and how thankful I am for you making my life better.”

“What do you have planned then?” I ask, bouncing over to the bed and lying down next to Hope.

“I’ve order something from the room service menu for ten o’clock” Hope answers. “Since we have the wedding in the afternoon I figured you would want a relaxing morning.”

“How do you know me so well?” I ask as Hope shrugs and kisses me. “We have ten minutes until breakfast, how about we spend it wisely.”

“How about we do?” I reply, throwing myself on top of Hope and kissing her.

Half an hour later and we are sitting at the table by the window eating breakfast. The views from the window are spectacular.

“I am sensing this hotel is quite expensive” I say as Hope laughs. “Come on babe, you are not telling me you can get a view of New York like this on the cheap.”

“It’s a little more expensive than your average hotel” Hope answers, reaching over the table to take my hand in hers. “I’m not good at this romance stuff and you’ve be truly amazing this past year. I struggled after the Olympics and I’ve been struggling with my shoulder injury but you’ve been my rock.”

“I love you and I would do anything for you” I reply honestly. “You don’t suck at romance, I can assure you of that. I am very happy right now.”

“Good” Hope smiles. “I don’t want you expecting a proposal on a horse and carriage ride like that couple last night” Hope says jokingly as I laugh.

“I’m not” I reply with a laugh. “I am so happy with how things are right now, I don’t need anything else. I love what we have right now and I wouldn’t want to change that.”

“I wouldn’t either” Hope smiles, squeezing my hand. This trip has been amazing so far and I truly mean it when I say I’ve never been happier. Being able to call Hope mine is all I could ask for, even if she took me to some rundown hotel in the middle of New York I wouldn’t care. Being with her is enough.

/

Allie’s wedding ceremony was beautiful, it has a bit of an American tradition but also related to her husband’s heritage as well. The reception is certainly turning out to be a big party too, not that I would expect any less of Allie.

“Weddings are so fun” I say as Hope and I take a seat, catching our breath from all the dancing we had just been doing.

“Yeah” Hope answers with a smile. “You get to watch people being happy and in love.”

“Yeah, I love seeing people happy” I agree with a nod. “Happy like we are. I am more than happy with how we are at the moment.”

“Me too” Hope smiles, leaning in for a kiss.

“Hey you two, can I get you a drink?” Ashlyn asks as she stands over us.

“No thank you, we just got one” I answer with a smile as Ashlyn takes a seat next to me.

“I love weddings, don’t you guys?” Ashlyn asks as Hope and I laugh lightly.

“Yeah, they are always fun” Hope smiles, both of us amused at Ash’s drunken smile. “It’s yours next, we better have an invite.”

“Of course” Ashlyn nods with a smile. “I think we’ve set a date, we just haven’t issued the invitations yet.”

“What do you mean you think?” I ask with an amused frown. “You’ve either set a date or you haven’t.”

“Ali was getting annoyed with me because every time she chose a date I would look it up online to see if it was historic and then get her to make a different decision” Ashlyn says. “She’s now told me that I won’t know the date until closer to the wedding.”

“I can actually believe that” I say with a laugh.

“There was the last day of WW1, the date Trump got elected as president, the… you get where I am going with this” Ashlyn says as Hope and I both nod.

“Can someone dance with me, Servando is refusing?” Alex asks as she reaches our table, Servando rolling his eyes from behind her.

“Alexandra, I’m in an ankle cast” Servando says, pointing to his injured foot before he goes to find the groom. He got hurt in an Orlando City game.

“I will dance with you” Ashlyn says, stumbling to her feet and pulling Alex towards the dancefloor.

“Hi” I smile at Hope, kissing her gently.

“Hey” Hope laughs, probably wondering what I am doing.

“You look really beautiful” I say, moving closer to Hope so that our legs are pressed together. “I really didn’t want to leave the hotel earlier.”

“Thanks babe” Hope smiles, putting her arm around the back of my chair.

“Allie and Bati look so happy don’t they?” I say as Hope nods.

“They do, it’s their wedding day so it is probably hard to look anything but happy” Hope responds.

“Do you want to dance with me?” I ask as Hope smiles.

“We’ve just sat down” Hope protests but I am not taking no for an answer, I am determined to dance all night long.

“Come on babe” I say as Hope easily gives in and follows me up to the dancefloor. “Thank you.”

/

“Tobin… you’ve had enough babe” Christen says as Tobin tries to order another drink.

“Come on babe, one more beer?” Tobin asks and Christen shakes her head.

“Ok, fine” Tobin says as I smirk at her.

“You are so whipped dude” I observe with a chuckle as Hope frowns at me, that’s my girlfriend’s way of telling me to behave.

“Kelley and I are going to get a cab if you want to join us” Hope offers Christen who gratefully accepts.

“We’re going back to the hotel Tobin” Christen says as Tobin pouts. “Don’t argue with me Toby.”

“I won’t” Tobin says with a huff.

“That’s right Toby, you do as your told” I tease, using the nickname that Tobin only allows Christen to call her by.

“I’m not too drunk to slap you” Tobin tells me as I laugh.

“Stop being annoying and move your butt” Hope tells me, playfully slapping me on the butt before we begin walking outside with Tobin and Christen to the cab.

“We should get the cab driver to stop somewhere so we can get ice cream” Tobin says as Christen and Hope help her into the cab.

“You don’t like ice cream” I say with a laugh as I enter the cab last.

“No but my girlfriend does” Tobin says with a happy smile. “Is that right Chris?”

“I do like ice cream but I don’t want any tonight babe” Christen says as Tobin lays her head on Christen’s shoulder.

“I will buy it for you” Tobin says, sloppily kissing Christen’s cheek.

“It’s really alright babe” Christen laughs. “I don’t want any ice cream.”

“Is there something you do want?” Tobin asks, looking at Christen like she has hung the moon.

“I want you to behave so we can get back to the hotel without any issues” Christen says as Tobin nods, giving Christen the finger guns.

“Gotcha” Tobin says as Hope and I just laugh at them.

Christen and Tobin are staying in a different hotel so the cab drops them off first before we get dropped off five minutes later.

/

“Are you ready to go down to breakfast?” I ask Hope as she rushes around the room.

“Just about” Hope answers. “Babe, where is my phone?”

“I don’t know” I answer with a shrug. “Do you really need it, we are only going down to the restaurant for breakfast and then we will be back to the room after?”

“I do need it” Hope says and I frown.

“Why?” I ask. “You can use mine if you want.”

“No, I need mine for something” Hope answers before sighing in relief when she finds it by the window. “I’ve got it.”

“Can we go to breakfast now?” I ask, grabbing the key card and pulling my girlfriend out of the room.

We decide to take the elevator down to breakfast, both of us tired and a little sore from all the dancing we did at the wedding yesterday. We are perhaps a little sore from what we did in the hotel room last night, let’s just say I am glad Hope packed the handcuffs.

“I am going to get us some orange juice, will you grab some coffee for us?” Hope asks and I nod eagerly. I need coffee, lots of coffee.

We leisurely eat breakfast before we take a walk around the hotel grounds to get some fresh air.

“What shall we do for the rest of the day?” I ask, swinging our interlocked hands.

“I am sure we can figure something out” Hope answers. “I am sure we won’t be bored.”

“Have you booked our flight to LA?” I ask, tomorrow we are flying back to Seattle before heading to our last national team camp of the year in LA next week. It’s going to be a busy few weeks, by the time camp and the friendlies are over we will be going to Georgia for Thanksgiving, then a few weeks later it will be Christmas then New Year and then January camp with the national team.

“I spoke to the US staff and they have put us on the same flight” Hope answers and I nod. “I don’t think our seats are together but I am sure we can try and swap.”

“I actually can’t believe by the time camp finishes we will be in the middle of November” I say as Hope nods. “I remember we were just celebrating our birthdays.”

“I know but at least we can have thanksgiving together this year” Hope says with a smile. “Thank you for inviting me.”

“You’re kidding, my parents want you there just as much as I do” I reply, kissing Hope on the cheek before we head back inside the hotel and back to our room.

When we get outside the room, Hope opens the door for me and allows me to walk in first.

“Babe, what is this?” I ask when I notice two massage tables set up in the middle of the room with two masseuses smiling at us.

“This is a couple’s massage” Hope answers. “I had it booked before you asked the other day so I had to throw you off the scent.”

“Could I love you anymore?” I ask as Hope shrugs. This whole weekend really does prove to me how much Hope loves me, the effort she has obviously went to for me is more than anyone else has ever done. “I really do love you.”

“I love you too” Hope smiles before she turns to the masseuses. “How does this go then?”

The masseuse’s advice us on everything, go through an allergy test with us to make sure we are not allergic to any oils before we begin. This has been such a wonderful weekend with Hope, it is only a glimpse of the future but I cannot wait to spend the rest of my life with this woman.

Chapter Text

When we landed in LA for national team camp, the sun hit us as soon as we got off the airplane and through the airport towards the team vans. Even with it getting colder, the sun in LA has not relented.

“Baby, are you ok?” I ask, gripping onto Hope’s arm when we get to Hope’s room in the hotel. “You have been really quiet, not just on the plane but over the last few days.”

“I’m fine, just thinking about some stuff” Hope replies, offering me a small smile. Her smile isn’t as bright as it normally is.

“Is it something I can help with?” I ask as Hope takes a moment to think through her answer.

“This is it babe, I’ve made my decision” Hope says before smiling weakly at me. “I am not going to another major tournament, I am retiring from international duty.”

“Are you sure about this?” I ask, a little taken aback. Hope and I have been discussing this for some time, with and without the coaches. It has been a frequent topic of discussion over the last few weeks but I didn’t expect her to make a decision that quickly.

“Yeah” Hope answers. “The world cup is about nineteen months away and I am not sure my body is going to be able to fight at the highest level for that long.”

“This is a big decision babe, you need to be sure it is the right one” I say, not that it needs saying but Hope is still worthy of being the US number one.

“I know that but I don’t think my body will be able to take playing in the league every week and on the national team” Hope admits truthfully. “I can’t prepare to go to the world cup and then suddenly we’re a month away and I can’t move my shoulder, you heard what the doctor said. If I don’t want the shoulder surgery then it will get worse over time and if I get the surgery I may not be able to play to my full potential anyway. I want to enjoy the rest of my playing career and I think the best way to do that is to continue with playing in the NWSL and retiring from international play.”

“It sounds like you have it pretty much figured out” I say, really sad that Hope will no longer be representing our country but I do understand why she is doing it.

“I love my job Kel but there is no way I was going to let an injury ruin my career, I will finish when I am ready not when I have damaged my body for good” Hope says. “I don’t want to be dramatic but my body can’t take playing for club and country and I don’t want that to have repercussions on my life after football. If I have a kid then I want to be able to do stuff with them and hold them, if I seriously fuck my shoulder with playing too much then I won’t even be able to lift my baby and cuddle them in my arms. There’s a limit and I am reaching mine.”

“You know I will always back you one hundred percent” I say, smiling at my girlfriend. “Whatever you decide then I support you fully.”

“Thank you babe” Hope says gratefully as I hug her. “I think it is best to tell the team as soon as possible so I am going to do it at the meeting tonight.”

“Wow… you’ve really made up your mind” I say, I knew Hope had made a decision and seemed pretty set on it but I presumed she would take a few days just to make sure it is the right choice.

“I feel like I need to get it off my chest” Hope says, smiling gently. “I am not going to lie, I would love to play until I am eighty and I am going to miss representing my country so much but I have to think realistically and my body is telling me no. If I quit playing club football then my body would be fine to play for the US but I wouldn’t be training as regular and would probably lose my fitness. If my body can only do one or the other then I need to let go of the national team.”

“Ok” I say with a nod, feeling very emotional. This is a huge deal.

“Kel, please don’t cry” Hope says, wrapping her arms around me. “I’m ready babe, I promise you that I will have no regrets. I’ve had an amazing career, I’ve lost and won world cups and Olympics; I’ve won golden gloves; goalkeeper of the year; played in over two hundred games and had over one hundred shutouts; and I’ve also had the privilege of playing for my country with my girlfriend. Kel, I couldn’t ask for more, I am honestly ready to do this. Don’t worry though, I will be the biggest fan you guys will have at all your games.”

“I’m sorry, I don’t mean to make this about me” I apologise, kissing my girlfriend. “It will take some time for everyone to adjust but I do support you.”

“This way I can put my focus into looking to win the NWSL championship and supporting you and the team” Hope says with a smile. “Our careers are important to us babe but so is life after soccer, I want to leave the game healthy enough to open a new chapter of my life and not have to worry that football has destroyed my body and prevented me from doing the things I want to do.”

“If I am lucky enough to get selected for the next world cup then I want you right there on the side-lines cheering for us” I say as Hope smiles.

“I will be there babe, proudly wearing ‘O’Hara 5’ on my back” Hope tells me, placing a sweet kiss on my lips.

“I hope you will be wearing other clothes too, I don’t want you half naked distracting everyone from the game” I say, trying to lighten the mood.

“Distracting you, you mean” Hope smiles, kissing me gently on the lips.

“You’re really sure about this honey?” I ask, taking another moment to think about it.

“I am” Hope answers. “Deep down, I have known for months that this is what I need and want to do. I was just too scared to admit it.”

“You’re not scared now?” I ask, I know Hope and I are not at the same stage of our careers as each other. She has been on the national team a lot longer and perhaps this is what I will feel like in a few years.

“Of course I am scared, this is a huge thing” Hope answers before smiling. “But I’m excited too, I’ve done everything I wanted to do with the national team. I am ready to let go and I will still have club football with my new team. I am not hanging up my cleats completely.”

“I know” I nod.

“I need to think about the future, our future” Hope says. “I won’t lie, my shoulder injury is the main reason I am doing this. I could easily play through the next world cup and Olympics but what about our future after that.”

I nod, taking in what Hope is saying.

“No one’s career lasts forever” Hope explains. “Not to freak you out but as I said earlier, I want kids and if continuing to play so much damages my shoulder and I don’t get a life with them then I will be upset. I could play for the next five years and my shoulder would be ok but it may worsen and I won’t even manage to hold our baby for five minutes. I know what I want.”

“I want kids too” I say with a shy smile.

“I will have a lifetime to spend with our kids but I may only have a few years with constant football, it’s time for me to look to the future” Hope says and I get it. Maybe I don’t understand it from my point of view because I’m not in Hope’s position but I completely understand it from Hope’s vision. Football isn’t everything, it isn’t the most important thing in my life and over this past year I have truly begun to realise that.

/

“Ok Hope, the floor’s yours” Jill says when she is finished her speech during our meeting.

“Thanks” Hope says nervously as she walks to the front of the room and stands before us all. “Hey everyone, I wanted to tell you all something before you heard it from someone else.”

“What is it?” Carli asks worriedly.

I can’t help but let a tear run down my cheek, I am trying to be strong but this makes it so final. I know it isn’t about what I want but I’m not ready for this, I wouldn’t be with Hope if we didn’t meet through the national team. We play at different parts of the country, national team camps are our one guarantee that we will get to see one another. We won’t have that anymore and I am scared how things will change between us.

“I have decided the time has come for me to retire from the international stage” Hope says, even though I already know, the words still affect me. “I’ve had some evaluations done on my shoulder and the longer I continue to play at both club and national level then the more I could harm myself in the future.”

“Are you sure about this?” Becky asks as Hope smiles softly.

“Yeah” Hope nods. “I’ve thought about it a lot and although surgery will help, it won’t guarantee that I will be back to how I was before. Like I said to Kel, I want to retire on my own terms, not when my body fails me. I want to have a life after soccer but putting my body through so much with another few years of playing could harm me. Worst case scenario, I could lose motion in my shoulder.”

“I had no idea it was that serious” Carli says.

“I tried to hide it but I need to face facts” Hope says before smiling at everyone. “I’m ready, I’m not going right away. I just know that France 2019 is too much so I definitely won’t be there but you’re all still stuck with me for now.”

“Are you still going to be playing for Seattle?” Carli asks.

“No” Hope answers. “But I will be playing for the Utah royals.”

“I forgot you got traded, so you are still playing in the NWSL?” Carli asks as Hope nods.

“My shoulder couldn’t cope with both the NWSL and the national team, it makes sense which I need to let go of” Hope replies, her vision catching me wiping away a tear. “This is what I want.”

“We all support you” JJ says with a smile as the rest of the team join in, all of them hugging Hope and being supportive.

I stay back and remain in my seat, if I talk to Hope then I will break down. This is her moment and I don’t want to take it away from her. She must’ve been nervous telling the team, it means that once it’s out she can’t take it back. Hope doesn’t need me being selfish, she needs me to be supportive of her choices.

“This is a good thing” Christen says as she sits next to me. “She’s ready for this Kelley, I know it doesn’t feel so positive to you but I promise you it’s good.”

I lay my head on Christen’s shoulder, hiding my tears in her sweater.

“It’s hard for you to sympathise because you don’t know what Hope’s feeling but try and empathise with her” Christen says, putting her hand on top of mine. “Put yourself in Hope’s shoes, you’ve been on the national team for almost two decades, you’ve won every accolade that you can, you’ve given everything to the national team but your body is going to struggle to give more. It’s better for it to end on your terms rather than when the sport ends you.”

“I do empathise with her” I say truthfully, at the start I didn’t but I do get it now. “I just selfishly worry that I won’t get to see her as much as I do now. Hope is the best goalkeeper in the world, anytime I get picked for the national team I know she will be there so I know I am getting to spend time with her.”

“Kelley, that woman loves you to death” Christen says, a soft laugh coming out of her mouth. “You need to look in the mirror and give yourself a shake. She will do anything for you, I guarantee she will be front and center at every single US game.”

“I guess” I say, feeling a bit better.

“Go up to Hope and take her hand, show her that you are with her every single step of the way” Christen says. “Don’t sulk, this is a major thing for her and she needs you more than she needs anyone.”

Christen’s right, I need to put Hope’s needs first. I go over to Hope and I wrap my arm around her as she speaks to Alex and Krieger. As much as I feel like I am going to struggle with this, I need Hope to know that she’s got me.

/

“Come here baby” Hope says, pulling me over to the bed and we sit down. “You’ve been so quiet which really isn’t you.”

“I’m sorry” I apologise.

“Tell me what’s going on with you” Hope says, one hand relaxing on my lower back and the other stroking through my hair. “Is this about me?”

“I’m struggling with your decision” I admit truthfully. “I do support you, I just find it hard to adjust.”

“What are you struggling with?” Hope asks.

“I’m just being silly” I say. “You don’t want to hear my silly issues, I need to be there for you.”

“You’re my girlfriend Kel, of course I want to hear what you are feeling” Hope says, leaning in and kissing my head. “Whatever it is, however silly you feel it is I still want to know.”

“I just feel like you made your decision so fast” I reply, taking a deep breath. “I thought you would’ve taken more time to think this through. I came to camp like I normally do and then suddenly, I hear it could be one of the last times I play with you.”

“I always knew I wasn’t going to the 2019 World Cup” Hope says as I look at her. “Even after the Olympics, I knew deep down that was potentially my last tournament. I thought I could carry on but my shoulder won’t let me.”

“I just…”

“These last few weeks have given me the courage to make the decision” Hope says, staring into my eyes. “I was so scared to say it out loud but you changed that, it’s because of you I was able to make the decision and actually feel good about it.”

“I don’t understand” I reply, slightly confused about how I helped Hope make the decision. All we did was talk about it briefly.

“When you came to Seattle after the NWSL finished, I got the opportunity to spend time with you and be with you every day” Hope replies, smiling gently at me. “We’ve spent almost six weeks together and it has been the best six weeks of my life. I don’t need to continue playing with the national team to be happy, I just need to be with you.”

“It’s been amazing” I say, sighing in content.

“Can you imagine what it will be like?” Hope smiles. “All I see in the future is us Kel, I don’t want to damage my body by overplaying. I am ready to take the next step in my life but this way I can leave gradually. I will still have the NWSL and can focus on that.”

“I know” I nod.

“If I want to continue playing at all then I my shoulder can’t cope with the NWSL and national team” Hope tells me. “I am not ready to retire fully so this way I can ensure I still get to play and I will have lesser chance of leaving the game because my arm doesn’t move.”

“I understand, I do… it just felt quick that’s all” I say as Hope smiles.

“I know and I could probably keep playing just now but what’s the point in me taking playing time away from someone else when I know I am not building for a major tournament” Hope asks. “I am still a very good goalkeeper but if I know I won’t be at the world cup then its best to allow someone else to work towards it.”

“I guess I’m getting worked up because I’m scared” I admit, looking into Hope’s eyes. “From my first camp until now, you’ve always been on the team. I’m not sure I can do this without you there.”

“Baby, I promise I will still be there” Hope assures me, both her hands landing on my neck as she holds my head between her hands. “I won’t be playing but I will be at every game, proudly cheering on my country and my girl. We don’t know how things will work out but just because I won’t be on the pitch doesn’t mean I won’t be around the national team.”

“I’m sorry for being like this, I just can’t swallow that I may never play on the field with you” I say, I know I am being selfish but Hope’s the one person I need to be one hundred percent honest with.

“Don’t overthink babe” Hope tells me, gently kissing me on the lips before leaving her forehead against mine. “Think of all the times I was out injured and you played without me, you play in the NWSL without me. What would you prefer, me playing behind you on the field for the next few years or me being able to hold you in my arms?”

I sigh deeply, I don’t mean to be like this.

“Kel, if overplaying damages my shoulder then I will seriously regret it” Hope says, kissing me once more. “It’s not just about holding you or holding our kids. Kel, if I damage my shoulder too much then I could lose the ability to do simple things, I may not be able to feed myself, to write, to use the toilet, to drive… if there’s a way to prevent that then I need to do it.”

I never thought about it like that, I don’t think I quite thought about the severity of what a shoulder injury can do.

“I love playing with you and the chemistry we have on the field but I would stop playing in an instant to have a better future off the field with you” Hope says, looking directly into my eyes. “I know it will take time to adjust but you have to understand the purpose of this. I am not taking this decision lightly.”

“I know you’re not” I answer truthfully. I need to try and get out of this funk I am getting into.

“I will visit you at every camp, I promise this won’t affect us or how much time we spend together” Hope says as I wrap my arms around her. “You’re my whole world Kel. I am so in love with you.”

“I love you” I answer back, burying myself into Hope.

/

“Kelley… hello, are you listening?” Becky asks but I don’t hear her.

“Kelley!” Krieger says and this time I hear.

“Sorry what?” I ask, turning to face them both.

“You’re very dreamy today” Becky observes with a laugh.

“Sorry, I was…” I say, getting distracted again by the keepers training.

“Staring at Hope’s abs” Krieger says.

“Yeah… I mean no” I say, turning back to my teammates who are laughing at me. I know the sun is out but Hope wearing her tank top like a crop top is too distracting. I think she is doing it deliberately because I am sure she winked at me earlier. I really should be more professional than this, I normally am.

“We need to focus, the game is approaching” Becky says and I nod. I get back into serious mode, ignoring Hope so I can give training my all.

I started at left outside back tonight, we won comfortably by a four to zero score. I am determined to make sure Hope gets a shutout on her last games. Hope will have her farewell game in January and she’s expected to play our second friendly at the end of this week. Those will be her last two games for the national team.

“Games night in our room” Ashlyn says. Since we had an afternoon kick off, Ashlyn and Crystal have volunteered their room for a games night.

“I think we should play poker” Alex suggests and I frown.

“Since when could you play poker?” I ask.

“Servando taught me, I am actually pretty good” Alex answers. “Don’t feel you need to play, I don’t want you to be embarrassed if you lose.”

“I will happily play you at poker, we need more than two players though” I say. I am a really sore loser and rubbish at poker so I am secretly hoping no one else wants to play so I can save myself some embarrassment.

“Hope, you will play poker right?” Alex asks and Hope nods.

“I can play” Hope says with a smile.

“I will play too” Ashlyn says.

“Game on O’Hara” Alex says with a smile.

“You better win if I can’t” I whisper in Hope’s ear as we take out seats on the bus. “Alex cannot win.”

“Competitive much?” Hope asks with a laugh.

“If you think I am competitive, wait until you see Alex” I say before Hope kisses my cheek.

“This isn’t my first games night babe” Hope says before she leans over the seat in front to talk to Ashlyn. I need to beat Alex, if I don’t she will never let me forget it.

/

“That’s cheating!” Tobin shouts, jumping up from her place at the table. “Stop cheating!”

“Stop shouting” Horan shouts at Tobin.

“Stop shouting at Tobin to stop shouting” Allie says loudly. This is just a typical games night with us.

“Alex, it’s your shot” Hope says. I gave up on poker a while ago, now I am Hope’s cheerleader.

“Beat her baby” I say loudly, bouncing up and down from my seat next to Hope.

“I got this Kel, don’t worry” Hope tells me.

“You suck Morgan” I say to Alex who just frowns at me.

“At least I am still in the game” Alex replies as she takes her shot.

“Babe, you should totally play that” I say as I point to Hope’s cards.

“Kel, I know what I am doing” Hope answers, doing a completely different move from what I told her to do.

“I really think that was the wrong move honey, what if she has a ‘you know what’ and you…” I begin to say before Hope cuts me off.

“Stop distracting me” Hope tells me before kissing my cheek. “Go and play scrabble with Moe.”

“Fine” I say with a sigh, moving from my seat but not before I give Alex an intimidating stare.

I sit myself down next to Allie before I grab some scrabble tiles from the bag.

“What on earth is that?” I ask as I point to a word. “Is that even a real word?”

“Yes” Moe says proudly.

“Zebu” I say, reading the word from the board. “What does it mean?”

“It’s like a type of cattle or an ox” Krieger answers.

“I might have heard of that, I didn’t know it would be valid in scrabble” I say. “Wait a minute, ‘Jeez’ can’t be a valid word.”

“It is” Moe answers. “Do you want to take a turn or not?”

“Yes” I say, looking over my lettered tiles. “I’ve got one.”

I lay out the ‘O, then use the ‘R’ from rock that’s already on the board, I then follow the ‘R’ with a ‘G’ then an ‘A’…

“Keep it clean” Krieger says to me before I place an ‘N’ on the end.

“Organ” I reply. “I don’t know what you thought I was putting there Kriegs.”

“I think she thought there would be an ‘S’ and ‘M’ replacing the ‘N’” Allie says as I smirk. “I wouldn’t be surprised if that was your choice, it was what we were all thinking.”

“Well you all need to get your minds out of the gutter” I reply with a smirk. “There are kids here, little Mal doesn’t need to see inappropriate words.”

/

“Kelley come on” Moe says with a huff as everyone else laughs. I added the word ‘is’ onto the end of ‘Pen’ and Moe seems offended.

“What?” I ask. “It’s a word.”

“It’s just a little tasteless” Moe says as she rolls her eyes.

“You’re just jealous because I thought of it before you” I answer, it’s through a triple word square as well so it gets me about twenty one points.

“I don’t agree with this” Moe says, folding her arms across her chest.

“It is a valid word” Krieger responds as Allie nods.

“I think you are just annoyed because you are losing Moe” Allie says. “I don’t know why you put the word ‘pen’ down earlier when I saw you had an ‘S’ and a ‘T’ also, you could’ve had ‘spent’ and avoided allowing Kelley to add to ‘pen’.”

“I think we will stop the game here, there are no tiles left” Krieger says as I nod. Even entering the game later than everyone else, I think I got a decent score. I got the word ‘zebra’ so that helped.

“Ok gals, we have a winner” Allie says, checking the sheet of paper she was using to keep score. “Moe very well done…”

Moe smiles at Allie, thinking she’s won until…

“You’ve placed in last place” Allie finishes her sentence to Moe with a smile before she turns to me and Ali. “Krieger you won, well done.”

“Thank you” Ali smiles.

“Penis not looking so bad now, huh Moe?” I say as Morgan frowns at me.

“What are you talking about?” JJ asks in amusement, catching the end of my teasing to Moe.

“I had Penis and it took me above Moe in the leader board” I answer as JJ looks at us both.

“You what?” Dunn asks in amusement herself, this time she is only catching half of the conversation.

“Kelley got a triple word score on the word penis and Morgan wasn’t happy that the word was used” Allie answers, explaining to everyone.

“Oh right” JJ says with a laugh. “I think it is probably time for us to wrap this night up.”

“Yeah” I agree with my roommate, checking the time on my watch. “I am going to find Hope but I will get you in our room Julie.”

“Ok” Julie smiles before I walk over to where the poker game was taking place.

“Who won?” I ask, placing my hands on Hope’s shoulders as she sits in front of me.

“Hope” Ashlyn answers. “It was close in the end but Hope had a flush.”

“That’s my baby” I say with a smile before kissing Hope on the cheek. “We were thinking of calling this games night to a close.”

“Good idea” Ashlyn says in agreement.

“I will walk you to your room” Hope tells me as she stands up, packing the poker cards away at the same time.

“Isn’t your room the one next door?” Ashlyn asks as I shrug.

/

“Are you ready to go to breakfast?” I ask as I stand at Hope’s door.

“I just need to get my phone and then we can go” Hope answers as she rushes into her room to retrieve her phone before she is standing in front of me. “I’m ready.”

I hold my hand out for Hope to take and we slowly walk towards the elevators.

“I think I am going to have egg this morning” Hope says as I hum. “I was going to have a bagel but I’m not in the mood now.”

“I am having fruit and then cereal” I say. “I’m not feeling so great this morning so I am just going to have something simple.”

“What’s wrong?” Hope asks concerned as we step into the elevator.

“Women’s troubles, you don’t wanna know” I say as Hope laughs softly.

“I’m a woman too, you can tell me” Hope says, moving closer and kissing my cheek.

“I will be fine babe, just a bit of a stomach cramp” I say as Hope hugs me.

“I know how to sort it” Hope says with a smile as the elevator stops. “You take a seat and I will bring your breakfast over to you.”

“You don’t need to” I say as Hope waves it off.

“I want to” Hope says, kissing me on the cheek.

“Ok” I nod, walking over and taking a seat next to Christen.

“Morning” Christen smiles widely, one of few on the team who is a morning person.

“Morning” I answer. “How did we all sleep?”

“I don’t find these hotel beds comfortable at all” Alex says as I nod in agreement. It is not one of the most comfortable places we’ve been to. “I had a terrible sleep.”

“I didn’t sleep great either” Christen adds. “We just need to go with it, that’s what life on the road is like.”

“I guess” I nod, pouring myself a cup of water from the complimentary jug sitting on the table.

“Here we go, blueberries and a banana” Hope smiles, sliding the plate of food over to me before giving me a cup of ginger tea.

“Instead of the ginger tea, can I get coffee” I ask as Hope shakes her head.

“Nope” Hope answers with a smile before kissing my cheek. “Coffee will make it worse, eat that while I go and collect my own breakfast.”

Hope then disappears into the crowd of my teammates at the coffee machine, lucky them.

“How’s Hope doing with the retirement decision?” Alex asks.

“Better than me” I say with a laugh. “Seriously, she is fine with it. I think she accepted it a while ago but needed that time for it to sink in before she told me or all of you.”

“You know, Hope was always a very private person so I never knew her that well but over the last year or so I’ve got to see a different side to her” Alex says, smiling genuinely at me. “You both seem happier than I can ever remember.”

“We are happier” I smile.

“Technically, I am the reason you two lovers got together” Christen says with a smug smile.

“What makes you think that Press?” I ask amused.

“I wanted to spend time with Tobin so I got you to swap rooms with Tobin during the Olympics last year” Christen says. “If I hadn’t of convinced you to swap with Tobin then you wouldn’t have been in Tobin and Hope’s room and you wouldn’t have rediscovered your connection with Hope.”

“Sorry to disappoint Press but my feelings for Hope were definitely there before then, I guess that did help though” I say as Christen continues to smile smugly.

“Did something happen between you and Hope in London?” Alex asks as she sips on her coffee.

“Of course not, we were both in relationships” I answer with a frown.

“So you didn’t develop feelings for her back then?” Alex asks and I take a moment to answer. I know I had feelings for her, I told Hope that my crush on her started in London. I would never cheat though. “I don’t mean you did anything wrong, I just mean that you two seemed very close.”

“When I first came onto the team, everyone told me to be wary of Hope” I reply. “But then I got to know her in London and yeah, maybe I liked her more than someone in a relationship should but she was a different person from who people said she was.”

“Sometimes I think Hope had no choice but to get to know you” Alex says before laughing. “I am pretty sure I heard a story that during your first camp you went up to Hope and hugged her before she could respond.”

“That happened and Hope won’t allow me to forget it” I say.

“What do I not let you forget?” Hope asks, taking a seat next to me with her breakfast and coffee.

“My first camp and when I first met you” I answer as Hope nods and smiles.

“Oh yeah” Hope says before mimicking what I said back then. “Hi, I’m Kelley. It is really nice to meet you Hope Solo, can I call you Hope or would you prefer Solo?”

“That sounds like you” Christen says as she and Alex laugh.

“HAO had to stop you talking because you kept rambling” Hope says as I roll my eyes.

“I was nervous to meet you” I reply, reaching for Hope’s coffee cup.

“Excuse me” Hope says, taking the coffee from me. “Drink your ginger tea.”

“I just want a sip of your coffee” I say, reaching for the cup but Hope moves it to the other end of the table.

“Caffeine will make you feel worse” Hope says. “I will buy you coffee later, ok?”

“Fine” I give in, sipping my ginger tea.

/

“Follow me” Hope says, smiling and gesturing towards the hotel doors. She then walks ahead and I do as I am told and follow her.

“Where are we going?” I ask when I catch up to my girlfriend.

“To the beach” Hope says, wrapping her arm around me.

“Just us or is anyone else joining us?” I ask, wrapping my arm around Hope’s back as I place my hand in the back pocket of Hope’s jeans.

“Just you and me” Hope says, smiling at me.

Tomorrow we have our last game of the season, after that there isn’t another national team camp until January. It’s going to be strange with both the NWSL and international games stopped until after Christmas.

“Why are we going to the beach?” I ask, I am not complaining but curious.

“Because it’s peaceful and I want to be alone with you” Hope answers.

“You want me alone?” I ask, a smirk on my face. “What are you suggesting Ms Solo?”

“Not what you are thinking” Hope says, leading me over to the beach front. “I just want to have some time to just be with you, we can talk or sit in silence. I just want to be alone with you.”

“Ok” I smile, allowing Hope to help me down the steep steps onto the sand. “You know, when I was younger I only really considered a beach as something you went to on vacation.”

“Me too, there weren’t a lot of beaches near where I grew up” Hope says and I nod. Georgia has some nice beaches but there were none near me so I only got to go to the beach when we were on vacation.

“Would you ever want to live by the beach?” I ask, pulling Hope to sit down on the sand with me.

“I’m not sure” Hope says, choosing to sit behind me and wrap her arms around me. “We would need to think about it, would you?”

“I don’t know” I answer. “It’s cool but I don’t think it’s us.” I love the beach but I can picture Hope and me waking up and going on a hike somewhere rather than a walk along the beach.

“Where do you see us living after football?” Hope asks, kissing me on the neck. “When we are both finished playing completely, where do you think we will live or do you think we will move around?”

“I think we will settle somewhere permanent” I answer, I’ve had some thoughts on the topic but nothing specific. “It really depends on what our careers are like, what will we be doing?”

“Would you want to move to Georgia?” Hope asks.

“I would love to be closer to my family but there are still so many unknowns” I say. I think I definitely want to get into coaching when I finish playing but I don’t know where or what level that would be.

“I know we haven’t talked about it but I would move to Georgia if that’s what you wanted” Hope says, surprising me a little. I’m not surprised that she would do that for me, I just always presumed Hope would want to be near her grandma.

“Really?” I ask as Hope smiles.

“Yeah” Hope answers. “It depends what happens with our careers but if it’s right then we can move there. Free babysitting from your parents if we want it.”

“My mom and dad would love that” I say with a wide smile. My family are huge on family so the chance to spend time with grandkids would please my parents greatly. “A little grandchild running around.”

“Maybe grandchildren?” Hope says, placing a kiss behind my ear. “More than one?”

“Maybe” I hum, trying to control the butterflies in my stomach. This isn’t a topic we touch much but we both want a child. “What’s your number?”

“Eight” Hope answers as I turn to face her.

“Eight?” I ask shocked. “You want eight kids.”

“Oh you meant how many kids, I just thought you were asking me my favorite number” Hope says before laughing. “At least two, maybe more.”

“Is this something you think about?” I ask.

“Are you going to run in the opposite direction if I answer honestly” Hope says jokingly. “Seriously, yeah. It is.”

“What sort of things do you think about?” I ask.

“It will be in the future obviously but I think I will retire fully before you retire so I would think we would have a child or at least plan to have one while you’re still playing” Hope says, pulling me close so that we are looking at each other. “If it’s possible, I want to experience pregnancy. I know we will need to discuss this in great detail because it won’t happen naturally so we have some additional things to work out but I want to carry at least one of our children, maybe more.”

“My heart is beating out of my chest right now” I say with a nervous laugh. “I can’t describe how excited I feel about this, about our future. Hearing you talk about carrying our children is probably the most incredible feeling ever. It was always a dream and something you say will happen in the future but being with you makes it a reality, we will have children.”

“I know it won’t be for another couple of years at least but it is something that I want” Hope says and I smile.

“I want it too” I reply, taking a moment to just look at Hope. She means everything to me and I feel genuinely happy that I get to spend the rest of my live with her and I get to achieve dreams I weren’t sure were possible with her by my side.

/

We beat Switzerland by three goals to one, I didn’t manage to get Hope a shutout this time but overall the team played really well. I got to play in midfield tonight while Jill experimented with her three back set up again.

The coaches want us all to meet for one last team meeting before we all go our own ways since this is the last national team camp of the year.

When we get off the bus, we head straight to the meeting room. To be honest, I know I should be listening but I am too tired. Jill will be repeating the same three things like she always does at our end of camp meetings. Sometimes it just feels like she says it because she doesn’t know what else to say. Tony is a bit more involved when it comes to this.

/

Hope and I are back in Seattle for a few days before flying to Georgia for Thanksgiving.

“There’s my babies” Hope says, bending down and stroking Onyx and Sasha’s fur. Both dogs begin to lick all over her while jumping up and causing her to lose her balance.

“Do I not get some attention?” I ask as I lean down and both dogs immediately come rushing towards me.

“Shall I order takeout, I don’t feel like cooking” Hope asks and I nod. “Pizza?”

“Pizza is great” I answer before kissing Hope on the lips. “I am going for a shower, I will unpack later.”

“Ok baby” Hope says with a smile.

I take a quick shower to wash the airplane feeling away and then I dress in a pair of shorts and one of Hope’s sweaters before making my way into the bedroom.

“What are you doing up there?” I ask Onyx who is sitting on Hope’s bed. He just looks at me with that cute face of his. “Mommy won’t be happy if she sees you here, you know you are not allowed.”

He just continues to look at me before I sit down next to him and then he rests his paw and chin on my thigh.

“Are you excited to move to Utah?” I ask, massaging between Onyx’s ears. “I think it should be fun, I promise I will come and visit you and your mommy and sister as much as I can.”

Onyx sighs happily, putting his other paw on top of me.

“I don’t know where I will be playing my club football next season but that won’t stop me visiting you three” I say, kissing the soft fur on his head. “You three are some of the most important people in my life. I know you are very protective of your mommy, I am too. I would do anything for her.”

“Sorry to interrupt” Hope says with a wide grin as I smile bashfully. “I just came to ask you if you wanted me to do laundry.”

“Sure, I have some clothes I want washed” I answer with a smile. This whole situation seems so domestic but perfect. “Did you hear everything I said to him?”

“Yeah” Hope answers, smiling softly at me. “It was super cute.”

“Well I meant it” I say as I walk towards Hope. “You are special to me.”

“Special?” Hope asks as she pulls me into her.

“Very special. You’re the keeper of my heart, take that whichever way you want” I say as Hope laughs. “You either keep my heart or in my heart you are my favorite goalkeeper.”

“I think I’m both” Hope responds, kissing me quickly.

“You better know you’re both” I answer, clasping my hands around Hope’s neck. “You are my favorite person. Period.”

“You are my favorite person too” Hope says before leaning down and kissing me on the nose. “I love you so much Kel.”

“I love you too” I reply, staring into Hope’s eyes. “You’re my missing piece.”

“Are we going to keep saying cheesy lines to one another?” Hope asks as I laugh.

“You are stuck with me for life… so yeah” I answer, leaning in for another kiss. “As long as you are my girlfriend then you will have to endure my cheesy lines.”

“So… forever it is then” Hope says. “See… I can be cheesy too babe.”

“Yeah you can” I say, taking a deep breath and staring at the most beautiful woman in the world. Sometimes I can’t believe how lucky I am.

“Are you ok about us leaving Seattle?” Hope asks. “I never officially asked you but this is your home too, I consider this our home together since we spend most of our time together here.”

“I won’t lie and say I won’t miss it but I am ok” I assure Hope. “Home is wherever you are so whether that ends up with me visiting you in Utah all the time or where it is where I end up and you visit me. As long as we are together then our home will be together.”

 /

“Pizza is here” Hope shouts from the entryway as I make my way to the living room from the kitchen.

“What kind of pizza did you order?” I ask as we both take a seat on the couch.

“Veggie and olives” Hope answers as I frown. “I’m kidding, it’s the meat special.”

“Thank you” I reply relieved. “I hate olives.”

“I know that honey, I wouldn’t make that mistake again after the last pizza incident” Hope replies. “Did you get us any napkins?”

“I didn’t” I reply before rushing back towards the kitchen to get some napkins before I return.

“Thanks babe” Hope answers as I hand her a napkin and she hands me a plate with a slice of pizza. “Do we have plans for tomorrow?”

“Not really” I answer, biting into my food. “We need to go to the grocery store at some point and I want to get a workout done, apart from that I don’t think we have any plans.”

“I need to go shopping for some Christmas gifts, I don’t want to leave it until after Thanksgiving” Hope says and I nod.

“We can go shopping” I answer, taking another slice of pizza which I end up dropping on the floor. “Oh no, that was the best bit.”

“Onyx, put it down” Hope warns the dog, he’s been waiting for one of us to drop something. “Onyx!”

He doesn’t listen, instead he just eats the pizza as quick as he can before Hope gets a chance to take it from him

“Maybe we should give Sasha a piece, make it fair” I suggest as Hope takes the crust from Onyx.

“Neither of them should be eating pizza, the vet has them on a strict diet for a reason” Hope replies. “That was a bad boy, Onyx.”

“He doesn’t look that bothered” I say with a laugh as Onyx just sits down and licks his lips, unfazed by Hope giving him a row.

“I’m going to get a cloth from the kitchen so I can clean the sauce from the floor” Hope says before walking to the kitchen.

“Sasha, come here” I call over the other dog and give her a bit of pizza. It’s not fair that Onyx had a piece and not Sasha.

“Kelley!!” Hope scolds when she walks in and sees me feeding Sasha.

“It’s only fair” I reply.

“It’s not fair if they both get sick, neither of them should be eating anything but their own food” Hope says as she begins to clean the floor. “Both of you, get in your beds.”

Both dogs just look at Hope, neither moving from staring at the pizza box.

“NOW!” Hope says sternly as both dogs reluctantly walk to their beds.

“It’s just a little treat, it won’t do them any harm” I say, pulling Hope from the floor and pulling her towards the couch.

/

Hope went to bed around an hour ago but I wanted to stay up and watch the conclusion of this new dramatic TV show. When I say she went to bed, I sort of sent her out of the room because she kept talking over the good parts.

Just as the guy pulls out a gun, my phone beeps with a text.

My jaw drops to the floor when I see the text. It’s from Hope, it’s a naked picture of her with the caption; ‘Look what you’re missing.’ If you think I move quickly on the football field then this is one hundred times faster. I don’t even bother to switch the TV or lights off, I sprint out of the room and upstairs as quickly as I can.

As soon as I get into the bedroom, it’s a bit anticlimactic when I see Hope dressed in her pyjamas as she reads her book. Don’t get me wrong, Hope wearing her glasses is pretty sexy but I was more expecting the live version of the picture.

“Hey Kel” Hope says innocently, terribly trying to hide her smirk.

“Don’t hey Kel me” I say, kneeling at the bottom of the bed. “Want to explain the picture and why I am not getting a real life version of it right now.”

“What picture?” Hope asks, placing her book on the nightstand and pulling me towards her by the neck of my t-shirt.

“The naked selfie” I answer, leaning in for a kiss as Hope pulls me on top of her and grabs at my ass. “The nude picture you just sent me.”

“I don’t really know what there is to explain” Hope says with a smile. “I got naked, took a selfie and then sent it to you and then I put my pyjamas on.”

“You’re such a tease” I reply, leaning in for another kiss.

“I can get naked again if you would like” Hope says and I nod enthusiastically.

“Please do” I say, lifting my t-shirt over my head to reveal my naked chest.

Hope removes her glasses before lifting her tank top over her head and I eye her breasts hungrily. I pull back the bed covers and then I realise Hope is naked from the waist down.

“It’s not good to keep me waiting” Hope says before lifting her phone and showing me another naked selfie, this time she is touching herself between the legs. “I get bored and end up having to please myself.”

I lick my lips, my eyes roaming all over Hope’s naked body before I lean down and kiss her stomach. I make her scream my name over and over that night, ensuring that whatever happened after she took that second selfie is well and truly forgotten about, the memories replaced with what I just did to her.

/

The next few days pass by quick, Thanksgiving getting closer and closer.

“Babe, this house is perfect” I say. Hope hasn’t made any decisions on which area in Utah she wants to lease a house from but it hasn’t stopped me looking online. “The view of the mountains is amazing.”

“It does look nice” Hope replies as she looks over my shoulder before she walks around the couch and then sits down next to me, handing me a spoon.

“Thanks honey” I reply as I accept the spoon. “How many bedrooms are you looking for?”

“At least two” Hope answers as she opens the ice cream and takes a spoonful before handing it to me. “It has to be a house, I don’t want an apartment because of the dogs.”

“A house with two levels or all on the ground floor?” I ask, trying to filter our choices.

“Preferably two levels” Hope answers, taking the ice cream back from me before I even have a chance to get some.

“Sharing is caring” I say, snatching the ice cream back.

“It’s going to melt if we don’t eat it quick” Hope says, eating the ice cream from my spoon.

“Hope, come on” I say with a laugh, digging into the tub for more.

“We can look at houses just now but we need to wait until after Christmas before we can take a trip to look in Utah” Hope says. “After we go to Georgia for Thanksgiving, I need to be back here for a Nike event.”

“I’ve not booked my flight to Georgia for Christmas yet” I say, keeping the ice cream for myself. “I take it I am coming back here with you between Thanksgiving and Christmas.”

“Yeah, if you want” Hope says. “We wouldn’t see one another for a month if you stayed in Georgia for the full time.”

“I’m not doing that” I say with a laugh. “I am not being apart from you for that long if it’s unnecessary.”

“Have you heard anything regarding any other trades?” Hope asks and I shake my head.

“Apart from speaking to the Sky Blue office the other day, I haven’t heard anything else” I say. I’m eager to find out where I will be playing for the 2018 season but all I get told from Sky Blue is that they are trying to find the right deal.

“It will all work out babe” Hope tells me before she leans in towards me. I am expecting a kiss but all Hope does is steal the ice cream tub from me. “You’re too slow babe.”

“You too” I answer with a smirk after successfully grabbing the ice cream back.

/

“You know what I am most thankful for” I ask as we wait for the airplane to take off.

“Me?” Hope asks and I smile.

“I wasn’t going to say that but you’re totally right, I am thankful for you” I reply, pecking Hope on the lips. “I was going to say coffee, especially when we need to be up as early as we were today.”

“I am thankful for coffee too” Hope says before she takes my hand in hers. “In all seriousness, I am really grateful to have you in my life.”

“We are both lucky to have one another and thankful for the relationship we have” I say as I play with Hope’s fingers. “I think from the moment I met you, I just knew you would be a part of my life.”

“Me too” Hope smiles. “I obviously didn’t know what role you would play but I just knew that you were the type of person I needed.”

“Thank you for making this past year and a bit so amazing” I say, smiling bashfully at Hope.

“Thank you for being you” Hope says smiling before she grips my hand tighter when she feels the plane begin to move.

“I love you forever and ever” I whispers.

“Love you forever and ever too Kel” Hope replies.

I do my best to distract Hope for the start of the journey until we both fall asleep, our hands still clasped together.

“It’s good to be back” I beam, I love the smell of the Georgia air as soon as the airplane doors open.

“I’ve texted your mom and she said she is waiting for us in the pickup lounge” Hope says as she follows me out of the airplane.

“That’s good, we won’t need to hang around” I say, a little bounce in my step because I am going to see my family. Thanksgiving will be extra special this year since Hope will be with me. “I hope my mom has prepared us some lunch for getting back to the house.”

“Is your first thought always food?” Hope asks with an amused smile.

“No, but eating is important” I answer with a smile. “In our jobs we need to stay healthy and ensure we get all of our nutrients.”

“Well I don’t know what kind of nutrients you think you will get from those two donuts you ate this morning” Hope says as we walk hand and hand towards the luggage area. “There was probably more sugar in them than we need for a week.”

“It was a treat, I don’t eat donuts all the time” I answer. “Have you ever heard of a balanced diet?”

“It’s your body honey” Hope says and I nod.

“You can help me work it off later” I reply, winking at Hope before I let her hand go and I bounce over to the baggage carousel to wait for our bags to come through.

“Do you want coffee while we wait on the bags arriving?” Hope asks when she reaches me.

“I think I have drunk enough coffee today, I could have a bottle of water though” I reply as Hope nods before disappearing to get our drinks. Man, I am so excited to be back home. I actually can’t wait to get back to my parents’ house and I also can’t wait to show Hope how fun an O’Hara Thanksgiving is.

It’s about ten minutes later when Hope arrives back.

“Where did you go for that water, back to Seattle?” I ask as Hope rolls her eyes.

“There was a queue for the rest room” Hope answers. “I thought I had time to use facilities before getting the drinks.”

“The bags haven’t arrived yet” I say, taking my water from Hope.

“Really, I just thought they were invisible” Hope says sarcastically.

“Less cheek Solo” I reply before looking at Hope with her latte. I really want coffee now, it looks so good.

“Is it me or the coffee you are salivating at?” Hope asks with a laugh, clearly she caught me staring.

“Both” I reply with a smirk before Hope passes me her takeout cup.

“We can share but you’re not having it all” Hope says, pulling out her phone. “I’m going to text your mom and tell her we seem to be delayed waiting on the bags.”

“Ok” I nod, taking another sip from the hot steaming heaven in a cup. “This is so good.”

“I wouldn’t know, I have barely had a sip” Hope answers with a laugh, not looking up from her phone.

/

“How was the flight girls?” my mom asks.

“It was ok” Hope says with a shrug, she’s just glad to be off the plane.

“Have you made any lunch for us?” I ask, getting straight to the point as we walk towards the car.

“Yes sweetheart” my mom laughs. “I’ve made your favorite macaroni cheese with slices of finely cut bacon through it.”

“You are the best” I exclaim in happiness. “My mommy knows how to cook.”

“Thanks darling” my mom says when we reach the car. “I hope you both don’t mind but I need to stop at the gas station on the way home, Dan forgot to fill the car up last night.”

“That sounds so typical of dad” I say with a laugh as Hope puts our bags in the trunk and then we get into the car and my mom begins to drive off. “How are the meal preparations going?”

“Everything seems fine, I will pick the turkey up this afternoon” my mom says. “I need to get a few more things from the grocery store later but other than that, everything is under control.”

“You don’t need my help with the cooking then?” I say from my place in the back of the car, I don’t know how Hope managed to sit shotgun.

“No thank you sweetie” my mom replies.

“Even if you did need help Karen, you wouldn’t ask Kelley would you?” Hope says as they both chuckle.

“You two are becoming a little bit too friendly for my liking” I say jokingly. “Making fun at my expense and secretly texting one another.”

“It’s all in good fun” my mom replies. “Your grandma is looking forward to seeing you.”

“I can’t wait to see her either” I reply.

/

When I wake up on Thanksgiving morning, I turn over so I can roll into Hope’s embrace when I realise I am alone in bed and Hope’s nowhere to be seen. I throw on my robe and make my way downstairs to the kitchen. Just as I approach, I hear Hope’s voice and Erin’s laughter.

“Good morning sis” Erin says.

“Morning” I reply as Hope holds out a cup of coffee for me. “I need this.”

“Morning” Hope smiles, pecking me softly on the cheek.

“Hi baby” I answer back as I lean into Hope and sip my coffee. “How come you are here so early Erin?”

“I just wanted to see you” Erin replies with a smile. “I also came to bring the pies to mom.”

“Where is mom?” I ask.

“She and dad have went to pick up grandma” Erin answers and I nod.

“When did you get up babe?” I ask Hope.

“About seven” Hope answers and I frown.

“Why are you getting up so early on a holiday?” I ask.

“I didn’t plan to get up that early but I just couldn’t sleep with you jumping around” Hope says as Erin laughs. “I don’t know if those donuts yesterday made you hyper or not but you were so restless last night.”

“Was I?” I question with a laugh. “I didn’t even notice.”

“Well I did and it effected my sleep pattern” Hope says.

“I’m sorry Hopey” I reply, leaning up and pecking Hope’s lips.

“You two are so precious together” Erin says, smiling at Hope and I.

“Hope and I were going to go out running, do you want to come Erin?” I ask. “I promise, we will take it easy on you.”

“I don’t need you to take it easy” Erin says. “I could outrun you when we were kids, I can outrun you now.”

“It’s cute that you think that sis but I’m a professional athlete” I say smugly. “I could run a marathon every day if I tried.”

“I will meet you back here in half an hour and we will test that theory” Erin says.

“Challenge accepted” I nod. “You still coming babe?”

“Of course, I will outrun both of you” Hope smiles before running off and upstairs.

/

“Winner winner” I shout in glee when we reach the front door after our run. “Both of you are losers.”

“Only because you cheated” Erin says, panting heavily.

“No I didn’t” I reply as Hope gently shoves me.

“Yes you did, you pushed both of us” Hope says, doing some stretches while she gets her breath back. “I actually physically fell on the ground.”

“No you didn’t” I say as I laugh.

“She did Kelley” Erin says. “You would know if you didn’t run away and leave us.”

“Look at my knee” Hope says, showing me her scraped knee. There is a bit of blood I suppose.

“I’m sorry babe but it was a competition” I answer. “There’s no nice Kelley when there is something to win.”

“I don’t think it was a fair contest” Erin says.

“I agree” Hope nods. “I want a chance to redo.”

“Hope, let’s not go that far. We don’t need to redo it” Erin says.

“Scared you will lose again?” I ask my sister who doesn’t answer, instead she just shrugs.

“You and I, let’s go” Hope says to me. “I demand we go again right now. I will step up the pace so much that you will be begging for me to stop so you can get your breath back.”

“Don’t I do that sort of begging every night in bed anyway?” I ask with a smirk.

“Kelley, jeez” Erin says as she laughs. “Wait until I am out of earshot.”

“I’m setting my watch” Hope says, doing some more stretches. “If you can’t take the heat then you may as well admit defeat.”

“I am ready to go, just thought I would give you some time to limber up” I say. “Your body is a lot older than mine so it will take time to recover.”

“It’s older, sure” Hope says with a nod. “But you of all people should know my body’s strength and the stamina I have.”

“I’m going to go, have a good run ladies” Erin says, disappearing inside the house.

“No cheating” Hope warns and I nod.

“No cheating, I promise” I reply. I will try not to cheat but who knows.

/

“Dinner is ready” Erin says as she bursts into the living room. “If you could all take a seat in the dining room please.”

“I don’t know if I could move” I mumble into Hope’s shoulder. Hope well and truly put me through my paces on that second run earlier, I physically can’t walk.

“I’m not carrying you to the dinner table” Hope says as I pout. “No babe.”

“Please Hopey, I’m in pain” I beg.

“The answer is still a no” Hope says as she stands up and holds out her hand for me. “Come on, let’s walk.”

“Fine” I say with a sigh.

We head through to the dining room. The smell of the food is so good, there really is nothing like my mom’s cooking or Thanksgiving dinner. Every year, Karen O’Hara seems to outdo herself.

“I swear, this will be the best thing you’ve ever tasted” I say to Hope who nods.

“She’s not tasted it yet” my mom says modestly.

“John only stays with Erin so he can have Karen’s cooking” I say before Erin draws me a look as John laughs.

“She’s joking” John says to Hope. “Karen’s cooking is good though.”

“Shall we eat?” my mom asks as we all take a seat.

“Jezza, pass the mashed potatoes please” I say as Jerry frowns at me.

“Call me by my proper name and you will get them” Jerry says and I do as I am told, and then receive the potato and put a spoonful on both Hope and my plates.

“I was going to make a joke there Hope, like I do every Thanksgiving…” I say to my girlfriend. “… My family did tell me to stop making jokes but I had to tell them I couldn’t quit cold turkey.”

“That’s such a lame joke” Erin says but it has Hope laughing. Whether it was a good joke or not, as long as it has my girlfriend laughing then I don’t care.

“I thought it was good” Hope says, smiling at me.

“You would” Erin replies. “That’s what happens when you fall in love, everything is masked by love.”

Dinner is the best Thanksgiving meal I have had ever. It isn’t just down to the food, which is pretty good but also due to the company. As cliché as it is, there is nothing better than spending time with the people you love. I feel so lucky that I can spend time with my amazing family and with my awesome girlfriend at the same time.

I just look at Hope and can’t help but smile at how happy she looks. This is the woman I get to spend my life with and I honestly cannot wait, I can’t wait to spend every Thanksgiving with her and tell her stupid jokes just so I can hear her laugh or so I can see her smile; the smile that seems to make her whole face light up.

Chapter Text

We’ve been back from Georgia for around a week now. Thanksgiving was good and Hope seemed to really enjoy herself. I don’t go back to Georgia until a few days before Christmas so Hope and I have time to spend together. I wish we could spend the holidays together but I know Hope usually spends Christmas with her family.

“Ok, I’ve set my watch” I reply, stepping onto the stationary bike. “Ready Meg?”

Pinoe nods her head once she is on her bike.

“Ok, go” I say as we both start. Pinoe and I met up to do a gym session together. Hope had her own individual training to do so she didn’t want to join us. I love spending time with Hope but sometimes it is good to get some space from one another since we have been spending a lot of time together now.

“Wow, this bike seat is uncomfortable” Pinoe says, frowning as she moves about on her bike.

“Power through Meg” I reply, pumping my legs hard to get the speed higher on my bike.

“Rowing machine next?” Pinoe asks as I nod.

“Then weights” I answer. Dawn gives us all individual fitness plans to work on so since the basics are similar Pinoe and I decided to do them together. Sometimes it’s easier working out with someone else rather than on your own.

“I need to do some cardio as well” Pinoe says and I nod.

“Do you have any plans for the rest of the day?” I ask to distract us from the pain we are feeling.

“I need to run a few errands and then Sue’s parents are coming over for dinner tonight” Pinoe answers and I nod.

“How are things going with you and Sue?” I ask, increasing my intensity on the bike.

“Good” Pinoe nods. “We jumped into the relationship fairly quickly but it’s going good, like any couple we have our highs and lows.”

“Yeah that’s normal” I say as we continue our conversation about random things, I will talk about anything to get my mind off the pain I am feeling.

“I’m going to miss hanging out with you” Pinoe smiles.

“Why? Are you going somewhere?” I ask as Pinoe laughs.

“You know what I mean” Pinoe answers. “Hope’s leaving Seattle so there’s no reason for you to come to Seattle anymore so I won’t see you.”

“You never know, maybe I will get traded to Seattle” I say with a shrug.

“You still don’t know what’s happening then?” Pinoe asks as I shake my head. It is getting frustrating, I keep hearing about all these other trades but I hear nothing about where I will be playing.

“No, I just want to know so that I can plan” I say, grateful that my bike beeps to indicate my workout is over. “All I know at the moment is that I won’t be at Sky Blue.”

“The whole system sucks doesn’t it?” Pinoe says and I nod, it really does.

My phone rings with a private number showing on screen.

“I better take this call” I say to Megan who nods and then busies herself with getting out the weights. “Hello?”

“Is that Ms Kelley O’Hara?” is the voice on the other line. I confirm it is myself before the person tells me they are from the jewellers that I have ordered one of Hope’s Christmas presents from.

I’ve ordered a custom made bracelet for Hope that I can put different charms on. With her retiring from the national team, I wanted to get her something special. I’ve decided to attach five charms to the bracelet, one with an 100 to indicate her one hundred shutouts, another charm with a goalkeeper glove, another charm in the shape of a soccer jersey with a number one on it, the fourth one is in the shape of a cap with the number ‘202’ on it to represent the number of caps Hope will have after the match in January and the fifth charm is the word ‘solo’.

 “Everything ok?” Pinoe asks me and I smile.

“Yeah” I answer. “I ordered a piece of jewelry for Hope so I was getting confirmation that it was ready to be collected.”

“Cool” Megan smiles. “Is it a Christmas gift?”

“Yeah, one of her gifts” I answer. “I think I have went a little overboard with my spending.”

“She’s your girlfriend, you’re allowed to” Megan replies. “I haven’t bought a single thing for Sue yet.”

“You are leaving it late” I say as Megan laughs.

“I know but I just don’t know what to get her” Megan replies. “It’s our first Christmas together. I want to get her something special but nothing too extravagant that I come on too strong.”

“How long have you been together?” I ask, unashamed by my noisiness.

“Eight or nine months” Megan replies. “The relationship happened so quickly so now I want to slow it down.”

“Jeez Megan, you’re not thinking of breaking up are you?” I ask. “You are so good together.”

“I know that but sometimes I get scared of commitment” Megan replies.

/

“Thank you for the ride” I say as I gather my things together when the car stops outside Hope’s house.

“Do you want to meet up for the gym again on Friday?” Megan asks and I nod.

“Friday sounds good” I answer with a smile. “Can you give me a ride?”

“Sure” Pinoe smiles. “Tell Hope I said hi.”

I make my way out of the car and head into the house.

“Hope, are you home?” I shout when I enter the house, both dogs rushing over and jumping on me. “Hi babies, where’s mommy?”

Both dogs run upstairs so I follow them and then I find my girlfriend in bed.

“Hey honey” I say with a smile.

“Hi Kel, how are you?” Hope asks and I puff my cheeks and take a deep breath. “Tired?” Hope asks as I nod my head and throw my training bag on the floor before I fall on top of the bed covers.

“I’m exhausted, I did extra cardio in the gym” I say, turning onto my side to face Hope who is reading her book. “Have you actually gotten out of bed at all?”

“Yeah, I did an eight mile run before coming back here for a nap” Hope replies.

“Eight miles, that’s good” I say as Hope smiles.

“I should probably shower” I say, too tired to move off the bed. “I don’t wanna move.”

“I could shower with you, would that get you anymore motivated?” Hope asks and I raise my eyebrow. “No funny business, just showering.”

“Maybe” I say with a shrug.

“How about we bathe together?” Hope suggests and I nod. Lying in the tub sounds so much better than having to stand in a shower.

“Can you put some bath salts in so it’s more relaxing?” I ask as Hope smiles and nods.

“Of course” Hope says, kissing me on the head before she moves off of the bed and walks through to the main bathroom and begins to run the water.

After we get into the tub, we sit in silence for a while. My body is aching from my workout.

“Hope?”

“Yeah babe?” Hope asks, moving her hands to rub my shoulders.

“I was just checking you were awake” I say with a laugh. “You were very silent behind me.”

“I’m awake” Hope says. “I don’t think I could fall asleep in a bathtub.”

“I could fall asleep anywhere when I am wrapped in your arms” I say seriously as Hope chuckles. “I know that sounded cliché but I’m actually serious. You’re warm and comforting.”

“Shall we start to wrap this up, the water is getting colder?” Hope asks and I groan.

“I wanna stay in your arms” I complain. “Another few minutes.”

“Fine” Hope says, her hands moving from my shoulders and slowly down my body.

“What happened to no funny business?” I ask, angling my head around and kissing Hope’s lips.

“It’s disappeared at the same time your clothes disappeared” Hope replies with a smirk, her hand edging closer and closer to my inner thigh.

“I don’t have any energy left” I reply, Hope’s mouth sucking on my neck.

“That’s ok, I will do all the work” Hope answers as her hand slips between my legs.

“Fuck” I moan, my head lying back on Hope’s shoulder as my back arches.

/

“I’ve been thinking” Hope says and I nod.

“Uh-huh” I hum, looking at my girlfriend.

“If the invitation to spend Christmas with you is still open then I think I will take you up on it” Hope says and I smile at her.

“Really?”

“Yeah, I had so much fun at Thanksgiving with you and your family” Hope says, smiling back at me. “Last year sucked, not only because I wasn’t with you but because I was miserable with my family.”

“They will still miss you though, don’t you always spend Christmas with them?” I ask as Hope nods her head. “Obviously I want you with me but I know your grandma will miss you.”

“I know and I thought about it but you’re my future and I don’t want to spend it separated from you” Hope says, squeezing my hand tighter as we continue walking towards the restaurant. “I’ve decided that I will arrange to have dinner with my family just before I leave and then spend Christmas and New Years with you.”

“This is going to be so good” I say with a smile before kissing Hope.

“You should probably check with your family that it is still ok” Hope says.

“They will be cool with it, they love you” I reply, making a mental note to call my mom and tell her. My mom will be excited, not as excited as me though.

“Where are you taking me for dinner?” Hope asks. “I feel like we have been walking for a while.”

“It’s a European restaurant that Pinoe recommended to me” I answer. “Sue took her there a few weeks ago and it was really good.”

“I’m always open to trying new things” Hope says.

It only takes about ten minutes more of walking before we arrive at the restaurant. It’s a small space but it has a comfortable atmosphere. It mainly serves French and Italian cuisine. We both decided on having French dishes, I had a sausage dish made with chilies and olive oil while Hope had chicken liver terrine.

If I am being honest, I really didn’t like my meal and I don’t think Hope did either. Hope ate more food than me but I think it was more out of politeness than enjoyment.

“Shall we just ask for the bill so we can pay?” Hope asks and I nod. “Unless you want dessert.”

“No thank you” I say with a small laugh. I am sure the food is really good for people who enjoy this type of food but it’s just not for me. “Let’s just pay and go somewhere else for dessert.”

“Ok babe” Hope smiles, catching the waiter’s attention to ask to pay.

/

“Good morning beautiful girl” Hope says in her sexy morning voice before she moves to stand behind me and place a kiss on the side of my neck. “How long have you been up?”

“About an hour” I reply as I stand on the back patio watching the dogs playing at the bottom of the lawn.

“Why are you up so early?” Hope asks, taking the coffee from my hand and sipping on it. “Wow, too sweet.”

“I couldn’t sleep so I got up to go for a glass of water and then I got distracted by the dogs” I reply as Hope gives me my coffee back. “I also got a phone call about ten minutes ago from one of the NWSL directors.”

“What about?” Hope asks as she places her arms around my midsection and then she kisses me on the neck again before resting her chin on my shoulder.

“I’m getting traded” I reply, turning in Hope’s arms and setting my coffee down on the patio table.

“You look worried” Hope says, her eyes searching mine. “Is it not what you want?”

“It’s better than I could’ve imagined” I say, breaking out into a smile.

“Where did you get traded to?” Hope asks, her hands on my hips.

“Utah Royals” I answer, trying to contain the grin on my face.

“That’s fantastic” Hope says as she pulls me into a hug. “We’re going to be on the same team.”

“So you’re ok with us being on the same team?” I ask as Hope smiles.

“I’m more than ok with it” Hope says as I sigh in relief.

“Good because I couldn’t say no” I reply. “I know I asked for a trade but I had no idea Utah was even possible so when they told me I jumped at the chance.”

“I am going to see you every day” Hope says before looking at me. “Kel…”

“Yeah?”

“This is it babe, this is the start of our lives together” Hope says, leaning in for another kiss. “I love you and I am so excited to start this chapter of our lives together.”

“I can’t wait” I grin as Hope kisses me.

“I can’t believe this, I actually feel quite emotional” Hope says as she crushes me in a hug. “This really is amazing, you are going to enjoy playing for Coach Harvey.”

“Good” I answer as I stare into Hope’s eyes. “I am going to enjoy playing with you more.”

“We need to celebrate, what shall we do?” Hope asks excitedly.

“Dinner at our favorite restaurant” I suggest as Hope smiles.

“We always celebrate things with dinner, don’t you want to do something more fun?” Hope asks and I shrug.

“I like dinner” I answer with a smile. “I don’t care how we celebrate, as long as I am with you then that’s all that matters.”

“I will reserve us a table at the restaurant” Hope says, kissing me one last time before she rushes inside to get her cell phone.

/

“Here’s to us” Hope says as she raises her glass of wine in the air as we sit in our favorite restaurant. “Congratulations on your trade babe.”

“Thanks” I reply, leaning over the table and tapping my glass against Hope’s.

“Are you happy about being traded to Utah?” Hope asks as we wait for our food to arrive. “I mean, not because we get to be together but are you happy with the club.”

“Yeah, everyone seems to say good things about the club” I reply. “It really is a bonus that you are there but if you weren’t, I think I would still like the club.”

“I can’t stop thinking that we will be together” Hope says with a smile.

“I know, I am so excited” I say, smiling widely at Hope. “We can see each other every day, I could get an apartment close to you.”

“You’re moving in with me” Hope says. “We’re getting a place together, that’s if you want to.”

“Of course, I just didn’t want to presume” I say, excitement bubbling inside me. “I wasn’t sure if it was too soon.”

“Honey, I’m all in” Hope says with a smile. “It isn’t too soon for anything.”

“In that case let’s move in together” I say as Hope leans over the table and kisses me.

“Let’s move in together” Hope repeats, smiling widely at me.

“We need to start looking at houses and areas we want to move to” I say excitedly, my head filling with all these plans.

“Let’s just take a step back and enjoy tonight” Hope laughs. “We can think about all that stuff another time, I just want to celebrate with you tonight.”

“Ok” I reply, calming myself down. “I just can’t wait.”

“I can’t either” Hope says as we just look at one another. Both of us smiling widely, presumably thinking of the future.

“It really is going to be amazing” I say, unable to remove the smile from my face.

Our meal arrives a few minutes later and as always, we end up splitting our meals with one another. We do it all the time, Hope would usually pick a pork or beef dish and I would select a chicken dish but we always wind up sharing half of each other’s.

“This is really good” I say, using my fork to point at the pork dish.

“It is” Hope answers before taking a sip of wine. “Do you want another drink?”

“I don’t know if I should, I have a gym session with Pinoe tomorrow” I answer.

“How about a beer, we are celebrating?” Hope asks and I nod.

“Fine, one beer” I answer. “Who would’ve thought it would be you persuading me to bend the rules.”

“This is a big occasion, I want us to celebrate properly” Hope replies before getting the waiter’s attention and ordering our drinks.

/

I ring the doorbell to the house and wait outside, if I hadn’t of been in such a haste to leave earlier for my gym session then I wouldn’t have forgot to bring my own key and I wouldn’t be standing outside.

“Answer the door, answer the door…” I repeat impatiently under my breath. The rain is so heavy that I had to run from the car to the door. I would call Hope but by the time that thought comes into my head it is too late.

I start banging on the door which makes the dogs bark louder, Onyx beginning to howl.

“Enough!!” I hear Hope say to the dogs.

I bang on the door again, this time just to annoy Hope by making the dogs start barking again.

“Jeez, I am coming” Hope says towards the door before I hear keys being thrust into the lock. I quickly hide at the side of the door so Hope doesn’t see me when she opens it. “Great, some idiot bangs on the door and then runs off.”

“I am not an idiot” I say, appearing from the side and causing Hope to jump. “I didn’t run away either.”

“Kelley, what…, my heart is jumping” Hope says as she places her hand over her chest. “You scared me shitless.”

“Sorry baby” I say before pulling Hope into a one armed hug.

“What are you doing out here?” Hope asks. “Where is your key?”

“I forgot to take it with me earlier” I answer. “I got Chinese takeout on my way home.”

“Thanks babe” Hope smiles.

“Can you take the food to the kitchen while I quickly run upstairs to change my clothes?” I ask.

“Sure babe” Hope answers as I run upstairs and throw on one of Hope’s sweatshirts and my pyjama shorts.

Once I’ve had a quick wash I make my way down to the kitchen where Hope is putting the food on plates while Onyx and Sasha stare at her.

“I got that pork dish that you wanted to try” I say, going over to the fridge and pulling out two bottles of water.

“Thanks babe” Hope replies and then she sits the plates down on the table.

“How was your day?” I ask as I take a seat across from Hope at the table.

“It was ok” Hope says with a shrug and a tight lipped smile. “Did you manage to break your sprint record?”

“Yeah I did” I answer with a proud smile. “Were you at the gym?”

“Yeah I went for a little while” Hope answers before changing the subject. “So how’s Megan doing?”

“She’s great, I finally convinced her to go shopping to buy a Christmas present for Sue” I answer. “I think she gets a bit overwhelmed when it comes to committing.”

“Maybe” Hope answers and then I see her wince.

“Ok, what are you not telling me?” I ask. Given Hope’s vague response and the fact that she wanted to change the subject so quickly means there is obviously something she doesn’t want to say. “You know I know you.”

“Ok so my day wasn’t so great” Hope says, pausing her eating to look at me. “I hurt my shoulder when I was doing lifts.”

“How bad babe?” I ask in concern.

“I went to see my physio and he said I have to rest my shoulder for about a week” Hope answers. “It’s not bad because I just need to rest and take some precautions but it could’ve been avoided if I didn’t try and lift so much.”

“Do you want me to give you a shoulder massage later?” I ask, taking another forkful of food.

“If the massage is going to be like the last time then, no” Hope answers.

“The website said to be thorough” I answer as Hope laughs.

“Thorough?” Hope questions. “You were pressing your knuckles so hard into my skin I actually thought you were trying to dislocate my hip or shoulder.”

“Shut up, I wasn’t that bad” I reply. “Just eat your food.”

/

“Please be gentle babe” Hope tells me as she lies face down on the bed. “I’m serious, my shoulder is quite sore.”

“I will be gentle” I answer, straddling Hope and sitting on her butt. “Are you ok with this oil?”

“Whatever oil is fine” Hope answers.

“Just close your eyes and relax” I say, rubbing the oil into my hands before I begin massaging Hope’s bare back.

“That feels good” Hope mumbles into the pillow. “Keep your hands above the towel line.”

“I’m your girlfriend, this intimacy during a massage is allowed” I reply, pressing my hands into Hope back and occasionally allowing my hands to dip under the towel.

“The towel stays on my butt, do you hear me” Hope says as I laugh. “Kel, I’m serious. A massage will help my shoulder so please take it seriously.”

“Fine” I reply. I will have some fun later after I have given Hope a proper massage.

I slowly massage Hope’s back, ensuring that I add the right amount of pressure to her muscles to try and work the knots out. I start at her lower neck before branching my hands onto a shoulder each, gently rubbing the oil into each shoulder blade and then sliding my fingers under her arm and down onto her sides, grazing Hope’s boobs in the process.

“Since when was my breast, my shoulder?” Hope asks, turning her neck to try and see me.

“Oil is slippery, my hand slipped onto your boob” I reply with a straight face.

“What’s your excuse for groping my breast then?” Hope asks.

“I wanted to” I answer, gently turning Hope’s head with my hands so she is on the pillow again. I continue the massage properly this time before I get off the bed and begin massaging Hope’s legs. Every muscle is so firm, from her thighs to her calves.

“Kelley?” Hope says in a warning tone when I slide my hand under the towel and massage her glute muscles.

“What?” I laugh. I’m not playing around, she’s got a muscle there and I have massaged every other one. “I am genuinely trying to be serious here.”

“Uh-huh” Hope replies in a tone that shows she doesn’t believe me.

“Trust me, if I wanted to fool around I would’ve ripped the towel right off” I say as Hope lets out a small moan in appreciation as I continue the massage on her glutes. “I’ve kept the towel on and I haven’t strayed away from the muscles.”

“Ok” Hope says.

“Can you turn over now, I want to do your front?” I ask. “I will give you another towel to cover your breasts if you want.”

“No its ok” Hope replies, turning over onto her back. “Do it properly.”

“I will” I say, spending a moment too long staring at Hope’s boobs.

“Come on then” Hope laughs. “Less staring and more massaging.”

“Ok” I say, pulling my eyes away from Hope’s breasts and then I get to my task. I try not to stare too much at Hope’s body but it’s hard when every muscle bulges in all the right places. There’s biceps bulging, tight abs, she even has exquisite bone structure.

After fifteen minutes, I am done. Thankfully I managed to behave myself but I am not going to lie and say I didn’t feel a little turned on.

“You don’t moan like that every time you get a massage do you?” I ask as Hope slaps my arm.

“Obviously not, no” Hope answers. “My senses and brain heighten when it’s you. When I get a professional massage I don’t really react at all, it’s just a medical professional doing their job.”

“Why am I different, I was trying to be professional?” I ask.

“When it’s you, my brain plays tricks on me” Hope replies. “My brain is allowing me to think things about you and the way you are touching me. I also got lost in the smell of your perfume.”

“What is your brain allowing you to think?” I ask with a smirk.

“Naughty things” Hope answers, leaning in for a kiss.

/

Its a few days later and Hope’s shoulder is feeling better, she was back at the gym last night and it went well.

“Carli’s coming to visit tonight” Hope says when she walks into the bedroom with her cell phone in her hand.

“I didn’t know she was in town” I reply as I make the bed.

“Brian has some work event tomorrow so they are getting a hotel for the night” Hope says. “Carli’s coming here tonight while Brian meets up with some work colleagues to go over some stuff for tomorrow’s event.”

“That’s cool” I reply with a smile. “Where are the dogs?”

“Outside playing with a soccer ball and the neighbours kids” Hope answers before leaning over the bed and kissing me. “I need to go to the grocery store, do you want anything?”

“Could you get some strawberry yoghurt?” I ask as Hope nods. “What are we having for dinner?”

“I was just going to make a chicken and rice dish that I found the recipe online for” Hope answers as she takes her top off. “Is that ok?”

“Sounds perfect babe” I answer as I open the drapes and tidy the laundry off the floor.

“I put coffee all down my t-shirt” Hope says as she gestures to the top she has just taken off. “Fuck, it’s went through onto my bra as well.”

“I’m going to do laundry so put it in the laundry hamper and I will sort it” I say as Hope takes her bra off and throws it on the bed.

“Stop staring” Hope says with a laugh as she walks towards her dresser for another bra.

“I can’t help it” I answer back with a smile. “It should be obvious that if you take your clothes off I am going to look.”

“Yeah” Hope smiles as she grabs the bra and a new top and puts them both on. “I probably should change my pants as well, Onyx jumped on me with his dirty paws.”

“Talking of pants, any idea where my light blue jeans are?” I ask. Hope has a terrible habit of moving things when she thinks they are out of place. I probably should know better than to leave clothes lying around on chairs or the floor.

“If you mean the skinny pants then I put them in your closet” Hope answers.

“Since when did I have my own closet?” I ask as Hope changes her jeans.

“You’ve always had the closet on the left” Hope answers as if it is obvious. “Well that’s where I always put your clothes.”

“I didn’t know I had my own closet” I say with a laugh before walking over and opening the closet door. “There’s my green sweater, and my Nike shorts… and there’s my blue jeans.”

“Where did you think all your clothes were?” Hope asks with amusement in her voice.

“Either in my bags or I left them in Georgia” I answer. “I still have things in my apartment in NJ too.”

“You really should terminate the lease on your NJ apartment, you’re still paying and not using it at the moment” Hope tells me.

“I know but I have a lot of stuff there that I have no idea where to put” I answer. I’ve only just found out about my trade so I have no plans in place. “I’m not shipping things to my parents’ house in Georgia to have to ship them to Utah.”

“I guess you have a point, after Christmas we need to get things sorted” Hope says and I nod in agreement.

/

“Thank you for the awesome dinner” I say with a smile. “I loved it, it’s my new favorite dish.”

“You’re welcome babe” Hope smiles, lifting our plates off the table while I lift our water glasses. “I made some dessert as well.”

“Really, what did you make?” I ask excitedly.

“I’m not sure how good it will be but we should at least try it” Hope says before going into the freezer. “I made peach ice-cream, it is your mom’s recipe.”

“I love peach ice-cream” I say, my mouth watering at the thought.

“I’ve never made ice-cream before but I am hoping it tastes ok” Hope says, pulling out the container before getting two bowls for us.

“It looks good, looks like my mom’s too” I reply as Hope digs a spoon in and serves up two bowls.

“Let’s try it” Hope says as we both take a spoonful from our bowls. “Oh my god, that’s horrible.”

“I like it” I say, taking another spoonful.

“I will still love you even if you don’t like it” Hope says before laughing. “It’s disgusting, you don’t need to eat it for my sake.”

“Honey, I am eating it because I like it” I answer truthfully. “My mom’s is a little better but this is good, I am genuinely enjoying it.”

“The texture just doesn’t seem right” Hope says, taking another bite just in case. “Oh no, definitely not.”

“Put the bowl down babe and just leave it” I say, continuing to eat mine.

“I followed the recipe right down to the last letter” Hope says before standing up and getting the recipe out of the drawer. “How did I get this so wrong?”

“Babe, it really isn’t…”

“Oh darn it, I know what I’ve done” Hope interrupts me. “I’ve put the wrong amount of sugar in, no wonder it tastes bitter.”

“A little sweeter would be better but it’s still good to me” I reply, finishing off my bowl before eating Hope’s portion.

“I am going to make cupcakes tomorrow” Hope says before putting the recipe away. “Hopefully I don’t mess up your mom’s recipe for them.”

“What kind of cupcakes?” I ask in excitement. It’s not often Hope and I can have treats so any time we do have a little cheat, I like to make it worthwhile.

“Lemon meringue” Hope answers.

“That’s my favorite” I say with a wide smile.

“That’s why I am making that flavour” Hope smiles. “I want to treat my girlfriend and your mom told me that was your favorite.”

“How often do you and my mom talk?” I ask with a laugh.

“A lot” Hope answers before laughing. “I probably talk to your mom about once every couple of days.”

“She told me the other night on the phone that you were her favorite girlfriend of mine” I say with a smile. She did actually tell me that, not sure how it came up in conversation though.

“I better be the only girlfriend of yours” Hope says as I kiss her.

“Of course you are” I answer. “I meant she prefers you over any of my exes.”

“Well that’s good” Hope smiles. “Considering you are stuck with me for the rest of our lives then it is good that your family like me.”

“I’m not stuck with you” I say, moving off my seat and onto Hope’s lap. “I want to be with you and grow old with you, well you’re already old but…”

“Stop with the old joke, it’s getting old” Hope says before I start laughing.

“On a serious note, I’m with you because I want to be and because I love you so much” I say, staring into Hope’s warm eyes. “I say it all the time because it’s true, you are everything to me and I couldn’t imagine my life without you.”

“I know” Hope smiles gently at me before she places a gentle kiss on my neck.

I adjust my head so I can kiss Hope properly before I hug her and allow her to hold me in her arms.

/

“You two better behave when we get home” I say to Onyx and Sasha. After dinner I decided to take them out on walk while Hope waited for Carli to come by. “Are you listening?”

Both dogs just look at me before continuing to sniff at the ground.

“What I mean by behave is for the two of you to jump on Carli” I say with a smirk. Carli isn’t that enamoured by dogs. She doesn’t dislike them but isn’t too fond of when they jump all over her. “I want you to lick her and really gross her out, ok?”

Again the dogs’ just keep walking, more interest on the ground below than what I have to say.

“Come here” I say, bending down to both of the dogs when we get outside the front door. I take their leashes off and then I open the door. “Run!”

Both dogs trot inside and then into the living room where they hear voices.

“Onyx, get off of Carli” I hear Hope say and I can’t help but laugh. That’s exactly what I wanted.

When I walk into the living room, Sasha is staring at Carli while Onyx is dodging Hope trying to catch him.

“Sasha, give aunt Carli’s hand a nice lick to say hello” I say as Carli frowns.

“Be a good doggie and don’t” Carli says to Sasha before patting her on the head.

“Mommy Kelley put you both up to this didn’t she?” Hope asks Onyx. “If you are a good boy and settle in your bed then I will get you a dog biscuit.”

Onyx stops and stares at Hope, allowing her to catch him by the collar. The sound of the word dog biscuit always gets their attention.

“Biscuit?” Hope says, both dogs running after her as she leaves the room.

“Hi Carli” I say with a smile.

“Are you a pain constantly?” Carli asks as she stands up. “I better go and wash up after getting almost licked to death by your dogs.”

“They are just friendly” I say with a shrug before I go into the kitchen and Carli goes to the bathroom.

“You are in trouble O’Hara” Hope says to me but I can tell by the smile on her face she isn’t too bothered. “You know Carli doesn’t like the dogs all over her.”

“I know” I laugh. “I need to go upstairs and change, Onyx pushed me into a puddle.”

“Did he or were you just messing around and got yourself into trouble?” Hope asks.

“I may have been messing about and then tripped over him and into the puddle” I say as Hope smiles.

“Not really his fault since it could’ve been avoided” Hope says and I nod.

“I guess so” I say before kissing Hope’s lips and then I run upstairs.

When I get to the living room fifteen minutes later, Hope and Carli are in the middle of a discussion about defensive tactics.

“Ladies, is there nothing else you can discuss other than soccer?” I ask as I take a seat on the floor where the dogs are lying peacefully.

“Kel, don’t annoy them” Hope tells me as I frown.

“I’m not annoying them, I am just sitting with them” I reply as I sit between the dogs, massaging their heads with my hand as I gently rub the fur between their ears. “They like this.”

“Ok” Hope says before going back to her conversation with Carli.

/

“Brian is on his way to pick me up” Carli announces as she looks at her phone.

“Finally” I reply jokingly. “I thought you were going to stay all night.”

“It’s nice spending time with you too Kelley” Carli replies with sass.

“Get used to spending more time with me since I am dating your best friend” I reply as we both laugh.

“I guess I can tolerate you since you make Hope happy” Carli says, smiling at me. “I hope you both have a great Christmas.”

“You too” Hope replies as she hugs her best friend.

“Do I get a hug?” I ask before Carli pats me on the head.

“There you go” Carli says. “That’s the only affection you get from me after forcing your dogs upon me.”

“I didn’t want to hug you anyway” I say before Hope and I walk Carli towards the door.

“Goodnight” Carli says as she exits the house.

“Bye” Hope and I say at the same time before we close the door.

We make our way back to the living room and sit on the couch.

“Do you want to watch Netflix?” I ask as Hope nods.

“Sure babe” Hope answers. “Carli’s getting traded to Sky Blue.”

“Really?” I ask in surprise.

“Don’t tell anyone because apparently they need to announce it officially” Hope says and I nod. “I think she wanted to play back at home and since you’ve left Sky Blue then they would’ve had a spot open for a national team player.”

“Good for her” I reply truthfully. “At least she and Brian can be closer.”

“Yeah” Hope smiles. “Things seem to be working out for everyone right now.”

“They do” I smile as I lean in and kiss Hope.

/

“Ok, I’m ready” Hope says, patting her gloved hands together. “Start at the penalty spot for five kicks and then we will move you further back until you hit the halfway line.”

“Tell me if your shoulder hurts” I say as I line the ball up on the penalty spot.

“I’m fine babe” Hope replies, preparing for me to take the PK on her. “I think I can handle taking shots.”

“Ok then” I say, stepping back from the ball and taking the kick. I debated taking it easy on Hope because I am concerned about her shoulder but Hope made me promise that we need to treat this like any training session. I need to work on my shooting and Hope wants to work on her saves so we need to take it seriously.

I make two out of the five PKs, Hope saves two and I kicked one wide of the post.

“What do you think?” I ask, rolling a ball between my feet as Hope walks towards me.

“They were ok but the ones I saved were because I was able to read you too easily” Hope tells me. “When you walked up to the ball, your body shape was telling me that you were going to hit the shot to the right.”

“How do I disguise what I am going to do?” I ask. “I don’t imagine taking PKs will be something the team will rely on me for but I want to be able to disguise any of my shots.”

“It’s all about tricking the opposition” Hope says. “Keepers watch your feet, it’s clear where you are going to shoot depending on how your feet are positioned. They also watch which way your body is angled. Most importantly though, keepers will have researched you before the match and analysed you during the match.”

“Ok, I understand” I say with a nod. “I could use distraction techniques too.”

“Yeah” Hope says.

“Let me take shots from outside the box” I say as Hope nods before she positions herself back in goal.

We spend hours out on the field until we are practically forced to leave due to my hunger.

On the way home we stopped off at the grocery store to get some items for dinner, I decided I would make us a salad. I am not good at cooking but I can put a salad together without giving anyone food poisoning.

“That wasn’t so bad was it?” I ask as we clear up from our meal.

“It surprisingly tasted pretty good” Hope answers. “I liked the dressing you used.”

“I am glad you liked it” I say as I wash the dishes and Hope begins to dry them.

“I may allow you to make it for me again sometime” Hope smiles before pecking me on the cheek. “I will finish tidying up since you made the meal.”

“Ok” I reply, quickly drying my hands before I sit down at the kitchen table in front of Hope’s laptop. “Can I use your laptop?”

“No, not just now” Hope says as she lifts it away from me.

“Why not?” I ask.

“Because” Hope says as I laugh.

“Because of what?” I ask, standing up and walking over to Hope.

“I have stuff on there that I don’t want you to see” Hope says.

“Have you got porn on there?” I ask as Hope frowns.

“No babe” Hope answers before sitting the laptop down on the counter and then she puts her hands on my hips. “I wouldn’t have a clue where to get porn, furthermore why would I need to look at porn when I’m in a real relationship.”

“What’s on your laptop that you’re so ashamed of then?” I ask as Hope laughs.

“I’m not ashamed of anything” Hope replies.

“Let me use the laptop then” I say.

“Do I need to remind you that Christmas is only a couple of weeks away?” Hope says. “Let’s just say I have something on my laptop that would totally ruin your Christmas present.”

“Ok, I understand” I answer, backing down. “Talking of Christmas, I have an early present for you.”

“You do?” Hope asks as I smile at her.

“I do” I nod. “Wait here, I am going to get it.”

“You’re giving me it just now?” Hope says.

“Yes” I answer before disappearing upstairs to the bedroom and retrieving the envelope from the bedside drawer.

I quickly run back downstairs and hold it out for Hope.

“Open it” I instruct.

“Ok” Hope says with a smile while accepting the envelope. “What is this?”

“That’s why you open it babe” I answer as Hope rips open the envelope and pulls out a ticket to a VIP movie viewing of The Murder on the Orient Express. Hope keeps telling me how much she wants to see the movie.

“I wanted to see this movie” Hope says.

“I know” I answer. “The tickets are for next week so I had to give you them before Christmas.”

“Thank you baby.”

“You’re welcome” I reply as Hope kisses me.

/

“Are you ready?” I ask Hope as she nods. “I’ve only got two hours before I have a gym session.”

“That’s fine babe, I’ve got an appointment with my physio in the afternoon” Hope says as she takes a seat at the kitchen table next to me. We decided we should look online for a property in Utah. We can’t visit yet but Hope’s realtor recommended we had a look to get some ideas of what area we want and the style of property.

“So, we’ve agreed we will lease initially?” I ask as Hope nods.

“Yeah” Hope says. “We both don’t know Utah and with you still on the national team I just don’t think it is appropriate for us to buy a place just yet.”

“I agree with you” I say, pulling up the property website on Hope’s laptop. “Apartments are out of the discussion then?”

“Yeah” Hope says. “It wouldn’t be too bad but I would prefer a house with a garden so the dogs can be outside without annoying any neighbours.”

“How many bedrooms?” I ask, using the filter option on the website to try and narrow our search.

“Two or three” Hope answers. “We need at least two bathrooms, one for us and one for any guests we have over.”

“Any price range?” I ask.

“Not at the moment, let’s see what prices they have and if it suits us” Hope says and I nod before clicking on the search button.

“There’s a nice house” I say, a double story house with garage. “Do we need a pool?”

“I don’t think so” Hope answers as she looks through the details. “Do you want a pool?”

“It’s not a necessity” I answer. “As long as we have a big enough yard for the dogs and reasonable sized rooms then I am not bothered about a pool or even a garage.”

“I want a garage” Hope says with a nod. “I have a lot of my dad’s machinery and old tools in storage that I want to take with me.”

“Garage it is then” I say, clicking on the filter option on the page. “The kitchen needs to be reasonable size too, if we can fit a table into the kitchen then we don’t necessarily need a dining room.”

“Anything else you think is a must have?” Hope asks.

“We need a shower” I say as Hope laughs.

“That’s obvious Kel, I can hardly wash myself at the kitchen sink” Hope laughs as I lightly punch her arm.

“I meant we need a shower and not just a bathtub, some of these properties only have tubs” I answer as Hope nods.

“Ok, I understand” Hope says. “Oh, look at this one.”

“That’s nice” I reply as I look at the property Hope has pointed out. It’s a two storey with garage under the master bedroom, front door in the middle and at the other side is the dining room with a small office or smaller third bedroom above it. The main bathroom is at the back along with another large bedroom with the kitchen and living room on the ground floor at the back.

“Is it within our budget babe?” Hope asks. “Maybe we could send the details to my realtor as an option, even if it is outside our budget we could still view it.”

“Ok” I nod and we keep looking for other places.

Over the next few days we find some suitable houses, some of them a little more expensive but in a better area and others less expensive but further away from where Utah Royals will train.

/

“Kel, why are you being like this?” Hope asks and I shrug.

“Being like what?” I ask as I walk away from my girlfriend.

“Babe, what is wrong? Why am I getting the cold shoulder all of a sudden?” Hope asks.

“You just don’t get it do you” I say as Hope follows me.

“No, I don’t get it” Hope responds as she stands in front of me, spinning me around on the kitchen stool to face her. “Baby… why are you mad?”

“Don’t think you can charm your way out of this” I reply, trying not to get lost in Hope’s eyes.

“What have I done Kel, I’m not in the mood to play games” Hope tells me, the look on her face a mixture of seriousness and softness. It’s actually making me regret being mad at her in the first place, after all I do feel a little embarrassed about being mad at her for something stupid like this. “If I knew what I had done wrong then I would’ve fixed it by now.”

“You went to the movies to see ‘Murder on the Orient Express’ with your friends” I say, Hope’s face scrunching up in confusion.

“Is that a bad thing?” Hope asks with a chuckle. “You got me the tickets.”

“I wanted to go” I reply as Hope looks at me in confusion.

“You don’t like crime movies” Hope says.

“So, I still wanted to go with you” I reply as Hope looks at me.

“Wait, you’re mad because I went to see a movie, you would have no interest in, without you?” Hope says, looking as puzzled as ever.

“I wanted to go with you to the movies” I reply.

“Kel, you told me to go with my friends” Hope says. “I asked if I should take them and you said I should, so I went.”

“I am sorry, I know I am overreacting but I bought you those tickets” I say, sighing deeply. “I wanted to go with you.”

“I’m sorry, I guess I didn’t realise that when you said ‘go with your friends’ it meant ‘say no, I really want to go to the movies with you to see a film I don’t want to see” Hope says.

“I’m sorry I blew this way out of proportion” I say, feeling annoyed at myself for getting annoyed at Hope. “I know it is silly babe, I had no right to be angry.”

“It is a bit silly” Hope replies, pulling me in for a kiss.

“I’m a monster aren’t I?” I chuckle.

“You’re my monster” Hope says, pecking my lips.

/

“Can I tell you something?” I ask, biting my lip in nervousness.

“Sure” Hope says with a nod.

“I was on your laptop and I saw something” I reply as Hope sighs.

“Oh, Kel” Hope groans.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t snoop” I reply truthfully. “Your email must’ve been connected because it came through as an email alert.”

“What did you see?” Hope asks.

“A crystal glass photo frame with a picture of us in it” I answer.

“Is that all you saw?” Hope asks. “Just one of your Christmas presents.”

“Yeah” I nod. “I saw nothing else, I swear.”

“Good” Hope says before kissing my cheek. “At least you didn’t see your main present, I want it to be a surprise.”

“I won’t go near your laptop again, I don’t want to spoil the surprise for myself” I reply honestly.

“Good, because if you spoil all your presents then there will be nothing left” Hope says and I nod.

“I won’t go near the laptop at all” I reply. “I was going to take the dogs a walk, do you want to come?”

“If you give me ten minutes to change then sure” Hope answers.

“Just let me know when you are ready” I respond, pecking Hope on the lips before I go in search of my favorite furry friends.

Half an hour later and we are at our favorite spot to take the dogs on their walks.

“Come here!” Hope says sternly as Onyx reluctantly walks towards her. “That was a bad boy, you don’t do that.”

Onyx just stands in front of Hope, he knows he is going to get his lead clipped back on. Sometimes when he sees other dogs he wants to play with them, not realising that he’s sometimes twice their size and gets too excited.

“I’m ever so sorry” Hope apologises to an older couple who’s small dog almost got knocked over when Onyx tried to play with the other dog and his ball.

“Its fine dear, I know he meant no harm” the woman says politely before Hope apologises once more before pulling Onyx away.

“That was your fault” Hope blames me once we are a good distance away from the older couple and their dog.

“How?” I ask with a laugh as I clip Sasha’s lead on.

“You threw the ball towards that other dog which caused Onyx to chase after it and crash into the dog” Hope says as I continue to laugh.

“You’re just embarrassed babe that you’re projecting your annoyance on me” I reply as Hope rolls her eyes and huffs.

“Don’t encourage the dogs to do disobedient things” Hope says and I nod.

“Yes boss” I reply. “I’m guessing this is how it will be when we have kids, I’m the fun mom and you’re the disciplinarian style mom.”

“I’m going to be a fun mom too” Hope says. “I just won’t teach my kids bad manners.”

“I was just teaching Onyx to be friendly” I say before teasing Hope. “You want Onyx to get a girlfriend so that little dog might’ve been ideal.”

“So many things wrong with that sentence honey” Hope says as I smile. “I do not want Onyx to get a girlfriend and that dog he knocked over was a boy.”

“It had a very feminine type of walk” I reply. “Why don’t you want poor Onyx to get a girlfriend, he could be a daddy and make cute little Onyx’s.”

“He wouldn’t be a dad, he’s had the operation” Hope says while frowning. “And anyway, he doesn’t need a girlfriend. He’s a dog.”

“All creatures’ need a bit of loving” I say. “Even Sasha has a boyfriend.”

“Excuse me?” Hope says as I nod.

“Yeah” I nod. “A golden retriever named George, we visit him at the park all the time.”

“You do?” Hope asks and I smile.

“Yeah babe” I answer as I stroke Sasha’s fur. “I’ve got Maria’s, that’s George’s owner, number and we arrange meetings with the dogs.”

“Let’s back up here” Hope says as she pulls me over to a bench and we sit. “Why was I never told about this before and why wasn’t I told about you meeting up for doggy dates with another woman?”

“I’m sure I’ve mentioned it” I reply. I’m pretty sure I’ve told Hope about George. “In fact I did tell you about George because you weren’t happy that I gave another dog one of Sasha’s toys.”

“Maybe you have mentioned a George but I certainly don’t remember Maria” Hope says. “How often do you talk or meet up?”

“Every couple of days” I answer before playing with Onyx and the ball. “It’s usually in the mornings, that’s when Maria can get George to the park.”

“She knows you’re in a relationship, right?” Hope asks and I shrug.

“I don’t know, I never said it outright but given how much I talk about you then I think the whole world would know after a few minutes” I answer.

“She better not have a crush on you and thinks using her dog will charm you” Hope says as I burst out laughing.

“Honey, she definitely doesn’t have a crush on me” I say, trying to cool my laughter at such an insane thought. “I’m completely yours.”

“I know that and I trust you, I just don’t understand why this Maria woman would befriend a random stranger” Hope says.

“You could say the same about me” I reply.

“You’re you, you would make friends with a tree if the branches blew the right way at you” Hope says as I punch her arm.

“I don’t know what that means but it seems to make me sound naïve or gullible” I reply.

“I just mean you are friendly and outgoing” Hope says.

“I will text Maria and see if she can meet just now, hopefully that will settle your jealousy” I say, pulling out my phone and sending off a text.

/

“Bye Maria, bye Georgie” I say as Maria and George leave. They managed to make it down to the park for half an hour which let the dogs play with each other.

“I actually want to kill you” Hope says as I laugh.

“Why baby?” I ask, biting my tongue to stop the laughter.

“Could you not just have said, Maria is probably the same age as our grandparents?” Hope says.

“Why?” I ask in amusement.

“You made me think you befriended some young woman and were meeting her” Hope says.

“No I didn’t, I just said it was a woman named Maria” I reply. “You just judged and assumed it would be someone younger.”

“I shouldn’t have judged so quickly” Hope says and I nod.

“It’s ok, I guess I can’t blame you as its no lie that I like an older woman” I s