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under pink skies

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and one day, you will understand
how some people feel familiar the
moment you meet them. . . as if
your souls have met many years ago
and they pick up right where they left
off. And one day, out of the blue,
someone will run up to you and tell
you. . . “I have been waiting for you
and I have missed you for so long.”

--r. m. drake

“Tell me what you want.”

 

“More, harder,” comes the breathless response.

 

Tobin does as she’s told and though the action results in a high pitched whine, she wants verbal confirmation it’s what was wanted. “Like that?” The smirk on her face lets on just how badly she wants the validation that what she’s doing is pushing this girl closer and closer to the brink.

 

“So--so good. Don’t stop.”

 

“Wouldn’t dream of it.”

 

Tobin finds better use of her mouth by latching her lips onto the other girl’s throat. She’s just started to bite down on the smooth skin when she hears a phone ringing on the nightstand. She thinks it’s hers, but she’s obviously a little distracted so she can’t be sure.

 

“Who the hell is that?” The girl under her asks, clearly annoyed.

 

“Ignore it.”

 

That’s what they do. Tobin keeps at what she’s doing, picking the pace up when the other girl’s moans turn into only strained sighs. She wants to hear a reaction out of her.

 

After a minute the ringing stops and the room is once again dominated by the sweet, breathless sounds of sex.

 

Then the phone starts ringing again.

 

“Oh my god,” the girl groans.

 

“Just ignore it,” Tobin repeats. She couldn’t care less about who’s calling her in a moment like this. All her attention is elsewhere and none can be spared for whoever’s on the other end of the phonecall.

 

Apparently she’s the only one who feels that way.

 

“I’m not going to be able to come with that obnoxious ringing.”

 

Tobin groans, but she does as is requested of her. She removes her hand from the girl’s breast and ends the call, barely acknowledging that it’s Amy who’s called her twice before she ignores it. She’ll deal with that later, when she’s not doing something so important.

 

Tobin’s barely set the phone back down when it starts ringing again.

 

“Just answer the fucking phone so they stop,” the girl complains with a huff.

 

Answering her best friend’s phone call while she’s three fingers deep in the gorgeous new intern she’s been trying to hook up with for the last three months (the blonde one, the brunette was over two weeks ago) is certainly not ideal, but the only other rational option she can come up with at the moment is shattering her phone against the wall to make it stop.

 

She answers the phone.

 

“I’m kinda busy right now, Aims. Can I call you back later?” Tobin asks, trying to control her breathing.

 

“No, this is important! It’ll just take a minute.”

 

Amy’s far too cheerful for the moment and Tobin’s forced to remove her fingers. She can’t have a conversation with Amy while she’s in such a compromising position. The girl underneath her whines in complaint when her source of pleasure is taken away.

 

“What’s up?” Tobin questions, trying to keep as much annoyance as she can out of her tone.

 

“Why are you breathing so heavy? Did I interrupt your workout or something?”

 

Tobin scoffs. ‘If only you knew,’ Tobin thinks. “Yeah, something like that. What’s up?”

 

“Sorry, I’ll let you get back to it soon. Is there any way you would be able to pick up the boys from their play date at 4:00? Please, please, please? I know it’s really short notice, but one of the other professors got food poisoning so I got roped into taking their place on an Academic Honor Court hearing and it doesn’t start until 3:30. I don’t know why they waited until the week before finals to do this, no one has time. But anyway, I won’t be out in time to get them and Adam’s got that deadline at the new building site, so I know he won’t be able to get away.”

 

Tobin sighs at her best friend’s rambling and pulls her phone away from her ear to look at the time. She’s got a little over an hour before she’d probably have to leave. She’d had other plans for that hour and all the ones following it tonight, all involving the girl currently underneath her, but she’s never been able to say ‘no’ to Amy.

 

Tobin sighs and rolls off of the girl. “How does Luke already have a playdate? He’s not even a year old.”

 

“The mom of Ryan’s friend always offers to watch Luke too, but that’s not the point. Are you able to get them or not?” Tobin can practically hear Amy cringe when she realizes how harsh those words sounded. “Sorry, sorry, I didn’t mean it like that. I’m just in a rush and you know how I get when I’m stressed. I’m really sorry for snapping.”

 

“It’s cool, don’t worry about it,” Tobin dismisses her apology. “Yeah, of course I’ll get them. Just text me the address.”

 

Tobin hears a sigh from the girl in her bed, who is now sprawled across her back on the other side of the bed. She’s got a hand between her legs, fucking herself deeply, and another on one of her breasts, tweaking a nipple. She’s doing exactly what Tobin was doing to her just moments ago and Tobin’s throat goes dry at the sight.

 

She needs to get Amy off the phone.

 

“Thank you so much!” Amy exclaims. “Seriously, Tobin. I owe you so big. I hated to ask, but I didn’t know who else to call and I knew you didn’t have training today. I won’t make you bring them all the way to the house, just take them back to your apartment and I’ll pick them up on my way home from campus.”

 

Tobin’s eyes are trained on the girl next to her, too entranced to really focus on her conversation with Amy. “Uh, yeah, don-don’t worry about it, Aims. I’m always up for time with my godsons.”

 

Amy’s laugh filters through the phone. “Tobin, how many times do I need to remind you only Luke is your godson? Lauren is Ryan’s godmother.”

 

“Yeah, and I’m still bitter about that so I’m going to continue to claim the both of them. You don’t see her picking them up, do you?”

 

“She’s working that case in Phoenix. She’s not exactly right across town like you,” Amy points out.

 

The girl next to her moans, not loud enough for Amy to hear, but loud enough that Tobin feels herself get even wetter as a result.

 

Yeah, she really needs to get Amy off the phone.

 

“I’ve g-got to go, but text me the address,” Tobin tells her again. Her voice is low and thin and she clears her throat before continuing, but it doesn’t do much. “I’ll text you when we’re back at my place.”

 

“You’re a lifesaver, Tobin. I appreciate this so much.”

 

“Yeah, yeah, stop sucking up and go punish the hell out of that delinquent student. I expect details when you come get the boys.”

 

“Of course,” Amy laughs. “Thanks again, love you.”

 

“I love you too.” Tobin hangs up the phone and switches it on silent, letting the phone drop off the edge of the bed. She crawls over so she’s straddling the girl again and kisses her hard. She smirks devilishly when she pulls away. “Now where were we?”

 

“You were about to make me come so hard I forget my name,” the girl responds. “Or at least that’s what I was promised earlier.”

 

“Oh right. Well, we can’t leave you disappointed, now can we?”

 

The time for talking is over then as Tobin slips her fingers back in and lowers her mouth to the girl’s chest.

xxx

An hour and a half later, she’s knocking on the door of a moderately sized blue house with a red door and white picket fence in a subdivision filled with carbon copies of the same house in varying colors. It reminds her of the subdivisions Amy and Lauren live in, duplicates of the same houses plopped along winding roads with wide sidewalks and surrounded by impeccably manicured lawns, at least when they aren’t in a drought.

 

It makes Tobin sick.

 

She still remembers crushing frat guys in beer pong with Amy and taking body shots off the chiseled soccer boys with Lauren in college. Well, she doesn’t vividly remember on account of all the alcohol, but she remembers enough to know it happened. It’s so hard to imagine those same two party girls in college now living such stereotypical lives with their handsome husbands and well mannered children in lavish homes and driving their family friendly cars to boring jobs five days a week.

 

Tobin’s definitely not ready for that.

 

She doesn’t know if she ever will be.

 

They were supposed to take on the soccer world together. They all got signed by LAFC as the first three picks in the college draft the year they graduated and they were supposed to make names for themselves together.

 

Then Amy got pregnant just before the season started and she decided not to make a comeback after Ryan was born, wanting instead to stay at home a be a mom. She was the top college draft pick and Hermann Trophy winner their senior year, but she gave up a stellar career for her family, something Tobin could never be angry at her for. Now, she’s educating young minds teaching Literature at UCLA and she has a beautiful family.

 

Tobin and Lauren started their rookie season at LAFC together, but they wouldn’t end it that way.

 

Lauren tore her ACL so badly in the semi-final match that she wasn’t able to come back. She was the golden boot winner, Rookie of the Year and League MVP that season, and it all got thrown away because of a pissed off veteran defender from Philly who got fed up with being repeatedly burned by a player fifteen years younger than her. The other player barely even got a yellow for the vicious tackle, much to Tobin’s frustration, resulting in a yellow of her own for telling off the ref about how it should’ve been a red.

 

Now, Lauren is a public health lawyer, fighting for the greater good or something along those lines, Tobin has never really understood what all it is she does.

 

Her friends stepped away from the game they all love so desperately and settled down, but she stayed on the same path they’d all dreamed about when they were cocky freshmen breaking records at UNC and planning world domination.

 

She only partially achieved the world domination part, but only for bullshit reasons that she can’t control.

 

As she waits for Ryan’s friend’s mom to open the door--she thinks Amy’s text said her name is Christen?--she tries to picture herself in a house just like this, with a wife and children and a happy little life.

 

She can’t do it.

 

The door swings open to reveal Christen and Tobin swears she’s being punked.

 

This woman is ridiculously gorgeous, so gorgeous that Tobin has to clench her jaw to keep it from literally dropping open in shock. She’s got smooth, dark skin and Tobin tries really hard not to imagine what it would look like covered in hickeys and bite marks. She looks down at Tobin with green-gray eyes the color of an early morning sea, glittering just as the sun starts to rise. Tobin wants to swim in that color, she wants to bathe in it and drown herself in it. Her dark hair is wavy and loose around her shoulders and the smile she flashes Tobin is so staggeringly beautiful, Tobin almost stumbles backwards.

 

“Hi! You must be Tobin, I’m Christen.”

 

‘Fucking hell, even her voice is beautiful,’ Tobin thinks.

 

This has got to be a joke. Amy’s fucking with her or she’s got the wrong house or something. There’s no way a girl this ridiculously gorgeous lives in a mundane house like this on a mundane street in the middle of a mundane neighborhood. There’s no way. She should be walking runways or gracing the covers of magazines. This can’t be right, but yet she knows it is because the woman knows her name and was clearly expecting her.

 

“Uhm, y-yeah I’m Tobin.”

 

She can’t believe she’s getting so flustered. She doesn’t do this. She’s the one who makes girls flustered, not the other way around. She can still taste the last girl she made flustered on her tongue and now she’s the one stuttering and trying not the turn red.

 

“The boys are out back kicking the ball around and Luke is sleeping. Come inside and I’ll let Ryan know you’re here.”

 

Christen pushes the door open wider and steps aside so Tobin can come in. Tobin walks cautiously, not trusting herself to not stumble over the threshold or fall over completely when she moves past Christen and she can feel her breath on her shoulder.

 

Spring in southern California is much warmer than New Jersey and this year has been particularly warm, uncomfortably so. The moment she steps inside Christen’s house, though, she feels warm in the best way possible.

 

It’s an inviting type of warmth. Tobin can tell right away this house is loved and cared for. It’s neat and tidy, but not in an obnoxious way that suggests Christen is overly concerned with appearances.

 

There are shoes haphazardly lying by the front door and a child-sized backpack dropped without care by the foyer table. There’s an Ironman blanket thrown over the back of the couch that hasn’t been folded and a shelf with DVDs carelessly stacked sitting next to the TV, but other than that, the house is spotless. By the stairs there are messy pictures drawn in crayon right on the light yellow wall with frames around them. The way they’re neatly mixed in with family photos in matching dark brown, wooden frames makes Tobin think they were planned.

 

She can tell right away that Christen likes order on a large scale, but small kinds of disorder don’t bother her. Maybe she’s even emboldened by them, feeling like she’s living a little rebelliously by not micromanaging quite every aspect of her life.

 

Either way, Tobin likes the house, surprisingly considering how stereotypical it is, and she tells her as much.

 

“Thanks!” Christen says cheerfully as she closes the door. “I mostly work from home, so I try to make sure it’s comfortable.”

 

Tobin wants to ask what she does, wants to know all sorts of things about her, but she just hums in response instead. She doesn’t trust herself to talk to her without sounding like a fool.

 

Christen leads her through the house to the kitchen where Luke is sacked out in a portable crib by the kitchen table, which is covered in various papers and photos of landscapes from around the world. Tobin can only assume it’s all for Christen’s job. Christen slides open the glass door as quietly as possible and steps out onto the back deck.

 

Tobin can immediately hear Ryan’s sparkling laugh before she even sees him. She loves his laugh so much, it’s so innocent and full of life. Whenever she’s having a bad day or loses a game on the road, she always FaceTimes Amy so she can talk with Ryan and get him laughing. It’s like instant relief from all her troubles.

 

Ryan and Christen’s son have the ball trapped between them, kicking and trying to win possession, swarming the ball like kids always do. Ryan manages to get the ball away and tries to do some step over trick that she knows he’s seen her do before, but he ends up stumbling and the other boy is able to steal the ball away and score a goal in one of the little pop up goals set up crooked and only a few meters apart.

 

“Mama, did you see that? I scored!” The little boy shouts up at Christen. He’s got dark hair and skin just like his mom, but unlike Christen, his eyes are so dark they look almost black. His smile is just as bright as Christen’s, but yet it’s totally different. Tobin figures he must get those two features from his dad.

 

“I did, sunshine, great job!” Christen beams with pride as she watches her son go fetch the ball from the back of the net as Ryan pushes himself to his feet and tries not to pout. “Ryan’s aunt is here, so he’s got to go get his stuff together to leave.”

 

“Just two more minutes, Mama! Next goal wins. Pleaseeeeee,” the little boy begs.

 

Christen looks over to Tobin with an amused smirk. “Are you in a rush to get back home?”

 

“Not at all,” Tobin replies with surprising confidence. “They can play for a while longer, let Luke sleep. That kid’s awful at napping.”

 

Christen gives her a knowing laugh, fully aware of how hard it is to get Luke to sleep in the middle of the day. Christen’s laugh has an effect on Tobin similar to the one Ryan’s does, but for entirely different reasons. It makes her stomach flip a little bit, something Tobin’s relatively unfamiliar with.

 

‘Get it together, Tobin.’

 

“All right, just a few more minutes though, okay?”

 

Both boys throw their arms up in celebration and start kicking at the ball again.

 

“Natanael always has bruised shins for a week after they play. I don’t understand soccer at all, but I can’t imagine they’re playing it right,” Christen laughs. “Do you like soccer?”

 

“I guess you could say that,” Tobin shrugs. She doesn’t know if Christen knows she plays professionally and she doesn’t want to sound like she’s bragging, so she leaves it alone. “Your son’s pretty good,” she tells Christen, knowing how much parents love to hear compliments about their kids. “You and your husband must be proud.”

 

She hopes she’s subtle by bringing the topic up like that. She noticed there isn’t a ring on Christen’s finger and there was a noticeable lack of a male parental figure in the pictures on the wall, but she doesn’t want to be presumptuous.

 

Not that Tobin ever actually sees anything happening with the girl, but she’d like to know if she stands a chance at all, even if it is minute. She’s worked with worse before. There’s never been a challenge she’s faced that she hasn’t been able to overcome with heavy flirting and persistent charm.

 

“Oh, I’m not married,” Christen says quickly. The words come out with a little too much force and Tobin interprets that as things ending badly between Christen and her ex.

 

’Good one, Tobin. Way to upset the girl five minutes into knowing her.’

 

She rushes to recover, hoping she can salvage the conversation in some way. “I’m so sorry, I didn’t mean to bring up any painful memories or anything.”

 

Christen laughs again and the way she does let’s Tobin know it’s aimed right at her, but for some reason she doesn’t mind being laughed at by Christen. She almost wants to make a fool out of herself just to hear that laugh. It would be easy to do with how anxious she feels around her.

 

“I’m not divorced or anything, I was never married,” Christen explains. “I adopted Nata three years ago, so it’s just the two of us.”

 

She doesn’t say it in a bitter or lonely way. Tobin can tell Christen is perfectly happy with just herself and her son. The way she smiles at him proves he’s all she needs to be happy.

 

“Oh, that’s awesome. I’ve always thought about maybe adopting one day.”

 

Tobin doesn’t know where that came from, but she’s desperate to get a conversation going if only so she can hear Christen’s voice more. It’s not a total lie, she has thought about adoption before, but it isn’t something she’s spent a ton of time considering or anything. Kids certainly aren’t on her radar anytime soon, maybe not at all. Ryan, Luke and Lauren’s daughter, Tyler, are all the kids she needs right now.

 

“Really?” Christen’s eyes light up at that and Tobin thinks she’d tell this girl just about anything to make her look at her like that. “You should definitely do it if it’s really something you want. It's been so wonderful. I met Nata when I was in Puerto Rico for work four years ago and I fell in love with him instantly. He was just this happy little two-year-old who wanted to be loved. It was a really stressful year trying to work out all the adoption details, but I’m never happier than when I’m with him.”

 

“It’s clear you really love him,” Tobin muses. She keeps talking before an awkward silence is able to fall over them. “Puerto Rico sounds like a fun business trip, what is it you do?”

 

“I’m an editor for World Now, it's an international travel magazine. I started out as a writer, traveling the world on one assignment to the next, but I didn’t want to travel so much once I adopted Nata, so I was able to get promoted to be one of the editors. Since we’re a pretty small project, it lets me work from home so much more and very rarely do I have to leave the country, although I do miss the travel.”

 

Tobin knew Christen seemed smart. She’s not surprised to find out she has a job like this, it suits her. “No way, I love that magazine,” Tobin tells her honestly. “My best friend and I always use it when we’re planning surf trips.” Kelley’s really the one who uses it, reads it obsessively, but she’s shared enough articles with Tobin that she feels like she’s got a subscription herself.

 

“Well I’m glad you find it useful for more than just the ‘pretty pictures’ as Nata always likes to say.” There’s another proud smile on her face talking about her job, but it’s not nearly as wide as the one she gets when she’s talking about her son.

 

There’s suddenly two sets of feet pounding up the wooden stairs and Ryan’s launching himself at Tobin, wrapping his arms and legs around her middle and holding on tightly so he doesn’t fall before Tobin manages to wrap an arm around him.

 

“Dude, I keep telling you you’re getting too big and I’m getting too old for that. You’ve got to warn me next time,” she teases, ruffling his hair with one arm as she pulls him up onto her hip with the other. It was a much easier task when he was two and not six.

 

“Toby, did you see me? I won!”

 

“You won? No way, that couldn’t have happened. You always lose.”

 

“Only to you,” he giggles. He squirms in Tobin’s arms until she lets him down. “Nata, this is my aunt Toby I told you ‘bout. She plays soccer for a job and she’s really, really good.”

 

“Wow,” Nata says with wide eyes, looking Tobin up and down like she’s a unicorn or something and he can’t believe he’s in her presence.

 

“You play professionally?” Christen asks her, eyes narrowed in skepticism.

 

“Yeah, for LAFC.”

 

“Wow, silly me. Here I am asking if you even like soccer and you’re getting paid to play. Shows you how ignorant I am about the sport.” Christen places a hand on her son’s shoulder. “Nata, why don’t you take Ryan inside and help him get his things together, yeah? Be super quiet though, because Luke is sleeping, remember.”

 

“Okay, Mama. Come on, Ryan,” he whispers, already preparing himself to sneak past the sleeping baby.

 

“So I feel dumb,” Christen says once the boys are gone. “Professional soccer, that’s really cool. Did you play with Amy?”

 

“Yeah, that’s how we met, on the team in college. We’ve been best friends ever since.”

 

“Lucky you, Amy’s a good one.”

 

Tobin scoffs, trying her best to gather her confidence. “Please, Amy’s the lucky one for knowing me. I’m the good one.”

 

“I’ll bet you are.”

 

Christen smirks and heads into the house after the boys. Just before she steps back into the kitchen, she looks back over her shoulder at Tobin and--‘wait, was that a wink? Did she really just wink at me?’

 

“She is something else,” Tobin whispers to herself, heading after Christen.

xxx

Ten minutes later, Tobin has Luke--still fighting for sleep--in her arms and his diaper bag thrown over her shoulder. Ryan’s standing at her elbow with his own bag, telling Christen goodbye and thanking her for letting him come over. They’re about to part ways and head towards Tobin’s car when Ryan looks up at her, his big brown eyes sparkling, and Tobin knows he’s about to ask for something.

 

“Toby, can Nata come to the game with us this weekend?”

 

“Sure buddy, that’s cool with me. He’s got to ask him mom, though.”

 

“Oh no,” Christen says. “I’m sure you’ll be busy with the game and everything. I don’t want him to be a bother.”

 

“Don’t be ridiculous, he won’t be a bother at all. Amy and Ryan come to all the home games. You guys should both come, I can get you seats with them. It’ll be fun,” Tobin says.

 

“After the game, Toby brings me on the field with her. I get to score on a real goal,” Ryan tells Nata in the most excited voice Tobin’s ever heard from him.

 

Nat’s eyes go wide as he looks up at Christen. “Please, Mama? Can we go? Please, please, pleaseeee?”

 

“I don’t know.” Christen looks up at Tobin cautiously. “Are you sure we wouldn’t be in the way? That’s so much to ask.”

 

“Seriously, Christen, it’s not a big deal. It would be a lot of fun. Just let Amy know if you decide you guys want to go and she’ll let me know so I can reserve four seats. The boys will have fun.”

 

It isn’t just for the boys’ sake that she wants Christen and Nata to come to the game, of course. She wants to see Christen again. She knows she has no business trying to get closer to Christen. She’s a single mom and who knows if she’s even into girls? This isn’t something Tobin needs to be pursuing, but she can’t help it.

 

She wants to get to know Christen.

 

She wants to get to know everything there is about her.

 

“Please, Mama?” Nata begs again, tugging on Christen’s hand to get her attention. “Please can we go?”

 

“We’ll talk about it, all right, sunshine?” Christen runs a hand through his curly, dark brown hair and looks up at Tobin. “I’ll let Amy know, yeah?”

 

“Of course. I’d love to see you guys there.” She nudges Ryan with a knee against his hip to move the boy along. “Okay, dude, we’ve gotta get going. Your mom will be by to pick you guys up soon.”

 

“Bye Nata, bye Ms. Press!” Ryan takes off down the front steps towards Tobin’s car, waving over his shoulder.

 

“It was nice to meet you, Christen. I hope to see you guys at the game Saturday,” Tobin says, trying not to sound too desperate, trying not to give away just how much she wants to see her there.

 

“I’ll see what I can do,” Christen promises. “It was nice to meet you too, Tobin. I have a feeling I’ll be seeing you soon.”