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Out of My League (got my heartbeat racing)

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Nicole’s Point of View
Friday, March 8, 2019
Husky Softball Stadium
Seattle, Washington

If she focused hard enough, she could hear the bells atop of Kane Hall strike three from across campus. It was a brisk March afternoon, and Nicole was thankful for the sun. Without it, the sharp bite of the breeze rolling in from Washington Lake would be almost unbearable. The beat of her heart kept the fast rock n’ roll rhythm that started hours ago. The home opener always set something ablaze in her. It was the combination of freshly cut grass and the energy from the crowd that flooded her senses. That and the pride of wearing purple and gold with “Washington” written across her chest. It all made her feel full and warm with happiness, giving her a sense of belonging.

“Hey, Red!” Kate called out to Nicole and the redhead turned her attention to the darker woman. She stood up from her crouching position, straightening her body out from the stretch it had been in. The strain on her muscles felt good, they had been tense with anticipation for the first game of the season.

“What’s up?” Nicole replied with a grin, her southern accent curling around her words. She used the moment to swing her arms across her body and roll her head from side to side, keeping herself loose. Staying warm before the game was key, especially with the cool breeze that was rolling in from the water.

“Did you hear about the protester?” the pitcher asked as her dark eyes began to twinkle. Nicole dropped her arms to her sides and just shook her head. She wasn’t surprised about a protest. There were new ones on campus almost every week. Typically they were about the food in the dining hall - or the no weed policy on school grounds. “Some chick is outside of the stadium protesting our use of fucking leather! Fucking vegans, man,” Kate laughed, slapping her tan cowhide glove before running back over to the catcher to finish her warm up.

“What the fuck,” Nicole mumbled under her breath as she shook her head. It’s always something, she thought. She sort of liked it that way though. It certainly kept things exciting. The ginger shook out her arms one more time before running down the side of the field, into the home team dugout. Like she did every time, as one of her superstitious rituals, she tapped the roof as she sunk into the shelter, plopping herself down next to her bag on the wooden bench. The rest of the team began to filter into the area and Nicole pulled out a rock, not much larger than the size of her thumb. She rubbed the good luck charm she had pilfered from her hometown, then tucked it safely back into her bag. Not much good came from Waco for Nicole, but her good luck charm? It was the rare exception.

“Alright, ladies! Listen up!” Coach Lucado bellowed and the team quickly gathered in a circle around her like soldiers listening to their drill sergeant. Nicole’s pulse pumped hard in her veins as she wrapped an arm around Poppy, the freshman catcher and newest member of the squad.

“Don’t be nervous, kid. You’re gonna do just fine,” the redhead reassured her teammate, gently patting the top of her jet black hair. Nicole knew the nerves that came with becoming a starting freshman, having been there four short years earlier. Poppy smiled gratefully at Nicole while the rest of the team quieted down to listen to the stern coach’s speech.

“We have Ohio State today, gals. Let’s give them a big UW welcome and put some runs on that board!” Lucado hollered and the team cheered in response. Nicole began to bounce on the toes of her cleats. A satisfying crunch echoed with each movement. The crowd began to cheer and Lucado gave Nicole the nod that meant “go time.”

“Alright, girls. Time to get that crowd going,” Nicole shouted and shot her co-captain, Eliza, a knowing smirk. The centerfielder nodded and led the team out of the dugout and onto the field. Soon, a sea of purple and gold encircled the captains as they began their pregame routine. Nicole’s eyes met Eliza’s and the blonde smirked back at her. Nicole loved this. The buzz of the crowd, the trust of her team, the beat from the stadium speakers - it was electrifying.

“Mighty are the women who wear purple and gold!” Eliza yelled, starting the team chant. Nicole felt her adrenaline surge as her turn to lead the chant approached.

“Purple!” Nicole chanted and the team echoed with “gold.” The redhead and her teammates repeated the battle cry two more times before she threw her hand in the center of the circle. “Dawgs on three. One, two, three!” Nicole counted and followed with a “dawgs,” her teammates sounding off with her. The crowd roared in applause at the end of the chant and Nicole turned to face the stands. She jumped up and down, waving her arms above her head in an effort to draw a response from the masses filling the bleachers. The crowd cheered at the redhead’s antics and Nicole gave a final wave before running to her position in the infield. Who Let the Dogs Out, by The Baha Men, began to pump through the stadium speakers as the starters took their place. Soon, Kate was warming up with Poppy and the infielders were hurling balls over to Mercedes at first base. With warm ups complete, the song began to fade, and the first batter for Ohio State made her way to the batter’s box.

“Alright, dawgs! Lets go!” Eliza called from her spot in centerfield and earned whoots from the Perley twins who flanked her on both sides. Loving the satisfying sound of her hand hitting the leather glove, Nicole slapped her glove and got in the ready position. As soon as they were on the field, it seemed like they were running back off of it. Kate struck out the first two Buckeyes, thanks to her infamous drop ball, and the batter in the third spot hit a pop up to Nicole for the redhead’s first out of the season. As the shortstop hustled off the field, she saw a little girl in the stands with ginger hair like her own.

“Here you go, kiddo,” Nicole shouted out to the fan and tossed the ball over to the girl. She watched with joy as the smaller redhead caught the ball and excitedly turned to her mom, showing off her souvenir. As she jogged back into the dugout, Lucado gave her a high five hard enough to bruise weaker hands.

“Keep this energy up, Haught. We need that big bat of yours at the plate,” Coach Lucado encouraged the redhead, spitting out sunflower seed shells in the process. Nicole just nodded, pressure was never something she shied away from. If anything, she was drawn to the energy of it all.

“Yes, ma’am,” Nicole smiled, her southern drawl more pronounced from the excitement coursing through her veins. The familiar tune of Queen’s Killer Queen echoed through the stadium as Eliza stood back in the lefties’ batter box. “Let’s go three!” Nicole cheered for her co-captain and the rest of team joined in with hollers of their own. The song faded as the Buckeye pitcher began to wind up the pitch, delivering a fastball straight down the lane. Eliza landed a perfect slap hit, rocketing the ball past the third basemen and sprinting down the first baseline.

“Ayo, there we go, three!” Hetty cried out, smacking the fencing of the dugout. Nicole felt the excited anxiousness begin to bubble in her stomach. She was only two batters away now, as Crazy Train thundered through the stands and Mercedes made her way to the batter’s box. Number 14 settled inside the lines and the opposing pitcher hurled the first strike, an impressive curveball.

“Keep your eyes on it, one-four!” Shae encouraged her teammate, the third basemen settled next to Nicole on the fence. The redhead looked over at her ex-girlfriend, thankful that their fling had ended in a mutual understanding that they were better off as just teammates. She gave Shae a small smile, one that was reciprocated by the raven-haired woman next to her. The second pitch was a rise ball that jammed Mercedes high. She popped the ball up high and deep into right field, allowing Eliza to tag up and advance to second. Nicole’s heart raced as Mercedes hustled off the field and the shortstop put her helmet on. “Go get ’em, killer,” Shae winked and patted Nicole’s shoulder softly. The redhead, silent and reserved, just nodded and made her way to the on deck circle. The rhythm of No Diggity rattled through the stands as Gretta strode her way to the plate. Soon, the colder of the Perley twins stepped into the box. The music tapered off and Nicole timed her warm up swings to the pitches from the woman on the mound. Her eyes were wide with anticipation, waiting for her shot to send the ball far into the field. With the count being two balls and two strikes, Gretta sent the change-up pitch just above the pitcher’s head, moving Eliza to third and earning herself a nice, little single. The crowd was roaring with applause, loving the sight of having two runners on base as their best hitter prepared to face the Ohio State starter.

I get my hands dirty. I show up so early. They show me no mercy. So I just keep working.” The stomp and holler beat of Delta Rae’s Hands Dirty shot through Nicole as she swaggered up to the plate. She looked over to Coach Lucado down the third base line and was greeted with the “swing away” sign and a face that read “send it.” The crowd was boisterous behind her, and to anyone else it would have been distracting, but not for Nicole Haught. No. The redhead loved the energy of the home crowd. She fed off of it, as she took her place facing her counterpart.

“Let’s go, Capt!”

“You got this, one-six!”

“Bring ‘em home, Red!”

The cheers from her teammates filtered into her head but were quickly silenced when the pitcher began her wind up. Steady, Nicole thought, pupils growing wide as the bright yellow ball left the Ohio State player’s hand. Fastball, high, outside. Bingo. Power rippled from her core and hips as her bat met the ball with a satisfying “pop.” Adrenaline surged through her veins and she wasted no time, putting her head down, and pumping her legs as fast as they would go. The crowd was wild with excitement, but Nicole drowned them out, focusing on her first base coach who just screamed, “Go! Go! Go!” She kept driving her legs, moving forward as she rounded second base and locked eyes with Lucado. Her coach screamed, “Get here!” and Nicole mustered the remaining speed she had - kicking it into overdrive. Her heart thumped hard in her chest and her blood was rushing to her ears as she heard “down!” Instincts kicked in as Nicole dove head first into third base, beating out the tag by a few seconds. The crowd was on their feet in a fanatic frenzy, chanting “Sweet Sixteen!” for the number on the back of Nicole’s jersey.

“That’s what I’m fucking talking about, kid!” Lucado practically shouted in her ear and gave a light tap to the back of her helmet. Nicole smiled wide, struggling to catch her breath. Her teammates banged on the dugout fence and cheered for their captain. The redhead wiped the dirt off of the front of her uniform then pointed over to the Huskies’ dugout.

“Let’s go, girls!” she cried, the high from her triple still rushing through her, and her team responded with hoots and hollers.

The energy remained that high for the rest of the game. They shut the Buckeyes out, eight to zero, and Nicole was all but bouncing as they were leaving the locker room. It had been their best home opener in four years. Kate only gave up three hits, and every player but Poppy and Shae got a base hit at the plate.

“How much you want to bet that Haught’s diving catch turned double play makes ESPN’s top ten tomorrow, huh?” Hetty asked with a wide grin, her old gambling habits shining through. Poppy rolled her eyes at the strawberry blonde. As the rest of the team was walking out of the locker room, Poppy wrapped an arm around her girlfriend’s waist.

“It was okay but not top ten worthy, Hetty,” Nicole shrugged off the compliment and pulled up the hood on her purple University of Washington Huskies sweatshirt. She turned around to wait for Kate and Eliza, the blonde was helping the pitcher tighten the ice pack on her shoulder. “If anything, that stud over there should be making the highlight reel!” Nicole complimented the pitcher, pointing to Kate who just shook her head in response.

“Fuck off, Red. Everyone knows you had a hell of a game. Keep playing like that and the National Team might be knocking on your door come trial invites,” Kate smirked, quirking an eyebrow and causing some of their teammates to look at the pair in amusement. Nicole’s breath caught in her chest, preventing her from responding to the pitcher. Instead she waved Kate off and turned back around, stuffing her hands into the pockets of her grey Nike joggers. Playing softball at the Olympics had always been a dream of hers. One that had always seemed unachievable, especially when the International Olympic Committee removed the sport during the 2012 and 2016 games. Now though, with the game returning in 2020, the dream still held, no matter how wild it seemed.

“Nicole, Eliza! Y’all need to get out here quick… Gretta and Mercedes are about to throw down,” Hetty yelled to the team captains. Nicole turned and looked at her counterpart, both women sharing the same silent thought. The feisty Georgian and the Perley twin had dated a while back. It was a messy break up that rocked the team for weeks. There were a lot of late night meetings, long talks, and a few punches thrown. Nicole thought that everything had settled down and blown over, especially after Lucado put the pair together for one of her corny team bonding activities, but by the way Hetty’s voice trembled, it seemed like the drama was still alive and kicking.

“Fuck,” Eliza cursed and both of the captains took off running. Nicole kicked off her Birkenstocks and Eliza did the same to her slides. The two women rushed past their remaining teammates and barreled out of the exit. Instead of seeing Gretta and Mercedes exchanging blows, the left fielder and first basemen were circling around a petite brunette, invading her personal space.

“Cut the shit!” Nicole barked and ran over to Mercedes, wrapping the woman in a bear hug, as Eliza did the same to Gretta. Mercedes struggled in Nicole’s arms, thrashing and fighting to get to her target.

“Let go of me, Haught! This freak is the one protesting against us!” Mercedes explained, disdain dripping from her words. Oh. The protester. Nicole grunted against the other ginger’s movements as the wheels in her mind began to turn.

“Fucking knock it off or Lucado’s gonna hear about it,” Eliza threatened with a hiss before Gretta grew still in the blonde’s arms. Mercedes did the same in Nicole’s grasp, body going limp under the thought of dealing with their coach’s wrath.

“Fine! Just know that this bitch doesn’t give a shit about us,” Gretta snarled and pushed off of Eliza. Mercedes shot the protester a deadly stare as the rest of the team filtered out of the stadium. The hot headed players turned and walked away, cursing under their breaths. The other players walked slowly around the captains and the protester, eyeing the outsider with suspicion.

“I’m just gonna drop these here,” Poppy murmured awkwardly, placing the shoes that had been forgotten mid-sprint, in front of the two captains. The freshmen looked over towards the stranger, at least Nicole thought she was a stranger, and the two smiled at each other. Hetty even tipped her baseball cap towards the petite brunette, which only puzzled Nicole further. The redhead turned to look at the catcher, eyebrow raised and lips in a tight line. “She’s friends with my brother,” Poppy offered, shrugging and waving goodbye to the brunette before taking Hetty’s hand and walking away. Nicole tilted her head to the side and looked at the protester who was apparently friends with Fish, the same Fish who was her own friend, and Poppy’s older brother.

“Well, a friend of my friend is a friend of mine,” Nicole spoke in riddles, her southern accent heavy due to the commotion. She locked eyes with the petite stranger who held a poster that read “Leather = Murder.” Nicole swallowed the lump in her throat and held out her hand, offering it to the brunette for a shake. “I’m Nicole Haught, this here is Eliza Shapiro,” the redhead introduced herself then leaned her head to the side to indicate where her co-captain was standing. The stranger’s eyes flickered between Nicole and Eliza for a moment before taking the shortstop’s hand. There was a surge of electricity when the brunette’s soft skin made contact with her own rough hand and Nicole felt the air leave her lungs. A silent beat settled between them, hazel eyes were trained on Nicole’s brown eyes while their hands stayed connected just a little too long.

“Waverly Earp,” the brunette introduced herself and slowly pulled her hand away from Nicole’s. A beautiful name for a beautiful woman, Nicole thought. She took a moment to scan over Waverly’s features. She was shorter than Nicole by a good four inches, maybe more, and had a small compact frame. It was one that looked strong but supple at the same time. Her hazel eyes were a pallet of greens, blues, and browns – like a field of wild forget-me-nots. Waverly’s lips were the perfect amount of plump, and looked so damn kissable. Her complexion was like a cup of coffee after pouring in a helping of cream, smooth with a light tan. Nicole’s gaze was diverted, ripping her from the trance, when Eliza cleared her throat.

“R-Right,” Nicole fumbled with the words. She had never been one to falter in front of a pretty girl but there she was – stuttering like a fool and staring like a child. Waverly raised an eyebrow expectantly, her lips pursed in a grimace. “We’re the captains and we’d like to apologize for our teammates’ behavior. They were completely and totally out of line. I promise you, it won’t happen again,” Nicole sincerely assured Waverly and watched as the brunette’s once stiff composure slowly relaxed.

“Listen, those two are the biggest morons on the team… as long as you don’t count the time Haught here jumped into the lake buck-naked in the middle of February on dare,” Eliza smirked and Nicole felt her face flush with embarrassment. Waverly grinned at Nicole and the shortstop landed a punch on her co-captain’s arm, earning an “ow” in response.

“What my buddy is trying to say here is…. No one else is going to give you a hard time. Especially those two after the countdowns they’ll be running tomorrow after the game. We’re really sorry they jumped on you like that,” Nicole apologized and offered a small smile. Eliza was still rubbing the spot where Nicole had clocked her but nodded in agreement.

“I’m not going to stop you know… It’s for an assignment,” Waverly explained in a matter-of-fact manner. Nicole watched as the brunette ran her fingers through her chestnut locks and she couldn’t help but wonder how soft her hair would be around her own fingers. Waverly’s eyes met hers and Nicole felt it again, that electricity. It was both exciting and terrifying at the same time.

“We’re not asking you to. Just respect us and we’ll respect you. Deal?” Eliza offered with her hand extended toward the protester. Waverly hesitated for a moment but took the centerfielder’s hand, shaking it and then moving on to Nicole’s. Rough and smooth skin met again, and Nicole ignored the feelings that were bubbling in her chest. She swallowed hard, mocha eyes locked on hazel, and willed herself to drop Waverly’s hand.

“Hope you have a good rest of your day, Waverly,” Nicole smiled and tipped her baseball cap towards the petite brunette. Waverly looked down for a moment and Nicole noticed a small blush creeping up along her caramel cheeks. After a pause she looked directly at Nicole, smiled sweetly, and then gathered her belongings, leaving the pair of captains alone in front of the stadium.

“What the fuck was that?” Eliza asked, her eyes wide. They each put on their sandals and began to walk towards the player’s parking lot. Nicole looked down at her hands, feeling the phantom current of Waverly’s touch still pulsating through her. Eliza delivered a soft hip check to her friend, rattling her from her daze, sighing deeply.

“Yeah, I don’t know man. We already knew that Mercedes and Gretta were loose cannons but now with a protester hanging out at each game? God, we’re gonna have our hands full, huh?” Nicole laughed weakly and dug in her pocket for the keys to her truck.

“Not that, you dipshit. I meant the literal eye fucking you and whatever-her-name was just subjected me to back there,” Eliza groaned and shuttered, clearly visualizing her co-captain in bed with the brunette. They got to Nicole’s ’87 cherry red and white, Chevy pickup, and loaded their belongings into the bed of the truck. Nicole snapped her head up to look at the blonde in shock.

“Waverly?” she asked, confusion in her eyes and voice. She leaned against the red and white body of the truck. Eliza did the same, settling next to her with a melodramatic sigh.

“Yeah, dumbass. You guys were pulling some weird cutesy shit for two people who just fucking met,” Eliza pointed out, eyebrows raised and arms crossed. Nicole rolled her eyes and walked around the truck to the driver’s side. She stepped up onto the step-bar and plopped herself onto the driver’s side of the bench seat, Eliza doing the same on the passenger side.

“Am I not allowed to think a girl is hot?” Nicole shot back and fired up the truck, the engine roaring to a start.

“It was more than that and you know it. It was like The Notebook level crap from the get-go… It was gross,” Eliza complained and made a gagging sound. Nicole just shook her head, choosing to ignore her co-captain. She switched the truck into drive and made the trip to their apartment. As her hands turned automatically onto roads she knew so well, her mind drifted to Waverly. The brunette was stunning. There was no denying that, but surely nothing would ever come of it – could come of it. The petite woman probably hated her. She sighed sadly and heard a groan from her friend. “Holy shit, I can hear your internal gay screaming from here…” Eliza joked from the passenger seat. Nicole huffed and flipped her off. She tried to shake her thoughts of the brunette, desperate to focus on anything else, but her mind kept drifting back to one thing - Waverly.


Waverly’s Point of View
Wednesday, March 13, 2019
Husky Union Building
Seattle, Washington

It was surprisingly quiet for a weekday afternoon. The normally bustling Husky Union Building was oddly empty, except for the few students filtering in to grab a coffee from the local Starbucks on site. Waverly and her friends were perched at a table by the large windows, enjoying the sun on an otherwise chilly spring day. The archaeology major was hunched over her computer, eyes flickering between a notebook and her screen as she input data.

“What exactly is this experiment again?” Jeremy asked as he flipped through the pages of his Advance Biochemistry textbook. Robin was settled next to him with his arm draped around his boyfriend, pressing a light kiss to the darker man’s head. Waverly smiled at her friend and used the moment to take a break from her work.

“I’m testing the effects of personal, non-sports related confrontation on athletic performance. So, I go to the softball games, protest the use of animal products, take stats, and compare those stats to away stats. Obviously there are some confounding variables but my professor isn’t really that bright and besides, the softball team is much better to look at than the losers on the baseball team,” Waverly giggled and took a sip of her tea. Her friends nodded their heads in agreement, Rosita even called out “damn right!” She let the warm liquid settle throughout her body and she relaxed with the calming scent of the passion tea. Her mind drifted for a moment to the softball team, well, to a softball player in particular. Waverly’s thoughts were interrupted when she felt a hand smack her arm and she flinched away. “Ow.”

“Oh, that didn’t hurt,” Chrissy groaned, shaking her head at her best friend’s antics. Waverly stuck her tongue out at the other brunette like a child would on a playground and Chrissy rolled her eyes. “Now that we have your attention… I was asking don’t you think it’s risky to mess with the softball team? They went to the championships last year, Waves.” Chrissy’s voice was laced with concern and Waverly sighed softly.

“Oh, it’s risky alright… Poppy said Waves almost got into it with Gardner and one of the Perleys last week,” Fish spoke up in between bites of his chocolate croissant. Flaky crumbs fell onto his blue and white striped sweater. No one in the group even bothered to act surprised anymore by Fish’s inability to eat without getting food on himself.

“I think I’m going to get you a bib for your birthday. You’re a mess of a man,” Rosita groaned, brushing the crumbs off the front of Fish’s sweater. Fish just shrugged and continued happily munching on his pastry. Jeremy looked over at Waverly with wide eyes and the petite brunette waved him off, not wanting to draw any more attention to the incident.

“Speaking of birthdays who's ready for Robin’s tomorrow!” Chrissy asked, moving her arms in a “raise the roof” motion. Waverly was thankful for the sudden change in topic. It was hard to talk about the softball team, or the sport in general, without her thoughts swirling back to that one player. The redhead, and not the one that almost assaulted her. The hot one.

“Oh, hey guys!” Fish waved to someone behind Waverly and without thinking the brunette swiveled around in her seat to see who it was. Walking towards her group were three softball players, Nicole, Eliza, and the pitcher – who she believed was Kate – and a handsome, stern looking man she’d never seen before. Her eyes locked, almost instantly, with the redhead’s and she felt her heart begin to race like a wild horse in her chest. Fuck.

“Hey, Fish. How’s it going?” Nicole greeted her friend and Waverly felt the redhead pause behind her. The brunette shifted uncomfortably in her seat. She could feel the energy radiating off of the softball player, it was almost magnetic in its pull. “Waverly, good to see you again,” Nicole smiled as her thick southern accent flirted around the words. Waverly wanted to hate her drawl, being from New England and all, but a part of her found the slight twang in the redhead’s speech endearing.

“Likewise,” Waverly gave a polite smile over her shoulder before quickly distracting herself with the pen in her hand. Chrissy shot her a questioning look but Waverly shook her off, knowing she would have to explain the odd tension between them later.

“Alright, so this is Robin, Jeremy, Chrissy, Rosita, and Waverly,” Fish said as he made his way around the table, introducing everyone. Each member of the group raised their hand in acknowledgment of their name being announced. The pitcher looked at Waverly skeptically, and the petite brunette stared back, refusing to back down.

“Oh, we met,” Kate almost hissed while glaring at Waverly. The look was harsh but was soon broken when Nicole shoved the pitcher hard in the side. The darker woman rolled her eyes and crossed her arms at the push from her captain. “I’m going to grab a coffee,” Kate announced and Eliza followed her. Nicole pulled a chair over from the empty table next to the group and sat in between Waverly and Chrissy. Waverly watched as toned, ivory legs straddled the chair and she licked her lips instinctively. She wondered what it would be like to sink her teeth into the creamy skin of the shortstop’s thighs. Her thoughts were interrupted when the man who came with Nicole pulled over another chair, settling down on the other side of Waverly.

“Xavier Dolls… But everyone calls me Dolls,” the man held out his hand to Waverly. He looked serious, like he had been through too much for his young age – it made Waverly sad. She shook his hand nevertheless. He gave a curt nod and Waverly pulled her hand away. There was no spark, no jolt of electricity, nothing. Not like when she shook Ni-

“Nicole! Saw you made the top ten plays of the week with your driving catch. Hell yeah, girl!” Fish cheered enthusiastically and reached across the table to fist bump the softball player. Nicole blushed and looked down for a moment. Waverly found the whole thing infuriatingly adorable.

“Thanks, Fish… It wasn’t that big of a deal,” Nicole brushed off the compliment and shifted in her seat next to Waverly. When she did so, her leg brushed against the brunette’s and all Waverly could feel was fire. A knot formed in her throat, her eyes shot down to where their skin had met, and when she looked up, Nicole was staring at her. The others at the table had moved on to another topic of conversation but Nicole and Waverly – they were stuck in the moment. Hazel and mocha eyes remained locked together, breathing in unison, the world around them forgotten. “Hi,” Nicole whispered to her, a small smile spreading across her pink lips. There was a pause, a moment when Waverly racked her brain for words, and just as her lips began to form them, their private universe was disturbed by reality.

“I have a great idea!” Fish proclaimed, spilling his drink onto his sweater in his excitement. Everyone at the table either laughed or groaned, accustomed to Fish’s inability to eat like a normal human.

“You’re going back to elementary school and learning how to eat properly?” Dolls quipped, earning a round of laughs from the group. Fish sighed and shook his head as Rosita high-fived the man she’d just met, happy to bond over their mutual teasing of Fish.

“No… I was thinking that Nicole, Dolls, and everyone else could come to Robin’s birthday party tomorrow night?” Fish proposed, eyebrows raised with a wide smile on his lips. Waverly felt her heart pound hard at the thought of Nicole being at the party. Both of them together with booze in their system. It seemed dangerous.

“Oh, I don’t think that’s a good idea… We have to catch a plane Friday morning-” Fish cut Nicole off by throwing a piece of paper at her, which the softball player easily caught and rifled back at the man. Waverly giggled at the exchange and Nicole looked over at the brunette, a playful glint in her eyes.

“Find that funny, Earp?” Nicole asked with a smirk and Waverly just shrugged, trying her best to play it cool while internally she burned like an inferno.

“It’s an 80’s themed party if that sweetens the pot!” Jeremy offered with a grin.

“The playlist is killer… made by Waves and I, of course,” Chrissy added.

“I’m making some kickass punch,” Rosita smiled.

“I’d really love to have you there. The more the merrier,” Robin added, grinning and nodding his head.

Nicole looked at Dolls, as if he would tell her what to do, but the man just made a “your call” hand gesture. The shortstop sighed and ran her hand through her red locks. Waverly watched with curiosity, wondering how silky and smooth the auburn strands were. She bet they would slip through her fingers with ease. Nicole turned her head and looked at her, a weak smile on her lips. Something bubbled in Waverly’s chest and she felt braver than normal.

“Come, it’ll be fun,” Waverly encouraged her, daring to place her hand on Nicole’s shoulder. She watched Nicole’s dark eyes dip to her hand before locking with her own hazel ones. Nicole’s mouth began to form a wide grin and Waverly felt her own mouth begin to mirror the action.

“Fine. We’ll be there,” Nicole sighed with feigning annoyance. Waverly felt the excitement in her body take hold, happiness coursing through her veins at the thought of Nicole coming to the party. She tried to push the feeling down, questioning how she could be so enamored by the cocky softball player with the thick southern drawl.

“That’s what I’m talking about!” Fish hollered and slammed his hand on the table. Everyone’s drinks shook from the vibration but lucky nothing spilled. Rosita smacked the backside of the raven-haired man’s head.

“Esputido,” Rosita hissed as Fish rubbed the spot where she had hit him. Waverly snorted at the exchange and quickly covered her face in horror, embarrassed that such a sound had come out of her, especially in front of the confident shortstop. Nicole turned and looked at her, eyes wide and she laughed loudly, slapping her knee slightly. Waverly rolled her eyes and fought off the blush quickly rising up her neck. Suddenly, a loud alarm came from Dolls’ wrist and he held up his Apple Watch to Nicole.

“We have to get to class,” Dolls announced almost robotically and stood up from his chair. Nicole huffed but did the same. She unhooked her legs from the chair and slid it back to its original table.

“Nice meeting, y’all. See you tomorrow. Fish shoot me the address, will ya?” the auburn-haired woman smiled, the sun hitting her red locks in a way that made them look three shades lighter. Waverly sat stock-still as Nicole bent down to retrieve her backpack. As she did, Waverly could feel the searing heat from the softball player’s body brush against her, and the brunette had to stifle a surprised squeak. When Nicole began to stand back up, she leaned in and whispered, “I’ll see you later, Waves.” Her hot breath tickled at Waverly’s ear, swirling around the outer shell, and vibrating through her bones. Goosebumps spread like wildfire across her skin as Nicole gave her shoulder a gentle pat. It was soft and subtle, but felt like thunder and lightning under her skin. It rolled and roared like a storm brewing off the coast, dark and angry.

“See you tomorrow!” Jeremy waved cheerfully and smiled at the pair who walked away from the group. Everyone had turned their attention away from the two but Waverly, who watched with her eyes glued to Nicole’s auburn bob. Her heart stopped when Nicole turned around before taking the corner to look over her shoulder at Waverly. There was a wink and smile. It made Waverly furious and flustered at the same time. Her eyes followed the shortstop out of the building, heart quaking in her chest, and hands balled into fists at her sides.

“Earth to, Waves,” Chrissy said and shook her hand in front of Waverly’s face. The petite brunette blinked dumbly a couple of times then shook her head. Her friends at the table were looking at her with a mix of concern and confusion. Many of them with half smirks and raised eyebrows.

“So, what the hell was that about?” Rosita asked with a wicked grin the Devil himself would be jealous of. Waverly knew exactly what the fiery woman was referring to, she wasn’t dumb, but she was going to play like it instead.

“What was ‘what’ about?” Waverly shrugged, head tilted to the side like a puppy not understanding the word “sit.” Rosita rolled her eyes and leaned forward on the table, getting closer to Waverly. The biochemistry major looked into her eyes with so much intensity, Waverly felt exposed.

“We all know you’re too fucking smart to play dumb,” Rosita hissed as Waverly straightened herself in her seat. She shrugged and Rosita sighed, tapping the table in annoyance.

“I just think it’s annoying that she thinks she is so special because she can hit and throw a ball,” Waverly huffed and crossed her arms over her chest. It wasn’t a total lie. She had never been a huge fan of the arrogance associated with athletes, even though she herself was head cheerleader in high school.

“Nicole is actually really awesome once you get to know her… Don’t be so quick to judge,” Fish offered a small smile, like he wanted to say more but couldn’t. Waverly looked down for a moment and drew nonsensical patterns on her notebook.

“Still doesn’t give her the right to behave like an assh-”

“She wasn’t though… She made that other player shut up when she started to go in on you. Remember?” Chrissy recalled and reached over to pat Waverly’s back. It was comforting, and she was thankful for the soft touch, but it paled in comparison to that of Nicole’s. The fire she so easily ignited on her skin still burned there. Waverly huffed and bit her lip, looking away from the group to gather her thoughts for a moment. Nicole was – attractive – there was no debating that. She also had a southern accent, and a cocky swagger, and really nice legs. Dammit.

“Seems like your infuriation with our star softball player may actually be infatuation,” Jeremy teased and wiggled his eyebrows. He waved his pen at Waverly from across the table and the brunette slapped it out of his hands in record time. The meek man looked at her in shock and she just smiled. Suddenly, the entire table erupted in a fit of laughter at the exchange and Waverly felt the tension release from her shoulders.

“Listen, Waves. Ginger Spice is a hottie. Like certifiable. If you don’t bang her I will,” Rosita smirked, smugness showing on her face. It was a joke but seemed almost like a challenge. The grin on her friend’s face made Waverly’s skin crawl and for some reason the thought of them kissing made her nauseous. She took a sip of her tea, letting the calming notes soothe her, and tried her best to ignore the thoughts in her own head.

“Yeah, Haught is smoking. I’d even consider it,” Chrissy announced casually with a shrug. Everyone at the table, besides Waverly, snapped their heads and looked over at the tall brunette. “Oh, come on guys. You all know that I only like labels on my food and liquor,” Chrissy joked and took a sip of her latte. Waverly rolled her eyes at her friend, knowing that Chrissy had been with both men and women before – typically preferring the former, however.

“Fine. Whatever. She’s hot. I’m not interested though. Her teammates suck, which means she probably does too, and that southern accent is annoying as hell,” Waverly bluffed and turned her attention back to her work. Everyone at the table mumbled soft “sures” and “okay Waves’” in response, not believing the petite woman’s false disinterest at all.

“Well, good thing you’ll get to know her better tomorrow night then, huh?” Fish teased Waverly and winked in her direction.

Instantly she felt her face flush at the prospect of seeing Nicole again. She let her mind drift as her friend’s voices faded into the background noise surrounding them. Maybe they were right. Maybe she felt something for the redhead after all. Just a crush, she thought. It was just a crush. A crush that lit her skin ablaze. A crush that made her heart rattle in its bone cage. A crush that took her breath away. A crush. Just a crush.

Nicole’s Point of View
Thursday, March 14, 2019
Fish, Jeremy, and Robin’s Apartment
Seattle, Washington

She had been a wreck all day. The inside of her cheek was raw from anxiously biting the skin there and her fingernails had been nervously chomped off. She was just another girl, she told herself. Nicole repeated it like a mantra. No matter how many times the thought echoed it in her mind, it sounded more and more wrong each time. Maybe it was because of the heat, pure, white hot heat, she felt when they touched. Or maybe it was because she felt tethered to her, like they had been connected by an invisible piece of twine. Either way, no matter what Nicole told herself, she knew that Waverly Earp wasn’t just another girl.

“Thinking about the tiny, vegan, pain in the ass again?” Eliza questioned and hip checked Nicole, not only shaking her from her thoughts but making her stumble to the side as well. Nicole ignored her co-captain and kept walking, following Dolls and Kate’s lead toward the party. Eliza started to poke her side, pushing hard through the jean jacket she was wearing. Nicole tried her best to ignore her persistent teammate but one particularly hard poke got her attention.

“Fuck off, Eliza!” Nicole hissed, slapping the blonde’s hand away with her free hand, while her other hand was holding a six-pack of Rolling Rock. Eliza laughed wildly at Nicole’s sudden outburst. Dolls whipped his head around and glared at the pair, used to their sister-like bickering.

“Can you two act civil for once?” Dolls asked exhaustedly, Nicole could practically hear his eye roll. Both of the captains huffed in response but continued walking. They followed Kate and Dolls as they took a turn up a driveway toward a large, two story building. “This is it,” Dolls announced and pointed at the light blue house with black shutters. It was a cute home for a college apartment, but Nicole wouldn’t expect anything less from Fish. The man did have a taste for the quaint.

“Wasn’t Apollo Creed from the seventies?” Kate asked Dolls as she adjusted her bright green leotard and clashing pink leg warmers – straight out of an Olivia Newton John music video. The stern man scowled at Kate, looking almost offended by the comment.

“Well, he died in the eighties… So I think it’s fine,” Dolls sassed Kate and tightened the silk belt to his boxing rob. Nicole laughed at the exchange as they made their way up the front stairs to the door. Kate gave two firm knocks to the solid wood, and it flew open almost instantly. Jeremy was on the other side, dressed head to toe in purple, a la Prince.

“Heeeey! Come on in!” the faux-Prince greeted them, stepping aside to allow the motley crew to enter. As Nicole crossed the threshold of the apartment she heard the familiar B-52’s song, Love Shack, playing in the living room. It was dark in the apartment, but not in a dingy way. Black lights and strobe lights lined the walls, substituting for the overhead lights and lamps. The redhead adjusted her fake, round glasses, and double checked to make sure that her pink polo was tucked into her khaki shorts. She easily made a convincing Yorkie – considering that her red hair came naturally.


“Hey, you made it!” Robin cheered and smiled at the group. Eliza pulled out a bottle of tequila and handed it over to the man dressed as Goose from Top Gun. Robin smiled brightly. His birthday buzz had him feeling overly excited as he thanked the group.

“Fish told us it’s your favorite,” Nicole smiled and shrugged. As she looked over Robin’s shoulder, her eyes were scanning the room, searching for someone. Fish was full on dressed as the Karate Kid. He and Chrissy, who was sporting her best Claire from the Breakfast Club outfit, were having an animated conversation with some people Nicole didn’t know in the back corner. Looking ahead, she stepped away from the group and headed towards the kitchen. She was so busy with her quest to find someone that she bumped into a smaller woman in front of her. Automatically her hands reached for the woman’s hips, keeping her steady so she wouldn’t fall backwards. “I am so sorry, miss,” Nicole apologized and finally got a good look at the woman in her arms. Waverly.

“It’s fine… I mean. I’m sorry too,” Waverly huffed. Nicole removed her hands from the smaller woman’s waist and wondered if she felt it too, the tingling on her skin. Not letting herself get consumed by those thoughts, she scanned Waverly’s outfit. Converse, striped sweater, jeans, red corduroy jacket, hair in a messy ponytail. She looked just like – “Nancy Wheeler,” Waverly smiled at her and held her hand out for a shake. Nicole nodded her head and laughed. It was a look that the petite brunette wore well.

“Yorkie… From Black M-”

“Black Mirror, yeah. You nailed it… although, I think you look better in purple than in pink,” Waverly teased as Nicole reached to shake her hand. The same electricity that had been coursing through them since their first exchange was back. This time is was more powerful, like the dial had been turned up to 200 volts. It made the hair at the base of Nicole’s neck stick up and as she pulled her hand away she could have sworn she saw sparks.

“Well, now. I don’t know if I should be flattered or offended,” Nicole quipped, placing her hand over her heart in mock offense. Waverly rolled her eyes while Nicole watched as a pink, wet tongue peeked out between her kissable lips. The redhead felt her heart pound hard- hard like when she hits a homerun or makes a diving catch. That hard. She was fumbling to find her words when suddenly she heard a jarring voice erupt into the room.

“Don’t worry, ladies. The party is finally here!” a young man with large teeth and slicked back brown hair bellowed. He was dressed in a pastel blue polo with the collar popped, a pair of pressed khakis, and boat shoes. A thirty pack of Bud Light was perched high on his shoulders while a husky blonde man wearing the same outfit in green was following behind him.

“Jesus Christ,” Waverly groaned under her breath, rolling her eyes while the obnoxious man high-fived random party-goers. Nicole snapped her head back towards the petite brunette and noticed the look of disdain in her eyes as she watched the man. A weight sat heavily in her stomach. Was this guy Waverly’s ex?

“Who’s that?” Nicole asked and jerked her head in the direction of the two men who were now coercing Dolls and Fish into a game of beer pong. Waverly sighed and looked up at Nicole, her hazel eyes shining brightly even in the dimly lit room. The redhead waited for the answer, noticing the internal struggle brewing within the woman in front of her.

“Champ and Carl. They kind of know Fish… they’re frat boy assholes,” Waverly seethed and took a large gulp of her mixed drink. Judging by the looks of it, it was either gin or vodka. Nicole gave a single, small nod, not daring to ask more questions of the already agitated brunette. She didn’t want to run the risk of annoying Waverly further.

“Hey!” Rosita called out to them. She was dressed as Ripley from Alien and was sporting an impressive NERF gun on her hip to accentuate the costume. Nicole smiled warmly at the woman and held out her hand, greeting her.

“Rosita, pleasure to see you again,” Nicole grinned and shook Rosita’s hand. There was no energy there, not like what she felt whenever her skin brushed across Waverly’s. The biochemistry major smiled softly and Waverly shifted awkwardly next to her.

“We are going to play drunk Jenga… you guys in?” Rosita asked and pointed to the couches and coffee table in the corner of the living room. Robin, Jeremy, Chrissy, Kate, and Eliza were already there, setting up the wooden tower.

“Sounds fun!” Waverly nodded and looked at Nicole for her answer. The taller woman smiled at the brunette and nodded, not quite trusting her mouth to form proper words. She followed the friends over to the coffee table and waved politely to everyone.

“Nice of you to join us, Red,” Kate quipped from her spot between Eliza and the now seated Rosita. Nicole looked around at the seating options, the only available spots were on a large ottoman which she had to climb over. She settled on the piece of furniture and placed her six pack down before turning around.

“Need a hand?” Nicole asked Waverly, holding her hand out for the small brunette to take. Even thousands of miles away, her southern roots always came out. She loved it and she hated it. The petite woman raised an eyebrow at the offer and smirked. Instead of taking Nicole’s hand, she placed her drink in her palm and the redhead let out a low laugh.

“I’m not a damsel in distress,” Waverly stated proudly, tackling the bulky piece of furniture with ease. The rest of the group watched the exchange with curiosity, heads tilted and eyes wide. Nicole gave a small nod and handed Waverly back her drink.

“No you aren’t, Waverly. No you aren’t,” Nicole agreed, the sentiment coming out smoother than she had intended. Their fingertips brushed as Waverly took the drink and Nicole tried her best to hide her reaction to the electric current that shot through her. By the way her cheeks flushed, she knew she was failing at it.

“Alight, let’s get started! Since it’s my birthday…” Robin laughed and took a sip of his beer. While the music theory major pulled out the first brick, Nicole opened a beer. Trying to distract herself from the heat she felt coming off of the brunette to her left, she took a long swig, emptying half of the bottle in one go.

“Just remember to take it easy, Nicky… Lucado will have your ass if you’re late tomorrow morning,” Eliza warned her with a stern look. Nicole shot her co-captain a death glare for using that nickname. The one she hated. Sudden realization flickered in the centerfielder’s blue eyes and she mouthed “I’m sorry” from across the table. Nicole gave a curt nod and took another sip of her beer. Hearing that name sent a chill through her, and not the good kind either. She was thankful when Robin showed the crowd the block with “chicks” written across it with sharpie.

“Laaaaaadieeees!” Chrissy called and raised her drink up. Eliza, Kate, Rosita, Waverly, and Nicole all met her in the middle, their containers making a medley of clinks and clanks as they cheered. The redhead turned her head to the left and smiled at Waverly before bringing the bottle to her lips. Hazel eyes seemed to fixate on her mouth, and it wasn’t lost on Nicole, who brazenly winked at the petite brunette in response to the attention. The game continued with Jeremy pulling out a “floor” block and an angry Rosita cursing in Spanish, as she was last to react. Laughs and drinks were flowing freely as

Chrissy pulled out the third piece, giggling at whatever the wood block said. “Impression of a player,” Chrissy read with a wicked smirk, her eyes meeting Nicole’s. Instantly, the redhead felt her cheeks redden and she shook her head, pleading for Chrissy to spare her. The tall brunette had no such plans as she placed her drink on the table, and prepared for her display. “Howdy, y’all! My last name is Haught just like a southern summer. I ride bulls and girls ride me. Yeehaw!” Chrissy mimicked Nicole’s accent, rather terribly in fact, dropping her voice too low and slow to accurately sound like the shortstop. The group roared in a fit of laughter and Nicole clapped, a wide smile spreading across her lips.

“Not bad, not bad,” Nicole chuckled and tipped her beer towards Chrissy before taking a sip, finishing off the first bottle. She grabbed another Rolling Rock as the game continued. Eliza pulled out a block that read “heaven,” Kate grabbed a “drink three,” block much to her chagrin, and Rosita pointed at the birthday boy when her block read “give five.” The group cheered as Robin took five large swigs of his drink and raised his hands above his head in a false victory. Now it was her turn and for some strange reason she felt nervous, maybe it was because she knew that there were more unsavory commands remaining in the tower. She went for an easy middle piece, pushing it out from its confinement with a sure pointer-finger. Relieved that her block only had “drink two” on it, she sighed, and took two sips of her beer, before putting the block on top of the wooden tower. “Waves, your turn,” Nicole pointed to the brunette to her left and Waverly nodded her head. The redhead watched the archaeology majors nimble fingers daringly pull out a corner piece. In the background Nicole could make out the familiar tune of Addicted to Love. The bass vibrated through her and coiled around her stomach in excitement.

“Oh,” Waverly whispered softly and looked at the piece of wood in her hand. Curiously, Nicole leaned in closer, ignoring the goosebumps that formed on her skin, to look at the block. Suddenly, the color drained from her face. “30 second lap dance to the right,” Waverly read out loud to a waiting group. Rosita and Robin cheered loudly, while Eliza and Chrissy and looked at Nicole, watching and waiting for the redhead’s reaction for two different reasons.

“We don’t have to,” Nicole assured Waverly, reaching out to touch the hand holding the wooden block. Waverly stared directly into Nicole’s eyes and shook her head, before putting the block back on top of the tower.

“It’s fine,” Waverly mumbled, setting her drink aside to stand up. Nicole’s eyes scanned the brunette’s body as she stood, her breath caught in her throat, and her heart was beating like a drum. When their eyes met, a flame burned between them. Waverly gently placed her hands on Nicole’s knees, spreading them and stepping into the new space.

“Oh yeah!” Kate cheered and the group hooted in response. Nicole looked up at Waverly, the brunette’s once timid expression had morphed into a confident smirk. She turned her back to the redhead and started to sway her hips to beat of the 80’s one-hit-wonder. A sudden feeling rushed over Nicole, like an ocean wave knocking her down into the sand from behind . Without thinking, her hands moved to Waverly’s hips, staying in place as the brunette moved to the rhythm.

“Yas, queen!” Jeremey shouted from the side of them, but to Nicole, it might as well have been a whisper.

All of her senses her filled with one thing – Waverly. The redhead felt useless, dumbstruck even, as Waverly rolled her hips backwards, effectively pushing her ass into Nicole’s front. Blood rushed between the shortstop’s ears and her breath came out in staggered puffs. She ran her hands from the petite brunette’s hips to her lower back, as Waverly dipped down for a moment, applying more pressure to her front. Without warning, the archaeology major spun on her heels and mounted the softball player. Toned legs straddled either side of her lap as Nicole felt Waverly slide an arm around her shoulders. Keeping time with the low bass of the Robert Palmer song, Waverly rocked her hips down into Nicole’s, making the redhead grip her strong thighs to regain some of her bearings.  The world disappeared around them. It was just Nicole and Waverly in the redhead’s mind. Her eyes were cast down, watching the motion of the woman on top of her, when suddenly, soft fingers gripped her jaw. A loud squeak of surprise left her lips when Waverly pulled her head up, their eyes meeting. Her normally clear and bright hazel eyes were clouded by a dark storm and a wolfish grin played at her pink lips.

Your heart beats in double time,” Waverly sang along to the song and began to close the gap between the two. All of the air left Nicole’s lungs and she had to stop herself from digging her nails into the material of the brunette’s jeans. “Another kiss and you’ll be mine,” the petite woman sang and brought her lips centimeters away from Nicole’s. Everything was electric and wild, like an untamed fallen power line slapping against the ground. Their eyes were locked in a fiery exchange when Waverly winked and dismounted the redhead. The cheers and claps of their friends around them was a harsh reminder that they weren’t alone. It was a hard reality to swallow as Waverly sat back down next to her.

“That…” Chrissy began, eyes wide, mouth slightly agape.

“Was…” Kate continued, eyebrow raised, and smile on her lips.

“Hot!” Rosita sighed out and fanned herself.

“Longer than 30 seconds,” Robin added with a shrug. Waverly looked up at Nicole and gave a weak smile. The redhead, cheeks matching her auburn hair, smiled back at Waverly. There was a quiet understanding between them, both knowing that there was something there, but neither of them willing to act on it. “Anyway, my turn again,” the birthday boy cheerfully announced and pulled out another block. As the players pulled new blocks from the tower, one by one, Nicole felt herself drift farther away from the game. She fumbled on a “categories” block and was so distracted by her own thoughts that she completely missed a “ceiling” block as well. She paid for her mistake with a large swig of beer. Her mind was too preoccupied with Waverly to truly care about what was going on around her. There was no denying the arousal she felt in her blood when the woman was grinding on top of her, but she pushed it all down. They were nothing. Just acquaintances.

“Yo, Red. Your turn,” Kate called out to Nicole, pulling her out of her head. The shortstop blinked for a moment before offering an uncomfortable smile to the group who eyed her, waiting for her next move. She looked at the tower, hoping for an easy task, and gently removed a block from the tower. It shook for a moment, her hand outstretched ready to catch it, but it settled at the last minute. With a grin she looked down at the writing on the wood, her smile fading instantly. Wild horses galloped in her heart as the words registered in her mind, “makeout w/ the person to your left.” Fuck.

“Well, Nicole?” Waverly asked, a sweet grin graced her lips and her eyes were filled with a calm patience. Nicole hated that she was going to ruin it. Instead of speaking, she handed the block over to Waverly. Their fingers brushed again and Nicole cursed her heightened senses for sabotaging her. A simple hand touch shouldn’t have sent such a jolt of electricity through her. “Oh, wow,” Waverly stuttered out and stared at the piece of wood. Nicole’s heart fell. God, how stupid could she have been to think that Waverly felt even an inkling of what she did? It stung, like the bite of a cold shower on a hot day.

“We don’t have to,” Nicole offered and looked at Waverly. She sucked her bottom lip between her teeth, gnawing on the flesh anxiously as she waited with baited breath for the brunette’s answer.

“No, I want to,” Waverly blushed and put her drink back down off to the side. Nicole put her beer down, taking the wooden block from her deft fingers, placing it on the coffee table. Kate and Rosita scrambled to grab it, Rosita winning. She let out a snort and passed the block around the table. Nicole did her best to ignore the catcalls and laughs of her friends, keeping her eyes on Waverly’s, noting the way that her eyes seemed to reflect the forest. The tense air around them was palpable. It was thick and heavy, like a winter quilt blanketing them.

“Are you sure? If you do-” Nicole was cut off when soft hands grasped either side of her face and pulled her in. Before she could register what was happening, soft lips were on hers, and her eyes fluttered closed. Nicole dropped her hands to Waverly’s waist and pulled the brunette closer to her. It was everything she had thought it would be, yet so much more. The 200 volts that once flowed between them was jacked up to 1000. The hairs on her arms stood up straight and she couldn’t help but to sink further into the feeling. It vibrated through her, coursing like a drug in her veins when she felt Waverly’s curious tongue tease her lips. Graciously, she granted passage to the slick muscle, and moaned into Waverly’s mouth when their tongues began to battle for dominance. The hands that were once on her face snaked around to the back of Nicole’s head and began tugging on her auburn locks. Waverly’s action made her shift in her seat, trying to ignore the arousal pooling between her legs. Nicole felt her side bump into the table and heard the sound of the wooden blocks falling, followed by a chorus of groans. Her breathing was labored, heart pumping, and every fiber of her being was glowing. It was bliss, until she heard it.

“What the fuck, Waverly?” The loud, abrupt question made the brunette pull away. They both snapped their heads in the direction of the voice and Nicole felt a red-hot rage burn within her when she saw him standing there. Champ. His hands were balled in a fist and his face was red. Fish was behind him, trying to pull the frat boy back to the beer pong game with no such luck. “Did this fucking dyke turn you gay?” he yelled, venom spilling from his mouth. The word instantly sent a flash of wrath through her and all she saw was red. Waverly sat petrified next to her, but Nicole was up out of her seat, and on her feet in seconds. She was in the man’s face, her hands balled into fists by her side.

“What the fuck did you say?” Nicole hissed and the frat boy dropped his empty beer can. Champ gave her a hard shove and Nicole quickly found her balance again. Bruce Springsteen’s Dancing in the Dark thumped through the stereo speakers, matching the beat of Nicole’s heart.

“You think you can steal my girl? You’re fucking disgusting,” Champ growled and closed the space between him and Nicole. Memories of pain and anger filtered through her mind but she shooed them away, focusing on the task at hand instead.

“Waverly doesn’t belong to anyone, you half-wit, buck toothed, fuck boy,” Nicole snarled, each word dripping with more disgust than the last. Behind her she could hear her teammates urging her to back down but it was useless. She was too far gone on the rage filling her lungs and the wrath poisoning her mind.

“Champ, you gotta get out of here,” Fish demanded, his voice low and commanding. Nicole watched Champ shrug off the hand on his shoulder. His eyes were almost black with hate, his lips curled back like a wild dog.

“Don’t touch me, fag!” Champ yelled and spun around. Dolls was now by Fish’s side and Nicole locked eyes with her roommate, calculating their next steps together. The frat boy turned back around and looked at Nicole, disgust on his face. He puffed out his chest and took a deep breath, preparing for something. Champ, face distorted and hand in a fist, reared back to deliver a punch to the redhead. He was slow and uncoordinated, allowing Nicole to easily dodge the jab. There were no thoughts in her brain. Nothing told her to stop or slow down, even the pleas of her teammates weren’t enough. Instincts kicked in. Her right fist connected with Champ’s face in a deafening crunch. The bones of her knuckles screamed almost as loud as the man in front of her who clutched his nose. “You broke my nose, you bitch,” Champ spat, holding his nose which was beginning to drip blood. Enraged, Champ prepared to lunge at her when Dolls wrapped his arms around the man’s neck in choke-hold.

“The gentleman asked you to leave and you should never hit a lady,” Dolls grunted, as Champ struggled in his arms. Fish opened the front door and Dolls drug the struggling Champ out onto the pavement. “If you even look at my friends again, I’ll bury you!” Dolls threatened, as Carl ran out the front door, helping Champ to his feet. Both frat boys scurried away, cursing under their breath as they did. Nicole’s hand throbbed in pain, she definitely broke at least one knuckle when she made contact with Champ’s idiot face. Dolls closed the door and walked back into the house to a round of applause from the drunken crowd, loving the fight that unfolded before them.

“You and I both know that I ain’t no lady,” Nicole chuckled when Dolls walked up to her. She automatically went for a fist bump and instantly regretted it, feeling the shooting pain when she made contact with Dolls’ hand. “Fuck,” she hissed and clutched her hand. She felt someone come up behind her and she looked over her shoulder to see a scowling Eliza. The blonde’s eyebrows were furrowed and her lips were in a tight line.

“Dammit, Haught… Can someone get her some fucking ice?” Eliza asked in exasperation. Fish nodded and quickly fetched an ice pack from the freezer and handed it to Nicole. The shortstop gave him a grateful smile, and she put the cold compress on her swelling knuckles.

“I’m going to get some air,” Waverly rushed out, as she brushed past Nicole, and walked out the back door. The shortstop sighed and motioned for Kate to grab her a beer.

“I’m going to go check on her… Thanks, Kate,” Nicole smiled as her teammate handed her the cold drink. She tucked it in her pocket, trying to keep the ice on her right hand. With a sigh, she opened the backdoor, shocked to find a cute deck with a metal table and chair set. Waverly was leaning against the wooden railing, the moonlight hitting her face in a way that made Nicole forget how to breathe for a moment. The brunette turned around, her face softening slightly as she realized it was the auburn-haired woman who had joined her. Nicole sat down on one of the metal chairs and watched as Waverly fished a joint and lighter out of her pocket. “I’m so sorry, Wa-”

“For what, Nicole? That a dude I hooked up with one time is a raging homophobe, and apparently still obsessed with me?” Waverly asked, wrath and rage lacing her words. The words gave Nicole some relief because it was just a one time hookup, yet at the same time her stomach churned at the thought. The petite brunette began to pace back and forth on the deck, becoming more aggravated. “That I gave you a lap dance in front of all of our friends? Or are you sorry that we made out in front of everyone? Are you sorry because you keep looking at me like that… fuck,” Waverly cursed and lit the joint in her mouth, pocketing the lighter. The words hit her like a ton of bricks, hard and heavy. She watched smoke swirl out from Waverly’s parted lips. God, how she wanted to suck out all of the smoke from the brunette’s mouth and steal the air from her lungs. “Wanna hit?” Waverly offered, holding out the joint for Nicole. The redhead shook her head and waved her off with a slight smile.

“No, thank you… The NCAA could drug test at any moment. Ask me again in the summer,” Nicole chuckled and placed her bruised hand down on the table. The ice pack slowly began to slide off of her knuckles as she struggled to grab the beer from her pocket. Once it was free she opened it and brought the bottle to her lips, content with the feel of the cool liquid in her throat.

“So, with that southern accent of yours, where are you from?” Waverly asked and sat down in the seat across from Nicole. She put a foot on Nicole’s armrest and the redhead looked up at Waverly with a raised eyebrow.

“Waco, Texas,” Nicole answered and watched as Waverly did her best Jim Halpert impression, eyebrows to her hairline and lips pursed together. She laughed at the expression on Waverly’s face, used to that sort of reaction from people.

“Jesus… Texas,” Waverly sighed out, smoke twirling around the words. Nicole nodded and took a sip of her Rolling Rock. The air and energy around them that was once charged, settled into something more calm, more comfortable. She desperately wanted to reach out and touch Waverly’s foot but thought better of it.

“Where is home for you?” Nicole asked and Waverly let out a small, almost bitter laugh. A mix of anger and sadness danced along the brunette’s face. When Nicole recognized the brunettes sadness, her heart immediately began to hurt.

Home is a funny word… But I’m from a small town outside of Boston called Purgatory Falls,” Waverly explained and snubbed out the practically gone joint. Nicole nodded. It made sense to her. A New England girl, strongly opinionated, free willed – it fit Waverly’s lithe frame like a tailored suit. From inside the apartment Nicole heard the tune of Your Love by The Outfield. Waverly must have heard it too because she began to bob her head in time with the beat.

“Don’t tell me you’re a Red Sox fan, now?” Nicole laughed and smiled when Waverly’s face shaped into a false sense of hurt. The brunette huffed and stole the bottle out of Nicole’s hand. Nicole watched Waverly bring the bottle to her lips and shuddered.

“Hell yeah, I am. Best team in baseball… You’re not a Yankees fan are you?” Waverly handed the bottle back to Nicole and the softball player placed it on the table. Nicole chuckled and nodded her head.

“Yes, ma’am… They’re better than the clowns you call a team,” Nicole quipped back and Waverly shook her head. The atmosphere was light and easy between them. Nicole felt like she could finally breathe again.

“So, what was it like growing up in Texas?” Waverly questioned with curiosity. Nicole’s smile faltered for a moment. The paradox of her childhood replayed in her mind, both the good and the bad. She grabbed the bottle with her right hand, ignoring the pain in her knuckles, and took a long swig.

“It was good, once my parents kicked me out for being gay and I moved in with my aunt and uncle,” Nicole shrugged and noted the sadness in Waverly’s eyes. She put the beer down and leaned forward, taking a soft, tan hand into her own. “No reason to be sad. I’m better off without them. That’s for damn sure,” Nicole reassured her and gave Waverly’s hand a gentle squeeze. Hazel eyes were cast down, staring at their joined hands. Her breathing picked up when Waverly brushed her thumb softly across her bruised knuckles.

“Thank you for handling Champ… He is such an ass,” Waverly whispered, looking up at Nicole with a gentle smile. The redhead let out a single low chuckle and nodded her head.

“Just taking care of business, sweetheart,” Nicole exaggerated her accent and tipped an imaginary cowboy hat towards Waverly. The smaller woman rolled her eyes at the gesture causing Nicole to smile broadly.

“Slow your roll there, Cowboy Casanova. I’m not looking for anything,” Waverly stated but Nicole noticed the slight hesitation in her voice. She wanted to call her bluff, accuse her of lying, and demand the truth, but she wasn’t ready to be that bold. Not in the slightest.

“And who said I was?” Nicole postured, sitting up just a bit taller in her chair. She took another sip of her beer and watched as a Waverly stood up. The moon behind the brunette created a halo around her head. Dainty fingers tilted her chin up, forcing Nicole to make eye contact with the smaller woman. Her heart ran wild again like an untrained dog off its leash.

“With those puppy dog eyes… For a Texan your poker face is shit,” Waverly teased and brushed a loose strand of red hair out of Nicole’s face. It took all of the shortstop’s will power not to chase her hand and press a kiss to Waverly’s palm. Instead, she put her hands on Waverly’s hips and pulled the brunette closer to her as she leaned forward in her chair.

“Oh, darling… That show earlier was just the beginning,” Nicole husked and dropped her eyes to Waverly’s lips. She could still taste them on her own, and god, how she craved for another bite. Waverly paused for a beat, her pupils blown, before slowly leaning in to close the gap between them. Just as their shared breath could be felt on their lips, the rustling sound of the back door opening made Waverly jump out of Nicole’s hold.

“Hey, Haught! We gotta get going. If we’re late Lucado will have our asses…” Eliza’s familiar voice trailed off as Waverly shot straight up. She brushed off her outfit before walking past Nicole, refusing to make eye contact, and slipping back into the apartment instead. Frustrated, the redhead closed her eyes and threw her head back dramatically letting out a deep sigh. When she stood up, Eliza was leaning against the door frame, arms crossed and smirking.

“Don’t say a fucking word,” Nicole warned and Eliza laughed loudly, patting her co-captain on the back. The ginger sighed and let her mind run wild. Her thoughts drifted back to Waverly as the group regathered and left the party. Nicole knew there was something between them. She felt it, and she knew Waverly did too. It was in their kiss, their touches, and their easy conversations. Loud like a bass drum but gentle like a breeze – this paradox bounced in her head. It was light and dark like the day break of a new dawn. Filled with so much hope and opportunity.

Waverly’s Point of View
Friday, March 15, 2019
Hilltop Ale House
Seattle, Washington

Waverly hid in her room until Rosita and Chrissy dragged her out of bed. The tiny brunette groaned and put up a good fight, but it was no match for Chrissy’s persistent whining and Rosita’s constant nagging. The slight pounding in her head was, a reminder of the extra tequila shots she had taken last night, after a certain redhead left the party. She grumbled and huffed as she threw on a comfortable pair of leggings and a sweater, pulling her long, wavy hair on top of her head into a messy bun. The roommates took an Uber into the city, arriving at their favorite bar just after 3 p.m. The smell of alcohol hit Waverly hard as she entered the building, making her wrinkle her nose.

“Fish and Jeremy saved us a spot,” Chrissy announced excitedly, bouncing over to the two men sitting at the bar. Waverly groaned at the loudness of her best friend and shuffled over to where her friends were. She settled on a seat next to Fish and leaned her head on the man’s shoulder.

“Someone hungover?” he asked in a teasing tone and pet Waverly’s head as if she were a dog. Chrissy and Rosita had already preoccupied themselves with ordering drinks as Waverly let out a low groan. Fish chuckled and took a sip of his beer, eyes shifting back to the TV above the bar. The bar was playing the first game of the UCLA series. It was 0-0 in the top of the first inning and Nicole was coming up to bat. Even on TV, the sight of the softball player sent a chill down her spine and made her heart pound. Visions of last night played like a film reel in her mind. The lap dance. The kiss. The fight. The deck. They flashed before her eyes like a supercut of the night.

“Alright, Waves. Your girl is up,” Rosita taunted her from four seats down, throwing a wink in her direction. The tiny brunette rolled her eyes at her roommate.

“Haha, very funny,” Waverly laughed sarcastically and turned her attention back to the screen. The redhead had one strike and one ball in the count. Waverly noticed that when Nicole took a warm up swing, she winced slightly. Her heart sank a bit, knowing that the shortstop’s hand was probably in agonizing pain after her altercation with Champ last night.

“You guys were practically undressing each other with your eyes,” Chrissy chimed in and smirked at Waverly. The archaeology major huffed and focused on the game, watching as Nicole swung at and missed a nasty riser. The redhead stepped out of the batter’s box and shook her right hand, grabbing the attention of the announcers.

It looks like Haught sustained some kind of injury to her right hand. She just looks awkward and uncomfortable up at the plate,” the male broadcaster announced while Nicole stepped back up to the plate. The pitcher for UCLA wound up and delivered a change up that had the shortstop swinging and missing like a fool. She ran off of the field as the camera panned to the UCLA pitcher who pumped her fist and jogged off of the field. “We’ll be back after a short commercial break.

“Me thinks Nicole is regretting punching Champ,” Jeremy piped up and Waverly shook her head. She asked the bartender for a water and he nodded cheerfully.

“There is no way she regrets it. She got to punch an asshole in the face and impress her lady,” Chrissy giggled and took a sip of her beer. Waverly leaned forward to stare at her roommate and was met with a shrug.

“I’m not her lady,” Waverly huffed, shaking her head. She thanked the bartender when he handed her the water and she took a sip. “… But, you’re right, she doesn’t regret it. She was just taking care of business,” she echoed Nicole’s words, smiling softly at the memory of Nicole tipping an imaginary hat towards her in the moonlight.

“Can we all just agree that Champ is officially blacklisted from all parties?” Rosita asked, giving a pointed look at Fish. The man nodded his head as he drank his beer. A few drops spilled over the lip of the glass and landed on his Huskies Softball shirt. Everyone groaned at the sight, just another typical move by the sloppy man.

“Agreed,” Fish said and wiped his mouth with the back of his hand. He turned to look at Waverly, wrapping an arm around the smaller woman. “Listen, I know Nicole can come off as abrasive sometimes but she is a great gal… She’s gone through a lot you know,” Fish shrugged and Waverly watched as a look of sadness spread across his face. He toyed with the edge of his drink coaster, fingertips running along the cardboard. “Look… All I’m saying is, don’t count her out yet. She might surprise you.” Waverly swallowed hard and felt her pulse quicken.

“Oh, the game’s back on!” Jeremy exclaimed and the friends collectively turned their attention back towards the TV. Kate was on the mound, ready to pitch to the leadoff hitter. Waverly watched as the first batter grounded out to Nicole, the redhead grimacing in pain and shaking her hand again.

Haught easily puts out the leadoff batter but she is still shaking that hand. Any word on the injury, Paige?” the broadcaster asked and the camera panned to an on field correspondent, a pretty blonde wearing a red sundress.

We chatted with Nicole Haught earlier about the hand injury and she told us she ‘got it during practice protecting the bag from a slide, luckily there is nothing more than some bruising.’ We’re glad to hear that it’s nothing serious for the Huskies’ star shortstop. Back to you, Nate,” the field correspondent signed off and the attention was returned to the game. A small wave of guilt moved through Waverly, knowing that her hand was bruised while fending off fucking Champ of all people.

“Poor, Big Red,” Rosita mumbled, “wounded defending Waverly’s honor.” Her roommate blew Waverly a kiss and earned a set of giggles from Chrissy. In contrast, Waverly groaned and shook her head. It seemed as if her friends would never stop their unrelenting teasing about her interaction with the softball player. The same softball player who was clearly in pain from delivering a hard blow to Champ Hardy’s face. In the moment, the whole exchange between the redhead and the frat boy  seemed like some sort of pissing match. Waverly knew that it might have been for Champ, but not for Nicole. She saw the look in Nicole’s deep, dark mocha eyes. A look of hurt and pure unadulterated loathing.

“Seriously, guys… Fuck off, already,” Waverly shot back and Rosita put up her hands in surrender. Chrissy sighed dramatically, making eye contact with her friend. Waverly tilted her head to the side and raised an eyebrow, surprised by the taller woman’s sudden boldness.

“Just admit that you’re interested in her… No one’s going to judge you. She’s hot, athletic, chivalrous, and probably going to end up working for the CIA or FBI or some shit. She’s a catch,” Chrissy smirked and gave Waverly a pointed look. The archaeology major bit her lip and looked down at the bar for a moment. There was no denying the electricity between them. Waverly felt it in every touch. Last night, it’s power almost consumed her entirely when they were alone under the moonlight. Despite their obvious chemistry, she knew she couldn’t act on it.

“She might be all of those things… And I might be interested but there is no point. She is the star player of the team I’m protesting. Even if she felt the same way, her teammates would riot,” Waverly explained and turned her attention back to the game. Her eyes flickered to the screen just in time to watch Poppy make a diving catch behind the plate, securing the final out of the inning.

“THAT’S MY BABY SIS!” Fish yelled loudly and slapped the bar top. Patrons turned their heads and watched as the man celebrated, high-fiving Jeremy so hard that the smaller man almost fell off of his barstool. Everyone in the group laughed, expect for Chrissy and Waverly who sat silently, their eyes still locked in a heated exchange. Waverly knew that there was no escaping this, especially with Chrissy so fixated on the point.

The rest of the game was brutal, to put it lightly. The group watched and groaned as the Huskies made simple mistakes, getting struck out by the UCLA pitcher’s skilled rise ball. At the end of the game, Waverly jotted down some stats. Nicole had gone zero for three and struck out twice. Her performance on the field wasn’t any better, making two thoughtless errors from the shortstop position. Her numbers were a stark contrast to those she put up in the home opener. Despite every fiber of her being telling her otherwise, Waverly convinced herself that it was just because of the captain’s busted hand and it had nothing to do with their encounter the other night – or her in general. After all, there was nothing between them.

Nicole’s Point of View
Monday, March 18, 2019
Athletes’ Gym
Seattle, Washington

The series against UCLA had been frustrating at best - a disaster at worse. Nicole spent the entire weekend with her hand in agonizing pain and not being able to get Waverly off of her mind. That was how she found herself in the athletes' only gym with Dolls. It was six in the morning and they were alone in the empty facility, except for the one student worker who was chugging coffee like it was a lifeline. Her head swam with memories of the weekend. To put it simply, Nicole played like shit. She had three hits over the course of three games, made more fielding mistakes than a veteran player ever should, and in general, she just sucked. The negative thoughts that attacked her scurried away when she felt the soft pads smack her left arm hard.

“Get out of your head,” Dolls ordered, pacing around the boxing ring with training gloves on his hands. Nicole groaned and closed her eyes for a moment, shaking her sore arms and trying to regain her focus. Sweat covered her body from the session, but she wasn’t going to give up, even with her hand screaming in agony. She was grateful for Dolls. As cold and callus as he could come across, Nicole knew that he supported her. Who else would wake up at the crack of dawn for a sparring session?

“Sorry,” Nicole grumbled and got herself into the fighting position. She angled her body to lead with her left side and began throwing jabs at the training pads. The combinations she threw were mildly cathartic but not satisfying enough to shake her thoughts. No matter what she did, she couldn’t get the petite brunette out of her mind. Her blows became lighter as her mind swirled back to the object of many of her most recent thoughts. Waverly. Waverly, the current she felt every time they touched. Waverly, the way her heart galloped when she saw her. Waverly, standing over her, moon at her back, flickered into her memory. Waverly, straddling her lap and grinding down on her. Waverly, her fingers tangled in her hair as they kissed. Waverly, brushing their fingertips together. Waverly, her tongue dancing with her own. Waverly, lifting her chin to look into hazel eyes. Waverly. Just as soon as the brunette was stuck in her mind again, she was gone, scared away by a hard slap to her head. “Fuck,” Nicole hissed and looked at Dolls with a scowl.

“Focus,” he demanded and put the gloves up again. The redhead huffed and brought her gloves up, ready to throw jabs and hooks. Dolls made the first move, stepping forward, training glove out, and Nicole seized the moment. Soon the pair were dancing around the ring, feet side stepping and fists flying through the air with precision. Nicole let herself become immersed in this role. She allowed the anger and frustration to wash over her, seeping out with every punch and grunt. The ginger ignored the sting in her eyes from sweat dripping down her brow and battled through. Dolls was starting to breathe heavily as Nicole used her speed to her advantage. The man swung his hand and Nicole ducked under it. With a grin she hit the training pad hard, hard enough to make Dolls stumble backwards on his feet. She was winning – until they came back to haunt her.

“It’s a sin, Nicky.” “How could you do this to your mother and I? After all we’ve given you!” “Nicky, don’t you want to go to heaven?” “Was it that freak down the street? Huh, girl? Did she turn you?” “It’s wrong, Nicky.” “It’s disgusting! Foul!” “Nicky, what will the church say?” “No daughter of mine will be some fucking dyke!” “What did we do to deserve this?” “You’re not welcome here anymore. Leave. Get out!”

Even thousands of miles away, her parents still knew how to haunt her. Nicole felt her chest tighten and her arms shake. Panic ran cold through her, freezing her in her spot. Not here, she thought, not now. The world seemed to close in on her, a dark cloud rolled over her head, as she stumbled on her feet, falling to her ass in the ring. Dolls, to his credit, recognized the signs of Nicole’s panic attack and whipped off his sparring gloves. He ran to the side of the ring and got Nicole’s water bottle, cold to the touch from the ice that floated inside. Without a second thought, he pressed the freezing metal to Nicole’s forehead. Her dive reflex kicked in at the feeling of the cold wetness to her forehead. Her lungs opening up to take as much air in as possible and her muscles relaxing under the shock.

“You’re okay, Haught. You’re safe,” Dolls assured her, one hand holding the cold bottle to her face, the other rubbing comforting circles on her back. Nicole’s breathing slowed and she nodded at her friend, taking the bottle from him once she was free of her gloves. She closed her eyes and sighed deeply, frustrated and exhausted. She hated the hold her parents still had on her. It was a vice grip that squeezed the air from her lungs.

“Thanks, Dolls,” Nicole smiled weakly at her roommate. He nodded in understanding, helping her to her feet. They packed up their belongings in a comfortable silence. Nicole had grown use to the quiet when she was with the solemn man. Dolls wasn’t much for sharing his thoughts and feelings. That’s why her head swiveled like an owl’s when he spoke up.

Listen,” Dolls started, looking directly in Nicole’s eyes. The man looked stern and serious, mouth in a tight line, eyes laser focused on hers. “You like the vegan, the vegan likes you,” Dolls said with a simple shrug. To hear it out loud made Nicole shiver with a cold sweat. She desperately wanted to ignore those feelings, lock them away to never bring out again, but she was not that lucky. As soon as her mouth moved to protest, Dolls spoke again. “No, don’t fight it. Look, when it comes to this shit, I’m fucking clueless but I don’t need a degree in romantic literature to figure out that you guys are smitten with each other…” he trailed off only to continue again, “And before you start the whole ‘she’s protesting my team’ bullshit, don’t. You and I both know that if it came down to it, your team would understand. Eliza would understand.” The mention of her co-captain by name sent a shock of fear through her. Though the blonde didn’t outright share her feelings on Waverly, Nicole knew. Nicole knew she thought the brunette was a distraction. The redhead groaned and Dolls wrapped a comforting arm around her shoulder as they walked out of the gym. “Let’s get you home so you can shower… you fucking reek,” Dolls chuckled and Nicole punched his arm, her knuckles hissing from the pain.

“Fuck off.”

Waverly’s Point of View
Tuesday, March 26, 2019
Venus Karaoke Bar
Seattle, Washington

It was Fish’s birthday, and keeping with the groups tradition of extravagant parties, they headed to a local karaoke bar. Chrissy and Jeremy practically squealed with delight when Fish announced what he wanted to do for his birthday. Waverly shared groans with Robin and Rosita, who were not sold on the idea. Nevertheless, the whole gang dressed and made their way into the city. Fish was bouncing like a ball in the back of the Uber, excited to get the night started. Waverly, sitting next to him, found his boy-like wonder amusing and patted Fish’s shoulder.

“Feeling those pregame shots, bud?” Waverly asked with a smirk and Fish turned to her with a wide grin. The man nodded and bopped his head to the song in the Uber. Rosita was in the front seat, explaining the difference between anaerobic and aerobic cells to a thoroughly confused driver. In the row behind her, Chrissy, Robin, and Jeremy took snapchat selfies, switching through an array of filters.

“Hell yeah, I am! Can’t wait to see everyone!” Fish exclaimed and Waverly shot him a questioning look. The man looked back at her just as confused, then blinked rapidly for a moment. “Did I not tell you?” Fish asked, slight concern in his tone. They were a block away from the bar and Waverly felt a chill in her blood.

“I swear to fucking god, Fish. If you invited Champ…”

“No, no!” Fish cut her off, shaking his head fast, eyes wide. Relief settled into her bones, thankful that she wouldn’t have to see the washed-up frat boy. “Eliza, Dolls, and Nicole are coming.” Fish gave her a sheepish smile, prepared for the small but mighty wrath of the petite brunette. Waverly let out a deep sigh and pinched the bridge of her nose. Since the two weeks following Robin’s birthday party, she had only run into the redhead once. It was before a home game. She had a protest sign in her hand and when Nicole saw Waverly she gave her a shy smile. The little exchange was just that, little, but to Waverly when her eyes met Nicole’s she felt the world shift on its axis. “I’m sorry,” Fish half-whined and pouted like a child. The brunette shook her head before resting it on the man’s shoulder.

“Don’t be. They’re your friends and I have to deal with the whole Nicole thing anyway,” Waverly sighed and Fish gave a brotherly pat to her back. Once the Uber pulled up to the karaoke bar, the group shuffled out of the SUV. Chrissy waited for Waverly at the door and grabbed the smaller brunette before she could step into the bar. “Ow,” Waverly complained when Chrissy pulled her in with a hard grip. She looked up at her best friend with furrowed brows and Chrissy just rolled her eyes at the dramatics.

“Listen, I love you like a sister, Waves…” Chrissy began and looked at her with sincere concern. “I just don’t want you getting hurt,” the taller brunette continued and wrapped Waverly up in a crushing hug. Waverly grumbled for a moment before hugging back. The hug was brief but nice and Waverly pulled away, smiling at her friend.

“I won’t. I promise,” Waverly assured her protective roommate and Chrissy bit her lip, looking down at the ground. She grabbed Chrissy’s hand and gave it a small squeeze. “I know the whole softball and protesting thing makes you nervous… like really nervous but I can hold my own,” she smiled and gave Chrissy a confident nod. The political communications major sighed and played with her own fingers.

“I know you can. I just…” Chrissy trailed and groaned, rubbing her face with her hand. Waverly chuckled and shook her head. She loved Chrissy like a sister and was thankful that the woman cared as much as she did, but something inside of her told her she didn’t have to worry - not when it came to Nicole.

“Let’s head in before they steal all the good songs, yeah?” Waverly asked and a wide grin danced along Chrissy’s lips. She nodded and opened the door to the bar, allowing Waverly to step in front of her. The two women walked into the backroom the crew had rented out for the night. When they pulled back the privacy curtain they were greeted by the sight of their friends scattered along the room’s couches. The stage was lit up in changing neon lights and one of the worker’s was sitting behind the karaoke equipment, playing on his phone while he waited for someone to pick a song.

“There they are! Now we can begin!” Fish cheered from his spot between Rosita and Nicole. Instantly, like magnets drawn to each other, Waverly’s eyes met Nicole’s and she felt lightheaded for the briefest of moments. Shamelessly, her eyes scanned the redhead’s outfit while she felt Nicole do the same. The shortstop wore a blue and white striped, short sleeve, button down, the sleeves were cuffed - highlighting the sculpted muscles of her arms. Her legs were covered by dark skinny jeans with a slight rip at the knee, the pair of pants hugged the defined muscles of the redhead’s thighs perfectly. She topped off the outfit with a pair of white Converse, kept in immaculate condition. Once they were both done surveying each other, their eyes met again, and Waverly was quick to note the slight blush that played on Nicole’s cheeks.

“I’m here if you need me,” Chrissy whispered in her ear before trotting over to one of two empty seats, next to Rosita and Dolls. The only empty spot left was next to Nicole and Waverly swallowed before walking over to where the redhead was seated on the couch. She took deliberate steps, doing her best to not fall in the slight heels she was wearing.

“Hey, Waves… You look,” Nicole greeted and paused. She looked the brunette over once more and smiled brightly. Typically, Waverly hated that sort of attention, the feeling of being sexualized. With Nicole though, she noticed the redheads shallow breathing. It felt like more than just mere physical attraction. “Beautiful,” Nicole smiled, her eyes locking with Waverly’s. The word - beautiful - knocked the air out of her lungs. The people she had been with before, men and women included, never called her that. It was always sexy or hot or cute or pretty - never beautiful.

“Uh, I… Thank you,” Waverly stammered and felt heat creep across her cheeks. She took her seat next to Nicole and looked down at the ground, playing with her own fingers for a moment. When she looked back up Nicole was staring at her with sad, wide eyes.

“I’m sorry if that was too forward… I just. I have a tendency to say what think,” Nicole apologized and Waverly felt a chuckle escape her chest. She shook her head, and with a sudden boldness that shocked even herself, she reached for Nicole’s hand. Their fingers laced together on their own accord, like they were made to settle within each other. She looked at Nicole and gave the hand in her own a gentle squeeze.

“Don’t be. I’m just not use those sort of compliments,” Waverly admitted and shrugged. Their hands were still intertwined and the old, familiar electricity between them was back. It radiated from her fingertips down to her stomach. It felt like a thousand wild Monarchs taking flight at the same time in her gut.

“Maybe you’ve just been dating too many shitheads,” Nicole harshly observed and Waverly instantly pulled her hand away from the softball player as panic set in. Nicole’s mocha eyes filled with sadness at the sudden loss of Waverly’s touch.

“We’re not dating,” Waverly stated sternly. Instant regret filled her as Nicole’s face fell, looking at Waverly with a mix of confusion and hurt. The butterflies that were once there scattered, flying away from the storm that brewed within her.

“I know,” Nicole assured Waverly and sighed deeply. Internally, Waverly berated herself. “Way to go, Earp,” echoed in her mind. “Look, you made it clear… You’re not looking for anything. I respect that,” Nicole explained but Waverly could hear the disappointment in her words. The whole situation made her want to scream. Something about the look in Nicole’s eyes though, just calmed her down. “I just yelled at her why is she being so nice to me?” she thought.

“Once I do start looking you’ll be the first to know.” It felt bold and foreign in Waverly’s mouth. She surprised herself when the words spilled out. Nicole beamed at her, eyes bright and smile wide. Waverly’s heart rattled inside of its cage. “Until then maybe we could be friends?” Waverly asked and offered a small smile. Nicole let out a low, airy chuckle but nodded her head nevertheless. The redhead took a sip of her drink, from the gold in the glass Waverly concluded it was whiskey.

“Yeah, sure, whatever you want, Waverly,” Nicole nodded with an eye roll, putting her drink down. Waverly was thankful when a cocktail waitress came over to them and asked if she could get her anything. Before she could give the woman her order Nicole spoke up, “whatever she gets, put it on my tab tonight.” The waitress, not much older than Waverly herself, raised an eyebrow and smiled.

“Lucky girl. Wish I had someone like you to spoil me,” the woman winked at Nicole and Waverly felt a new type of heat, a jealous heat, licking at the surface of her neck. Something took hold of her and she reached over, placing her hand on Nicole’s thigh. She gave the strong muscle there a hard squeeze, surprising Nicole who shifted under the touch.

“I’ll have the Higher Ground Pinot Noir, please and thank you,” Waverly ordered, smiling smugly at the waitress. She realized that jealousy was what drove her to reach out and grab Nicole. It bubbled like boiling water in a pot, threatening to spill over and scald her. She was powerless against it. “Thanks, Nicole,” Waverly murmured to the redhead, who looked like a deer caught in headlights. Her hand was still on Nicole’s thigh, and she was well aware of the heat that was rising up through the material of her jeans.

“Welcome, Waves,” she nodded and tipped that damn, imaginary cap in her direction. The waitress, who was clearly enamored by Nicole, sighed before taking off to put in Waverly’s order. Nicole looked at her expectantly, waiting for some sort of explanation for her behavior. Instead Waverly just smiled and gave another squeeze to the strong muscle of Nicole’s thigh before removing her hand.

“Alright, alright!” Jeremy called into a microphone as he stepped onto the stage in front of the private room. Everyone hollered and cheered as Robin joined him. Waverly’s eyes stayed on Nicole’s for an extra moment before turning her attention to the couple. She took a second to settle back into the couch, her side pressing in Nicole’s. “First and foremost, happy birthday to the man who has more stained shirts than any 22 year old should. The man who has yet to learn how to eat properly. The man who could find a way to spill air on himself, FISH!” Jeremy laughed into the microphone. At the same time, never failing to get something on himself beer dribbled down the side of the geography major’s mouth and the entire group erupted into a fit of laughter.

“And with that I think we can officially start the night!” Robin laughed and took his spot on stage. He gave the man behind the sound booth a thumbs up and suddenly the lights shifted to highlight the two men on stage. The recognizable melody of Grease’s Summer Nights filtered into the room. The crowd began to cheer as Jeremy started with Sandy’s first verse. Waverly let out a snort and covered her face in horror. She couldn’t believe that she snorted not once but twice in front of the attractive woman to her left. Nicole laughed and put an arm behind Waverly’s head, resting it on top of the couch.

“Ass,” Waverly teased and playfully hit Nicole’s leg when the ginger laughed at her. The action made Nicole laugh louder, a large smile playing at her lips. The petite brunette had completely forgotten her friends, who were performing in front of them, and instead looked at Nicole with her eyebrows knitted together. “Oh, you think that’s funny, huh?”

“Yes, ma’am, I do,” Nicole chuckled and Waverly rolled her eyes at the thick, southern accent. God, how could something be both so annoying and sexy at the same time. She shook her head but smiled at the redhead. The flashing lights danced across her pale complexion in some sort of ballet and Waverly couldn’t help but be mesmerized. Her trance was broken when the waitress came back with her wine.

“Here you go,” she smiled at Waverly and handed her the glass of red wine. The tiny vegan watched the waitress steal a look at Nicole, but the redhead wasn’t paying her any attention, her eyes were trained on the two men on stage. She caught the waitress’ glance and the woman gave her a small nod before walking away. Waverly felt that same jealous feeling bubble within her again and she cursed herself. Nicole wasn’t hers to be jealous over - but god - how she hated the way the waitress looked at the softball player. So trapped in her own mind, she didn’t realize that she had shifted even more into Nicole’s space. With the distraction gone though she felt it. The heat between them. She took a deep sip of the wine, letting the heady fruit fill her senses. Jeremy and Robin wrapped up their song by way of the biochemistry major leaping into the music theory major’s arms. The group laughed and applauded their performance.

“Thank you, thank you!” Jeremy spoke into the mic as Robin set him back down on the stage. The two held hands as they walked off stage. Dolls high-fived Jeremy when he came back to the couch and Eliza gave Robin a fist bump. It was nice to see - Nicole’s friends getting along so well with her own. She turned her head to look at Nicole and smiled when she realized the shortstop was already looking at her. Waverly nervously tucked a loose strand of chestnut curls behind her ear. The brunette took a sip of her wine and watched as Nicole’s eyes flickered to her mouth. It was subtle, but Waverly caught it, and Nicole knew it. Without a word, Waverly got up and walked over to the man behind the sound booth. She knew that she would have to sing at some point and she’d rather get it out of the way.

The Joker,” Waverly smiled and the man just gave her a nod. The lights began to dance around the room as she took her spot on stage and gripped the microphone nervously. Adrenaline coursed through her, and she was sure it was the only thing keeping her from not running off of the stage. She gave the man behind the booth a thumbs up and watched as the lyrics to the Steve Miller Band hit appeared on the prompter in front of her. The unforgettable drum opening of the 70’s song pulsed into the private room.

“Hell yeah, baby!” Rosita screamed from her spot on the couch and pointed to Waverly. The brunette blushed and began to sing the opening refrain of the song.

Some people call me the space cowboy, yeah,” Waverly sang and winked over to the Texan. Nicole laughed loudly and slapped her knee, apparently loving what she saw. It encouraged Waverly to continue on despite the nerves growling in her stomach. “Some call me the gangster of love… Some people call me Maurice,” Waverly paused and pointed over to Chrissy.

“Woot-woo,” Chrissy sang the guitar riff and Waverly nodded her head at her friend. She allowed herself to loosen up and get lost in the song. Soon, Waverly was finding her groove and dancing around the stage as she sang, not even needing the prompter. When she got to “midnight toker” Fish and Rosita cheered loudly. Her attention was drawn back to Nicole who was now sitting on the edge of her seat. Her eyes were glued to the brunette and it sent a wave of confidence through Waverly. The petite archaeology major jumped off of the stage and sauntered over to Nicole. Her hips swayed in time to the beat and she didn’t miss the way those mocha eyes watched her every move.

You’re the cutest baby that I ever did see,” Waverly crooned and sat in Nicole’s lap. All of their friends loved the exchange and clapped loudly. She felt Nicole wrap her strong arms around her delicate middle and she smiled at the redhead. The softball player just looked at her, a dumb smile on her lips, and eyes glued to the brunette. “I really like your peaches, wanna shake your tree,” Waverly sang and ruffled Nicole auburn locks playfully before climbing off of her lap. The rest of the song went much the same. The group hollered and cheered as Waverly pointed to different friends as she sang. When the song faded, everyone got to their feet, giving her a standing ovation. She bowed and walked off the stage, heart still hammering from her performance.

“You messed up my hair,” Nicole whined when Waverly sat down next to her. The brunette rolled her eyes and shrugged. “You have a lovely voice,” the redhead complimented her and Waverly ducked her head coyly, not wanting Nicole to see the blush that played on her cheeks. “Hey, I’m gonna run to the bathroom… if the waitress comes back will you order me another whiskey?” Nicole asked and she stood up, straightening the button down she was wearing. Waverly just nodded and watched Nicole walk away. Her jeans made her ass look amazing and Waverly couldn’t help but bite her lip at the sight.

“Waves… that was something,” Chrissy whispered in her ear. Waverly jumped in surprise at the sudden feeling of Chrissy taking Nicole’s spot. She turned to face her friend, who was looking at her with a devilish grin.

“Oh, shut up,” Waverly groaned and slapped her friend’s arm teasingly. Chrissy just giggled and shrugged. The lights in the room began to flicker around again, and Waverly turned her head to see which of their friends was about to take the stage. She noted that everyone was in their spots, expect for Nicole, when the bassline of the Violent Femmes’ Blister in the Sun echoed in the room.

“There you go, Haughty” Rosita cheered and Waverly snapped her head to the privacy curtain. Nicole opened it dramatically and began to sing the song.

When I’m out walking, I strut my stuff,” the redhead harmonized and shook her hips. Eliza and Dolls were laughing their asses off, shaking their heads at the ridiculousness of their roommate. Nicole jumped onto the stage and danced in front of the group. “I’m high as a kite, I just might, stop to check you out.” Nicole pointed directly at Waverly and sent a wink her way. The act made Waverly shake her head and laugh. The chorus kicked in and Nicole gave the crew a show. She jumped off of the stage and strutted in front of them.

“Shake it, Haught!” Eliza yelled from the other end of the large couch. Her and Dolls had taken out their phones and began to record her performance. Probably to use for black mail at a later date, Waverly thought.

Body and beat, I stain my sheets I don’t even know why.” Nicole continued on with the song and walked over to Rosita. She winked at her and blew her a kiss. The shortstop danced her way over to Chrissy and got down on her knees in front of the tall brunette. “My girlfriend, she’s at the end, she is starting to cry,” Nicole practically shouted into the microphone. Chrissy giggled at the act and Nicole hopped back to her feet. During the entire show, Waverly felt her heart racing. She took every chance she got to eye the tall redhead. There was no denying how sexy she was, and god, did Nicole know it. She sat down next to Waverly on the armrest of the couch and began to whisper the quiet part of the song. As Nicole became more and more soft spoken, she got closer to Waverly. She noticed how dark her mocha eyes were, almost completely covered by blown pupils. With only an inch between them Waverly’s breath was trapped in her throat when Nicole jumped off of the couch. The softball player ran back to the stage and finished the song with great enthusiasm. She ended on her knees, holding her fists up in the air.

“Goddamn, Nicole!” Fish cried and stood up, clapping loudly. The rest of the group followed expect for Waverly. She felt rooted in place, too distracted by the sweat that had formed on the redhead’s forehead. Waverly eyed Nicole hungrily as the shortstop walked back over to her.

“Thoughts?” she asked, a little out of breath, a cocky grin on lips. The shortstop took a second to drink from her whiskey, lips meeting glass in such a way that made Waverly bite her own lip. She looked into those deep brown eyes and ignored the urge to jump Nicole right there. Her mind battled with itself. So desperately she wanted to kiss the redhead again. The taste of her lips still teased her, even two weeks later. An idea came to Waverly’s. It was bold and highly contradicted an earlier statement she’d made - but oh, how she craved the redhead.

“I’m going to the bathroom,” Waverly stated and gave Nicole a pointed look. The taller woman tilted her head to the side and before she asked Waverly to elaborate, the brunette stood up from the couch. She opened the privacy current and walked into the bathroom. Waverly took a moment to collect herself, sighing loudly and rolling her head back and forth. She looked at herself in the mirror and sorted out her curls. Her hands smoothed out her brightly patterned dress and she adjusted her jean jacket. Suddenly, the door to the bathroom opened and Nicole walked in. Waverly smiled wildly, thankful that the Texan knew what she meant. They looked at each other for a moment, neither saying a word. The air between them was heavy enough to bring down an airplane as Waverly’s pulse drummed in her ears.

“Waverly…” Nicole trailed and took a step toward the petite brunette. Waverly, feeling brazen, grabbed Nicole by the wrists. She noticed the tattoo on Nicole’s toned forearm for the first time. It was a black and grayscale wolf with a floral design. She made a mental note to ask her about it later. In that moment, though, Waverly didn’t have time to waste. She pulled the woman over to the largest stall in the corner of the bathroom. “What are you doing?” Nicole asked and Waverly pushed her into the stall, turning to lock the door. The redhead licked her lips and dropped her glance down to Waverly’s mouth. They moved together in time, both of the women reaching for the other. Waverly
wrapped her arms around Nicole’s strong shoulders and the redhead gripped her hips. Their lips collided in a heated blaze and all Waverly could taste was honey whiskey - and Nicole. It was a rushed and desperate kiss like they only had seconds left to live. Nicole pushed Waverly back into the stall door, their lips not parting during the act. Waverly ran her tongue along Nicole’s lower lip and moaned when lips parted to take in the slick muscle. Her finger’s tugged on red locks as their tongues battled for control. She felt Nicole’s hands drop to her ass and when strong fingers gave her flesh a squeeze, it made Waverly pull away, a moan falling from her lips.

“Fuck,” Waverly hissed and tilted her head back. Their breathing was labored when their eyes met. Everything was on fire. Growing hotter and hotter with each touch. Waverly tugged on Nicole’s auburn tresses and the softball player let out a loud moan. She made a mental note to remember that for later. Nicole’s eyes glimmered with lust and it sent a wave of want through Waverly. The softball player placed a softer, gentler kiss on her lips. It was sweet and Waverly smiled at the woman who had her pinned against the hard plastic door. Without warning, Nicole began to stamp hot, open mouthed kisses along Waverly’s neck. The brunette groaned at the feeling of skilled lips working at her pulse point. “Nicole,” she moaned and tightened her grip on silky strands of red. Nicole teased the sensitive skin of her neck by dragging her teeth along the tan flesh. Seemingly satisfied with her work, Nicole pulled away to look at Waverly.

“What happened to just friends?” Nicole asked out of breath with a smirk and Waverly untangled her hands, moving one to cup Nicole’s cheek. How she so badly wanted to say “fuck it.” But the persistent, nagging voice of doubt in her head wouldn’t shut-up. “It’ll never work,” it criticized her, making her feel small. Nicole sensed the inner turmoil and grabbed one of Waverly’s hands, squeezing it gently. Waverly was about to speak when the sound of the bathroom door opening startled her.

“Stop fucking each other and get out here. Fish is about to go on!” Rosita called into the bathroom. They both froze in place as Rosita chuckled “I can see the both of you in there, estupidas.” The door closed and Nicole chuckled. The sound filled Waverly with a sense of ease as she slowly untangled herself from the softball player. Her pulse was hard and fast as she inhaled deeply, trying to catch her breath. Nicole, ever the gentlewoman, brushed loose strands of chestnut hair out of Waverly’s face. She melted into the touch.

“We should probably get out there,” Nicole whispered, her eyes flickered down to Waverly’s lips. The brunette cleared her throat and nodded. She opened the stall door and walked over to the sink. Nicole settled next to her, hand on the small of her back, as Waverly straightened out the curls that were displaced during their heated makeout session. Their eyes met in the mirror and a vibrant smile stretched across Nicole’s lips. Waverly felt her cheeks flush and she shook her head, a tiny chuckle falling from her mouth.

“Come on,” Waverly urged and tilted her head in the direction of the door. Before the brunette could open it, Nicole grabbed the door, and held it open for Waverly. “Such a southern gentlewoman, Haught,” Waverly teased and Nicole laughed, nodding her head.

The pair made their way back to the private room and when Waverly pulled back the privacy curtain she felt like a spotlight was put on them. All of their friends were looking at them, a mix of amusement and concern on their faces. Fish was already on stage and shot them both a wink. He gave a thumbs up and the man behind the sound booth hit some buttons. Waverly settled back into her original spot next to Nicole. It felt comfortable, despite the fire burning between them. The opening piano riff of Elton John’s Tiny Dancer filtered into the room. Fish, much to his credit, sang his heart out - even if he was off key and out of tune most of the time. The group cheered for the birthday boy like fans at a concert. As the night dwindled down, Chrissy and Rosita closed with a riveting rendition of Umbrella. When the night came to an end the two groups said their goodbyes outside of the bar. Jeremy and Robin were holding up a shaky Fish, while Chrissy and Eliza were adding each other on snapchat. Nicole stood next to Waverly, looking at her with the same gentle kindness she so often did.

“So,” Nicole started and turned her body towards Waverly. The petite brunette smiled up at Nicole. Something took hold of her and she wrapped her arms around Nicole in a hug. The redhead was warm and she felt safe as her strong arms looped around her taut middle. They stayed like that for a moment, until the Uber pulled up and her friends began to stumble into the SUV. Waverly reluctantly pulled out of the embrace and looked up at Nicole. The moon hit her ivory skin just right, making her skin almost glow in the dark of night.

“Thank you,” Waverly whispered without fully realizing what she was thanking the redhead for. Nicole just smiled and nodded her head, understanding it nevertheless. The softball player grabbed both of Waverly’s hands and gave them a soft squeeze.

“I’ll see you around, Waves,” Nicole smiled before dropping her hands. Waverly watched as Nicole turned on her heel and walked towards Eliza and Dolls.

With a sigh, Waverly turned to her own group and jogged over to the SUV. She climbed into the middle row and settled next to Chrissy. Her best friend gave her a soft, understanding smile and Waverly felt a pang of sadness fill her. Instinctually, Chrissy wrapped her arms around Waverly in a protective hug. The smaller brunette leaned into the embrace, as her best friend rubbed her back. Conflict and chaos rippled through her like a war torn country. Every positive thought she had about Nicole was countered by a negative. She’ll never like you. She just wants sex. You’re too much to handle for her. You’re too broken. Her mind was an exhausting battlefield of self-doubt and worry. Nicole was cocky but kind. She was infuriating but sweet. Waverly let the paradox play out in her head and tug at her heart strings. Her thoughts plucked her anxiety like a master violinist. How badly she wished for silence but she knew there was no relief. There would be no more quiet moments - those were now reserved for one thing. Nicole.

Nicole’s Point of View
Sunday, April 14, 2019
Husky Softball Stadium
Seattle, Washington

Nicole opened and closed her new glove - still adjusting to the change in equipment. It was a relatively easy process to get a new one made for her. All she had to do was have Lonnie, the equipment manager, contact their liaison at Wilson with the specifications. To an untrained eye it looked exactly like her old glove. The glove was still 12 inches in length with a sizable, cross weave pocket. It was the same color, deep brown with gold and purple lacing and trim. “Haught” was stitched into the side like the glove before it. It was the same, except for one major difference. It wasn’t leather. The synthetic material gave easier than the hard leather she was used to wielding. It had only taken her two days to break in the inorganic material - a sharp contrast to the week or two it normally took her to break in a new glove. When Lucado first found out she was changing her glove the coach was livid. She pulled Nicole into her office and gave a long impassioned speech about the importance of a player’s glove. By the end of the conversation Nicole had Lucado trusting her decision to use a new glove and had even convinced her coach to switch from leather-covered softballs to synthetic-covered balls during practices and home games.

“Red, you’re on deck!” Kate called out to her, shaking her from her thoughts. The shortstop put on her batting gloves, pulled her helmet over her head, and grabbed her bat. Poppy gave her a pat on the back and she smiled at the freshmen before stepping out of the dugout. In the on deck circle, she took some practice swings, timing her bat speed to the Arizona State pitcher. The crowd buzzed in excitement when Gretta smacked a line drive down the right field side. The outfielder pumped her fist in celebration at first base and Nicole strode to the batter’s box.

I get my hands dirty, I show up so early, they show me no mercy, so I just keep working,” echoed through the stadium. She felt the bass of the song shoot through her and smiled as the crowd stomped their feet. It was the sixth inning, and they were leading four to zero. It was a good spot to be in, especially now, with the regular season
more than halfway over.

“Let’s go, one-six!” Eliza cheered and slapped the top of the dugout fence. Nicole nodded at her co-captain and stepped between the white lines. She looked over to Lucado who gave her the “hit away” sign and responded with a single nod. Nicole tapped home plate with the tip of her bat and then settled into her hitting position. The Arizona State pitcher threw an impressive curve ball, but it veered too far left for Nicole to chase it, and it was called a ball by the home plate umpire.

“Good eye, Haught!” Hetty shouted from the dugout and Nicole took a deep breath in. She shot another look down at Lucado who gave her the same sign again. With an exhale she settled back in the batter’s box. The pitcher began her wind up and when the ball left her hand Nicole read the movement right away. Fastball, high and outside. Adjusting her hands slightly, Nicole set the play in motion with her hips, twisting with power and delivering strength from her middle. Her bat met the ball with a deafening smack and instantly the crowd was on its feet. She began to run to first base and stole a quick glance up just in time to witness the softball land in the right field box.

Homerun, Haught!” the announcer bellowed from his spot in the press box and Nicole pumped her fist as she rounded second base. The stands were wild, fans cheering and hollering, as Nicole got to third. Her pulse was quick in her veins and a wide smile played at her lips. Lucado gave a light, supportive smack to the back of her helmet as she made the final trot to home plate. Her teammates were huddled around the plate and as soon as she touched the white rubber, they were on her, slapping the top of her helmet and patting her back. “Ladies and gentlemen, that’s Haught’s 20th homer of the season!” the announcer cheered and the stadium responded with thunderous applause. Admittedly, Nicole didn’t try to think about things like records or leaderboards, choosing to focus on the then and now. Now though, jogging back to the dugout, with her teammates around her, she took a second to look up at the electronic screen replaying all of her homeruns so far this season. As she watched the replays she noticed that all but five of the homers took place at home. The redhead took a sip of water and wondered if maybe there was something in the air in Washington - or maybe she just had a good luck charm named Waverly in Seattle.

“Oh, that’s just fucking perfect,” Mercedes hissed and Nicole looked over at her with furrowed eyebrows. The first basemen huffed and crossed her arms. “The crazy, fucking vegan got your homerun ball,” the Georgian sighed and shook her head. Eliza, the only person on the team besides herself that knew what had been going on between her and Waverly, shot her a surprised look. Nicole sighed in frustration and put her head in her hands. After Fish’s birthday they hadn’t seen each other. The redhead tried to get to the field early most game days and would even zoom out of the locker room in hopes of catching Waverly, but she was always gone. Whenever she was on campus she kept an eye out for the petite archaeology major, hyper-alert to any tiny brunette with an almost hippie-like fashion sense. Her constant search for Waverly led her to an embarrassing moment where she accidentally cornered some poor underclassman on the Suzzallo Library stairs.

“I’ll deal with it,” Nicole responded to Mercedes outburst. Her heart was pounding quicker than it did when she circled the bases not more than five minutes ago. She wondered if Waverly was avoiding her on purpose. Though, she wouldn’t blame her if she was. Nicole came with baggage, and she wouldn’t be surprised if Waverly could sense it on her. Heavy and crushing like a sack of bricks on her back. The brunette could probably read the “damaged goods” label stamped on Nicole’s forehead.

“Take the field, ladies!” Lucado ordered as she stepped into the dugout. “Let’s finish this up,” she cheered and high-fived her players as they filtered out of the dugout. Nicole shook herself from her thoughts and grabbed her glove before hustling out onto the field. The final three outs were quick and came on the heels of ten pitches by Kate. The crowd stomped and hollered in excitement when the Huskies celebrated their win. After they entered the locker room, and Lucado delivered her post game speech, Nicole slipped out of her dirty uniform. She threw on loose fitting shorts that had “Huskies Softball” on the side and put on a black t-shirt that read the same. Her heart was shaking, like a dog afraid of thunder, as she thought of possibly seeing Waverly again. It had been weeks, and way too long, since their shared heated exchange in the bar bathroom.

“Hey, Haught… Someone is outside waiting for you,” Eliza announced with a smirk and a wink. Nicole rolled her eyes, knowing that it was probably someone from the press wanting to talk about her 20th homer. With a sigh, she put a University of Washington snapback on backwards and slipped into her Birkenstocks.

“Thanks, E,” Nicole smiled weakly at her co-captain and hoisted her bag onto her back. Her muscles were a little sore from the game and she used the long walk from the locker room to the exit to stretch out her neck. All she wanted to do was to go home, hangout with her dog, and maybe drink a beer. An interview was definitely not top on her list of things to do. With a groan she opened the heavy door and was surprised when she didn’t see a man with a camera crew surrounding him. Instead all she saw was Waverly. Their eyes locked and the embers of their once burning flame began to spark again. Nicole’s breath was lost somewhere between her lungs and lips as she looked over the brunette she had missed so much. Waverly’s outfit was simple, leggings and a black and white flannel, but god, how Nicole missed the slight curves of the brunette’s body. She missed holding Waverly by her hips as they kissed. The memory of it all sent a shiver down her spine.

“It has a synthetic cover,” Waverly stated, running her fingers over the seams of the softball in her hands. Nicole watched her toy with the red lace of the ball before looking back up at Waverly. She took a step closer to the brunette and smiled when Waverly did the same.

“After I made the switch with my glove I convinced Lucado to switch the balls… As long as they were NCAA approved of course,” Nicole explained and shrugged. She felt a lightness in her chest when Waverly broke out into a wide smile.

“I hear a celebration is in order… Twenty homeruns so far this season? That’s impressive,” Waverly smirked and handed the softball over to Nicole. Their fingers brushed again, the shock almost pushing Nicole down to her knees. Brown and hazel eyes met, and Nicole went to open her mouth but nothing came out. Instead her eyes shifted down, staring at the pavement below her feet. “I’m sorry,” Waverly whispered into the air between them and Nicole snapped her head up, eyebrows knitted together. The brunette bit her lip and shifted awkwardly on her feet. “For boxing you out… and avoiding you,” Waverly explained and Nicole felt like her gut had been punched. So she was avoiding her. It stung for sure. “I just… god,” Waverly groaned and took another step closer to Nicole. There were only inches between them now, the space was vibrating with charged energy. “I felt myself starting to like you, really like you, but I convinced myself you wouldn’t want to date the ‘crazy vegan’ who was protesting your team, and fuck… I feel like I just messed it all up,” Waverly sighed and closed her eyes for a moment. Nicole, driven to comfort the woman in front of her, reached out and grabbed Waverly’s hand. It was the first time she noticed the otter, surrounded by flowers and plants tattoo on the brunette’s forearm.

“Hey, I get it. I thought you wouldn’t want to date some southern, hillbilly, jock,” Nicole smiled and Waverly shook her head, laughing as she did so. Her hand was still on the archaeology major’s and Nicole felt the beat of her pulse deep in her bones. “Can I take you on a date? Like a real date?” she asked and watched as Waverly’s eyes lit up. “Maybe we could go get a coffee… or a soy latte? Nicole added with a wink. Waverly snorted at the latter and instantly covered her face in horror, pulling her hand away. The redhead just laughed loudly, loving Waverly’s accidental snorts. “Is that a yes?” Nicole smirked and Waverly nodded her head, flashing a blinding smile.

“Yes,” Waverly confirmed and reached for her phone in her pocket. She pulled it out and handed it over to Nicole, waiting for her to put her number in it. With a grin, Nicole typed her number and hit call, hanging up when she felt her own phone vibrate in her pocket.

“How does tomorrow afternoon sound? Say three o’clock? I’ll pick you?” Nicole asked, trying her best to ignore the chaotic butterflies in her stomach.

“Sounds wonderful,” Waverly grinned and reached out, taking Nicole’s hand into her own. When she felt the brunette give her a light squeeze she sighed softly and felt her cheeks grow red. “Should I wear any certain attire?” she asked and Nicole shook her head, laughing. She brushed her thumb along Waverly’s knuckles and watched as goosebumps spread up her arm.

“Just not a dress… or a skirt,” Nicole stated. It was a request that made Waverly raise an eyebrow out of curiosity. They looked at each other for a moment, forgetting the world around them, when a car horn startled them. Nicole looked over Waverly’s shoulder and saw Chrissy in a blue SUV, waving at them with a smile.

“That’s my ride… I’ll text you my address later tonight,” Waverly assured and gave her hand another squeeze before letting go. She turned away and took a step towards Chrissy before turning back around. Nicole mumbled in surprise when she felt soft lips press a kiss to her cheek. The skin there growing impossibly redder. “Also, Congrats on kicking some major hiney.” With that and a wink, the brunette trotted over to the car and slipped in. Nicole watched dumbstruck, as the pair sped out of the parking lot. She traced the tingling skin of her cheek where Waverly had kissed her before jumping in the air.

“Yes!” Nicole shouted and pumped a fist in victory. Just then she heard clapping come from behind her and she turned around to see Poppy, Hetty, Eliza and Kate applauding. The redhead froze in fear, realizing her teammates had witnessed the whole exchange. She sheepishly ducked her head and covered her face.

“I can’t wait to tell Fish,” Poppy laughed, her eyes bright with the thought of telling her brother that two of his friends were going on a date. Nicole shook her head and chuckled. Eliza gave her a thumbs up and Nicole sighed in relief. She wouldn’t have to worry any longer about her team’s approval. She just had to worry about her date now.

Waverly’s Point of View
Monday, April 15, 2019
Waverly, Chrissy, and Rosita’s Apartment
Seattle, Washington

Her nerves caused her to redo her makeup, not once, but twice. To say Waverly was freaking out about her date with the star softball player would be an understatement. If applying her makeup three times wasn’t proof enough, the five different outfits laid out on her bed could only strengthened anyone’s basic assumption. Waverly Earp was a nervous mess.

“Hey, Chrissy… Rosita… will one of you come give me a thumbs up or down on my makeup?” Waverly called out to her roommates and was instantly greeted by the sound of her roommate cursing in Spanish. Despite her roommate’s apparent annoyance, Rosita leaned against the door frame, arms crossed and eyebrows raised.

“Waverly how many times did we tell you already? Haught is already head over heels for ya… You could wear clown makeup and a trash bag and the girl would still be star struck,” Rosita sighed but appeased her friend by scanning her face. She gave a thumbs up and Waverly sighed in relief.

“It still doesn’t change the fact that I’m nervous as hell,” Waverly huffed and walked over to the bed. She surveyed the outfits she laid out for herself, a small piece of her feeling like no outfit would be good enough. She could hear Rosita walk up behind her before wrapping an arm around her shoulders.

“Wear the romper… It’s nice outside and it shows off your legs,” Rosita offered Waverly before giving her a light tap on her ass. The unexpected tap made the archaeology major squeak in surprise. Rosita just laughed as she walked out of the room, closing the door, and leaving Waverly to finish getting ready. The small brunette sighed and shed her sweats and tank top. She stepped into the dark green romper with a floral print looking at herself in the full length mirror, giving her reflection a weak smile. Her self-doubt was beginning to surface.

“Freak.” “Weirdo.” “Ugly.” “Gross.” They taunted her reflection, like the bullies in her hometown, so she turned away from the mirror with a sigh. The negative thoughts fled at the sound of her phone buzzing on her nightstand. She ran over to it and smiled brightly when she saw Nicole’s name on the screen. The text read “here” and she barely stopped herself from squealing. She slipped on a pair of grey Vans and grabbed her jean jacket from the closet. With a smile playing at her lips she walked down the hall and into the living room.

“Bye, pals!” Waverly called out to Chrissy and Rosita. The political communications major was sitting with her feet in Rosita’s lap on the couch binging “The Good Place.” They both turned away from the show to cheer on their roommate.

“Damn, girl! Haught is going to die when she sees those legs,” Rosita smirked and threw a wink her way. Waverly rolled her eyes as she grabbed her wallet and keys.

“Make sure you use protection!” Chrissy teased, causing Waverly to groan in embarrassment. Her roommates high-fived one another and she nervously wondered if she and Nicole would still have that same magnetic energy between them. Would they both still be drawn to each other like moths to a flame? Waverly paused to take another quick look in the mirror by the door, before heading out. She wasn’t sure what to expect when she opened the door, but Nicole Haught leaning against a motorcycle on her driveway definitely wasn’t it. Waverly eyed the softball player and felt her mouth go dry. Nicole was wearing the same pair of jeans from the karaoke bar, the ones that hugged her legs just right and teasingly revealed a hint of smooth skin. She had a yellow, short sleeve button up on with a black leather jacket. She was holding a black matte motorcycle helmet with a clear visor.

“Hey, Waves,” Nicole greeted her, standing up from her leaning position. Waverly closed the door behind her and ducked her head before walking over to Nicole. The bike was a black and white 80’s Honda Cafe Racer with scrambler tires and a black saddle bag attached to its side. Waverly bit her lip as she got closer to Nicole, feeling her heart begin a steady, nervous cadence.

“Hey,” Waverly smiled at the redhead. Nicole didn’t hesitate to wrap her arms around Waverly, pulling her in for a hug. Waverly reciprocated the action, encasing her arms around the softball player’s strong middle. They both relaxed into the comforting touch of one another for a moment. Waverly smiled when she inhaled Nicole’s scent, vanilla dipped donuts – they were her favorite.

“By the way,” Nicole started as she pulled away from Waverly, looking down at the girl with a wide smile. Half of the ginger’s hair was pulled up just enough for her red locks to be out of her face. “It’s a synthetic material for riders… strong as leather without any of the animal cruelty,” Nicole continued and Waverly felt her heart flutter. All of her ex’s had viewed her veganism as a weird quirk or a hassle. To them, it was something they just had to deal with. Nicole was different though. She was making changes, trying to see things from Waverly’s perspective. It was refreshing. Waverly was about to say something, when Nicole dug into the saddle bag, and pulled out another jacket and helmet. “Yours is too,” Nicole smiled and handed the articles over to Waverly.

“T-Thank you,” Waverly stuttered and hated herself for it. She took the jacket and helmet graciously and slipped out of her jean jacket. Nicole took it from her and placed it securely in the saddle bag. With a grin, she pushed her arms through the sleeves of the jacket and pulled up the zipper. It fit perfectly and she was left wondering if Nicole had gotten her size from Fish. Nicole looked at her with a wide beaming smile and bright eyes.

“It looks good on you,” Nicole complimented her with a wink. Waverly felt a blush paint her face. The hold Nicole had on her was strong, like a vice grip. She smiled sweetly at the redhead and then brought the helmet to her head. Nicole laughed before helping her, when she struggled with the bulky gear. “There you go, Waves,” the redhead said with a gentle ease in her voice. Waverly felt like a fish in a bowl with the hard plastic encasing her head. “Have you ever been on a motorcycle before?” Nicole asked as she put on her own helmet.

“No,” Waverly shook her head and toyed with the metal zipper of her jacket. Nicole nodded her head and took Waverly’s hand, giving it a soft squeeze. Her pulse was thumping hard in her neck and she didn’t know if it was her being nervous about riding on a motorcycle or from Nicole’s hand on her own.

“Just hold on tight… I’ll take it easy,” Nicole assured her before straddling the seat of the motorcycle. The redhead turned her head and helped Waverly settle behind her. Once Waverly had gotten situated behind the ginger on the bike, Nicole pointed to the foot rests on either side, and Waverly perched her feet on them. Her arms circled around Nicole’s waist and she leaned into the softball player’s strong frame. It felt safe, even after Nicole began revving the engine. “Ready, cutie?” Nicole asked, shouting over the loud engine. Waverly just nodded her head and tightened her hold on the woman in front of her. There was heat coming off of Nicole’s body and Waverly wondered if it was from her arms around her toned middle or the warmth of the bike below them. “Here we go,” Nicole announced and kicked in the kickstand. Soon they were rolling and Waverly was gripping onto Nicole tighter and tighter. Her heart ran wild in her chest as Nicole turned and steered the bike towards downtown. Waverly took in a deep breath and allowed herself to relax. She trusted the redhead in front of her. Her eyes took in the sites of Seattle as Nicole navigated them towards Pike Place, a major tourist trap. Once the redhead had found a prime parking spot, she kicked out the kickstand, cut the engine, and removed her helmet. Waverly did the same and took Nicole’s hand when she offered it to her.

“Thanks,” Waverly smiled and took off the riding jacket, swapping it back out for her jean one. Nicole fiddled with locks and cables as she secured the saddle bag and both helmets, ensuring no one would be able to steal them. Pike Place was buzzing with activity, the afternoon crowd filtering in and out of the shops and market. “So, why Pike?” Waverly asked, shoving her hands into the pockets of her jacket. Without the riding jacket on, Nicole’s broad shoulders were on full display through the thin material of the yellow button up. Waverly imagined digging her nails into the taut muscles that laid dormant there.

“Well, everyone just thinks Pike is for tourists but…” Nicole trailed off, walking beside Waverly. The redhead continued, “They have some amazing, little hole-in-the-wall places. You just have to be willing to explore.” Waverly smiled up at the redhead and followed her lead, turning into an alley. She had been to Pike Place before but stayed on the main strip, never venturing far from the bustle of the crowds.

“I believe you,” Waverly nodded and they walked in tandem, their steps syncing to the same tempo. Waverly removed her hands from her pockets, letting them swing by her side when she felt Nicole’s hand brush against hers. Without thinking, she caught Nicole’s hand on the back swing. When the redhead turned and looked down at their joined hands, Waverly stammered, “I hope this is alright.” The softball player nodded enthusiastically and laced their hands together.

“It’s perfect,” Nicole confirmed, her accent thick around the words. The slight twang had grown on her. She once found it annoying but now she found it endearing. Her hand buzzed in Nicole’s, the anxious excitement of being on a date with the redhead was coursing through her. “So… tell me about your tattoo,” Nicole smiled and brought her free hand to the ink on her forearm, tracing the outline of the tattoo with her finger tip. Goosebumps spread from the spot where their skin touched and Waverly exhaled deeply.

“Okay, don’t make fun of me but it’s a Harry Potter thing… My patronus is an otter like-”

“Hermione Granger!” Nicole finished the sentence with a wide smile. Waverly felt a smile forming along her lips. Nicole paused, spinning Waverly around so they were facing each other. She shivered when she felt Nicole’s calloused hand rub a circle around the tattoo. Waverly, feeling bold, did the same to the wolf on Nicole’s forearm, marveling at its detail.

“My patronus too,” Nicole explained and bit her lip. Waverly wanted so badly to catch the plump flesh between her own teeth. “We’re almost there,” Nicole announced and grabbed Waverly’s hand. When their fingers laced, Waverly felt a spark between them, as if they were opposite jumper cables. She let Nicole lead the way. “So, what’s your house?” Nicole asked and squeezed her fingers lightly. Waverly was elated. So many of her friends refused to nerd out with her about her love of Harry Potter.

“Ravenclaw but I’m a good mix of Hufflepuff and Gryffindor too… basically all but Slytherin. Not that there's anything wrong with Slytherin,” Waverly corrected herself, not wanting to offend the redhead in case she was from the house of green and silver. Nicole nodded her head and beamed down at her. Every cliché in every romantic comedy she has ever watched flooded through her mind.

“I’m a Gryffindor,” Nicole proudly grinned. Of course the bold, daring, and chivalrous redhead was a Gryffindor. The auburn-haired woman was a perfect match for the house with the crest of a lion.

“Fitting,” Waverly hummed and let Nicole pull her down another back street. Suddenly, she was hit with the smell of wildflowers. It seemed so out of place among the brick buildings and cobblestone streets, until she saw it. “Oh, wow,” she exclaimed, her mouth slightly agape at the sight of flower stands, stretching the length of the road. The variety was wide and welcomed, more than just roses and carnations lined the street.

“This is one of my favorite places,” Nicole admitted to Waverly, her eyes filled with wonder. Waverly was floored by the thought of Nicole sharing a space so special with her. God, she was already falling hard for the shortstop. There was no denying it now. As they stepped further into the flower market, the ironic sound of Tom Petty’s Wildflowers played from a stand manned by a little old lady. The woman, with wide-rimmed glasses on her face and a sunhat on her head, bobbed to the tune. Waverly walked over to the stand and found herself in awe of the vibrant color pallets.

“They’re beautiful,” Waverly marveled and ran her fingertips along the soft petals of a bright yellow sunflower. The woman behind the stand pointed to Nicole, making the redhead quirk an eyebrow.

“You. Buy your girlfriend some flowers,” the old woman demanded and Waverly watched as a deep, scarlet blush crept over Nicole’s cheeks. The softball player’s eyes were wide, and like a deer in headlights, she was frozen. Waverly bit her lip nervously when she was called Nicole’s girlfriend. It was much too soon to think about such titles.

“She’s not-” Nicole started but was quickly shut up by the loud grunt the old woman made.

“She is beautiful. Look at her!” the florist pointed at Waverly. She ducked her head in embarrassment and tucked a chestnut lock behind her ear. Nicole was looking at her with a glimmer in her eyes.

“I’m looking,” Nicole chuckled and shot a wink to Waverly. The brunette rolled her eyes, secretly loving it. The little old woman clapped her hands and beamed at the pair.

“You two remind me of my grandson and his husband,” she told them, her eyes shining with pride. Waverly offered her a sweet smile and nodded her head before picking a large, vibrant sunflower out from a bunch. She put on her best puppy dog eyes and pouted at Nicole. The redhead just laughed before paying the woman behind the stand. “Thank you for your business,” the woman smiled slyly at Nicole. The feeling of the sunflower’s rough stem was a sharp contrast to the feeling of Nicole’s hand gliding into her own.

“I can’t believe I got swindled by a little, old lady,” Nicole shook her head as she began to lead them back to main market place. Waverly laughed and brought the sunflower to her face, inhaling the floral scent.

“I can. You’re a big ole’ softie,” Waverly teased and Nicole looked at her with mock offense. The redhead shook her head, turned her chin up, and pouted like a three year whose toy had been taken away. She was ridiculous and adorable.

“Hey, now... I am not,” Nicole groaned with a huff. She felt the snort leave her and she instantly covered her face. Four times now she had snorted in front of the redhead. Embarrassment washed over her as Nicole laughed loudly at the noise. “It’s cute when you do that,” Nicole chuckled and Waverly rolled her eyes. She smiled nevertheless and leaned into Nicole’s body a bit more. The warmth she found there was comforting as they walked to their next location.

“So where are we going to next?” Waverly asked and looked up at Nicole. The mid-afternoon sun hit her eyes just right. Her typically mocha eyes had turned a shade of honey in the light and her auburn locks looked like they were ablaze. She was stunning, Waverly thought.

“You’ll see… Just trust me, okay?” Nicole asked sweetly and squeezed Waverly’s hand. All she could do was nod at the redhead. They turned into the main market place and Waverly tightened her grip on Nicole’s hand. She followed Nicole’s lead when suddenly a small redheaded girl appeared in front of them, pulling on the sleeve of her mother’s sweater.

“Mom, it’s Nicole!” the little girl, an almost carbon copy of Nicole herself – University of Washington Softball sweatshirt and all - excitedly pointed to the softball player. Her mother broke out into a wide smile and instantly dug for her phone.

“I hate to bother you both but Emmy is a big fan of yours, Ms. Haught. Would you mind taking a picture with her?” the woman asked with a sheepish smile. Waverly let go of Nicole’s hand and gave the shortstop a small pat on her lower back.

“Of course! I’d love to!” Nicole beamed at the little girl, her accent came out thickly, something Waverly noticed happened when she was flustered. “I remember you from opening day… You still have the ball?” Nicole asked the little girl as she walked over to her. The softball player got down on one knee, crouching down to even out the height difference between her and the girl.

“Yeah!” Emmy, who couldn’t have been older than seven or eight, nodded her head. Waverly felt her heart sing at the exchange. Nicole, cocky, kind, sexy Nicole, was not only a star softball player, but an absolute sweetheart. Waverly took out her phone as the two redheads posed for a picture.

“Alright say ‘Go Dawgs!’” the older woman instructed and snapped a picture when the pair repeated the phrase. Waverly took a couple of photos as well, and smiled like an idiot when Nicole made eye contact with her. The softball player turned and gave Emmy a hug before standing up to face the girl’s

“Here,” Nicole said and pulled out her phone, opening the notes app before handing it to the little girl’s mother. “Put your name and email address in there. I’ll make sure the athletic department leaves tickets for you at the gate for all of our home games,” Nicole announced and the little girl started to jump up and down.

“T-Thank you so much,” the mother said and typed in her information. Nicole took back her phone with a smile and leaned down to high-five her mini-me.

“See you around, Emmy,” Nicole grinned at the little redhead and Waverly’s heart melted. Suddenly, Waverly remembered the sunflower in her hand and an idea popped into her head.

“Wait,” Waverly called to the mother and daughter, just as they began to walk away. The little ginger turned around, her mother following, with a wide smile. “Here,” the brunette said and handed the tiny redhead her flower. Emmy beamed and took the flower with a ‘thank you.’ Waverly felt her stomach flutter and relaxed into the touch on the small of her back when she felt Nicole’s hand there. The college students waved goodbye to the mother and daughter as they disappeared into the crowds.

“I can’t believe you gave away my flower,” Nicole whispered and Waverly turned around to face her date. A splitting smile was on her lips and Waverly couldn’t help but smile back at her.

“You’re ridiculous and cute,” Waverly stated and watched the smile on Nicole’s lips grow impossibly wider. The brunette slid an arm around Nicole’s waist and the redhead responded by laying an arm across Waverly’s shoulders. “And apparently a local celebrity?” Waverly asked with a giggle as Nicole rolled her eyes. The redhead began to lead them to their next stop.

“Far from it…” Nicole shrugged and pulled Waverly into her body tighter as they walked in side-by-side. “I hope you like bookstores,” the redhead mumbled as a local bookshop came into view. Waverly felt a bubble of happiness float to the surface and she let out a small squeal.

“I love them! I’m a Ravenclaw remember?” Waverly teased and removed her arm from Nicole’s waist. She jogged over to the door, Nicole close behind when she went to grab the handle. Before she could, Nicole’s long, lean arm reached out in front of her, opening the door for the brunette. “Such a gentlewoman,” Waverly smirked and Nicole just tipped that same imaginary hat. When she walked in she was instantly greeted by the smell of books and coffee. It was a delightful mix that fed her soul.

“What do you want for coffee? I’ll get them while you find a spot for us to sit?” Nicole asked as Waverly smiled up at her with a vibrant grin.

“Ice coffee, coconut milk, two sugars,” Waverly gave her order to Nicole and the redhead nodded. She reached for Nicole’s hand and gave it a squeeze before letting the redhead make her way to the café. Waverly turned around and saw a staircase that led to a second story. As if on autopilot, her feet led her up the stairs to explore the top floor. She didn’t know what she was looking for until she saw it. In the back left corner there was a bay window seat with a cushion, large enough for two people. Slowly, she meandered her way through the rows of books and stopped at the poetry section. Her fingers ran along the spines of the books, searching for her favorite poet – Robin Becker. When she spotted the 1996 classic, All-American Girl, she swiped it from the shelf and bounded over to the window seat. It was cozy and offered a great view of the bustling marketplace below. With her feet tucked under her legs and her back against a pillow, she flipped to the first poem, one of her favorites – “Shopping.” Waverly hummed quietly to herself as she read the poem until she got to the last lines.

If you never touch me again, I’ll do what my mother did after she buried my sister: outfitted herself in an elegant suit for the rest of her life.” A sharp breath left her chest and she was quickly reminded of why she had this very book on her bookshelf at the apartment. Ideally, literature was about escaping your life but for Waverly, it was always about the reminders.

“I knew I’d find you here.” Nicole’s voice startled her, dropping the book of poems to the bay window seat and placing her hand over her heart. The redhead just laughed that low, airy laugh and walked over to Waverly. She handed the iced coffee to Waverly and pointed to the empty spot on the other side of the bench seat. “May I?” she asked and Waverly was reminded again of Nicole’s southern charm.

“Of course. Thank you for the coffee,” Waverly nodded and switched the position of her legs, bending them like a pretzel in front of Nicole. The international security major settled next to her, hand on her own coffee, leaning back against the frame of the concave wall. Her legs spread out, nestled between the window and Waverly’s body.

“Whatcha got there?” Nicole asked and took a sip of her iced coffee. Like flowers to the sun, Waverly’s eyes dropped down to where Nicole’s soft lips wrapped around the straw of her drink. A shudder ripped through her when she thought about what else those lips could wrap around. Waverly knew she was caught when her eyes met complex brown ones and a cocky smile. She wanted to kiss that stupid smile off her face so badly.

All-American Girl by Robin Becker… It’s one of my favorites,” Waverly smiled and grabbed the fallen book, handing it Nicole. The redhead smiled as she flipped through the pages. She paused on one and raised an eyebrow at whatever was on the page. Waverly watched her with curiosity.

“A History of Sexual Preference,” Nicole read the title of the poem and looked at Waverly with a head tilt. The brunette laughed and nodded her head, a smile overflowing her lips.

“Robin Becker is a lesbian. A lot of her works revolve around her sexuality and her painful childhood… Sometimes both at the same time,” Waverly explained and watched a mix of understanding and sadness dance along Nicole’s features. She busied herself with her coffee while Nicole looked back down at the page. Her lips moved, silently reading the prose to herself until her voice broke through the wall it had been trapped behind.

Although she is wearing her leather jacket, although we have made love for the first time in a hotel in Rittenhouse Square, I am preparing my teenaged escape from Philadelphia,” Nicole read the lines of the poem out loud. She paused and looked back up at Waverly. The archaeology major hadn’t realized she was holding her breath until her lungs began to beg for air. She inhaled sharply and looked at Nicole, the woman’s eyes brimming with an emotion Waverly couldn’t quite place. “It makes me feel nostalgic for a past I never had… I haven’t even been to Philly but wow. I’m there,” Nicole chuckled and Waverly laughed with her, nodding in understanding. “I can see why you like it.”

“Yeah, I just connect with a lot of her themes,” Waverly confessed, her lip caught between her lips in nervousness. Nicole nodded her head and put down the book. Waverly watched as the redhead shifted her body, mirroring the brunette’s position. When she felt Nicole reach out, she met her in the middle. Their fingers danced around one another for a moment before Nicole held Waverly’s hand in her own. The smaller woman swallowed hard, and wondered if she would ever get used to the feeling of fire simmering under her skin whenever Nicole touched her. “Do you miss it…Texas that is?”

“Yes and no,” Nicole admitted and Waverly squeezed her hand gently, a silent “I understand.” The redhead looked down at their hands and pulled away only to drag her fingertip along Waverly’s knuckles. She played with the sensitive skin there and Waverly felt goosebumps blossom along her arms. “My parents were fucking assholes,” Nicole started, her eyes still cast down, “They were bigots and hated that I never fit into their perfect, little boxes. It all fell apart when I was a sophomore in high school.” Waverly swallowed hard, her sadness rattled in her body and wreaked havoc on her mind. “Someone from the church saw me and my girlfriend, in my car, making out…” Nicole huffed a bitter laugh and wiped at her eyes. Waverly scooted in closer to Nicole, placing a comforting hand on the redhead’s knee. “They freaked out. Called me all sorts of things, dad smacked me real hard while he was wearing his class ring,” Nicole paused and pointed to a faint scar on her left cheek, “that’s howI got this. Anyway, they threw me out… Luckily my dad and my uncle never got along to begin with.” Tears rolled down Nicole’s cheeks and landed on her yellow button up, marking the spots in a darker shade.

“You don’t have to tell me about it if you’re not ready,” Waverly reassured her, daring to reach a hand up to swipe a tear off of Nicole’s cheek. Nicole sighed and closed her eyes, leaning into the gentle touch.

“No,” Nicole began and grasped the hand on her face, “I want to.” She held onto Waverly’s hand and rubbed her knuckles again making the brunette sigh at the soothing touch. “They never liked each other… And my aunt and uncle always treated me great. So I called them after I packed my things,” Nicole stuttered out, exhaling a shaky breath. “Anyway...I moved in with them and they adopted me officially a few months later.” Nicole sighed. Waverly ran her thumb over the knuckles of Nicole’s hand as she waited for her to continue. The bruise had long since faded away but the indentation on the knuckle of Nicole’s ring finger was a permanent reminder of her brawl with Champ. Waverly’s heartstrings pulled like a rope with no slack. “They were there in minutes. My aunt had to beg my uncle not to kill my dad.” A slight smile played at Nicole’s lips and she looked up at Waverly, the whites of her eyes red from crying. “I would have loved to have seen it,” Nicole laughed and rubbed her wet cheeks with the back of her hand. This is what Fish was talking about that night at the bar. Nicole had been through a lot - like her.

“Thank you for trusting me with that,” Waverly smiled softly and Nicole nodded her head. Both of their coffees sat on the window sill, long forgotten. Through store speakers, George Ezra’s Blame it on Me played quietly as if someone was softly humming it. “Daddy killed himself… After he found out that I wasn’t his. I was only five when he died,” Waverly confessed and Nicole’s eyes were wide and her mouth agape. “My oldest sister, Willa, never forgave me for it, she was his favorite… On the five year anniversary of his death she got drunk. Too drunk.” Waverly felt her own tears begin to well in her eyes and she took a deep breath in. Nicole reached out, placing a hand on Waverly’s knee, giving the flesh there a soft squeeze. “Mama was working the nightshift again so it was just us kids. Wynonna and I - we tried to stop her but…” Waverly choked out, tears flowing freely now as the memories came flooding back. Waverly blocking the door. Willa throwing Waverly to the ground. Wynonna tackling the eldest Earp sister. Willa scurrying away, grabbing the keys to the truck, and peeling out of the driveway to go visit Daddy’s grave. The sound of screeching tires and a terrible crash.

“Hey, I got you,” Nicole cooed and wrapped her strong arms around Waverly. The smaller woman found instant comfort there and rested her head against Nicole’s chest. She could hear the redhead’s heartbeat, it thumped louder than the crooning voice coming from the speakers. Waverly took a moment to wipe the tears off of her face and pulled away from the embrace. When she looked up at Nicole, the redhead’s eyes were watery and her lips were in a tight line. “You are so brave and so strong,” Nicole whispered and cupped Waverly’s cheek, her thumb brushing over the tear there. Waverly leaned into the touch and smiled up at Nicole.

“She was killed in a car crash… Mama was never really the same after that,” Waverly explained and reached up for the hand on her cheek. She laced their fingers together and gave a gentle squeeze. Nicole looked at her, really looked at her, as if there was nothing else, no one else, that mattered.

“Thank you for trusting me with that,” Nicole smiled softly, echoing Waverly’s words from before, running her thumb over Waverly’s. They both silently watched their thumbs battle for a while. Waverly bit her lip and nodded. It was easy to trust her. There was a sense of security whenever Nicole was near. She felt at ease, just looking into her eyes. The dark irises of Nicole’s eyes almost matched her pupils. Waverly’s pulse thrummed the beat of a bass guitar while wild butterflies fluttered in her stomach. The world stopped for a moment and left them frozen in time - just soaking in each other’s energy. Until an alarm on Nicole’s watch went off, making the softball player pull away. “Shit,” she groaned in annoyance and pulled her phone out of her pocket, silencing the sound. Waverly cried internally at the loss of contact, already missing the warmth of Nicole’s hand in hers. “That was my reminder alert for practice,” Nicole explained. Waverly wondered if the woman before her was thinking the same thing too - she didn’t want this to end.

“I’ll put the book back, you take care of the coffees?” Waverly asked with a gentle grin and stood up from the bench seat, stretching as she did so. She looked over her shoulder and Nicole was watching her, a big smile on her face. “What?” Waverly asked and turned around to grab the book. Nicole just shook her head and laughed before grabbing their coffees.

“Nothing, Waves,” the shortstop smiled and Waverly shrugged her shoulders. She returned the book to its proper spot and found Nicole waiting for her at the top of stairs. Waverly took a moment to enjoy the full view of Nicole as the redhead played on her phone. She was gorgeous, red locks flowing freely, and wolf tattoo peeking out from rolled up sleeves. Waverly walked over to the redhead as Nicole slipped her phone into her pocket. “Sorry it wasn’t that long of a date,” Nicole shrugged and held out her hand for Waverly to take.

“Don’t be… I get it,” Waverly reassured the taller woman as she laced their fingers together. She took a second to marvel at how well they fit together, like perfectly aligned stars in the sky. Nicole squeezed her hand and led them down the stairs, out the door, and onto the street.

“Typically I would have more time but I need to feed and walk Calamity Jane before I go to practice,” Nicole explained while leading them back to the motorcycle. Waverly tilted her head in confusion, not knowing who Calamity Jane was. Nicole fiddled with locks until their riding jackets and helmets we free. The brunette once again shed her jean jacket, swapping it for the riding one Nicole had given her. “Whose Calamity Jane?” Waverly asked and watched as Nicole’s face fell. The brunette raising an eyebrow at the redhead.

“My dog…” Nicole whispered. As soon as she did, Waverly teasingly smacked Nicole’s arm.

“How could you not tell me you have a dog?! I am so meeting her next time!” Waverly insisted. Nicole stopped rubbing her arm to stare at her with a false sense of hurt before revealing a wide, toothy grin. Waverly was determined to kiss that grin off of her face.

“Does that mean there is a next time?” Nicole asked with her cocky swagger. She leaned against the bike and scanned her eyes over Waverly before meeting hazel ones. The brunette rolled her eyes, secretly loving the exchange.

“Only if I can meet your dog!” Waverly exclaimed and Nicole nodded at her with a chuckle. The brunette just shook her head at Nicole causing the redhead to shrug.

“Mind if we take a shortcut? It’s a little off the beaten path if that’s okay?” Nicole asked and rubbed nervously at the back of her neck. Waverly just nodded her head and put on her helmet before straddling the bike. Nicole did the same, and as soon as she settled in front of the brunette, Waverly wrapped her arms around her strong middle. The softball player started up the engine and the bike purred beneath them. With a single rev of the engine, they were off.

Nicole kept to the busy city streets for the first few minutes. Waverly allowed the comfortable feeling of holding Nicole to flow through her and make a home in her bones. Soon enough, the redhead had steered the motorcycle to an unfamiliar part of the city. They cruised through a residential neighborhood until they hit a dead end. Waverly’s mind was blank with confusion until she noticed a small sign appear that read “Riding Trail.” Without hesitation, Nicole maneuvered the motorcycle onto the dirt path and Waverly held on tighter to her lean frame. The pines were large and high as they zoomed past the trees. It gave Waverly a head rush that rivaled her solo experiences when smoking a joint. The path was relatively straight with a few curves and turns. JD McPherson’s Let The Good Times Roll played through the bike’s speaker and Waverly found that the fast rhythm and blues beat matched the one of her heart. It wasn’t because of the trail ride, which was thrilling in its own right. It was because of Nicole. The redhead was surprisingly kind and Waverly hated herself for ever thinking otherwise. Subconsciously, her arms squeezed Nicole tighter as the street popped into view. Nicole handled the small bump where dirt and pavement met with ease. It only took Waverly a second to register where they were. Shitty college apartments lined the street and soon Nicole had turned onto Waverly’s street. They pulled up into the driveway and Nicole eased the motorcycle to a gentle stop. The kickstand was spurred out and the engine was shut off. They both took a moment to climb off the bike and wrestle the helmets off of their heads. Nicole shook out her hair once her head was free and Waverly giggled at her antics.

“I hope you had a good time?” Nicole asked, tongue tucked between her teeth nervously. Waverly placed her helmet on the seat of the motorcycle next to Nicole’s and smiled up at the redhead. There was a pause before Waverly reached out and grabbed Nicole’s hand. She let her fingertips glide along the shortstops before connecting their digits in a latticework pattern.

“I had an amazing time,” Waverly responded and felt her heart stop when a vivid smile broke out along Nicole’s lips. She leaned into her touch when Nicole brushed a loose strand of chestnut out of her face, tucking it behind her ear. “Thank you,” she whispered into the space between them. Her eyes followed Nicole’s, as she watched mocha eyes drop down to her lips then scanned back up to meet her eyes.

“Can I kiss you?” It was all Waverly allowed Nicole to get out before she leaned in and connected their lips in a searing kiss. Her arms reached up around solid shoulders, while Nicole wrapped hers around Waverly’s waist. With a gentle tug, Nicole pulled Waverly’s body against hers, and the brunette squeaked in surprise against soft lips. It was nothing like their previous kisses of tipsy want and lust. This was slow and sweet, like pure maple syrup fresh from the bottle. Their lips moved together in a metered rhythm and Waverly tangled her fingers into Nicole’s soft, red locks. She felt Nicole’s hands grip her hips and the action made Waverly give a gentle tug to the auburn locks laced around her fingers. The softball player let out a soft moan into Waverly’s mouth and the petite brunette responded by running her tongue along Nicole’s lower lip. Eagerly, Nicole accepted the slick muscle into her mouth. Their tongues danced together and Waverly felt Nicole walk her backwards until her back hit the side of her red Jeep. Waverly groaned at the contact and pulled away to look at Nicole. The redhead’s eyes were hazy and dark, Waverly knew that they mirrored her own. Her breath was caught in her throat and her heart raced like a horse on the track.

“Nic,” Waverly whispered and Nicole replied by bringing her mouth down to press a kiss against her tan neck. The brunette rolled her head to the side, allowing more access to her sensitive skin. Nicole seized the opportunity and pressed hot, open mouth kisses along Waverly’s neck. The brunette tugged on the locks in her hands as Nicole sucked her flesh into her mouth. “Nicole,” she moaned, feeling a slow arousal begin to coil in her center as Nicole pulled away from her neck. She splayed kisses along Waverly’s jaw until their mouths met again. The heat faded into soft, sweet pecks, and Waverly smiled against Nicole’s lips. The redhead pulled away after a final peck, smiling brightly at Waverly.

“You called me Nic,” Nicole smiled and cupped Waverly’s cheek, rubbing her thumb along the arch of her cheekbone. Waverly felt a rush of nervousness engulf her, scared that she called Nicole by a name that she didn’t like. An image of the enraged face the softball player made when Eliza called her “Nicky” flashed through her mind. The redhead, able to read the archaeology major so well, shook her head and gave a slight giggle. “I liked it,” Nicole admitted and nodded her head. Waverly felt a light and airy laugh bubble in her chest. She reached up to touch Nicole’s face, mirroring the redhead’s actions. Her thumb brushed over Nicole’s lower lip and Waverly felt goosebumps spread along her skin. They got lost in each other’s eyes until the alarm on Nicole’s phone went off again, making the softball player groan. Waverly smiled at her sweetly, acknowledging that Nicole had to leave. “I’ll text you after practice… To make plans for our second date. Sound good, Waves?” Nicole smirked and winked at Waverly before pulling away slowly.

“Sounds good to me, Nic,” Waverly grinned and pressed one more kiss to Nicole’s lips before detaching herself from the taller woman. She gave Nicole’s hand a quick squeeze, hesitantly walking away from her date. Each step felt heavy and when she got the stairs she stole a peek over her shoulder. Nicole was sitting on her bike, watching her. Waverly gave a quick wave and Nicole returned the action before revving the engine. As she walked over the threshold of the apartment, she shut the door behind her with a happy sigh.

“How was it?!” Chrissy called from the living room. Waverly bounced into the room to join her roommates. She sat on the loveseat and smiled at her friends, both of whom were wearing confused expressions. “What’s with the hopefully fake leather jacket?” the political communications major asked with a raised eyebrow. Waverly tilted her head to the side before looking down, noticing that she was still wearing the riding jacket.

“Damn… I forgot my jean jacket,” Waverly sighed, but deep down she liked the idea of Nicole finding the article of clothing with her perfume still on it. “Nic picked me up on her motorcycle and gave me a synthetic riding jacket… for safety,” she explained, a goofy grin gracing her mouth.

“‘Nic'? You got it bad, Earp,” Rosita chuckled from her spot on the couch. Chrissy nodded her head as she played with Rosita’s thick curls. Waverly rolled her eyes at the two women, but didn’t deny it. “Still didn’t tell us how it was…” Rosita added with a smirk.

“Amazing. She is a total gentlewoman and we have so much more in common than I originally thought,” Waverly gushed, eyes bright and sporting a permanent smile. It had been the perfect first date. The flower market, the bookstore, the ride back - it had all been amazing. Suddenly her phone vibrated in her pocket. and she dug it out to check her notifications. On the screen was a notification that read “nhaught16 requested to follow you on Instagram." Waverly, giddy as a kid on their way to Disney, quickly opened her phone. She allowed Nicole to follow her and requested to follow her back. Surprisingly, Nicole accepted the request right away and Waverly smiled when she saw the first photo on the redhead’s feed. It was a picture of Waverly curled up on the window seat of the bookstore. The afternoon sun was peeking through the window making her chestnut curls look five shades lighter. Her heart fluttered at the caption “Great day and better company.

“What are you smiling at over there?” Rosita asked with a smug grin, knowing damn well it had to do with Nicole. Waverly tossed her phone to her roommate, who thankfully caught it without issue. “Oh my god!” Rosita exclaimed making Chrissy look over her shoulder in curiosity.

“I don’t know whose fallen faster - you or Nic,” Chrissy mused and Waverly rolled her eyes dramatically. As her two roommates squealed over the post, Waverly’s mind wandered back to Nicole. As much as it was too soon to think of the future, Waverly thought about life with Nicole. What it would be like to wake up next to the brave, kind, cocky, and so, so sexy softball player in the morning? A morning following a night that was spent committing every inch of her creamy, ivory skin to memory. A night learning how to pull one another’s strings until they are singing in tune together. Without a word she stood up and grabbed her phone from the pair snuggling on the couch. Her arousal from earlier, that still clung to her like a wet leaf to a car, made its presence known between her legs.

“See you later, Juliet,” Rosita called after her as the sound of her and Chrissy high-fiving followed Waverly out of the room. Their taunts rattled down the hall as she stepped into her bedroom - mocking her. With a sigh she closed and locked the door. Alone and aroused, she spent the rest of the night pleasuring herself as images of Nicole flashed in her head. Each one eliciting a stronger current that pulsed through her until she was coming around her own fingers with Nicole’s name on her lips. With heavy panting and her eyes squeezed shut, she realized just how fucked she was, and not because of her post orgasm bliss. God, she was falling fast.

Nicole’s Point of View
Wednesday, April 17, 2019
Nicole, Eliza, and Doll’s Apartment
Seattle, Washington

They agreed on Wednesday. Tuesday seemed too soon, yet Thursday seemed too far. Wednesday was the perfect compromise. In a frenzy, Nicole gathered the rest of the items for the date. In the basket there was food, all vegan of course, and in the truck all the materials to turn the bed of the old Chevy into a makeshift nest were tucked away. Calamity Jane waited at the door anxiously, her leash and harness already on, wearing her University of Washington bandana around her neck. The golden retriever looked at her owner with bright eyes, excited for their adventure. A telescope she borrowed from Fish, was laid out on the table. She told Waverly to dress warm and comfortably. Her own outfit consisted of sweats and her personalized softball sweatshirt, with Haught and #16 on the sleeve, meeting the same criteria.

“I’m coming, Calamity,” Nicole told the dog as she began to whine. The softball player grabbed the basket with one hand and the telescope with the other. She managed to grasp the leash before opening the door, struggling slightly to juggle it all. “Slow, girl!” Nicole commanded when Calamity Jane tried to sprint out of the apartment to the old, ’87 Chevy. She opened the passenger door and the dog jumped in with ease. Nicole placed the telescope and basket behind the bench seat and shut the passenger door, with her heart racing at the thought of seeing Waverly again. Their first date had been perfect and left her with a craving unlike anything else she had ever felt. Nicole sighed and climbed into the truck. She leaned over to roll down the passenger side window halfway for Calamity Jane, the dog happily sticking her head out of the window. With a smile, Nicole turned on the truck and pulled out of her driveway. The upbeat tempo of Haim’s Little of Your Love played through the truck speakers as she drove through the rows of student apartments towards Waverly’s place. Her heart raced when the small yellow house came into view and she parked the Chevy on the street outside.

“Time for you to meet, Waves,” Nicole cooed to the dog, hopping out of the truck. She walked around the front, a bounce in her step, to grab Calamity’s leash. After closing the door, Nicole walked Calamity Jane up to the front stairs of Waverly’s apartment. “Sit,” Nicole commanded and the golden retriever did as she was told. The redhead knocked on the apartment door and smiled when she heard scuffling behind the wood.

“Coming!” Waverly answered, opening the door in front of Nicole. The brunette greeted Nicole with a wide smile. A guitar case was strapped to her back and she was wearing a comfortable outfit of leggings and a thick, red and white checked flannel. “Calamity Jane!” Waverly exclaimed and knelt down to pet the dog. Calamity leaned into the scratch behind her ears and wagged her tail hard enough to make Nicole wince in slight pain.

“I thought you wouldn’t mind a third wheel that’s this cute,” Nicole smiled. Waverly looked up at her from her crouching position with a smile bright enough to rival the sun. The dog took the moment to lather Waverly’s cheek in a wet kiss making Nicole snap her fingers at Calamity Jane. “Calamity, manners!” Nicole scolded and Waverly stood up, wiping her face with the sleeve of her flannel.

“It’s okay… I guess I’m just getting kisses from all the Haught women,” Waverly giggled and leaned in, pressing a peck to Nicole’s cheek. The redhead’s mind went blank for a moment, unsure how Waverly could still reduce her to a useless mess with just a kiss to the cheek.

“Come on, Rico Suave. Let’s get rolling before the sun sets,” Nicole rolled her eyes and held her hand out for Waverly. With Calamity’s leash in one hand and Waverly’s hand in the other, Nicole felt complete. The combined warmth of their skin radiated up from her arm to her chest and filled her with a sense of comfort. When they got to the truck, Nicole opened the door for Waverly, allowing the petite brunette to slide across the bench seat after she tucked her guitar behind it with the rest of their date night supplies.

“Come here, pretty girl,” Waverly cooed to Calamity Jane, and the dog eagerly jumped into the cab of the truck, meeting Waverly on the seat. Nicole rolled her eyes but secretly loved the interaction, happy that Calamity and Waverly were getting along so well.

“Ms. Earp,” Nicole smirked and tipped an imaginary hat before closing the passenger door. She hustled to the driver’s side of the truck, settling onto the bench seat beside Waverly. Once the door was closed, she started the engine and smiled when the sound of Sleeping on the Floor by The Lumineers came through the radio. She drummed her fingers against the steering wheel as she pulled out of the neighborhood, humming along to the slow beat.

“And here I thought you only listened to country music,” Waverly teased and scooted closer to Nicole while Calamity Jane stuck her head out of the window, tongue wagging wildly in the wind. The redhead chuckled but the sound died quickly when she felt Waverly place a hand on her thigh. Her breath hitched in her throat and she swallowed hard.

“Just because I’m a southern gal doesn’t mean my musical taste is all banjos and steel guitars… It’s a good portion but not all of it,” Nicole joked and moved her right hand down to Waverly’s. Their fingers laced together of their own accord, it was almost as if it had become an automatic process, like breathing. Waverly smiled at her and began to sing along to the song, squeezing her hand with each bass beat.

“You continue to surprise me, Nic,” Waverly murmured, just loud enough for Nicole to hear. The nickname made her heart flutter. It was nothing like the taunting one she grew up with. Nic was strong, and for that, she loved it. “Speaking of surprises, where are you taking me?” Waverly asked, bobbing her head to the rhythm of the folk song. Nicole chuckled and rubbed the pad of her thumb against Waverly’s hand, loving how smooth Waverly’s skin was against her own rough hands.

“Well… Let’s just say I know someone with some land right outside of Bellevue. I figured, with the weather forecast, tonight looked perfect for some stargazing,” Nicole explained then trailed off stealing a look at a beaming Waverly before continuing, “I thought we could have a starlit picnic.” A small gasp escaped from Waverly’s mouth, and it was clear she didn’t want it to slip out by the way she blushed and covered her mouth. Nicole’s heart pitter-pattered in a giddy skip at the sound and she couldn’t help but smile wide. “I take it you like that idea, Ms. Earp?” the redhead asked with a chuckle and squeezed the hand laced in hers. Waverly nodded her head and bit her lip before looking away.

“Your mom is pretty good at this whole planning dates thing, huh, CJ? She must have a lot of experience…” Waverly teased and scratched behind the golden retriever’s ears. Calamity Jane turned her head back, panting happily.

“I don’t know about a lot of experience… I had that one girlfriend in high school and a few flings in college but nothing serious. Nothing… special,” Nicole smiled, squeezed the hand in hers then removed her hand from Waverly’s. She rested her arm around the brunette’s shoulders and instantly Waverly snuggled into her side. It felt natural, as if they had been curled up in the cab of the old Chevy with Calamity sticking her head out the window a thousand times before. The whole scenario settled into Nicole’s limbs like the warmth of a hot shower or a cold whiskey. It soothed her aches and pains from the brutal practice she endured just a short hour ago.

“Whatever you say, Cowboy Casanova,” Waverly taunted with a playful tone. The rest of the ride out was spent in a comfortable silence. The archaeology major kept her body pressed into Nicole’s and the redhead could feel her heat radiating through the thick material of her sweatshirt. Calamity Jane, happy as ever, had her head out the window as Nicole pulled up to a large, wooden barn as the rows of apple and pear trees came into view. The scene always made Nicole giddy with excitement, happy to see crops other than all the wheat and cotton she was used to back home.

“We’re here,” Nicole happily announced as Calamity Jane began to whine in excitement. The shortstop was positive that the dog loved the place even more than she did. She pulled the truck up next to the old barn, angling it to give them a perfect view of the setting sun, put it in park, and cut the engine. Next her, Waverly’s eyes were wide and her mouth was slightly agape.

“What… who… how…” Waverly stammering out and surveyed the land. It was sizable but only a portion of the orchard - the main site was a little more than half a mile down the road. Nicole laughed at Waverly’s apparent confusion and pulled her closer. She relaxed into the warming comfort of Waverly’s touch before turning to look at her with a smile.

“You ever heard of The Farm Cider Works?” Nicole asked with a head tilt. Waverly nodded her head and smiled, allowing Nicole to continue, “Well, The Farm is owned by the Shapiro family… like Eliza Shapiro.” Waverly’s mouth formed into a circle and her eyes lit in realization making Nicole chuckle a bit. “So, in the summer, during the day, I work here, making cider, working in the field, y’know,” she explained and shrugged. “I bring Calamity with me too… hence the aggressive tail wagging and whining.” There was a pause before either of the women broke out into laughter. Calamity Jane, who was growing more and more impatient, let out a low howl and Nicole shook her head.

“How about I play with your dog and you set everything up?” Waverly asked with a cheeky grin. Nicole rolled her eyes at the request but agreed nonetheless. Soon, Calamity Jane was pulling Waverly along the rows of apple trees and the brunette was giggling wildly. The redhead felt happiness fill her chest at the sight. It was one she surely could get used to. As the brunette spent time with the golden retriever, Nicole began to set the scene for their date. First, she placed a mattress pad down in the bed of the old Chevy with blankets and pillows on top. Next, she pulled out a few bundles of fairy lights, stolen from Eliza’s room, and strung them along the frame and bumper of the ‘87 truck. Last, she pulled out the cooler, picnic basket, speaker, and borrowed telescope. Nicole looked at her handiwork with a pleased smile just in time to see Calamity Jane chasing after the tennis ball she had brought with them. The redhead smiled and sat on the tailgate, watching as a grinning Waverly followed behind the dog.

“Hope she wasn’t too much of a hassle for ya,” Nicole teased as her legs swung from the tailgate. Waverly shook her head and chuckled, she settled in between Nicole’s legs. The redhead felt a swell of happiness as she placed her hands on Waverly’s hips. Everything felt so familiar between them, like taking a well-traveled path.

“Nothing I can’t handle, Haught,” Waverly husked and leaned in, pressing their foreheads together as her arms settled around Nicole’s neck. The softball player closed her eyes and let out a shaky breath, trying to calm her raging nerves. The moment was ruined by the angry growl in Nicole’s stomach which made Waverly giggle.

“Sorry,” Nicole mumbled in embarrassment, ducking her head down. The brunette pressed a kiss to her cheek before pulling away. The feeling of soft fingertips on her chin made Nicole smile and her eyes lifted up to meet Waverly’s.

“Don’t be… Let’s eat, Nic,” Waverly soothed her and Nicole nodded her head. She tapped the brunette’s hips and the archaeology major got the idea. With Nicole’s help Waverly jumped up onto the tailgate, settling next to the redhead with a huff. The way that her hazel eyes fixated on Nicole’s strong hands didn’t escape the shortstop’s attention. They were trapped in each other’s atmosphere until Calamity Jane let out a sharp, needy bark.

“Oh, come on up, girl,” Nicole called, and patted the empty spot next to her. Calamity happily did a little dance before leaping onto the tailgate. The golden retriever trotted to the back of the truck and pawed at some pillows before curling into a ball. “Food?” Nicole asked with a cheeky grin and nodded her head towards the middle of the truck where the small cooler and picnic basket were set up. Waverly shyly bit her lip and nodded her head before crawling over to the set up.


"You did a really nice job by the way… With all of this,” Waverly complimented. She sat with her legs criss crossed in front of her as Nicole opened the cooler. She pulled out two cans of The Farm Original Press Cider and handed one to Waverly.

“Hope you like cider,” Nicole shrugged and pulled out the food. It was a spread of fresh cut vegetables, two types of hummus, some pita bread, and a pasta dish made with vegan pesto. Finally, she pulled out some plates, silverware, and napkins, handing them over to Waverly with a smile. “It’s all vegan.” The way Waverly’s eyes sparkled under the red of the setting sun lit a fire within Nicole. A bright smile radiated from the smaller woman’s lips and it made Nicole’s heart skip a beat.

“This is perfect,” Waverly whispered and reached across the bed of the truck, grasping Nicole’s hand. It sent a spark up Nicole’s arm and she grinned wildly, happy at the subtle touch. They began to eat sharing the dishes, as the sun began to set behind Nicole’s back. Small talk about classes, friends, and softball flowed freely between them. Everything was comfortable and easy, like they had been doing it for years. It was a deep contrast to the anxious waves that roared deep within her. When they had finished eating Nicole noticed Waverly looking at her with a playful smile and she pointed to a spot on her face. “You have some pesto…” Nicole’s cheeks instantly reddened in embarrassment and she swiped her tongue out, trying to get the sauce. Waverly giggled and shook her head, indicating that Nicole had missed. “Let me…” Waverly trailed, leaning across their dirty plates. Nicole stiffened in anticipation right before Waverly ran her thumb over her upper lip. “There we go.” The air shifted around them. The tension between them was so palpable and thick, Nicole swore she could reach out and touch it. Waverly’s eyes trailed down to Nicole’s lips, making the redhead's mouth go dry. Slowly, the gap between them began to close and just before their lips touched, Nicole felt the familiar feeling of a cold, wet nose on her cheek.

“Goddammit, Calamity,” Nicole exclaimed as the dog began to give her face eager kisses. The redhead groaned in frustration as the dog blocked her from kissing the brunette but Waverly just laughed at the sight. With a head shake, Nicole gave a kiss to the top of Calamity Jane’s head before picking up their plates. She slipped them into the basket and shot Waverly a glance. “I’m gonna put this away in the truck,” she informed the brunette and before she could do so, a soft hand was on hers, stopping her from moving.

“Let me,” Waverly insisted and took the basket from Nicole’s hand. As she did, she leaned forward and pressed a quick peck to Nicole’s cheek, and the redhead instantly felt heat blossom where lips once were. Nicole bit her lip and watched as Waverly climbed off of the bed of the truck, basket in hand. A flutter rippled in her chest when Waverly shot her a wink and Nicole couldn’t help the sigh that left her lips. No one had ever wrecked her in the way Waverly did. It was rough yet beautiful, like a blizzard on the coast. With that thought in mind, she settled back onto the pillows after setting the cooler and telescope on the tailgate. Calamity Jane, all wagging tail and panting smile, curled next to her. The dog's head rested on her chest and Nicole scratched the golden’s chin.

“I told you she was a special, didn’t I, girl?” Nicole asked in a hushed whisper. She wasn’t sure which was worse – Waverly hearing her words or Waverly realizing she was having a conversation with her dog. Either way it didn’t matter, because soon, the sounds of a guitar were filling the quiet apple orchard. Calamity snapped her head up and got to her feet, her fluffy tail bopping Nicole face in the process. “Dammit, Calamity!” Nicole cursed as her ears picked up the tune. It was Old Crow Medicine Show’s Wagon Wheel.

Heading down south to the Land of the Pines, thumbing my way into North Caroline, looking up the road, and pray to God I see headlights,” Waverly sang as her fingers expertly picked at the metal strings. All the air left Nicole’s lungs as the brunette walked and played her way to the front of the tailgate. Everything about the girl knocked Nicole on her ass. Every time she thought she was sturdy on her feet again, Waverly came back around like a pendulum, knocking her down again. She had never met such a free spirit with a kind soul. Even when she was protesting her team, Nicole knew the cause of it was more meaningful than not. Calamity Jane seemed just as enamored by the New Englander, running to the end of the tailgate to get as close to the brunette as possible. The softball player sat up, crossing her legs like a preschooler during story time, and she watched intently. Once the chorus came, Nicole hummed along, and watched as hazel eyes lit up in excitement. It was like a scene straight from an early 2000’s rom-com. There was a level of corniness to it that both women were very aware of, but neither really cared. By the end of the song, both of the women were giggling, and Calamity Jane let out a low howl.

“Do you hate it?” Waverly asked between nervous chuckles and Nicole instantly scooted to the edge of the tailgate. She shook her head, fast and sure, and moved so her legs were hanging off of the truck. Nicole reached forward and placed her hands on the curve of Waverly’s hips. She gave a gentle tug until the brunette was nestled between her legs again.

“I loved it. It was perfect,” Nicole assured her with a soft smile and brought a hand up to Waverly’s cheek. Her fingertips brushed away a loose chestnut curl and tucked it behind a tan ear. The brunette leaned into the touch, turning her head, and pressing a kiss to her palm. Nicole’s heart was thumping so hard, she could feel the vibrations in her fingertips. She felt a rush like drugs were pumping through her veins.

“Yeah?” Waverly asked nervously, her lip tucked between her teeth. The shortstop nodded her head and locked her legs behind Waverly’s at the bend of her knees. Waverly removed the guitar from her body, discarding it on the side of Nicole, before wrapping her arms around broad shoulders.

“Yeah,” Nicole answered and began to slowly lean in. Their lips were about to brush together when Calamity Jane let out a yelp, making the redhead groan loudly. “For fuck’s sake, Calamity,” the Texan cursed and scratched the dog behind the ear. It was the second time the dog had blocked her from kissing Waverly, and Nicole was starting to think that maybe she should have left the dog at home.

“She’s just jealous… And who could blame her? I’m a catch,” Waverly teased and winked at Nicole who rolled her eyes playfully. Calamity Jane licked both of their faces and Waverly giggled before picking up the guitar. “I’m going to put this away,” Waverly stated and pressed a kiss Calamity Jane’s soft fur then to Nicole’s cheek, the dog happy to receive some love. Nicole watched Waverly walk to the passenger side of the truck and the redhead turned to the golden retriever.

“Listen, girl. I really like this one. Like… I could see her being the one. Please, please, please, let me kiss her. That’s all I’m asking,” Nicole pleaded with the dog who responded with a confused head tilt. The shutting of the truck door made Nicole aware that she was talking to her dog again. With a sigh, she watched Waverly walk back to the tailgate and she held her hands out for the brunette.

“Thanks, cowgirl,” Waverly teased her and climbed into the bed of the old Chevy. Heat radiated from their hands where their skin met and Nicole shuffled backwards. She settled amongst the pillows, making space for Waverly to sit next to her, but to Nicole’s surprise, the New Englander nestled between her legs instead. A hot breath of air escaped her lips as Waverly’s back pressed into her front. Like puzzle pieces, they fit as if they were cut from the same pattern. Their legs tangled together and Nicole threw the four blankets over them for warmth. Calamity Jane curled into a ball at their feet and Waverly gave up one of the blankets to cover the dog. “This okay?” the brunette asked and looked over her shoulder, smiling softly at Nicole.

“Perfect,” Nicole grinned and wrapped her arms around Waverly’s waist. She felt the strength of the New Englander’s toned stomach muscles under her arms and sighed in content when Waverly leaned back fully into her. Finally in the perfect position both women cuddled and relaxed together, finding comfort in each other’s warmth. Nicole could smell the faint scent of Waverly’s coconut shampoo.

“Tell me something about you that nobody else knows,” Waverly whispered and leaned her head back on Nicole’s shoulder. It was dark outside, the sun completely hidden by the western hills, and bright stars danced in the sky to an unheard rhythm. They distracted Nicole for a moment before the thought came to her mind. A soft hand found hers on Waverly’s stomach and their fingers laced together comfortably.

“Sometimes I want to be someone else…” Nicole trailed and rested her chin on Waverly’s shoulder. She had never expressed these thoughts out loud before. Everyone thought she was lucky. Blessed with a natural athletic talent, so few could possess. Nicole could already imagine their reactions if she told the world that she, “the softball star,” wanted to just be someone different. Sometimes she just wanted to start life with a clean slate with no expectations or rules to follow. “I wonder what it would be like to put on different clothes, go by a different name, change my hair, maybe cut it all off… even if it was just for a week or day,” she mused and felt Waverly push back into her more, as if signaling her understanding. “I know it sounds stupid and probably doesn’t make any damn sense,” Nicole sighed in frustration, shaking her head at her own silly ideas.

“No, I get that,” Waverly assured her with a small smile and a nod. They sat in silence for a moment before Waverly took one of Nicole’s hands in hers and tucked it under her flannel. Nicole gasped at the feeling of Waverly’s bare, tone muscles under her fingertips. She looked down and caught Waverly’s stormy hazel eyes, searching for some sort of answer. “Do you feel that?” Waverly asked, guiding Nicole’s fingers to raised skin, presumably a scar, on the right side of the smaller woman’s abdomen. The redhead furrowed her eyebrows in confusion, lip trapped between her own teeth, too afraid to speak. “Willa got really drunk one night. Standard Earp operating procedure, really,” Waverly chuckled dryly and looked up at the stars. The mention of Waverly’s oldest sister, the dead one, sent a chill through Nicole’s body. “It was a month before the wreck… She had found daddy’s old gun and pointed it at me. I was only ten.” The pause was accompanied by a deep sigh and Waverly shifted a little to look Nicole in the eyes. “Mama was working late, again, so Wynonna was fighting Willa for the gun. We all thought the chamber was empty until I got a little shot… God, I have never seen someone be so unfeeling. Even to this day,” Waverly shook her head and Nicole couldn’t help but bring her free hand to Waverly’s face. She cupped her cheek, rubbing her cheekbone softly. “I tell everyone it’s my appendix,” Waverly laughed, a single tear rolling down her cheek. Nicole couldn’t laugh. Her heart broke for the woman in front of her. No one this kind or caring should have to suffer so much she thought.

“Thank you for trusting me with that. I can only imagine how hard it is to retell,” Nicole said, validating Waverly and wiping the tear off of her cheek. The brunette let out a content sigh and leaned into Nicole’s touch before fully turning between her legs. One hand was still on a tan stomach and felt more of the toned expanse when Waverly shifted. The attraction between them was almost tangible, like she could just reach out and yank it away. It made Nicole’s heart speed up like a sports car on the Audubon. Her eyes dropped down to Waverly’s lips and back up to hazy eyes. She knew Waverly had just done the same since she looked like she had just been caught red handed. Without a word, Waverly closed the gap between them and it was everything.

The teasing and passion that had been growing between them cumulated in a heated kiss that burned like an unattended wildfire. When their lips met, Nicole swore every fiber of her being had been ignited all at once. She let the flames consume her, as the hand that was on Waverly’s cheek trailed it’s way down to the girl’s hip. With a tug she pulled her closer, close enough that their fronts were pressed together. Her tongue ran along Waverly’s lower lip, pleading for entrance, and when it was granted, Nicole moaned into her mouth. Slick tongues battled each other for dominance and skilled fingers tangled in auburn locks. The tug at her scalp made Nicole pull away, cursing, “Fuck,” before stamping hot kisses along Waverly’s neck.

“Nic,” the brunette moaned, her hips beginning to rock into Nicole’s stomach. The softball player paid attention to the sensitive areas of Waverly’s neck, stopping at her pulse point. The bite of nails in he scalp urged her to sink her teeth into the throbbing flesh and she was rewarded with a hard tug to her red strands. Her hand that was tucked away under Waverly’s flannel inched up further, but paused at the swell of her ample breasts. Nicole detached her mouth from Waverly’s neck, satisfied with the purple mark she made, and looked up at the brunette for her consent. Hazel eyes appeared dark and cloudy, a perfectly kissable mouth was parted at the lips, and the New Englander’s chest was raising and falling rapidly. “Yes, please, Nic,” Waverly nodded and begged, leaning in to press her forehead Nicole’s. It was all the permission Nicole needed as one hand stayed firm on the small of Waverly’s back, and the girl on top of her locked her legs behind her back. The other hand traveled north up the smooth terrain of her stomach. To Nicole’s surprise, Waverly wasn’t wearing a bra, and the sound she made when her hand came in contact with Waverly’s bare breast was embarrassingly loud.

“Fuck, Waves,” Nicole hissed and palmed a pert breast in her hand. Her eyes stayed trained to Waverly’s, watching for any sign to stop, but it never came. Instead the brunette arched her chest into the touch and Nicole noticed how the flesh was the perfect size for her hand, as if it were meant to be. The pace of their grinding hips increased as Waverly leaned in, pressing their mouths together in a bruising kiss. The telltale signs of smoldering desire began in Nicole’s lower stomach, her arousal becoming more apparent, as she captured a hard nipple between her finger and thumb. Crickets sang their spring song loudly around them as Nicole teased the sensitive bud, making Waverly pull away from the kiss with a breathy moan.

“Fuck, baby!” Waverly cried and buried her face into the crook of Nicole’s neck. The redhead didn’t have time to process the term of endearment as the golden retriever, who was sleeping, was now on her feet and growling predatorily at Nicole. Calamity Jane’s dark brown eyes bore holes into Nicole and quickly the shortstop removed her hands from Waverly body. Nicole’s rarely saw the typically docile dog so aggressive and that scared her.

“Easy, girl. See…” Nicole held her hands up for the dog to see. “I’m okay,” she assured her pet but it became clear that Calamity Jane wasn’t worried about Nicole when the redhead went to pet her and the golden retriever scooted away. Instead, the dog whimpered and nudged Waverly’s arm with her head. Shock overtook Nicole’s face as Waverly nuzzled Calamity, a smirk on her lips as she eyed her date.

“It’s okay, CJ. I’m okay, love,” Waverly cooed at the dog and Calamity Jane happily rested her head against Waverly’s stomach. Nicole rolled her eyes and shook her head before throwing her hands up the air. She couldn’t believe that Calamity Jane went to protect a perfect stranger over her owner of two years. Yet again, maybe it was a sign.

“Your my dog! God almighty, Calamity! You’re fixin’ for some trouble ain’t ya, girl?” Nicole asked, her thick, Texas accent coming through with her frustration at the dog for interrupting her and Waverly three times now. The brunette snorted then looked at Nicole in shock. Laughter erupted between then both and soon Calamity Jane was curling up besides them, not letting the two women out of her sight.

“Like mother, like daughter, I see?” Waverly joked and dismounted Nicole, settling on her other side under the blankets. Nicole rolled her eyes, recalling the time she punched Champ in the face. Her knuckles never healed properly but she wouldn’t have done a damn thing differently. Waverly peckedher cheek as Nicole fumbled with the speaker on her phone, selecting her “random good shit” playlist. The sound of Jon Pardi’s Head Over Boots played through the speaker and Nicole stood up on the truck bed. “Miss Earp,” she started, holding out her hand for the brunette to take, “can I have this dance?” Nicole’s smile was a mile wide when Waverly took her hand. The redhead climbed off of the tailgate and turned to face Waverly. Her hands gripped Waverly’s hips, slowly lowering the woman down.

“Lead the way, cowgirl,” Waverly whispered and stole a quick kiss before Nicole laughed and set the pace. The redhead put one hand on Waverly’s hip, directing one of the brunette’s hands to her shoulders, then clasped the other in her freehand.

"You’re the one I want, you’re the one I need, baby, if I were a king, you would my queen,” Nicole sang the cheesy lines of the country song as she guided Waverly through the steps. Waverly’s striking features were highlighted by the half-moonlight and Nicole’s heart drummed as she crooned, “You’re the rock to my roll, you’re good for my soul, it’s true.” Without warning, Nicole dipped Waverly, making the brunette giggle, as she finished the line, “I’m head over boots for you.” The petite woman rolled her eyes in faux annoyance and brought her head to Nicole’s chest.

“So corny,” Waverly mumbled and Nicole pressed a kiss to the top of brunette locks. They swayed together as one under a pale halfmoon, it was romantic and corny, but them. So incredibly them. Nicole couldn’t help but run her thumb over Waverly’s ring finger when the lines, “The way you sparkle like a diamond ring, maybe one day we can make it a thing,” played through the stereo. The brunette’s head lifted up, their eyes meeting in a silent, “you feel it too?” Nicole didn’t even bother to fight the urge. She leaned in, connecting their lips together in a heated and sweet kiss, like a mug of hot chocolate. Waverly shifted in her arms, moving to toy with the ends of her auburn strands and Nicole knew right then that she was the one. Her heart ran wild when they pulled apart and the brunette’s lips were curled in a bright smile. The song faded and Nicole stared into the pools of Waverly’s eyes.

“You called me baby early,” Nicole said before thinking. She hoped that it didn’t scare the girl away, petrified to lose the brunette.

“I did. Is that okay?” Waverly quipped back with a smug grin and Nicole laughed loudly. The redhead nodded and rested her forehead against Waverly’s.

“It’s perfect, darling.” You’re perfect. They took a moment, holding each other, and staring into one another’s eyes. Around them the world seemed to stop. Long forgotten were their rivaling roles of player and protester. It was just them. The moment was broken when Nicole felt Waverly shiver in her arms and pulled away to look into her hazel eyes. “Cold, Waves?” Nicole asked and Waverly answered with a quick nod, her eyes looking down. Without a thought, the softball player took off her sweatshirt, revealing a purple long sleeve shirt underneath, and held the opening of the hoodie wide for the brunette.

“Are you sure, Nic?” Waverly questioned, her eyes twinkling slightly with joy. A laugh bubbled from Nicole’s lips and she nodded. Together they put the hoodie on Waverly, the hem dropping lower on the shorter girl than Nicole. It fit perfectly, Nicole thought.

They spent the rest of the date looking at the stars. Waverly pointed out an array of constellations, many of which Nicole had no idea existed. From Draco to Cassiopeia, to Virgo and Bootes, Nicole learned more about the galaxy than she did from any science class she had ever taken. Waverly knew the folklore and myths behind each constellation and star. Nicole felt herself falling further with each retelling of the ancient tales. Eventually though, the sound of Nicole’s phone alarm, reminded her that it was time to head back to campus. They packed up the truck, then piled into the cab, settling into the same spots from earlier.

“This was the best date I have ever been on,” Waverly told Nicole as the redhead turned on the old Chevy. The admission made her heart happy and she put her hand on Waverly’s thigh. She began to drive down the dirt road, letting the sound of gravel under tires soothe her.

“Yeah?” Nicole asked, wide smile spreading to her cheeks. She noticed the way that Waverly played with the strings of her softball hoodie and it made the shortstop grin with pride.

“Yeah,” Waverly nodded her head and reached down to lace their fingers together. Every time she did, Nicole still felt the small spark ignite, and she wondered if Waverly felt it to. “Even if your dog stopped us from getting to second base,” the petite brunette teased with a wink and Nicole groaned in frustration. Her mind raced, wondering what all of Waverly felt like. She had a craving to trace her hand along every curve and ridge of the brunette’s frame.

“I swear, if she wasn’t so darn cute…” Nicole sighed just as Calamity Jane yawned, clearly exhausted from a night’s worth of interrupting romantic moments. Waverly giggled and curled into Nicole’s side, resting her head on the taller woman’s chest.

“Her mom is cuter…” Waverly whispered and Nicole chuckled before she pressed a kiss to the top of chestnut locks. They rode back the rest of the way in a comfortable silence. It washed over them like the first warm day of spring after a long winter. Soon, Nicole was turning down Waverly’s street, Calamity snoring against the passenger door, and the brunette stealing glances up at her. She turned the truck into Waverly’s driveway and the archaeology major frowned a bit. “I don’t want this night to end,” Waverly confessed as Nicole put the truck in park. It resonated deeply with Nicole. How badly the redhead wanted to spend the rest of the night in Waverly’s arms was impossible to measure.

“Me too, Waves,” Nicole nodded and opened her door. A sleepy Calamity perked her head up but quickly put it back down, going back to sleep. The redhead smiled and held her hand out to the brunette which was graciously accepted.

“Thanks, Nic,” Waverly smiled softly and leaned up on her tiptoes, pressing a quick kiss to Nicole’s cheek. The redhead tipped an imaginary cap at the smaller woman before reaching into the back of the cab, grabbing Waverly’s guitar and jean jacket. “My jacket!” Waverly exclaimed and snagged it from the redhead’s hands with speed. It made Nicole double over with laughter.

“I kept it safe for ya,” Nicole chuckled when Waverly gave her a light hipcheck and smirk. The brunette grabbed Nicole’s free hand, the other holding her guitar, and pulled her in the direction of the front steps. “So… date number three?” Nicole asked with hope lacing her voice, as if it were a prayer. They walked in locked steps up the stairs, placing Waverly’s belongings against the front door, and Nicole leaned back on the railing of the front porch. The brunette stepped in between Nicole’s and the softball player found purchase on Waverly’s hips.

“Of course but…” Waverly trailed and Nicole frowned slightly, looking up at her date with sad eyes. The brunette chuckled lowly and brought her hands to Nicole’s face. She leaned in slowly, making Nicole’s breath hitch in her throat. Their lips were inches apart and her heart ran wild as Waverly whispered, “no dog this time and I’m planning it.” Before Nicole could respond, their lips were connected in a burning kiss. Her hands found their way to red locks, tugging softly as Waverly slipped her tongue into Nicole’s mouth. The international security major eagerly accepted the slick muscle and followed the pace that Waverly set. Her arms wrapped fully around Waverly’s delicate middle and she stood up, lifting the brunette up, their lips still together. “Baby!” Waverly squealed against her lips and Nicole smiled before setting the petite brunette down.

“There’s that nickname again,” Nicole mused and pecked a kiss to the top Waverly’s nose. The brunette giggled before pulling away to stare up at her. Nicole watched as Waverly tucked her bottom lip between her teeth and she smiled in return.

“So… when can we do this again?” Waverly asked with a smirk on her lips as her fingertips toyed with the frayed hem of Nicole’s shirt. The redhead smiled and tucked a runaway curl behind Waverly’s ear.

“Well, I have an away series in Oregon this weekend… and then national team scouts are coming here Monday and Tuesday for my tryouts… which I definitely remembered to tell you about?” Nicole asked, her voice rising as she watched Waverly’s face shift from shocked to excited to angry. The small but strong brunette gave her a gentle push and Nicole bumped into the front of the apartment.

“Nicole Haught you did not tell me that!” Waverly reprimanded her and the redhead hung her head in shame. She rubbed the back of her neck awkwardly and gave Waverly a sheepish smile. “That’s amazing!” Waverly beamed and Nicole smiled at the brunette. A soft hand came up to cup Nicole’s cheek and the redhead tried to catch the butterflies in her stomach. “You’re going to absolutely crush it,” Waverly assured her and leaned in, pressing a tender yet firm kiss to Nicole’s lips. They pulled away but kept their foreheads together, just drinking in one another’s energy. “Wednesday then,” Waverly stated surely and Nicole just nodded. “I should go to bed,” the brunette whispered and Nicole nodded her head. They shared a parting kiss and Nicole held onto Waverly’s hand as she walked away, wanting to maintain contact for as long as possible.

“Night, Waves,” Nicole murmured as their fingertips skated past each other’s. The redhead watched Waverly fumble with the door lock for a second before finding success.

“Goodnight, Nic,” Waverly said over her shoulder and smiled at Nicole before shutting the door. Once she heard the sound of a turning lock, Nicole walked down the steps and to the old Chevy. She hopped in and drove in silence to her apartment. Nicole was consumed by thoughts of Waverly. The brunette was kind and humble despite her past. She was bright and free even though her history was tragic. It made Nicole have a level of respect for her she didn’t hold for anyone else.

“We’re home, girl,” Nicole alerted the dog, who yawned from the passenger seat, and cut the engine. She gathered the date supplies and grabbed Calamity Jane’s leash. With a happy smile on her face and thoughts of joy floating in her head, she trotted to the front door. The redhead was on cloud nine,humming a happy tune as she put everything away.

“There you are!” Eliza exclaimed and stomped over to Nicole, startling the redhead. “I have been worried sick,” the blonde huffed and grabbed the fairy lights from her roommate’s hands. She shook her head, muttering under her breath to the lights as she walked back to her room.

“Jesus,” Nicole whispered to herself and walked to her room. Calamity Jane’s nails scraped against the hardwood until they were both in the redhead’s room. The dog found her bed, and curled up on the padding, as Nicole shed her layers. “Night, Calamity,” Nicole cooed at the yawning dog as she threw on boxers and a tank top. With a sigh, she plopped on the bed and looked at her phone, reading the message on her screen.

Instagram: makingwaves tagged you in a photo. With a grin, Nicole opened the app to a picture in her feed. It was the silhouette of Nicole sitting on the tailgate of the Chevy. The sun was setting and the fairy lights were on. It was a fantastic picture, Waverly’s photography skills were on full display. Under the image the caption read: “Better than any country song @nhaught16 #headoverboots.” Nicole liked the image and replied back with “so corny” with a corn and winky face emoji, echoing Waverly from earlier. As Nicole drifted asleep Waverly ran through her mind. The thoughts were constant like a jogger’s pace, lapping around her mind. Soon enough she was dreaming of the brunette. It was all bare skin and a smooth touch.

Waverly’s Point of View
Wednesday, April 24, 2019
Nicole, Eliza, and Doll’s Apartment
Seattle, Washington

Waverly anxiously tapped on the steering wheel of her ‘92 Jeep. A text from Nicole that read “be out soon :)” came through her phone five minutes ago, and each second since seemed like an eternity. She was normally a patient person - her tolerance for waiting was higher than most. It had been six days since she had seen Nicole though, and her patience was running out.

“Finally,” she muttered under her breath when she saw Nicole emerge from the apartment. The redhead had a backpack strapped to her back and was bounding down the front stairs of the apartment. Waverly was excited for their date. She planned out a simple hike on one of the smaller Cascades. It wasn't as grand as the large mountain, but it was beautiful, filled with wildflowers and vibrant colors. She often found solace there whenever life got too chaotic. As Nicole approached the red Jeep, Waverly reached across the center console, popping open the passenger door slightly for Nicole.

“Hey, Waves,” Nicole greeted the brunette and Waverly couldn't help but beam at the redhead’s megawatt smile, despite her slight annoyance at having to wait for the woman.

“You kept me waiting, Nic,” Waverly teased with a pout, looking at Nicole with puppy dog eyes. The softball players rolled her eyes but leaned in closer anyway.

“Hmm, I think I know of something that can make up for it,” Nicole hummed and Waverly bit her own lip in response. She watched the way Nicole’s mocha eyes drifted to her mouth and back up to her eyes. There was a pause. Then Waverly, fueled by passion and missing the redhead all week, closed the gap between them. She took Nicole’s bottom lip between hers and tangled her fingers in auburn locks. She found out quickly that the shortstop liked to have her hair pulled. Waverly took every opportunity to do so.

“Fuck,” Nicole hissed into her mouth when Waverly gave the strands in her hands a tug. It made Waverly let out a low chuckle and she playfully scraped her teeth along Nicole’s swollen, bottom lip.

“Baby,” Nicole moaned as Waverly littered her ivory neck with hot kisses. The redhead groaned and put her hands on leggings that covered Waverly’s thighs, itching for relief. The term of endearment ignited a deep fire in her belly. Without a single pause, she sank her teeth into the sensitive flesh of Nicole’s neck and sucked the salty skin into her mouth. Just as a high pitched, airy moan was released from the shortstop, the sound of honking startled them. They pulled apart, panting and eyes wide, as Eliza sat in the driver’s seat of her car. The blonde looked both annoyed and amused.

“To be continued, Haughty,” Waverly teased and pecked Nicole’s lips once more before starting the engine of the Jeep. Nicole buckled herself in and looked up at the clear sky, the soft top of the Jeep had been pulled down. The brunette turned on the radio and Nicole reached across the center console, placing her hand on Waverly’s knee while they began to make their way to the Cascades. The open bars of Zac Brown Band’s Keep Me In Mind began to play through the stereo and Waverly felt a lightness in her chest as Nicole started to sing along.

How come all the pretty girls like you are taken, baby? I’ve been looking for someone like you to save me,” Nicole sang, her thick southern accent coming through with the low notes of the country song. It sent a typhoon of emotion through her, leaving debris scattered within Waverly. She stole a glance at Nicole, her mocha eyes trained on her, as she continued to sing. “Life’s too easy to be so damn complicated, take your time and I’ll be waiting… Keep me in mind.” The hand on her knee drew nonsensical shapes and Waverly felt Nicole’s gaze still glued to her. 

“What?” Waverly asked Nicole, chancing a quick peek at the redhead before turning her attention back to the road. She heard a small laugh come from the woman next to her and felt a hand squeeze her thigh.

“I’m just thinking… and admiring the view,” Nicole winked in time for Waverly to catch it. The New Englander rolled her eyes but secretly loved the way the Texan showed affection.

“Such a charmer, huh, Nic? I bet that line works on all the ladies,” Waverly quipped back. Out of the corner of her eye she could make out the way Nicole shook her head.

“There’s only one lady who matters,” Nicole confessed and Waverly felt a knot tightened in her throat. Waverly felt fingertips brush along her jawline. It was almost enough to make her pull the Jeep over. “You’re the only one who matters.” The redhead’s voice was firm and sure. It made Waverly sigh and she fixed her eyes to the road. “Listen… I know I have this reputation for being with a bunch of girls or whatever but the truth is I’ve only slept with four and dated two seriously,” Nicole sighed and Waverly felt the hand that was on her jaw drop to her shoulders. Fingers toyed with the loose strands of her chestnut hair that had escaped from her ponytail. “And to be really honest… none of them made me feel even half the way that you do.”

There it was, out there in the open, cast into the water waiting for a bite. Waverly and Nicole had danced around these thoughts and feelings for well over a month. Now though, with their bodies close together in the front seat of the Jeep and Waverly’s heart hammering wildly in her chest, she knew there was no way around it. With a hard swallow, she bit her lip and reached behind her neck, grabbing Nicole’s hand. Their fingers laced together in the automatic way she had grown accustomed too. It was as if it were meant to be, and maybe it was. They weren’t even five minutes away from Nicole’s apartment when Waverly pulled the Jeep over to the side of the road. By this time Zac Brown had been replaced by Vance Joy on the radio, and Waverly turned down the Australian’s cooning. The sky began to grow dark, as the previously white clouds were now painted an ominous shade of grey. The brunette turned and looked at Nicole. Mocha eyes were wide, as if the softball player was scared for what came next. Waverly would be lying if she said she wasn’t scared too, but god, she knew it would be worth it.

“Waves-” Waverly cut her off by shaking her head and squeezing the hand she was holding. She let out a shaky breath and closed her eyes for a moment. When she opened them back up, Nicole was looking at her like she was already gone, and it broke her heart.

“Do you remember what I said to you the night of Fish’s birthday?” Waverly asked, her voice soft and low. Outside of the Jeep, and off in the distance, she could make out the rumble of thunder, but she paid it no mind. Nicole looked down at their interlocked fingers, the confidence fading from the star athlete fast as she nodded in remembrance.

“That we could be friends,” Nicole grumbled and Waverly felt the redhead slowly pull her fingers away from the hold. Another crash of thunder boomed, this time louder than before. The brunette brought her free hand over to cup Nicole’s face, the pad of her thumb running along the ridge of her cheekbone.

“I also said that when I do start looking for someone… to be more than friends with, you’ll be the first to know,” Waverly recalled and watched as Nicole’s head perked up. Sad eyes were replaced with hope and a small smile curled at the corner of her lips. Waverly felt a drummer’s beat in her heart, fast and hard. She looked at Nicole, brave, kind, funny, Nicole, and felt complete. “This is me letting you know… I’m looking,” Waverly confirmed and a wild smile dance along the redhead’s lips. Nicole didn’t respond with words. Instead she cupped Waverly’s cheeks and pulled her in for a kiss. Their lips met, hot and heavy, just as a spring storm opened up above them. Rain fell into the exposed cab of the Jeep and a loud, frightening, clash of thunder made them pull apart. They were both gasping for air, eyes locked on one another’s when a bolt of lightning flashed in the sky.

“Fuck!” Nicole hollered and Waverly jumped out of the Jeep. The redhead followed the smaller woman’s lead, bringing the soft top of the Jeep up from the back. Waverly struggled with her side as the rain beat angrily against the cover. The way she pulled the Jeep over made the final clasp just out of reach, even from her tiptoes. “I got you, Waves,” Nicole assured her as she felt the softball player’s soaked front pressed against her back. She watched as skilled fingers hooked the last clasp. With Nicole’s hands still outstretched above her, Waverly turned around to face her. Rain was falling hard around them, they were both drenched, and a cool breeze was picking up but Waverly didn’t give a damn. Her heart told her it was now or never.

“Be my girlfriend?” Waverly asked over the roar of thunder and rush of water smacking the pavement. Nicole tilted her head in confusion and leaned in closer.

“What?!” The shortstop shouted as the wind picked up and Waverly couldn’t help but chuckle at the ridiculousness of it all.

Waverly leaned forward, pressed her lips against Nicole’s ear, and asked again “Be my girlfriend?” When she pulled away, a vibrant smile that reached Nicole’s eyes played on her mouth.

“I thought you were gonna keep me waiting on you forever,” Nicole smirked, her southern accent distinct around the words. It made Waverly feel lightheaded and she held onto Nicole’s neck for support. They stood their getting soaked, clothes clinging to their skin like Saran Wrap on a plate. Waverly could feel her heartbeat through her blood. It thumped hard and physically reminded her this was real. She was lost in mocha eyes when a bolt of lightning, too close for comfort, illuminated the sky.

“Holy shitballs!” Waverly screamed at the crash of thunder, making Nicole laugh at her with an amused grin. “Let’s get inside the Jeep before we die,” Waverly joked and Nicole nodded her head before pressing a quick peck to the brunette’s cheek. She watched Nicole jog in front of the Jeep as she slipped into the driver’s seat. Once Nicole was safely in the passenger seat, Waverly turned on the engine, and looked over at the softball player. Red strands of hair were stuck to her face and her grey tee-shirt was soaked through, clinging tightly to her athletic frame. “I’m really sorry that my planned hiking date didn’t work out,” Waverly sighed, frustrated by the freak storm. “Stupid rain.”

“Hey now,” Nicole started and reached across the center console, placing her hand on a rain dampened thigh. “You know what they say about rain, right?” Nicole asked with a small smirk playing at her lips and a slightly raised eyebrow.

“What’s that, Nic?” Waverly asked, playing along with Nicole’s game as she turned the Jeep around. She didn’t know why, but her hands automatically steered her in the direction of her apartment. Instead of responding right away, Nicole let out a low chuckle and squeezed the tender muscle of Waverly’s thigh. It sent a small wave of desire through her as she struggled to stifle a moan.

But where I come from, rain is a good thing, rain makes corn, corn makes whiskey, whiskey makes my baby,” Nicole sang the Luke Bryan song in her thick, southern twang. Waverly rolled her eyes as the redhead finished the line, “feel a little frisky.” The softball player wiggled her eyebrows and massaged the flesh of Waverly’s thigh some more.

“So smooth, babe,” Waverly teased and took the turn onto her street. Nicole must have just realized where they were, because she peeled her head up, and looked around.

“Your place?” Nicole asked, tilting her head to the side. Waverly just nodded and drove her Jeep into the empty driveway of her apartment. There was a moment of nervousness between them before Nicole calmed her with a soft caress of her cheek. The brunette let out a sigh of relief and killed the engine. She grabbed the hand on her cheek and gave it a gentle squeeze.

“Mad dash?” Waverly asked with a wild grin and Nicole nodded in agreement. “Three, two, one!” Both of the women jumped out of the vehicle and sprinted towards the apartment. As soon as she got to the door, strong hands were on her hips, and Nicole’s lips were against her ear.

“Can’t get it in, Waves?” Nicole taunted and Waverly groaned in frustration before getting the key to slip into the hole. With a quick turn, she opened the door and Nicole bolted in behind her. She could hear the wet pattering of Nicole’s steps as she closed the door and locked it. “Your place is cute,” Nicole noted and looked around the apartment. Puddles began to form on the tile floor of the kitchen where they both stood, water dripping from their soaked bodies. The redhead looked beautiful to Waverly. Even with her clothes wet and hair wild, Nicole looked as stunning as ever. Waverly’s starring didn’t go unnoticed by the redhead and Nicole tilted her head to the side. “What?” she asked with a small blush visible at the base of her neck.

“Nothing… it’s just that,” Waverly started and stalled. Her stomach began to tighten in nervous knots, double looping like tied laces. She looked at Nicole from across the room. Between them felt like a mile, and god, how Waverly desperately wanted to cut through the invisible barrier. “Back by the Jeep… that was yes, right? Your answer to my question?” Waverly asked nervously as her fingers toyed with the wet hem of her shirt. Nicole beamed at her with that smile, the one that got them into this mess in the first place, and nodded.

“Yes, Waves… and it’ll be yes for as long as you want me,” Nicole told her with a certainty in her voice that rocked Waverly to her core. It seemed like a promise of forever and for once, Waverly wasn’t afraid of the future. She knew Nicole would be there to catch her if or whenever she fell. Consumed by the emotions flooding within her and the burning desire to give all of herself to Nicole, she bolted across the room. The sound of sloshing from her wet clothes echoed in the kitchen as she ran to the redhead. Nicole, always in sync with her, found the back of Waverly’s thighs when the brunette jumped up and hooked her legs around the softball player’s defined middle. Their lips crashed together as thunder roared outside. Waverly’s hands found instant refuge in Nicole’s damp locks and tugged softly on them. She could feel the redhead guide her to the kitchen table, placing her down on the cool surface. “Waverly… Waverly, wait,” Nicole murmured against her lips and pulled away to look into Waverly’s eyes. Flowing between them was an energy that had only grown deeper and stronger since the first night their lips connected in the middle of a crowded college party. “Are you sure?” Nicole asked, her voice soft and gentle, like the hand that cupped Waverly’s cheek. These moments reminded her of Nicole’s true nature, the southern gentlewoman concealed beneath a tough exterior.

“Yes, Nic,” Waverly nodded and wiped the wet locks of auburn out of Nicole’s face. A wide smile broke along Nicole’s face and Waverly ran her thumb across plump lips. “Since the first time we kissed…” she started and paused, gently pulling apart Nicole’s lips with the pad of her thumb, “I’ve wondered what else these lips could do.” Waverly didn’t miss the desire that flashed across Nicole’s face when she made the confession. The brunette paused, letting Nicole make the next move. They stood motionless for a moment, the only movement coming from the rise and fall of their chests.

“Your roommates?” Nicole asked, slowly leaning forward. Her hands gripped Waverly’s hips and the brunette was thankful for the touch. Without it, she felt like she could float away.

“Chrissy is visiting her dad for a few days,” Waverly rushed out once she felt soft lips on the sensitive skin of her neck. Her fingers were tangled in Nicole’s soaked red mane and her legs locked tighter around the shortstop’s midsection. “Rosita went with her… pretty sure they’re fucking,” Waverly explained and groaned when Nicole pulled her mouth away from her pulse point. Not giving the redhead a chance to respond, Waverly pulled Nicole in for another kiss. It was desperate and passionate at the same time. A promise of tomorrow hung in the balance, as their lips moved together in a heated battle. Nicole’s hands found the wet hem of Waverly’s tank top and the brunette nodded into the kiss. “Please,” Waverly moaned against Nicole’s lips and gave the locks in her hands a gentle tug. Her eyes followed as Nicole pulled away with a groan and peeled the soaked article of clothing off of Waverly’s body.

“Damn, Waves,” Nicole murmured as her eyes scanned her body. Nicole’s gaze was so different when compared to the hungry looks she was used to. All of her previous partners eyed her like a piece of meat. Nicole took her in like she was a grand piece of artwork at the Met. There was no sense of possession in her eyes, just pure awe. “Can I?” Nicole asked softly, her hands hovering above the brunette’s taut stomach muscles.

“Yes,” Waverly pleaded and threw her head back with a groan when she felt calloused hands press against her stomach. She moved her own hands to the back of Nicole’s neck and pulled her close. With their foreheads pressed together, their breathing labored, Waverly’s muscles flexed under Nicole’s touch. “Baby,” Waverly moaned and pressed a gentle kiss to the scar on her left cheek as fingertips ran along the one on her abdomen.

“Waverly…” Nicole trailed off, looking at her. Waverly could see the desire in the redhead’s mocha eyes. She could feel it radiating off of Nicole”s hands and into her own body.

“I know, Nic,” Waverly assured her and peppered light and airy kisses along Nicole’s cheeks before stopping at the redhead’s lips. She paused for only a brief moment before reconnecting their lips and they continued like they had never stopped. Hands roamed wildly along Waverly’s body, learning every dip and curve, driving the brunette mad with lust. Between her legs she felt the dull ache of desire began to blossom. It spurred her on as she captured a lip between her teeth, earning a moan from Nicole. “Off,” Waverly ordered into Nicole’s mouth as she tugged on the shirt that clung to the athletes fit frame. Without haste, Nicole pulled the shirt up and over her head, dropping it to the floor with a wet smack. “Jesus,” Waverly groaned at the sight before her. Nicole’s stomach was chiseled and toned, muscles defined and strong laid along the plane of her abdomen. She couldn’t help but bring her hands to the taut muscles and feel how they flexed under her fingers.

“Baby,” Nicole moaned at the touch and buried her face into the crook of Waverly’s neck. Her hips began to rock into the brunette’s and Waverly echoed with her own fevered thrusting. She scraped her fingernails down the contour of her toned muscles and was rewarded with sharp teeth sinking into her pulse point.

“Babe!” Waverly whined and jerked her hips forward, feeling her arousal coil tighter within the pit of her stomach. The flesh that was sucked into Nicole’s mouth was removed and hot kisses were stamped along her neck. “B-bed…” Waverly stuttered out as teeth nipped at her jawline. Never had she felt so consumed by ravenous urges. It was overwhelming and delightful. A beautiful paradox to be in.

“Yes, ma’am,” Nicole drawled, gripping the back of Waverly’s thighs and hoisting the brunette up again. Waverly wrapped her strong legs around Nicole’s firm middle and teased her neck with firm kisses.

“All the way at the end of the hall,” Waverly directed from her blindspot in Nicole’s arms. The strength of the softball player impressed her, as Nicole carried Waverly to her bedroom so effortlessly. Once they were over the threshold, Waverly unhooked her legs from around Nicole’s muscular middle, she looked up at the redhead. There was a look of worry and doubt on her face that broke Waverly’s heart.

“Hey, baby… what’s wrong?” Waverly asked softly, caressing the taller woman’s cheek. Nicole instantly turned her head and kissed the palm at her hand.

“Nothing… I just don’t want to fuck this up,” Nicole confessed into Waverly’s hand. The brunette let out a low laugh and shook her head. Her hand smoothed out the slightly frizzing strands of red and she stared into the deep chocolate pools of Nicole’s eyes.

“You couldn’t if you tried,” Waverly smiled and balanced on her tiptoes, kissing the top of her nose. A sigh of relief escaped Nicole that didn’t go unnoticed by Waverly. “I trust you,” Waverly assured her and stepped back from Nicole. Her heart began to race but her gaze never left Nicole’s as she began to unclasp her sports bra. With a wet thud, still damp from the spring storm, the offending article of clothing landed on the floor. Waverly stood there, breasts bare and exposed to Nicole, anxiously awaiting some sort of reaction.

“Waves… you’re a vision,” Nicole whispered into the air between them and Waverly felt seen for once. Not stared at. Not ogled at. Seen, for all of her. Not just her body. It was apparent by the way Nicole’s dark, stormy eyes surveyed her chest for only a moment and then locking back onto her eyes. Waverly wasn’t expecting Nicole to reciprocate the action but soon her bra was on the floor with the brunette’s. The softball player’s breasts were larger than Waverly’s own but still perky. Rosy pink nipples highlighted their peaks and the sight made Waverly’s brain halt for a moment.

“Wow,” Waverly marveled at Nicole’s body, her eyes scanning the ridges and valleys of her physique. “You’re stunning,” Waverly smiled and looked into dark brown eyes. Nicole licked her lips and took a step forward. Waverly met her halfway, until her hands were on Nicole’s hips.

“As are you, darling,” Nicole drawled in that thick southern accent and Waverly felt another wave of want and need wash over her. She inhaled sharply, trailing her hands up towards Nicole’s rib cage. Her fingertips avoided the tender skin of the shortstop’s supple breasts and found refuge on a sharp collarbone. Suddenly she felt fingers toying with the hem of her leggings and she nodded at Nicole, giving her consent. Slowly, Nicole pulled her drenched leggings off of her body. The brunette felt freer once they were discarded off to the side. This was typically the part when the voices in her head would tell her to run, but with Nicole there, everything within her soul told her to stay. Even in nothing but her rain soaked purple underwear, she wanted to be there, in front of Nicole, with Nicole.

“Now you?” Waverly asked, hooking her thumbs into the waistband of Nicole’s workout shorts. The redhead nodded then pressed a kiss to the top of Waverly’s head. She gripped the shorts by their hem and slowly pulled them off of the athlete. It took all of her will power to stifle the moan that was bubbling in the back of her throat at the sight of Nicole in just a simple pair of black boy shorts. “S-same time?” Waverly stuttered and Nicole nodded. They both stilled for a moment as if the world had paused around them, suddenly aware of the storms absence.

“Ready?” Nicole asked in a gentle tone. Waverly gave a small nod, feeling a blush creep along her cheeks. It had been the most intimate moment she had ever shared with someone. Of course she has had sex before, but not like this. This was slow and deliberate. It was about drinking the other person in until you were drunk on them and them alone. It was perfect, she thought, and so different from the sloppy, rushed hookups she was used to. At the same time, they both removed their final barrier of clothing, baring it all to each other. It felt like the wind was knocked out of her. Nicole was stunning, creamy skin pulled tight over defined thigh muscles, and Waverly felt her cheeks redden, blushing when her eyes naturally fell to the patch of trimmed curls between the redhead’s legs.

“Nic,” Waverly whispered, as if it were a prayer, quiet and filled with hope. The redhead’s eyes flickered up to her own, and before Waverly could prepare herself, Nicole was against her. Bare skin to bare skin, Nicole blindly guided Waverly to the bed, until she stumbled backwards onto the mattress.

“God, I’ve wanted this - wanted you - for so long,” Nicole confessed, a toothy grin on her face as she hovered on top of Waverly. The brunette groaned in response and wrapped her legs around Nicole’s firm middle. With a pull, Nicole’s hot, dripping cunt was pressed against Waverly’s and it made her moan in pleasure.

“Fuck, baby,” Waverly whined, gripping Nicole’s muscular shoulders. From above her, Nicole planted hot kisses to her chest and began to rock into her. Feeling the mix of their arousal as their cores continued to grind together made Waverly curled her fingers in damp red locks. “You feel so good, Nic,” Waverly whispered into the emptiness of the room as her hips rolled up to meet Nicole’s. The friction was good, but not nearly enough for her.

“You are so beautiful and so smart and so brave,” Nicole murmured against the smooth flesh of Waverly’s chest. She could feel her arousal pooling between her legs and she began to desperately tug on the locks in her hands.

“Please,” Waverly begged and Nicole looked up at her, her eyes clouded with desire. A wicked smirk played at her lips as she kissed between the valley of Waverly’s pert breasts. Nicole shifted her body down, taking away the small source of relief Waverly was getting. Her frustration was soon replaced with a moan of pleasure when talented lips wrapped around her right nipple. “Oh fuck,” she hissed and arched her back into the touch of Nicole’s mouth. Arousal coursed through her like a drug in her veins as Nicole twirled her tongue around the stiff peak. “Nic,” Waverly moaned, rocking her hips up into Nicole’s stomach, searching for any source of relief. With a wet pop, Nicole released the hard bud and smirked at Waverly.

“Patience, darling,” Nicole taunted in her thick accent and Waverly groaned. One hand was tangled in the quilt of her bed and the other was locked in the mane of the redhead feasting on her chest. Soft lips peppered the mound of Waverly’s left breast with fleeting kisses. Nicole circled the peak until her lips hovered above the hardened bud of Waverly’s nipple. The brunette whimpered at the teasing and pulled at the hair in her hand, loving how Nicole moaned at the act.

“Baby,” Waverly moaned when a pink tongue twirled around the sensitive bud. Her hips continued to rock up into Nicole’s muscular middle, desperate for some form of relief. With a wicked look in her eyes, Nicole wrapped her lips around Waverly’s nipple, and the brunette let out a high pitched whimper. Her body felt aflame as Nicole worked her closer to the edge with just her mouth on her ample breasts. The sensation of a skilled mouth sucking and teasing at her peak made Waverly wonder what it would feel like to have those lips down where she needed them the most. “Nicole,” she groaned when the redhead unlatched from the nipple and blew cool air on the wet skin. Bumps blossomed along her arms and legs at the sensation and she was convinced that Nicole was trying to kill her. “For fuck’s sake, Nic.”

“So pushy, love,” Nicole murmured as she pressed a firm kiss to Waverly’s sternum, suddenly stopping. The term of endearment sent a wave of shock through her like nothing else, and by the way the softball player looked at her with fear in her eyes, she could tell that it had even caught her by surprise. “I-” Nicole started but was stopped by Waverly cupping her cheek and smiling at her softly. She felt her heart thumping loud and hard, and not just from the arousal coursing through her.

“It’s fine, love,” Waverly assured her and felt a renewed lightness in her chest when that megawatt smile played at Nicole’s lips again. The redhead brought her lips back to Waverly’s stomach and began to place lazy kisses along her smooth skin. The smaller woman felt her heart flutter with each one, as Nicole worked her way down stopping just above her belly button. Nicole paused to look up at Waverly before moving her mouth to the scar on her side.

“You are, without a doubt, the strongest person I know, Waverly Earp,” Nicole whispered before she pressed a gentle kiss to the scar on Waverly’s right side. A feeling of acceptance and belonging rippled through her. Nicole saw her. Nicole knew her. Nicole understood her. She couldn’t stop the single tear that fell onto her cheek. Her hands quickly wiped it away, not wanting Nicole to see it, but it was too late. Concern flashed on the redhead’s face and she shifted off of Waverly’s body. “I’m sorry, Waves… I didn’t mean.”

“No,” Waverly cut her off and reached a hand up to caress Nicole’s cheek. The pad of her thumb dipped along the mark on Nicole’s cheekbone, a silent sign of understanding. “It’s a happy tear… it’s just,” Waverly started then sighed, shaking her head for a moment before breaking into a wide smile. “You just understand me. I feel like me around you… if that makes sense?” Waverly confessed, her nervousness showing itself in the form of a blush.

“Makes perfect sense… I feel it too, Waverly,” Nicole nodded and leaned forward until their foreheads were pressed together. “You just feel right.” Waverly felt herself exhale a sigh of relief at the redhead’s admission. The smaller woman never pictured herself as someone to fall hard and fast, but there she was, parachuting out of a plane at fifteen-thousand feet with Nicole by her side. With her emotions running high, Waverly pulled Nicole in for a kiss, raw and passionate. Their tongues jockeyed for position, her legs drawing Nicole closer because she needed to feel more of Nicole’s skin on her own. With the added weight on top of her, she moaned into a waiting mouth when she felt a hand snake between their bodies. “This okay?” Nicole asked against her lips, as curious fingers played with the trimmed hairs of Waverly’s mound.

“God, yes,” Waverly moaned and splayed hot kisses along the ivory column of Nicole’s neck. Just as she found the softball player’s beating pulse point, fingers where on her clit. “Oh my god, baby.” It was more of a whine than a moan, her voice ascending into a high pitched squeal when Nicole’s fingertips began to draw loose circles around the bundle of nerves at the apex of her legs. Pleasure vibrated through her and her hips jerked up to meet Nicole’s hand. Without warning, Waverly sunk her teeth into the range of bone at Nicole’s collarbone after laying kisses down her neck.

“Christ almighty, Waverly!” Nicole groaned, the Texan’s accent growing thicker by the minute. Waverly just smiled into Nicole’s flesh as she sucked hard, releasing her skin and giving the redhead a purple and red souvenir. The circles around her clit became tighter and faster, making the brunette rocked her hips to a swift tempo.

“Babe,” Waverly moaned when Nicole began to kiss down her chest. As the tone body above her shifted, Waverly felt the hand on her clit dip down into her soaked entrance. “Holy fuck!” she exclaimed, arching her back off of the bed when two fingers deftly entered her needy cunt.

“God, you’re so wet, love,” Nicole mused, looking up at Waverly in between gentle kisses to the soft flesh of her pelvic bone. The brunette whimpered when the fingers inside of her were buried to the knuckles, loving the feel of Nicole inside of her, so full.

“You do this to me, Nic,” Waverly groaned when Nicole pressed an airy kiss to her mound. Mocha eyes looked up at her for consent and Waverly nodded like a mad woman, desperate to feel Nicole’s tongue against her aching core. Her fingers interlocked into Nicole’s hair, tugging at the locks when hungry lips found her clit. “Oh my god, oh my god, oh my god.” The brunette could feel her climax building like a slow crescendo in the pit of her stomach. Nicole expertly teased her throbbing bundle of nerves with her tongue, pumping two fingers deeper into Waverly at the same time. “Nic, baby,” Waverly moaned, rocking her core desperately into Nicole’s eager mouth. She couldn’t help the motion as the redhead suckled on the sensitive bud and curled her fingers up, hitting that spot deep inside of her just right. The final refrain built as stars exploded behind her eyes and her core tightened around Nicole’s fingers, locking her in place. “NICOLE!” Waverly screamed as her climax hit her hard. It crashed like a symphony’s drums and she scrambled to grip the quilt below her, search for anything to ground her. Nicole’s mouth kept sucking on her clit as Waverly’s body was seized by pleasure. It wasn’t until the brunette collapsed limp on the bed that Nicole halted her ministrations.

“I got you, Waves,” Nicole whispered from her spot between Waverly’s legs. She felt a warm velvet tongue begin to clean her swollen wet cunt. It made Waverly whimper and snake a hand through red tresses.

“Kiss me,” Waverly demanded with need and Nicole was quick to obey. She crawled up the brunette’s spent body and Waverly cupped her face. She licked her own arousal off of Nicole’s mouth, moaning at the taste of herself on her lover’s lips. The action was enough to make the redhead mewl and Waverly loved the control she had.

“Fuck, that’s hot,” Nicole sighed into Waverly’s mouth as she kissed the rest of herself off of the shortstop’s lips. Once she was done, she wrapped her legs and arms around Nicole. With an unexpected push and pull, she flipped the taller woman onto her back. “Somebody’s been working out, huh?” Nicole teasingly questioned as Waverly settled on top of her and rolled her eyes. Nicole was well aware of her strength, knowing the petite brunette maintained a strict regimen of yoga and hiking.

“You know I could kick your ass if I wanted, Haught” Waverly teased and bent her legs to straddle Nicole’s waist. Slowly, she lowered her sopping wet cunt against the taut muscles of Nicole’s abs, loving how the redhead squirmed below her. “Can you feel how wet I still am for you?” Waverly asked and leaned forward, catching Nicole’s mouth with hers. Her hips began to grind against Nicole’s stomach and she felt the strong grip of trained hands at her hips.

“Jesus,” Nicole grunted in Waverly’s mouth as the brunette swallowed the word whole. Her teeth caught a swollen bottom lip and sucked on the flesh until she felt nails bite into the flesh of her hips.

“You’re so fucking sexy, Nic,” Waverly murmured and moved her mouth to Nicole’s neck. “I get so turned on at your games. I leave drenched every time,” the brunette whispered against Nicole’s pulse point. Her tongue teased the sensitive skin, making Nicole’s hips buck up into the brunette. “It’s so hot watching you play, and take control, and holy fuck,” Waverly paused as her lips hovered over the purple mark she had made early on Nicole’s collarbone, “your ass in those pants, mmm.” Below her, she heard Nicole chuckle but it was soon replaced with a whine.

“God, baby… should’ve known you’d have a mouth on ya,” Nicole taunted and ran her fingers through Waverly’s hair as the smaller woman nestled between her ivory legs. Arousal still pulsing through her body, highlighted by the dull throb between her legs. Waverly looked up at Nicole as she began to pepper light kisses along her lover’s chest. Her lips were parted, pupils blown, and hair wild. She was beautiful. She was everything. She was hers.

“You’re absolutely gorgeous, Nicole Rayleigh Haught,” Waverly smiled and planted a firm kiss to Nicole’s sternum. As Nicole breathed out a light sigh, Waverly felt calmness and joy spread through her at the sight of the wide smile on the redhead’s lips. It urged her to continue on as she began to circle the raised peak of Nicole’s left breast with her mouth. She chanced a glance up at Nicole, who was panting and rolling her hips up into Waverly, just as she latched her mouth onto the firm bud of the redhead’s nipple. The brunette couldn’t help but moan at the feeling of the firm flesh in her mouth. So many nights since that first day in March had been spent fantasizing about moments like
these. Now, with Nicole under her and tugging at her hair, she was going to savor every second.

“Baby,” Nicole whined, her voice pitching uncharacteristically high. Waverly smirked around the nipple in her mouth as she began to suck on the sensitive skin. She brought a hand up to Nicole’s other breast and palmed the flesh. Nicole’s reaction, jerking her hips up into her, only encouraged Waverly further and she captured the other nipple between finger and thumb. Her tongue danced along the stiff peak at her mouth as her digits expertly worked the other bud. “My god, Waves,” Nicole moaned and pulled on Waverly’s chestnut locks like a rider on reins. With a smirk, she released the wet nipple from her mouth and slithered down Nicole’s body. Her lips left a trail of kisses along the defined muscles of her lover’s stomach as she made her way south. “Waverly… You don’t need to,” Nicole began, reaching her hand down to cup Waverly’s cheek. The petite brunette let out a soft snort and shook her head at the ridiculousness of her girlfriend.

“You act like I haven’t wondered what you taste like for over a month now,” Waverly whispered into the sensitive skin above Nicole’s mound. The loud moan from the woman below her had Waverly quickly learning that Nicole appreciated some dirty talk. “I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve gotten myself off to the thought of my tongue inside of you.” Nicole was loving it, or at least Waverly thought so, by the way the redhead’s body was rolling up into her own.

“P-Please, love,” Nicole stammered, begging. Waverly was never one to deny a beautiful woman. Her ivory legs spread further apart to accommodate Waverly as she brought her fingers to the outer lips of Nicole’s aching core. Arousal coated them already and Waverly could smell the lust on the redhead. Gently, she brought her fingers to her lover’s dripping cunt and moaned at the sight of her drenched slit.

“Fuck, babe,” Waverly marveled at the soaking pink wonder before her. As if on autopilot, she wasted no time bringing her tongue to Nicole’s enticing cunt. Her taste was salty but not briny, strong but not overpowering. She was perfect.

“Waves,” Nicole groaned and Waverly felt the taller woman thrust her core up into her teasing mouth. She held onto strong thighs to keep her girlfriend in place, wanting to take her time getting to know her new terrain. Waverly ran her tongue along Nicole’s swollen slit, collecting the arousal that pooled there, moaning. She was hooked instantly. Like an addict looking for a fix, she would always crave Nicole now that she had gotten a taste. Her eyes scanned up to meet Nicole’s, and Waverly was spurred on further by the feral look in her eyes. She brought her tongue up to the bundle of nerves at the top of Nicole’s throbbing core and circled the sensitive bud there with slow, teasing motions. Below her, Nicole’s hips jerked wildly, searching for relief. Waverly daringly wrapped her lips around Nicole’s clit and began to suck softly. She felt the bite of nails in the back of her scalp and it motivated her to suck harder. “Oh, fuck, baby…” Nicole moaned, bucking her hips up harder and faster into Waverly’s awaiting mouth. Without warning, Waverly dropping her mouth to her love’s succulent wet entrance and slipped the slick muscle of her tongue inside. The brunette moaned at the taste of Nicole and the feeling of her tongue being squeezed by her tight cunt as Waverly thrust the slick muscle deep inside her love. “Jesus!” Nicole hissed and gripped the honey brown tresses of her hair tighter. Waverly loved every second of this. The taste of her girlfriend, the way the redhead moaned and whined, the sting to her scalp. All of it rekindled a deep flame of arousal within her. She loved knowing that she could make Nicole feel this good, even if it was just their first time. “Babe… I’m close,” Nicole warned breathlessly as Waverly licked back up to her clit. With no hesitation, she wrapped her lips around the bundles of nerves again and sucked hard. Nicole’s body began to tremble below her and Waverly knew what was next. “WAVERLY!” Nicole yelled as her body convulsed in pleasure. The brunette continued to lap at the softball player’s arousal until she was pleased with her clean up job and a sedated Nicole laid motionless on the bed.

“Wow,” Waverly murmured as she kissed her way up her lover’s exhausted body. Nicole grunted when Waverly laid a quick peck to her lips and the brunette chuckled. “You alright, Nic?” Waverly asked and settled into the taller woman’s side. She curled her body against Nicole’s, arm thrown haphazardly across her stomach and head on the redhead’s chest. The thump of Nicole’s heartbeat was loud and steady.

“Fan-fucking-tastic,” Nicole chuckled and pressed a kiss to the top of Waverly’s head. Waverly found comfort in the hand rubbing gentle circles at her back while her own drew nonsensical patterns on Nicole’s stomach. “So… that was,” Nicole started and looked down at Waverly. The brunette tilted her head up to look at Nicole and felt her heart racing like it was their first time meeting all over again.

“Incredible,” Waverly finished her sentence and Nicole nodded with a toothy grin. She leaned down meeting Waverly half-way, connecting their lips in a slow sweet kiss. The hand that was on Nicole’s stomach reached up to cradle her girlfriend’s face and Waverly smiled against Nicole’s lips. “Special,” Waverly murmured into her lips and Nicole pulled her head back to look at her. “This is special… I feel it,” Waverly smiled and Nicole nodded before pressing a kiss to her forehead. Waverly felt a sense of belonging radiate through her body beginning at the spot where Nicole’s Lips touched her skin. She felt peace, seen, and whole.

“Me too, love,” Nicole whispered and settled back onto the bed, pulling Waverly closer to her.

They laid there together, bare and tangled, for hours. They basked in one another like the sun’s rays on a summer day. The warmth and familiarity of it all washed through them, lulling them into a state of serenity. Waverly felt a sense of safety with Nicole she had never before experienced in her life. It was the featherlight touches on her back and the heat of Nicole’s body at her side. It was the feeling of taut muscles under her fingertips and the sure beat of Nicole’s heart. It was the fingers combing through her hair and soft kisses to her forehead. It was beautiful. It was everything. It was theirs.

Nicole’s Point of View
Tuesday, July 28, 2020
Yokohama Stadium
Tokyo, Japan

It was the biggest game of her life and it was almost over. A single out stood in the way of a gold medal. She wasn’t anxious about standing on the podium and listening to the national anthem in the same way all the others were though. No. What made her heart race like horses out of the starting gate was what followed after the laurels and ribbons. Even in the packed stadium, she could still hear the screams of her friends, family, and most importantly, Waverly, from the stands. The brunette had been on this journey with her for over a year now. It all started the day after they had given all of themselves to one another. Nicole had received a “Congratulations, Nicole. Welcome to Team USA” phone call. From the first moment to the last, Waverly had been there every step of the way. She put up with long weekends away, FaceTime calls, because all of that came with the life of an Olympic athlete. It amazed her. Despite all of the chaos and turmoil that brewed in their lives Waverly had always remained a sturdy pillar of calm and resolve. These thoughts filtered through Nicole’s mind as she watched their pitcher strike out the last Japenese batter.

It had seemed like an automatic reaction. Throw her glove in the air. Rush the mound. Join her teammates in, quite possibly, the tightest group hug ever. She jumped in rhythm with her team, felt the happy tears on her cheeks, and heard the crowd erupt in thunderous applause. It was everything she had dreamed about since her days as a seven-year-old child, watching Jennie Finch and Crystl Bustos lead the USA to gold in Athens. Something kept pulling her away from the moment though, like twine tugging at her wrist, her eyes and mind kept falling back on one thing. Waverly. The woman who had been at every Olympic game wearing a Haught jersey and screaming until she lost her voice. Waverly. The woman who has iced her sore muscles and made her dinner after brutal two-a-day practices in preparation for the games. Waverly. The woman she was going to spend the rest of her life with.

Not long after, Nicole was guided to the side of the field with the rest of her teammates, as if they were a herd of sheep. By this time most of the Japenese supporters had slipped out of the stadium and the American fans had filled in the front rows.

“Scout!” The nickname made Nicole snapped her head in the direction of her friends and family. Just to the left of her was the whole crew. Aunt Deb was snapping photos on her phone. Uncle Dan was waving the American flag wildly. Fish, Dolls, and Eliza were hollering like fools. Wynonna was doing what Wynonna did, checking out Dolls’ muscles as the man pumped his fist in the air. Then there was Waverly. Her long chestnut hair hung in loose waves under a Team USA snapback with “#16” painted on her cheeks in blue and red.

“Nic!” Waverly called out to her and of their own accord, Nicole’s feet guided her towards Waverly. She jogged over to the sidelines as the petite brunette ran down the steps. Her hazel eyes were bright and her smile was intoxicating.

“Hi, baby!” Nicole exclaimed and stood on her tiptoes to reach over the barrier, the stands giving Waverly a slight height advantage over her. She cupped the brunette face and pulled her in for a kiss. Somewhere in the commotion, her hat had fallen to the dirt below, but she didn’t care. Waverly’s lips were on her own and the brunette’s hands were around her shoulders. “I love you,” Nicole murmured against Waverly’s lips and felt every cell in her body ignite when her girlfriend smiled against her mouth.

“I love you too, Olympic Gold Medalist Nicole Haught,” Waverly smirked, pulling back from the embrace to press a quick peck to her forehead. Waverly couldn’t help but beam at the redhead. As brunette ran the pad of her thumb over the ridge of Nicole’s cheekbone, the redhead felt goosebumps explode along her skin. Even after a year, the simplest of touches from Waverly could spark a ray of emotions. “Now go join your team… I’ll see you soon,” Waverly urged her and pressed a fleeting kiss to her lips before wrapping her arms around Wynonna, leaning into her sister for support.

“Nice job, Haught Stuff. Now I get to brag to all the Massholes when I get home,” Wynonna congratulated her in the only way Wynonna could. The older Earp held out her fist and Nicole bumped it with a smirk.

“Thanks, Wynonna,” Nicole smiled at the gruffer Earp sister as Waverly stared at her with wide eyes and a splitting smile. The petite brunette was so worried about the pair meeting, scared that the two strong-willed women would butt heads. After the first few initial interactions though, it was clear they would get along just fine, making the smaller Earp happy as can be.

Nicole made her way down the line of friends, hugging Dolls, Eiza, and Fish as she greeted them. They each offered their congratulations, took selfies, and chanted “USA!” like fools. Next was Aunt Deb. The southern woman had tears in her eyes and wrapped Nicole in a crushing embrace despite the barrier between them.

“Sweetheart, we are so proud of you,” she whispered in Nicole’s ear, her deep Texan accent filling the redhead with a sense of home, even half-way around the world. The blonde woman pressed a kiss to her cheek and pulled away from the hug. She held her adopted daughter’s face in her hands as tears poured from her sky blue eyes. “We are so lucky to have you, darling,” Nicole’s chosen mother smiled and tapped her cheek before letting the softball player move on to her uncle. The man stood there wearing a proud grin and a knowing look in his eyes.

“Scout,” he greeted her and wrapped her in one of his signatures bear hugs. Nicole felt her troubles disappear for a moment as she relaxed into his comforting hold. His arms were the first ones she found comfort in after her parents threw her out and for that, she would forever be grateful. “You got this, kiddo,” the man whispered in her ear as Nicole felt something being slipped into the back pocket of her uniform pants. It sent a wave of nerves through her and rattled her bones. It was time.

“Y-you sure?” Nicole stuttered and swallowed hard. She searched the man’s face for any sign of uncertainty, but found none. Only a sure smile and a gentle ease was reflected in his eyes.

“Surer than a fly to shit, Scout,” he chuckled and gave her shoulder a soft pat. “You remember what I told you right, kiddo?” he asked recall their conversation from two days before she left for the Olympic Games.

Monday, July 20, 2020
The Haught Ranch
Waco, Texas

They sat together on the back porch of the Haught Ranch overlooking the expansive acres. The night crickets had already come out and the sun was starting to set, painting the Waco sky pastel pinks and yellows. Calamity Jane laid curled up at her uncle’s feet, loving the peaceful man almost as much she loved Nicole herself, but not nearly as much as she loved Waverly. It was a quiet night, the streets were empty and the wind was low. It was the type of night that rejuvenated Nicole’s spirit.

“So, Scout… I’m guessing you didn’t come all this way just because you missed your Ma’s home cooking, now did ya?” her adoptive father asked in between puffs of his nightly cigar. The scent always felt like home to her. He looked over at Nicole with his gentle, brown eyes. They were the same ones that she wore, just like her birth father had, and her grandmother bore before them. A Haught tradition. From the open kitchen window Nicole could hear her Aunt and Waverly chatting about the Olympics as they washed the dishes from the meal. It all felt right.

“So, I already got the okay from Wynonna,” Nicole began but paused to let out a deep sigh. She lifted her eyes to the Texas sky and took in the moment before continuing again. “But, I… I wanted to run it by you too. I-I think I’m ready to ask Waverly to be my wife.” Nicole watched a cloud of smoke float up into the atmosphere and she anxiously played with a loose string on her shirt.

“Listen, kiddo. When you know, you know. I proposed to your Aunt after three months. Everyone called us crazy, said it wouldn’t last, the whole deal,” Dan chuckled lowly and shook his head. He reached out and grabbed Nicole’s hand, giving it a reassuring squeeze before tending to his cigar again. “You have gone through way too much bullshit to deny yourself happiness.” The statement hit her like hail on a tin roof. It rattled within her bones as she ran her fingers through her hair in an effort to calm herself. “Scout, the way your face lights up whenever that sweet thing walks into the room!” he laughed and exhaled the smoke in his mouth. Nicole could feel her heart pounding in her chest as her uncle continued, “I’ve seen your eyes light up after witnessing a Jeter walk-off against the Sox in person but that? Doesn’t even come close to this.” He was very matter-of-fact about the whole thing. She watched him stub out his cigar in the ashtray like she had hundreds of times before. It seemed routine until he began to dig into the pockets of his jeans. “Your Ma and I saw this coming a while ago, so we talked about it and…” he stalled as he pulled out a small, red velvet ring box. Her grandmother’s. “We want you to have Nana’s ring.” He held the box out for Nicole to take but she was too stunned. Frozen in place at the prospect of using her Nana’s ring to propose to her future wife.

“I-I shouldn’t,” Nicole stuttered lamely and her uncle scoffed. He placed the smooth box in the palm of her hand and Nicole swore it weighed a thousand pounds.

“Like hell you shouldn’t! Scout, you were her only grandkid,” he smiled and Nicole opened the ring box. She had forgotten how beautiful the simplistic ring was. A round cut, solitaire diamond with two smaller matching ones nestled on either side of the main gem. The stones laid on top of a timeless white gold band. “Listen, kiddo, I don’t give a rat’s ass what my brother may think. Nana loved you and if she were still alive today, she would be so damn proud of the woman you have become,” Dan nodded and patted Nicole’s shoulder gently, the soft touch reminding the redhead that this was all real and not some fevered dream she had conjured in her head. “Mama didn’t raise us to hate. Now, somewhere down the line your daddy failed but goddamn, Nicole,” he paused for a moment as Nicole turned and looked at him. Tears were beginning to well in her eyes and by the way her uncle wiped at his, he was struggling to keep the waterworks back too. “I couldn’t be more proud of the woman you have grown into despite the hell your parents put you through. You are so strong, Scout,” Dan choked out and Nicole let the tears fall freely from her eyes. She pocketed the ring box, storing if safely in her shorts and wrapped her arms around her chosen father.

“Thanks, dad,” Nicole whispered. It was the first time she had ever called him that and she could feel him smile against her cheek as they embraced. They stayed like that for a spell until the back door creaked open and Calamity Jane was standing by her feet.

“Oh! I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to interrupt,” Waverly apologized and busied herself by petting the golden retriever at her feet. Nicole’s uncle stood up and chuckled, turning his back to the petite brunette in order to wipe his eyes.

“No reason to apologize, sweetheart,” he smiled at Waverly and began to walk over to the brunette. “You didn’t interrupt a thing. I was just talking some sense into Miss Stubborn over here,” he pointed to Nicole with a chuckle and she responded with an eye roll. “Besides, I should help the missus with dessert… we’re having pie,” he sang the last part and pressed a kiss to the top of Waverly’s head before snapping his fingers at the dog. “Come on now, Calamity, leave the girls be.” The dog whimpered but followed the man into the house and Nicole sighed softly.

“Hey, love,” Nicole greeted her girlfriend as Waverly walked over to her. The brunette settled on Nicole’s lap, looping her arms around strong shoulders, but suddenly froze.

“What is in your pocket? It’s poking my butt!” Waverly giggled and leaned in, laying a kiss on Nicole’s lips. Nicole felt her heart race, knowing damn well the ring she was going to propose to Waverly with was what her girlfriend felt.

“It’s a secret, baby,” Nicole whispered against Waverly’s lips. The brunette shrugged and Nicole wrapped her arms around Waverly’s firm middle, pulling her closer. Their lips stayed connected and Waverly began to run her fingers through Nicole’s hair. A slight pull made Nicole moan into the kiss and Waverly pulled away with a smirk.

“Sorry, Nic,” she teased and pecked Nicole’s lips again. Just as Nicole was about to capture her girlfriend’s lower lip with her teeth she heard her aunt call from the kitchen.

“Girls, pie time!”

“Mad dash?” Waverly asked with a glimmer of excitement in her eye and Nicole fell in love all over again.


She gave a nod and soon both of the women were sprinting towards the back door. They landed in a tangled mess on the kitchen floor, consumed by a fit a laughter, as Calamity Jane howled at the commotion. Nicole kissed her future wife on a dirty kitchen floor through the laughter. It was everything. It was beautiful. It was theirs.

It seemed more like a compulsory action than a celebration to Nicole. Of course, she was proud of her team and honored to represent her country, but there was something else she would rather be doing. As the National Anthem played she instinctively sang the tune with her teammates. The gold around her neck should have been the most precious metal preoccupying her mind but it wasn’t. Not by a long shot. Instead it was the delicate ring from the 1950’s, the one slipped into her back pocket a few short minutes ago. It felt hot and heavy there, ready to burn a hole right through her pocket at any moment. It was the cheers of the remaining fans that brought her back to reality. As soon as it started, it was over, and she was thrilled.

“Meet at our spot with friends and families in an hour, alright? We have a gold medal to celebrate, ladies!” her captain announced to the team after they all exchanged hugs. Nicole nodded her head and eagerly jumped off of the podium, one hand keeping her medal in place and the other keeping the ring box in her pocket. It was now or never, and god, she couldn’t live with the latter.

“See y’all there!” Nicole called out to her teammates and made her way to the exit. One by one she dodged members of the press, not wanting to get caught up talking about her homerun during the game. It’ll probably go down as the biggest moment of her career but she had other plans - bigger plans. She exited the stadium and was instantly greeted by a crushing hug.

“Fuck,” Nicole hissed and was shocked to find Wynonna’s arms tightly around her sore, tired body.

“Dan told me it’s going down right now so I wouldn’t be surprised and,” the older Earp paused and dipped into a faux-southern accent, “‘spare the video Deb is going to take from all your colorful language.’” Wynonna chuckled and patted her on the back. It set Nicole at ease knowing that the older Earp sister had her back. “Now go make our girl happy,” Wynonna whispered in her ear then landed a playful, yet powerful, punch to her shoulder.

Nicole rubbed the spot where Wynonna hit her and muttered under her breath as Wynonna walked away. Her friends and family all gathered by the exit but Nicole only cared about one, Waverly.

“Nic!” She heard her girlfriend call out to her and her head turned in the direction of Waverly. Soon, all she could see was Waverly running towards her, arms ready to envelop her.

“Hey, love,” Nicole laughed as Waverly wrapped her legs around the softball player’s muscular middle. Strong hands found the back of Waverly’s thighs and soon their lips were together. Long forgotten was the mass of media that fluttered around them like debris from a storm. It all slipped away because Waverly was hugging her body and their mouths were moving together in a well rehearsed dance.

“Congrats, baby,” Waverly murmured against her lips and slowly came down from her spot in Nicole’s arms. When the brunette’s legs shifted down Nicole’s body, the redhead could feel Waverly’s tone muscles bump over the ring box in her back pocket. “What’s that, Nic?” Waverly asked with curiosity shining in her eyes. Nicole felt her pulse thumping in her neck as she let out a shaky breath.

“Waverly,” she started and took her girlfriend’s hands into her own. Nicole watched her eyebrows furrow together in confusion. “Have you ever thought about how a lot of our big firsts happened at softball stadiums?” Nicole asked and brought a hand up to cup Waverly’s cheek. “Our first meeting. The first time I asked you out. When I asked you to move in with me…” Nicole smiled and watched the memories play in her head like a private film reel. Her heart had adopted irregular beats in preparation for what was to come as she reached around her back, pulling the box from her pocket. “So it only seemed fitting to ask this, surrounded by our friends and family after my last softball game… at a softball stadium.” Nicole cleared her throat and released Waverly’s hands.

“Oh my god,” Waverly squealed and covered her face with her hands in excitement once she realized what was happening. The sight made Nicole’s lips spread into a wild smile as she settled down on one knee.

“Waverly Earp, it took me a month to figure out that you were my forever. Our road wasn’t pretty or straight, darling, but god, it was ours,” Nicole choked out as she opened the ring box. She watched Waverly’s eyes flicker from the old ring and back up to her eyes, tears forming in hazel ones, matching her own. “Waverly Earp, will you make me the happiest woman alive and marry me?” Nicole asked through tears and watched as Waverly nodded her head enthusiastically.

“Yes! Yes! Oh my god, Nic, yes!” Waverly screamed out and Nicole started to laugh happily. She got to her feet and shakily slipped the vintage diamond along Waverly’s finger. Arms were wrapped around her body instantly and she reciprocated the action. Nicole twirled Waverly in the air as they kissed, both women laughing against each other’s lips. The distinct sound of camera shutters, their friends and family celebrating surrounded them, and love was all they needed as they continued to embrace.

“I love you, Waves.”

“I love you, Nic.”

There were no candles or romantic dinners. A champagne glass with a ring at the bottom wasn’t off to the side somewhere. There wasn’t a damn horse drawn carriage in sight. No private orchestra played their favorite song as they strolled down a city street. A professional photographer wasn’t hiding in the bushes, watching and waiting for the perfect moment to snap the perfect picture. Instead they did what they had always done. They stood outside of a softball stadium and bared their hearts to one another. It was everything. It was beautiful. It was theirs.