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Game, Set, Match

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Christen floated through her office building on Monday morning with the biggest smile on her face. It had been an amazing weekend spent with Tobin on Saturday and one-on-one time with Emma on Sunday since she had been so busy with work the previous week. It was bound to be a crazy Monday, as they always were, but nothing was going to get her down on this day. Not after Tobin finally asked her out on a date. A real date with no friends to act as a buffer between them and no children plotting their next move. Just her and Tobin. The thought alone made her giddy with excitement.

Pinoe was in the middle of typing when she saw Christen approaching. Pinoe tilted her head to the side with a curious look on her face while Christen’s smile was still plastered on hers.

“Good morning, P!” Christen said cheerfully.

“Morning, boss!” Pinoe responded as she handed Christen her messages that came in over the weekend.

“Thanks,” Christen said, still beaming as she walked past Pinoe’s desk and toward her office.

Pinoe quickly got up and trailed Christen into her office, dying to know why she was in such a good mood. It wasn’t that Christen was never in a good mood. It was that Christen was never in this good a mood on a Monday morning.

Christen set her laptop bag and purse down on her desk and looked up to see Pinoe with an expectant look on her face. “Can I help you?” she asked.

“You think you can just waltz in here practically singing and not get questions from me?” Pinoe asked. “What’s got you so happy this morning? Did you and Tobin, you know…” she said suggestively, waggling her eyebrows.

“No!” Christen yelped. “I mean, no, we didn’t,” she said in a calmer tone.

Pinoe crossed her arms and waited for an explanation.

“We didn’t do anything, but she did ask me out on a date! We’re going out tomorrow night,” Christen said excitedly.

“That’s great!” Pinoe said enthusiastically. “But why tomorrow? Kinda weird to go out in the middle of the week?” she questioned.

If this had been anyone else, Christen would have said she was much too busy to go out on a date on a weekday. But this was Tobin and she wanted to see the woman as soon as possible and Tuesday was going to be the day come hell or high water.

“So…when I asked you out on a date last night, I completely forgot that Jordan had switched our week to go to Seattle so we could do her birthday here, so I’m not gonna be able to take you out this weekend,” Tobin said sadly with her brows deeply furrowed.

Christen wanted to pout and whine, but she didn’t. She could tell Tobin wasn’t happy about it either, so she took it in stride.

“Oh,” Christen said, trying to hide her disappointment. “That’s okay, we can wait until the next weekend.”

Christen wasn’t expecting what came next. She’d already gotten a dose of a Tobin Heath pout a couple of weeks ago when she was sore from running. That was apparently just a warmup act for the pout she was now faced with and Christen almost dropped everything and drove to Tobin’s house just to make it go away. If this was the face she was going to get any time Tobin was upset about something, she was in serious trouble.

“Chriiiis,” Tobin whined. “I don’t wanna wait two weeks to take you out on a date.”

Christen smiled at how cute Tobin was and the fact that she was just as excited for their date as she was. “No? Well what are you gonna do about it?” she challenged.

Tobin took a few seconds to think about it, then her face lit up with an idea.

“What would you say if I asked you if you wanted to have a Tobin Tuesday part deux?” Tobin asked in a hopeful tone.

“I would say what time are you picking me up?” Christen said flirtatiously without even looking at her calendar to make sure she didn’t have any late meetings or dinner plans for work…nor did she check if Pinoe was available to stay with Emma even though her daughter insists she can now be left home alone at her age. Christen just wasn’t a very good thinker around Tobin, it seemed.

Tobin grinned. “How does 7pm sound?”

“Sounds perfect,” Christen replied as she made a mental note to ask Pinoe in the morning if she would be available to babysit.

“Yeah Tuesday isn’t the most convenient. But she and her daughter are going to see her parents up in Seattle this weekend and, well, we didn’t really wanna wait until the following weekend to see each other, so tomorrow it is,” Christen explained. “And speaking of which, I need a huge favor…”

“Let me guess, you said yes to this date without making arrangements on who’s going to watch Emma,” Pinoe concluded.

“Um, yes? Sorry, P. I was just too excited…and maybe a little desperate to see her,” Christen winced. “Are you available to stay with Emma tomorrow? Please tell me you are?” she begged.

Pinoe wanted to tease her friend, but she stopped herself. She had never seen Christen act like this, ever. It wasn’t like her to do something without thinking first. It surprised her, but it also made her happy that she seemed to be following her heart when it came to Tobin Heath and she was more than happy to help her friend.

Pinoe rolled her eyes, pretending to be annoyed. “I’m available and yes, I’ll stay with Em,” she said.

Christen visibly relaxed. “Thank you, thank you, thank you, P!”

“Of course, anything to help you get laid,” Pinoe teased.

“It’s not like that,” they both said in unison, with Pinoe anticipating what Christen was going to say.

“Okay, well, you may not get laid tomorrow, but that’s where you ultimately want this thing to go, right?” Pinoe said.

“No,” Christen said immediately. “I mean, yeah, that’s part of it. But this thing with Tobin is…it’s different. She’s different. I can’t explain it,” she said.

Pinoe’s face softened. “I know, Chris. I won’t tease you anymore. For now. I know she means a lot to you.”

“She does,” Christen said in a daze, thinking about honey brown eyes…soft, pouty lips…and strong, muscular arms.

Pinoe waved her hand in front of Christen after a few moments of watching her drift off into space.

“Huh?” Christen asked.

“You have a meeting in ten minutes. Better get going soon,” Pinoe said again with a knowing smirk.

Christen blushed at being caught daydreaming. “Oh, uh, yeah. Thanks, P.”

“No problem. We’ll talk more about this date later,” Pinoe said, leaving Christen in her office.

————

“Ash, I need a big big big favor,” Tobin said as soon as Ashlyn picked up the phone.

Tobin had just finished dropping Jordan off at school and was back home to have her second cup of coffee and eat breakfast.

“What’s up, bud?” Ashlyn greeted sleepily as she looked at the clock and saw that it was 7:45am. “Why are you calling so early?”

“Sorry, I have sort of an emergency,” Tobin said.

Ashlyn sat up in bed at the urgency of Tobin’s voice. “What kind of an emergency?” she asked.

Tobin explained to her friend the pickle she was in and asked if she and/or Ali could come hang out with Jordan tomorrow night so she could take Christen out on a date.

Ashlyn grinned and nodded her head enthusiastically. “Of course! Just tell me what time you need us and we’ll be there.”

Tobin breathed a sigh of relief. In her excitement to see Christen, she hadn’t thought of what to do with Jordan and was grateful her friends were free to help her out.

“You’re the best, dude. I owe you big time,” Tobin said.

Ashlyn shook her head and raised her hand to stop Tobin from talking. “You owe us nothing. Don’t you see that this is all we’ve wanted for you all these years? Go do your thing and sweep Christen off her feet…although from the way she was looking at you the other night, I have a feeling you’ve already done that,” she teased.

Tobin’s heart was full. She loved her family. Her family to whom she was connected by blood. But this family, her chosen family, was pretty wonderful, too. She didn’t know how she got so lucky to have all of their support in all her toughest moments, but she was happy to lean on them now. Now that she had a chance at something that looked a lot like love.

“Thanks Ash,” Tobin said blushing.

“No problem. But Tobs?” Ashlyn said.

“Yeah?” Tobin asked.

“Next time, call me at a decent hour. You know I need my beauty sleep,” Ashlyn teased.

“Oh sorry, Ash. Go back to sleep, I’ll text you the details,” Tobin said, trying to quickly end the conversation so her friend could go back to sleep.

Ashlyn chuckled. “No worries, talk to you later, Tobs.”

“Later,” Tobin replied and hung up the phone.

————

Christen was sitting at the head of a conference table in between meetings, waiting for everyone to arrive, when she decided to send Tobin a text while she had a free moment.

So…is there a particular dress code for tomorrow?

Tobin was just about to start eating her lunch when a text from Christen came through. She smiled reading it and had many ideas on what Christen could wear…or not wear…for tomorrow. But she resisted the urge to send all those thoughts in an actual text.

You can wear anything you’d like. The place I’m taking you to is casual, but you can dress up if you feel like getting fancy. You won’t hear any complaints from me if you decide to go that route…

Christen furrowed her brows, shaking her head at how unhelpful the reply was from Tobin.

So helpful.

Tobin laughed at the sarcasm dripping from Christen’s text.

I aim to be helpful at all times.

Christen smiled and shook her head. Communicating with Tobin, in any form, never failed to bring a smile to her face. Even sitting in a conference room full of colleagues, she couldn’t help the grin she was sporting as they texted back and forth.

Uh huh. Gotta go. Another meeting about to start. Call me tonight?

Tobin read the last text and smirked, as if she could go a night without calling Christen.

Can’t wait.

Tobin tossed her phone aside, knowing Christen was done replying. She quickly finished her lunch, wanting to get as much done today so she could give herself the day off tomorrow to get ready for their date.

————

“Mom, how come Auntie Ash said she and Auntie Ali are excited to come over tomorrow?” Jordan asked as she climbed into the car.

Tobin chuckled. Ashlyn had sent her a text a half hour ago apologizing for telling Jordan she was excited to come over. When Jordan had replied to Ashlyn asking why they were coming over, Ashlyn ignored the message, realizing that Tobin hadn’t had a chance to tell Jordan about her date with Christen tomorrow.

“I have a date with Ms. Christen tomorrow night,” Tobin said easily, trying not to make it sound like a big deal even though she knew Jordan would freak out over it because it really was a big deal.

“Oh my god!” Jordan screamed. “For real, Mom? Like an actual date? You’re not messing with me, are you?” she asked, not quite believing her ears.

Tobin looked over at Jordan and smiled. She knew this is what Jordan has been waiting for since the moment she saw the way she interacted with Christen all those weeks ago on court 17. And it’s been what she’s probably been waiting for her whole life. Most of her school friends and neighbors had two parents, and when she turned five, she had asked Tobin why she didn’t also have two. And Tobin had to explain to her why that was. If there was anything Tobin didn’t take lightly, it was Jordan’s heart and her feelings.

“I wouldn’t mess with you. Not about something like this,” Tobin said honestly.

“Oh my god, oh my god, oh my god,” Jordan said in a whisper, in utter disbelief. “This is amazing, Mom. I love Ms. Christen. She’s so sweet and she makes you laugh and smile so much. I hope you guys have a good date.”

Tobin kept her eyes on Jordan. Her daughter didn’t realize how heavy the impact of her words were. Tobin didn’t throw the word ‘love’ around loosely and she could tell that Jordan was getting attached to Christen. Who wouldn’t? Especially not after knowing her for a couple of months. Tobin just hoped she was making the right decision by putting her heart, and Jordan’s heart, out there for Christen.

“I hope so, too, kiddo,” Tobin said as she started the car to leave the school parking lot. “But please hold off on talking to Emma about this. Ms. Christen might not have told her about it yet,” she chuckled, knowing that texting Emma was probably the first thing Jordan was going to do.

————

“So…” Christen began as she and Emma sat down for dinner. “Auntie Pinoe will be coming over tomorrow to hang out with you,” she said nonchalantly, trying to contain her excitement at the news she was about to give her daughter.

“Really? Awesome!” Emma exclaimed. “How come?” she asked, wondering why Auntie Pinoe was coming to hang out on a Tuesday night.

“Well…Ms. Tobin and I will be going out to dinner tomorrow and so…” Christen started to say, but was cut off.

“What! Oh my god, Mom!” Emma yelled, slamming her hands down on the table in her excitement. “This is so exciting!”

Christen was taken aback by the strong response from Emma. She knew her daughter would be happy, but she didn’t realize she would be this happy.

“When did she ask you out? Where are you guys going? What are you gonna wear?” Emma asked in rapid succession.

Christen laughed and held up her hands. “Whoa, whoa, one at a time, kiddo,” she said.

Emma was excitedly leaning so far into the table, her attention fully on Christen that it looked like she was ready to climb across the table to get answers to her questions. She stared at her expectantly as Christen addressed all her questions.

“She asked me out on Saturday night after Jordan’s party, I have no idea where we’re going, and I don’t know what I’m going to wear,” Christen answered.

Emma squealed. Loudly. Jordan’s weird text from earlier telling her to call as soon as she found out, whatever that was, now made sense. “Oh my god! This is the best thing I’ve ever heard! I’m so excited!”

Christen wanted to temper Emma’s joy, but she couldn’t find it in herself to do so. She, too, was just as excited and happy about the latest developments between her and Tobin. She looked at her daughter and saw her own joy reflected in her 12-year-old’s beaming face. Emma’s green eyes sparkled brightly and she believed her when she said this was the best thing she had ever heard. Because the more Christen thought about it, the more she realized that, outside of finding out she was pregnant with Emma, this probably was the best thing either one of them had ever heard.

Christen matched Emma’s smile. “Me, too, baby. Me, too.”

————

Tobin was nervous. More nervous than she had ever been in her entire life, without question. Even more nervous than last weekend before Jordan’s party when she had been rendered unable to function like a proper human being to even ring Christen’s doorbell. But Jordan wasn’t with her tonight to help with that. She was standing at Christen’s door, with flowers in one hand, taking deep breaths to calm her racing heart. She closed her eyes for a moment and took one more breath before finally ringing the doorbell.

The door flung open immediately and Tobin was greeted by none other than Pinoe.

“Tobin! So good to see you!” Pinoe said excitedly.

“Hey Pinoe, good to see you, too,” Tobin said, her nerves easing a little since it wasn’t Christen who answered the door, for which she was thankful in that moment.

“Come in, come in. Pressy’s just finishing up getting ready. She should be down in a couple minutes,” Pinoe said with a hint of mischief in her eyes.

“Thanks,” Tobin said. “Sorry, no treats for you tonight. I didn’t realize you’d be here,” she joked.

“It’s all good. This is treat enough for me,” Pinoe said excitedly. “I was wondering if you were changing your mind out there. Took you long enough to ring the doorbell,” she teased.

The blush was immediate on Tobin’s face. She didn’t know how long she was standing out on Christen’s porch, but it must have been an embarrassing amount of time.

“Oh, uh, no. Definitely wasn’t changing my mind. Just a little nervous. Haven’t done this in a while,” Tobin said honestly.

Pinoe’s face softened. She knew why Tobin was out there for five whole minutes giving herself a pep talk before finally ringing the doorbell. She couldn’t imagine ever being in Tobin’s shoes and what she’s been through in her life.

“I’m just messing with you. Pressy makes everyone nervous, don’t worry. She just has that effect on people,” Pinoe said.

Tobin let out a chuckle. “Tell me about it.”

Just then, Emma quickly came bounding down the stairs. So quickly that Tobin was afraid she might come tumbling down halfway through.

“Hi Ms. Tobin! Mom’s almost ready. She’ll be down in a minute!” Emma said excitedly.

“Hey Emma!” Tobin greeted, her nerves back in full force knowing that she would see Christen any second now.

————

Christen had been feeling anxious all day. Pinoe did her best to keep her on track, making sure she showed up for all her meetings, though she wasn’t sure she got anything out of them given that the only thing on her mind was Tobin and their date tonight. But as she finished getting ready, she felt a calm wash over her, knowing she would be spending her evening with someone she truly cared about and made her feel special.

She wasn’t sure what to expect. She didn’t know where they were going or what Tobin had planned, but she didn’t care. She just wanted to be in Tobin’s company already. It was a little scary how much she missed her. She wanted to see her in person, in the most urgent of ways. Like everyday. Her feelings for the other woman were so strong, she felt lightheaded just thinking about what it would be like to have Tobin’s arms wrapped around her again.

Looking in the full-length mirror in her closet, she was happy with the outfit she chose. She hoped Tobin would be, too. Though she was pretty sure she would. With one last fluff of her hair, she made her way out of her bedroom.

————

“Sounds like it was a blast,” Pinoe said.

“Yeah, it was a lot fu…” Tobin was mid-sentence when she first caught sight of Christen at the top of the stairs.

“Holy shit,” Tobin said, not meaning to curse in front of Emma, wholly unprepared to see Christen looking the way she did, even after Christen had teased her last night about what she might be wearing tonight.

“So…given tomorrow’s dress code guidance, what will you be wearing, Ms. Press?” Tobin asked, unable to think of anything else the rest of the day after her conversation with Christen earlier about what she should wear.

“I would hardly call ‘you can wear anything’ guidance, but I have something in mind…” Christen said coyly.

Tobin swallowed. “Oh?” she croaked out. “Care to describe?”

Christen tapped her nose with her finger and pretended to think on it. “Mm, nah. I might still change my mind, so I think I’ll keep it to myself,” she said with a grin.

“You’re cruel,” Tobin whined.

“And you’re impatient,” Christen said smiling.

“I’m not…I’m just…I’m looking forward to seeing you,” Tobin sighed.

“You’re cute when you’re impatient,” Christen teased. “But I’m looking forward to seeing you, too.”

“Language, Tobs,” Christen said laughing at the top of the stairs even though her nerves were back now that she’s gotten a glimpse of the beautiful woman whose company she was keeping tonight.

“Oh, sorry. I’m, uh, wow. Um, you look…wow,” Tobin said, unable to come up with a more sophisticated answer.

Pinoe and Emma tried not to laugh. It was exactly the reaction they hoped to get out of Tobin when they helped Christen get ready.

Christen kept her eyes solely on Tobin as she walked down the stairs, not caring about Pinoe and Emma’s presence and their silent giggles. All she could see was Tobin with her hair down in all its gorgeous glory, wearing an off white long sleeve henley, black skinny jeans, and dark brown chelsea boots. She looked perfect.

Tobin stood there, mouth hanging open as Christen descended the stairs. She couldn’t tell if her mouth was dry or if she was literally drooling. Either way, she was floored by how beautiful Christen looked. Her eyes had never seen anything more perfect. She was wearing a little forest green dress with quarter sleeves and a hint of cleavage and she couldn’t wait for her to stand in front of her so she could see how much it brought out her eyes. Her hair was down in their natural curls again and she didn’t think she would ever get tired of seeing Christen like this. Her legs were impossibly long, with the dress coming down a few inches above her knees and she wasn’t sure how she was supposed to come out of this night alive.

“Wow,” Tobin said as Christen stopped a foot away from her.

“You said that already,” Christen teased.

Sometimes words just fail. And this was one such moment in Tobin’s life. Christen just had a way of bringing out the nervous and awkward teenager in her.

“Sorry, I um…I’m not sure what else to say. So…wow,” Tobin said.

Christen threw her head back in laughter, which made Tobin’s eyes wander down her neck. If there wasn’t an audience right now, she would have let her nose nuzzle her pulse point, which had become her favorite thing to do with Christen, besides wrapping her arms around her waist.

“Oh, um, these are for you,” Tobin said, extending her hand to give Christen the bouquet of flowers she picked up with Jordan after school.

“They’re beautiful. I love the color and tulips are my favorite, thank you,” Christen said as she admired them.

“I might have had help in finding out what your favorite flower was,” Tobin admitted, with Jordan having asked Emma what Christen liked.

Christen smiled. “And I told you my favorite color was pink,” she pointed out.

Tobin smiled and shrugged as if it wasn’t a big deal, but it was. To Christen, it was a very big deal. It would have been easy for Tobin to go to the store and buy any bouquet of flowers in any color and Christen would have been perfectly happy with that. She would have been perfectly happy with nothing at all, but Tobin wanted to make her feel special, so she had brought her her favorite flower in her favorite color. Christen felt very special indeed.

“I love them, thank you,” Christen said again. “Let me go put these in water really quick.”

“Okay,” Tobin said, wanting to follow Christen into the kitchen, but stayed put since she needed a minute to calm herself down from seeing Christen in her dress.

Tobin, Pinoe, and Emma all watched Christen walk away and Tobin’s eyes couldn’t help but take a peek at Christen’s ass. Her incredibly perfect ass swaying in the most perfect dress.

“Okay, you can unmute yourselves now,” Emma whispered into her phone.

Tobin furrowed her brows, confused as to what was going on and who was on the phone.

“Hi Mom!” Jordan whispered cheerfully.

“What? Why are you guys on the phone?” Tobin asked, even though she wasn’t entirely surprised when she saw a three-headed monster on FaceTime.

“We wanted to see your reaction to seeing Christen,” Ashlyn piped in. “We had insider info that it would be priceless and they were right.”

Tobin rolled her eyes. This was definitely something they would do. They were all so excited for her that they practically shoved her out the door earlier. She should have expected it, honestly. She looked past all of them, anxious to get another glimpse of Christen.

“You alright there, Tobin?” Pinoe asked, patting her on the shoulder. “You looked like you were gonna pass out.”

“Ye…yeah, I’m okay,” Tobin said, averting her eyes and looking back at the group. “She just…she just knocked the wind out of me, that’s all,” she said honestly.

“If it makes you feel any better, she was a nervous wreck, too. She’s just a little better at hiding it,” Pinoe winked.

That made Tobin smile. Thinking about Christen being nervous about going out on a date with her did make her feel a little bit better.

“Thanks, Pinoe,” Tobin said.

Tobin got distracted again by Christen walking across the kitchen to wash her hands and she felt her own hands getting clammy. Teenager Tobin. Again.

“Have fun tonight, Mom,” Jordan said, forcing her to turn her head away from Christen.

“Yeah, have fun, Tobs,” Ali said.

“Thanks guys,” Tobin said, unable to help the chuckle from escaping her mouth. “Now can you please hang up.”

“We’ll stay on mute,” Jordan said, immediately silencing themselves before Tobin could argue that they should hang up altogether.

“Ready?” Christen asked, making them all whip their heads around.

“Yep,” Tobin said quickly, wanting to escape from everyone as she walked over to Christen.

Christen smiled at her and it took all the confidence Tobin had not to be disarmed by it and trip over her own feet as she approached her.

“Em, don’t stay up too late. You have school tomorrow,” Christen warned as she grabbed her small purse, knowing Emma always stayed up late whenever Pinoe was around.

“I won’t, Mom,” Emma promised.

Christen nodded and looked at Pinoe, silently asking her to make sure Emma got into bed at a decent hour.

Pinoe nodded back at her. “I’ll make sure she’s in bed by 10.”

“Thanks, P. For everything,” Christen said sincerely.

“Happy to be here. Now get out of here, you crazy kids,” Pinoe said, motioning with her hand to shoo them away.

“Okay, see ya later,” Christen said as she walked toward the front door with Tobin trailing behind her.

“See you guys,” Tobin called back and waved as Pinoe and Emma waved back.

Christen held on to the door frame as she slipped her heels on while keeping eye contact with Tobin. When she was done, she stood up straight and took a deep breath, nodding at Tobin to tell her she was ready to go.

Tobin opened the door for Christen and waited for her to walk past her and she followed her outside. She held out her arm to help Christen down the porch steps and Christen slipped her arm around Tobin’s bicep and they walked down together. When they reached the car, Tobin stopped, but didn’t open the car door. Instead, she gently lowered Christen’s hand that had a grip on her and they turned to face each other. Tobin didn’t hesitate this time, her confidence growing now that they were alone. She slowly closed the gap between them and Christen instinctively raised her arms to hug Tobin as Tobin’s arms wrapped themselves tightly around Christen’s waist.

They had been waiting to do this since Saturday night and they stood there holding each other as if they were content to just do that all night. Tobin was the first to pull back, wanting to look at Christen’s face up close, but keeping her hand securely on Christen’s hips while Christen’s hands were still loosely hanging on to her shoulders.

“Wow, Chris,” Tobin said again, much to Christen’s amusement. “Your eyes. I don’t think I’ve ever actually told you how much I love your eyes. I’ve never seen green like them before. When I first met you, your eyes pretty much shut my brain down and I couldn’t stop thinking about them. That’s why I was such an idiot then and it’s pretty much why I’m still an idiot around you now,” she said.

Christen giggled and blushed. She’d received compliments on her eyes before, but never in the way Tobin just did.

“You’re not an idiot. You’re cute when you’re flustered,” Christen said.

“Only when I’m flustered?” Tobin asked with playful eyes.

“Okay, you’re cute when you’re impatient and flustered and basically all the time,” Christen said.

Tobin grinned as she backed away slightly to get a full look at Christen’s dress. She shook her head in awe.

“Clearly, I don’t even know what to say about how you look in this dress,” Tobin said as she moved back in and tightened her grip on Christen again. “You are stunning,” she said as she leaned in and whispered against her ear and let her mouth linger around Christen’s neck without touching it.

“God, Tobin,” Christen shivered as she felt Tobin’s breath on her. “If you want to go slow, you’re gonna have to stop whispering in my ear like that,” she said jokingly as she ran her fingers through Tobin’s hair.

Tobin quickly stepped back and let go of Christen. “Shit, I’m sorry, Chris. I didn’t even realize…I didn’t…I didn’t mean to frustrate you,” she said remorsefully, her eyes cast downward.

Christen’s face softened as she reached out for Tobin to bring her body flush against her once more. “Hey,” she said, lifting Tobin’s chin. “You don’t have to be sorry. I’m just letting you know that I’m, uh…that, uh, my body’s really responsive to you right now. But it doesn’t mean I don’t like it, okay? It just means I’m having a hard time controlling myself around you and ultimately, that’s a good thing,” she said with a smile as she wrapped her arms around Tobin’s waist and Tobin instinctively rubbed her arms.

Tobin sighed, the guilt eating at her. “Yeah, but I’m the one who said we need to take it slow and here I am instigating.”

“Tobs, it’s okay, honestly. I’m having a hard time controlling myself, but I can control myself,” Christen assured the distraught-looking woman.

Christen had exercised more self-control in the last two months than she ever had in her entire life. Her immediate attraction to Tobin had taken all her willpower, especially since finding out about Tobin’s situation, not to act on her desires. She had exercised even more restraint in her own bedroom late at night when she could easily satisfy the need to release some tension in her body on her own. She wanted Tobin to be the one to release her from it and she knew it would be worth the wait.

“Besides, you’re not that hot. I can totally control myself around you,” Christen said jokingly and unconvincingly to try to ease Tobin’s worries.

That earned a chuckle from Tobin and Christen could see her shoulders visibly relax.

“So…where are you taking me tonight?” Christen asked to try to get them back on track.

“It’s a surprise,” Tobin said.

“Can I get a hint?” Christen asked seductively as she brought a hand up to cup Tobin’s cheek.

Tobin resisted the urge to put her hand over Christen’s and tell her exactly where they were going.

“Nice try, but nope,” Tobin said quickly.

Christen clicked her tongue. “It was worth a shot,” she said laughing as she let go of Tobin’s cheek.

“I suppose we should go or else this is going to feel like a double date with Pinoe and Emma watching from the window,” Christen said.

Tobin looked past Christen and sure enough, Pinoe and Emma’s faces were glued to the window. Tobin gave them a quick wave which made them scamper away. Tobin chuckled and finally opened the car door for Christen to get them on their way.

————

“Where are we?” Christen asked when Tobin parked the car twenty minutes later.

“You’ll see,” Tobin said as she unfastened her seat belt. “Stay right there.”

Tobin got out of the car and jogged to the other side and opened Christen’s door for her. She extended her hand out to Christen and helped her up. Christen’s body tingled at how chivalrous Tobin was, but she wasn’t the least bit surprised based on everything she knew about Tobin so far. This was just Tobin being Tobin.

Christen took in her surroundings, never having been to this side of town even though it was relatively close to her home. It was busy despite it being a Tuesday night. There were people milling about and restaurants that had outdoor seating, with mostly hipster 20-somethings and music being played. Christen decided right away that she liked this place, though she felt a little overdressed.

“The dress was too much,” Christen commented, feeling a little self-conscious.

Tobin shook her head vigorously. “Not at all. You look perfect,” she said. “Ready?”

Christen nodded and smiled when Tobin linked their hands and started leading her down the sidewalk. Tobin’s hand felt so right in hers, as if they’d been holding hands for years. Everything about being with Tobin felt right and she was buzzing with excitement, anxious to see where Tobin was taking her.

“Why do I feel like everyone is staring at me?” Christen whispered as she noticed a few people looking at her curiously. “I should have worn something else.”

Tobin squeezed her hand tighter and stopped in the middle of the sidewalk. There were indeed a few people staring at Christen, but not for the reason Christen thinks. “Hey, don’t worry. It’s not the dress. I mean, it is the dress, but it’s because they’ve never seen anyone as beautiful as you around here. They’re just having the same reaction that I did when I first saw you,” Tobin said chuckling as she let her hands rest on Christen’s hips. “But if you’re not comfortable, we can definitely go somewhere else. I don’t want you to feel uncomfortable tonight…or any night,” she said sincerely.

Christen blushed. She discreetly looked around and the stares did appear to be appreciative ones, which made her blush even more. She took a deep breath and shook her head. “No, I’m sorry, it just caught me off guard. Let’s keep going,” she said.

“Are you sure?” Tobin asked. “Because I have some other ideas that I’d be happy to…”

“No, Tobs, really it’s okay. I’m good now,” Christen said, getting her confidence back. “Thank you though.”

“Okay,” Tobin said as she took Christen’s hand again and started walking.

They came to a stop two blocks later in front of a couple of small two-story buildings with a walkway between them. They took the elevator upstairs and stopped at the third door that didn’t have a sign on it, just the suite number 2300, deepening the mystery that Christen was trying to solve. Tobin unlocked the door and opened it for Christen to see. Christen walked into a large dimly lit space that had a small table and two chairs in the middle of it and a couch by the large window as soft music played. She continued to look around and saw some paintings hanging on the walls, rows of paintings leaning against a wall, a couple of covered up easels, and paint supplies put away in one of the corners of the space. She then saw a sewing machine on the floor next to the paint supplies that confirmed her suspicions as soon as she walked in.

“We’re in your studio,” Christen concluded as she turned to smile at Tobin.

Tobin was a little nervous. She didn’t usually invite people into her workspace, preferring to keep to herself, though that didn’t stop people like Shannon from inviting themselves over. But she wanted Christen here. To share a little bit of herself.

“Welcome to Tobin Tuesday, date night edition,” Tobin said nervously. “I’m sorry, I know it’s stupid. I just kind of thought it would be nice to have a quiet dinner in a comfortable place where we wouldn’t be rushed for time.”

Christen kept smiling as she walked back over to Tobin and ran her hands up and down Tobin’s arms. “It’s not stupid. It’s perfect. Thank you for bringing me here. I really do love Tobin Tuesdays,” she grinned.

“You do?” Tobin asked as her hands found their way to Christen’s hips once again.

“Mmhmm. Any time I can get you alone to get to know you better is always a very good thing,” Christen said. “And food always helps,” she chuckled.

“I have food. I mean, I don’t have it here, but it’s a few doors down. I cooked earlier this afternoon and the owner of the restaurant is a friend of mine and they’ve been keeping it warm for me,” Tobin said.

Christen could only shake her head. When Tobin had asked her if there was anything she didn’t like to eat, she thought Tobin was just figuring out what restaurants would be off limits. She didn’t realize it was because Tobin was planning on cooking. “Is there anything you can’t do?”

“Mm,” Tobin thought. “I can’t stop thinking about you,” she said with a big grin.

Christen rolled her eyes. “Even when you’re corny you’re cute,” she said laughing.

“Can I get you some wine?” Tobin asked.

“Sure,” Christen said easily.

“We’re having spaghetti and meatballs tonight, so I have a couple of reds for you to choose from. I’ve got Sangiovese and Chianti. Do either of those sound good to you?”

“I’ll have a Sangiovese, please. And I’m sure I’ll try the Chianti later,” Christen said, her mouth already watering at the sound of dinner since she usually ate relatively early with Emma on most nights and this was late for her.

Tobin walked over to the counter that had the wine and glasses and poured one for each of them. She offered one to Christen and raised her glass.

“To our daughters, without whom we wouldn’t be here today,” Tobin said.

“To our daughters,” Christen echoed. “And to Tobin Tuesday.”

Tobin smiled widely and clinked her glass with Christen’s. They both took a sip and let the wine settle on their tongues.

“Mm, that is really good,” Christen complimented.

“It is,” Tobin agreed. “I’m glad the guy at Total Wine knew what he was talking about.”

Christen laughed and shook her head.

“Are you hungry? I can go grab our food downstairs,” Tobin said.

“Starving,” Christen said.

“Okay, I’ll be right back. You can look around or have a seat anywhere,” Tobin said.

“Okay,” Christen said, opting to look around the studio at some of Tobin’s work on the walls.

————

“Thanks so much, Lys. I owe you,” Tobin said as Alyssa took Tobin’s dish out of the oven and the salad out of the fridge.

“Don’t worry about it. I’m happy to help. Besides, your date is ridiculously pretty. You could have warned us. I’m pretty sure she caught us all staring at her earlier,” Alyssa said laughing, mildly embarrassed.

“Completely out of my league, right? She’s so fucking beautiful, inside and out,” Tobin said.

Alyssa smiled at her friend. In all the years that they had been work neighbors, she had never seen Tobin bring anyone on a date to her studio and she was more than willing to help her pull it off.

“She’s more in your league than you give yourself credit for. You two look really happy. I’m happy for you,” Alyssa said sincerely.

“Thanks, Lys. She’s really great. Like I can’t believe she just walked into my life the way she did, completely by chance,” Tobin said.

“Well I’m glad to see you smiling. Now go. Don’t keep her waiting,” Alyssa said, nodding her head toward the door.

“Thanks Lys, I’ll see you tomorrow,” Tobin said.

“Later Tobs.”

————

“Tobin, this was amazing,” Christen said as she took her last bite and leaned back in her chair. “I still can’t believe you made spaghetti noodles from scratch!”

When Tobin told Christen that she made everything from scratch, her jaw just about hit the floor. Apparently, making pasta from scratch was also one of the random things she’s dabbled in. Tobin explained that she was in love with the creative process of things and was always willing to try new things, even if they were time-consuming things.

Tobin grinned and shrugged her shoulders. “I’m glad you liked it.”

“I didn’t like it. I loved it. Really, thank you for that meal,” Christen said appreciatively.

“You’re very welcome,” Tobin said. “Do you think you’ll have room to get ice cream later? There’s a place that’s really good a couple blocks down the street.”

“I would never turn down ice cream,” Christen said smiling.

“Awesome,” Tobin said.

They looked at each other for a few moments, neither saying a word. It had been a lovely dinner with conversation flowing easily, neither of them ever running out of things to say. But now that there was no food to distract them, the energy in the room shifted.

“What are you thinking about?” Tobin finally asked.

Christen smiled and leaned forward. “Will you dance with me? I need to work out all the food I just ate,” she said.

Tobin leaned forward, too.

“Christen Press, do you think there’s any scenario in which I would refuse to dance with you?” Tobin asked with a smirk.

Christen gave her a small smile and looked up as Tobin stood and placed her napkin on the table. She walked up to Christen and held out her hand. Christen took her hand and stood up to meet Tobin face to face. Tobin led her a few feet away from the table and they began to dance to the music that was softly playing in the background. Tobin securely wrapped both arms around Christen’s waist as Christen wrapped her arms around Tobin’s neck, their bodies warm against each other. Each time they held each other like this felt like the first time.

“So…you can paint things, you can build things, you can sew things, you can cook things, you can teach me how to play golf. What else can you do that I don’t know about, Tobin Heath?” Christen asked in Tobin’s ear with a light giggle.

Christen’s voice made Tobin shiver, but she kept her composure as she pulled back to look at Christen. “You’ll just have to find out as we go,” she teased.

Christen would be lying if she said she wasn’t thinking about what else Tobin’s hands could do. What they could do to her.

“Fine,” Christen said, feigning annoyance.

Tobin let her hands run up and down Christen’s back, slipping through the small opening in the middle, feeling Christen’s soft skin. In her wildest dreams, Tobin couldn’t have imagined she’d be dancing with the woman that was in her arms right now.

“Tobin?” Christen said.

“Yeah?” Tobin replied.

“Will you show me something you’re working on? I wanna see where and how the magic happens,” Christen said.

Tobin blinked a couple of times. She hadn’t expected Christen to ask her this tonight.

“You wanna see my work?” Tobin asked.

“Yes, of course I wanna see your work. You never did send me the address to this place after you brought me lunch at work three weeks ago. You said you were going to,” Christen teased as she brushed some of Tobin’s hair off her face.

Tobin blushed, still in awe that Christen wanted to see her process.

“Sorry,” Tobin said contritely. “I just…I don’t usually have people over and I guess you intimidate me a little. You’re such a busy and important woman, I just couldn’t believe this would be something you’d really be interested in,” she said.

Christen gave her a disappointed look and stopped dancing. “Tobin, I always mean what I say. And when I said I wanted to see your studio and your work in person, I absolutely meant it. What’s important to you is important to me,” she said firmly, wanting Tobin to understand how serious she was about this…and how serious she was about her.

Tobin had forgotten this feeling. The feeling of having someone wanting to know everything there is to know about you and the feeling of you wanting the same. She’d felt it once in her life and looking back in Christen’s eyes, she could recognize that this was exactly that same feeling and she opened her heart to it.

“Sorry, I know that now,” Tobin said. “Um, what do you wanna see?”

“Anything you wanna show me. Either something that’s already finished or something that’s a work in progress. I just wanna get into that brain of yours. That beautiful brain on this beautiful head that thinks sewing and cooking are fun,” she teased.

Tobin laughed. She gave it some thought, trying to think of what to show Christen first.

“Okay, um, we can start here. You can look at some of my finished stuff first,” Tobin said as she let go of Christen and walked toward rows upon rows of paintings leaning against one another. “Start from the back of each row if you want to see them in chronological order.”

Christen hunched over and started perusing through the collection. Christen’s first thought was that Tobin was an amazing artist. Not only were her paintings aesthetically beautiful, but she could feel the power and emotion in them.

“How old is the first one?” Christen asked without looking back, fascinated by Tobin’s work.

“I’ve had this studio for 14 years, so I guess that old,” Tobin said.

“Mm,” Christen hummed as she continued to flip through each one.

Tobin looked on anxiously. She was so nervous about Christen looking at her stuff that she couldn’t even appreciate the smoke show in front of her that was Christen’s backside and legs. She hadn’t ever felt this vulnerable about her work and this was certainly going differently than any first date she’d ever had.

Christen patiently went through every single one of the paintings, of which there were over a hundred, and briefly studied each of them. Tobin quietly stood behind her, letting her take her time. When Christen was done, she turned around and purposefully walked toward Tobin and pulled her into a big hug. Tobin hugged her back and buried her face in Christen’s neck as they gripped each other tightly.

After a few moments, Christen pulled back and smiled at Tobin, though she could see the emotion in Christen’s eyes.

Christen had felt a surge of feelings run through her as she looked at Tobin’s paintings. She could see the progression from before Tobin’s world was turned upside down to after. Tobin had gone from paintings that were vibrant and free, to paintings that conveyed heartbreak and despair. And now her paintings conveyed hope, as if flickers of her old self had come back, the most recent one being bright pink and orange that made Christen beam.

“Tobin, you are so incredibly talented,” Christen said in awe. “At first, I wanted you to talk to me about your paintings, but as I was looking through them, I realized that I didn’t need you to. I could see your feelings clearly on each canvas. Thank you for trusting me and for letting me in.”

Tobin didn’t know whether to smile or cry. She’d never let anyone look at this work before. Work that got her through the hardest times of her life. This was her sacred space, the place where she would go to get away. But getting away from Christen was the last thing on her mind now.

“Chris,” Tobin whispered, barely able to breathe as she leaned her forehead against Christen’s and cupped her face in her hands. “I don’t wanna wonder anymore.”

Christen’s heart was beating so fast, she felt like she might die in the best way she could imagine. Resolving to let Tobin come to her once again, to go at her pace as she promised, she didn’t say a word and let Tobin finish her thought.

“I don’t wanna wonder anymore what it might be like to kiss you,” Tobin continued, her voice soft and sincere. “Chris…can I…can I kiss you?” she finally asked as she pulled back to watch and listen for Christen’s answer.

Christen had never wanted a kiss so badly in her life. And the fact that Tobin even asked for permission sent her into a tailspin. She’d dreamt of this, day and night for the past two months, and she couldn’t think of a more perfect moment.

“Yes, Tobs,” Christen said breathlessly as her hands clung to the sides of Tobin’s shirt, her entire body feeling like it was hanging on by a thread at how desperately she wanted to kiss Tobin. “Kiss me.”

Tobin smiled as her eyes darkened. Slowly, she leaned in, closed her eyes, and let her lips brush softly against Christen’s. As soon as their lips touched, Tobin felt her entire world shift. Years of keeping her guard up faded away as she put her heart in Christen’s careful hands. Their lips slotted perfectly against each other and the little sounds coming from Christen ignited something inside of Tobin that she thought would never come alive again. Her hands traveled down toward Christen’s back and she pulled her in some more, wanting there to be no air between their bodies. She then let her tongue play against Christen’s lips and waited for an invitation in.

Christen was in heaven. She was sure of it with the way she was moaning like it was the first time she’d ever been kissed. There was no other way to describe what it felt like to have Tobin’s soft, perfect lips brushing against hers. And when she felt Tobin’s tongue ask for permission into her mouth, she eagerly welcomed it inside by flicking her own tongue against Tobin’s, tasting all of her. It made her moan even louder and it made her body feel more alive than it’s ever been. This wasn’t just any kiss. This was Tobin trusting her enough to give her a piece of her heart. She could feel Tobin’s hands gripping her tightly and she pulled Tobin’s mouth painfully closer to hers like she couldn’t get enough. Could never get enough.

They continued breathing hard through their noses, not wanting to break their passionate embrace. They continued exploring until it became necessary to pull apart so they wouldn’t both fall down from their legs threatening to give out at the intensity of the moment.

“Tobin,” Christen said, completely out of breath against Tobin’s lips as her hands found their way down to Tobin’s abs and feeling how muscular they were.

“Christen,” Tobin responded, her mouth still chasing Christen’s.

“Fuck,” Christen breathed out. “Tobin, I want you so bad and this feels so good, but we should stop before this gets out of hand,” she said, trying to do the right thing as she continued to kiss the other woman, unable to help herself.

“You taste so good, Chris,” Tobin said, her lips still unwilling to detach themselves from Christen’s.

“God, Tobin. You’re driving me crazy,” Christen said, barely able to get the words out, her body completely aroused.

“You’re so sexy,” Tobin husked against Christen’s ear as she nibbled on her ear lobe.

Tobin couldn’t get enough of Christen’s voice and the sounds she was making. It made her want to do things to hear them over and over again. But she knew they couldn’t go further than what they’ve already done no matter how turned on they both were. She had hoped to maybe get up the nerve to kiss Christen at the end of the night and this was already more than she could have imagined. But she wasn’t ready for more and they both knew it.

“You’re right, I’m sorry,” Tobin said, finally somewhat coming to her senses as she pulled back, but kept her hold on Christen’s hips.

They both wiped their mouths and tried to get their breathing under control, but their eyes were still dark as if they wanted to dive right back in.

“You don’t have to apologize. I just…I just didn’t want to get carried away,” Christen said as she ran her hands through Tobin’s hair.

Tobin thanked her lucky stars that Christen was being so patient and understanding. She was also thankful that Christen was able to recognize when something was getting a bit too heavy and had the strength to stop. Part of Tobin didn’t want to stop and lay Christen down on the couch, but a bigger part of her needed to stop.

“Do you, uh…is there, uh, anything that you’re working on that you want to show me?” Christen asked, trying to get back to what they were doing before their mind-blowing first kiss.

“Um, yeah…sure,” Tobin said, slightly hesitating, which Christen could hear in her voice and see in her eyes.

“You don’t have to. We don’t have to look at anything. I was just curious,” Christen said, not wanting Tobin to feel pressure about showing something she was still working on.

“No, it’s okay. Um, I only have a couple. One of them is a commission I just started a couple days ago so there’s not much to see at this point,” Tobin said as she let go of Christen and walked over to one of the two easels covered by a tarp.

Christen trailed behind her and watched as Tobin pulled the cover off and revealed a canvas full of different shades of green. It was a painting that looked as if it were a wall and you were trying to pick out which shade of green to paint the entire room. Christen looked at it a little longer, looking for some other meaning to it other than Tobin showing different shades of green.

“Is this a commission, too? Is it almost done?” Christen asked as she looked over at Tobin.

“No, um, no it’s not,” Tobin said. “It’s not a commission and I’m starting to think it’ll never be done,” she said chuckling, a deep blush covering her face.

Christen scrunched up her eyebrows. “What do you mean?” she asked.

Tobin cleared her throat, unsure of whether to explain it to Christen or just shrug her shoulders and not answer her at all. In the end, of course, she chose the truth.

“It’s, uh, your eyes,” Tobin said, which appeared to further confuse Christen. “I mean, it’s the color of your eyes. Or at least, that’s what I was going for. I haven’t been able to find the color combination to match them. That’s why I said it might never be done. I’ve never seen eyes like yours before and I think they’re the most beautiful eyes I’ve ever seen and I didn’t mean to seem creepy because I just kind of couldn’t stop thinking about them since the first time I saw you and so I was trying to replicate it,” she embarrassingly rambled, her blush even deeper now.

Christen smiled at the fidgety woman who was trying to explain her art. She moved to stand in front of her and cupped her red hot cheeks with her hands as Tobin held on to Christen’s sides.

“You’re adorable, you know that?” Christen said. “That’s really sweet, Tobs, and it just makes me want to kiss you again,” she said, looking hungrily at Tobin’s lips.

“I would kiss you all night if I could. I’m dying just a little bit to kiss you again,” Tobin said, her pulse racing again and moving closer to Christen.

“You could,” Christen said, feeling like they were magnets you couldn’t keep away from each other. “A little,” she teased.

“Chris…” Tobin said, unable to help herself as she crashed her lips against Christen’s once more.

They wrapped their arms tightly around each other as their tongues explored and tasted each other’s mouths. Their hands were everywhere, with Tobin hiking up Christen’s dress slightly and kneading her perfect ass and Christen feeling Tobin’s muscular back against her fingertips. It was another few intense moments before it was Tobin who stopped them this time.

“Shit,” Tobin said. “Chris, I’m sorry, we should stop,” she said with a pained look on her face, wanting so badly to keep contact with Christen.

Christen sighed and buried her face in Tobin’s chest. “I know,” she said, muffled by Tobin’s shirt.

“Do you wanna get ice cream now? Help cool us down?” Tobin said chuckling.

“Yes, please,” Christen said, her body on fire and in desperate need of something to extinguish it.

“Vanilla with hot fudge, right?” Tobin asked, remembering what Christen had previously told her.

“You got it,” Christen said, her breathing still erratic, wondering how she would survive the wait until Tobin was ready for more.

————

Tobin shut Christen’s car door for her and followed her up the steps to her front porch with her hand on the small of Christen’s back.

Christen stopped at the door and looked at Tobin who was smiling at her. That smile. That megawatt smile that never failed to draw a smile right back from Christen.

“I had an amazing time tonight,” Christen said, certain that this was the best first date she’d ever had.

“Me too, Chris,” Tobin said. “I’ve really enjoyed spending time with you these last couple of months and to be able to officially take you out on a date tonight was an honor,” she said.

Christen wasn’t really sure what she was supposed to say to that. There didn’t seem to be any words adequate enough to tell Tobin how much she treasured the time they’ve spent together, especially tonight.

“Tobin,” Christen said as she drew closer to her. “Thank you for everything tonight. For the flowers, for cooking an amazing meal, for dancing with me, for sharing your work with me. I know that wasn’t easy and I’m the one who’s honored that you’ve chosen me to share those things with.”

Tobin exuded calm on the outside, but she was excited and terrified on the inside. Everything in her was telling her that this wasn’t possible. That there was another person in this world who could make her feel this way. But then she remembered Ken’s story about his friend who lost his wife and found love again. It grounded her and she accepted it.

“I can’t imagine sharing it with anyone else,” Tobin said sincerely. “But you forgot about the kisses. I gave you lots of kisses tonight,” she joked.

Christen laughed heartily as she pulled Tobin in toward her. “Come here, you. Thank you for the kisses, too. That was obviously my favorite part.”

“Obviously,” Tobin said as she cupped Christen’s cheeks once again and brushed her lower lip with her thumb.

“And I can’t let you go home without one more,” Christen whispered.

Tobin swallowed and clenched her jaw, knowing it would take everything in her not to take Christen inside once their lips touch again, but she risked it anyway. She leaned in and kissed Christen, a happy feeling washing over her.

Tobin pulled away moments later and ran a hand through Christen’s curls.

“I’ll call you when I get home, beautiful,” Tobin promised.

“Okay,” Christen said, already missing Tobin.

Christen watched Tobin make her way down the porch, almost falling over when she looked back, which made Christen’s heart jump and a giggle escape her lips when Tobin regained her balance. Yeah, she was in trouble. She was head over heels in love with Tobin Heath.

————