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December 31st, 2015

11:28 pm

 

“Drink up!” Emma exclaimed, pressing a shot of tequila into her hands. 

“Emma. I’m not getting drunk tonight,” Emily said with a sigh, pushing the small glass back towards her sister.

Out of everywhere in the world, the last place Emily Sonnett wanted to be right now was here, in this crowded bar in downtown Atlanta. Usually she loved being back in Georgia for winter break, but tonight she wished she was anywhere else. She wished she was back in her college apartment in Virginia, where she could hide under her duvet and finish off the Ben and Jerry’s that was sitting in her freezer. She wished she could watch yet another sappy Hallmark movie without being pitied by her parents and her sister. 

She was annoyed that her stupid twin had dragged her out to this stupid New Year’s Eve party, and was now forcing her to drink stupid tequila. 

She was even more annoyed that her stupid girlfriend had broken up with her - over the phone, no less - just eight days before stupid Christmas, and now she was stupid heartbroken during what was meant to be the “most wonderful time of the year”. 

The pair had started dating during her sophomore year of college, and honestly, Emily thought they’d be together forever. Obviously, her girlfriend - well... now ex-girlfriend - had a different opinion and had ended things just a few months shy of their three year anniversary, blaming Emily’s “lack of commitment due to her busy schedule”. 

Emily knew that was bullshit. Sure, juggling her senior year studies at UVA, as well as her internship at a local interior design firm had kept her pretty busy, but she knew she had been a great girlfriend. 

It had been her first real relationship, and now Emily was experiencing her first real heartbreak… and to be honest, she was not handling it particularly well. It had taken four solid days of crying, followed by three solid days of drinking, before her parents and her sister decided that they had had enough. 

On the morning of Christmas Eve, Emma had forced her way into Emily’s childhood bedroom and had pulled her out of her bed, telling her to shower and get dressed into some “real clothes”. After feeding her a proper breakfast, Emma dragged her into the city, because, of course, Emily had forgotten it was Christmas the next day. 

She had yet to buy a single Christmas present for the family that she would be seeing the following morning - she'd been so absorbed in her own heartbreak that the task of gift shopping had completely slipped her mind. A few hours and a couple hundred dollars later, with her arms full of shopping bags and rolls of wrapping paper, she had finally started to feel a little bit festive. 

As much as she hated to admit it, Emma getting her out of the house that day had probably been the best thing that had happened to Emily since the break up. That evening, she felt a little less heartbroken than she had all week, and for the first time, she truly believed that she was going to be okay.

It was because of this that she had agreed to join Emma and her friends for New Year’s Eve. She originally had big, big plans of Netflix and wine on the couch, followed by ice cream and rom-coms in her bed, before falling asleep slightly tipsy and none-the-wiser to the fact that 2015 was over and the new year had begun. Obviously, when she had told her sister about her itinerary for the evening, Emma had lost it. 

“Please tell me you’re joking,” Emma had said. Emily had just sighed and buried herself deeper under her covers, ignoring her twin’s stare. 

“Emma, I really don’t want to go out tonight. I’ll just be surrounded by people who are happy and in love and it’ll just remind me of how single and miserable I am.”

“Emily Ann Sonnett.” Emma stated bluntly. “I love you but please get your ass out of bed, and put on some cute clothes. We’re going out. We’ll have a few drinks and dance a bit. Find you a hot girl to kiss at midnight. You can be heartbroken and miserable tomorrow, okay? We’re leaving at 9,” With that, Emma left the room, and Emily rolled over, groaning into her pillow. 

As much as she wanted to stay in her bed forever, Emma did have a point. Emily’s current plans did sound a bit depressing, and after the last time she'd been dragged out the house by her sister, she had felt slightly better. Maybe a fun night out was just what she needed.

A few hours later, Emily wasn’t too sure what past-Emily was thinking. The bar was too hot and too loud and way too crowded. She had sworn off alcohol for the night, deciding to be kind to her liver for the first time in about two weeks, but Emma didn’t seem to care. 

“Drink up.” she repeated, forcing the shot back into Emily’s hands. She sent Emma a death glare over the rim of the glass, but downed it regardless. She only grimaced a little as she swallowed. “Good,” Emma praised. “Now, get out on that dance floor. You have -” Emma checked her watch, “- exactly 32 minutes to find somebody to kiss at midnight.”

-

Fifteen minutes later, Emily had completely abandoned her task of looking for a midnight smooch. She had danced for a little bit, but spent the entire time feeling awkward and claustrophobic. In the end, she had escaped to the patio, claimed a seat at the end of the outdoor bar that overlooked the city, and ordered a strong drink. It was nicer outside, she noted. If she was going to spend midnight alone, she would prefer to do it up here, where she could watch some fireworks and enjoy the cool breeze. 

She was so busy nodding along to the country hit playing over the speakers, that she didn’t even notice the chair next to her get pulled out, until a warm body settled in beside her. At first Emily didn’t look up, not particularly in the mood for making awkward conversation with a stranger. She stared down at the remnants of her drink, prodding the ice cubes in the empty glass with her tiny straw, and tried her best to seem uninterested, hoping that she would soon be left alone. She just wanted to be able to feel miserable in peace. 

The first thing Emily noticed about the person next to her was that they smelled incredible. She had no idea what scent they were wearing, but the notes of cedar and lemon swirled throughout the space between them, and Emily never wanted them to leave. The second thing she noticed was that this stranger’s voice, the feminine, slightly-southern drawl spilling out of their mouth as they leant across the bar whilst casually chatting to the bartender, was equally as captivating. Emily couldn’t quite hear their dialogue over the music, but she was happy to settle and enjoy this new stimulation to her senses, appreciating the silent distraction this person was providing from all of the self-deprecating thoughts rushing through her mind. 

After a second, the space around her fell quiet, and it wasn’t until a champagne flute slid into her field of vision, that Emily realised this person was trying to get her attention. Emily lifted her head, completely prepared to politely ask to be left alone, until she locked eyes with one of the most beautiful women she had seen in a long, long time. 

Emily really shouldn’t have been as surprised as she was - this woman smelt hot... this woman sounded hot... of course this woman was actually hot. Her hazel eyes were sparkling in the dim light of the outdoor bar and her chestnut hair fell in soft waves over her shoulders. Emily followed her freckles from her cheeks to her chin and down her neck, to where a gold pendant hung gently over her sharp collar bones. She was dressed similarly to Emily, wearing ripped jeans and a smart black shirt. 

She looked older than Emily. She looked put together. She looked stunning.

Emily just offered her a soft smile, mumbled a quiet thank you, and picked up the glass. She clinked it gently against the one the brunette was holding, and smiled against the rim of it as she took a cautious sip. She usually didn’t drink champagne, but the celebratory choice of drink seemed appropriate for the occasion. 

They both set their glasses down, basking in a second of silence and heavy eye contact before the other woman spoke up. 

“My girlfriend broke up with me three weeks ago. Because I travel too much.” The stranger said. Emily froze, partly confused at this random person’s sudden need to overshare, and partly because of the confirmation that this very hot woman also dated women. The brunette bumped their shoulders together playfully and lifted her glass again. Just before she took another sip of the champagne, she turned in her chair, so she was looking at Emily. She was so close that her knees were now pressing against Emily’s thigh. “How about you?”

Emily had no idea how this complete stranger knew that she was recently single, but she decided not to question it. Instead she smudged the ring of condensation her glass had left on the countertop with her index finger and shrugged. “Two weeks ago. She said that I didn’t make enough time for her and our relationship.” Emily couldn’t help the bitterness that was present in her voice, as she recounted the reason for her break up. 

“Well, for the record, I think she’s missing out,” the stranger said. Emily blushed. She couldn’t quite figure if it was a sincere compliment, or if this other woman was flirting with her. Either way, Emily decided, she didn’t really care. Regardless of how the comment was intended, it was the first thing in days which had made Emily feel good about herself. 

“Thank you. I could say the same thing about you,” Emily easily responded. “How’d you know?” She then enquired, still curious as to how this stranger had somehow read her so perfectly. The other woman just shrugged. 

“It’s ten minutes until midnight on New Year’s Eve, and you’re drinking alone and looking pretty fucking sad. So you’re either doing long distance and missing someone, or you’re heartbroken. Considering you haven’t so much as touched your phone in the last five minutes, I guessed the latter.” Emily broke eye contact with the woman. She wanted to defend herself, and her obvious body language, but instead she focused on something else the other woman had said. 

“Sounds like you’ve been watching me for a while, huh?” Emily smirked at the bashful look that crossed the strangers face. Her embarrassment at getting caught staring was obvious. The brunette just leaned closer into Emily’s space, letting one hand fall to the inside of Emily’s knee, the other reaching for her drink again. Emily grinned. This woman was shameless... and not at all subtle.

“Well, you’re kind of beautiful. It’s hard not to look at you,” she spoke into the space between them, before sipping at her champagne. Emily felt a shiver jolt down her spine, and all of a sudden her ex was the last thing on her mind. Now, all she could think about was threading her fingers through this other woman’s soft brown hair and pulling her in for a kiss. She wanted to unbutton that crisp black shirt and find out if those freckles stretched below her neckline. She wanted to find out if she tasted as good as she smelled. 

Emily had never really done this - the whole “picking people up at bars” thing. Sure, she’d dated around before meeting her ex-girlfriend, but she had never perfected the casual, flirty banter required for interactions like this. 

It wasn’t until the other woman introduced herself that Emily realized that they still didn’t know each other’s names.

“I’m Kelley, by the way,” she said with a soft smile, setting down her glass so she could reach out a hand.  

“Emily,” Emily responded, lifting her own and shaking this woman’s - Kelley’s - outstretched palm. 

“Well, Emily, it’s very nice to meet you.” Kelley slid off her seat and moved so she was standing in between Emily’s bent legs. Kelley dropped her hands to Emily’s knees, and slid them up the outside of her thighs as she stepped right into Emily’s space. Emily felt her whole body react to her touch and mindlessly let her own hands fall to Kelley’s biceps, holding her close. Kelley’s lips grazed her jaw, before she asked. “Would you like to dance?” 

-

Emily didn’t realise that it was almost midnight until she looked up from Kelley’s shoulder to see that the outdoor patio had now become extremely crowded. She felt Kelley’s grip on her tighten as they got jostled by the other partygoers pushing past them, forcing them even closer together. 

Once they had left the bar and found some space on the nearby dance floor, the shorter brunette had looped her arms around Emily’s shoulders, pulling her into a loose embrace. Emily had responded in kind and settled her hands on Kelley’s lower back, her fingers hooking through Kelley’s belt loops. Some chilled chart topper was being played over the sound system, and the women fell into a comfortable embrace. They weren’t really dancing, just slowly swaying together amongst the mass of people surrounding them. Kelley was leaning heavy into her arms, quietly singing along to the music and letting her fingers play with the wisps of blonde hair that had escaped Emily’s messy bun. 

At that moment it didn’t feel like they were two broken strangers who had met only ten minutes prior. It felt like they belonged together. It felt like Kelley and Emily had been doing this... whatever this was... for years. Emily couldn’t get enough of her. 

Emily let her head rest in the crook of Kelley’s neck, and breathed her in. She felt more intoxicated by the scent of cedar and lemon on Kelley’s skin than by all of the drinks she had consumed that night. She placed a soft kiss onto the freckles she found there, and loved the way she felt Kelley shiver in her arms at the contact. 

A second later, she lifted her head, eyes dancing over the crowded room. She placed a second kiss on Kelley’s temple as she heard a distant shout of “one minute!” from somewhere across the crowd. Emily let a hand slip under Kelley’s shirt, pressing flat across her muscled back and holding her closer. They swayed together for a long beat, before Emily spoke up, her voice quiet in the small space between them. 

“Kelley...” she got the brunette’s attention. Kelley looked up, meeting Emily’s eyes, offering a small nod. It was the first time all night that Kelley had looked a little unsure - so unlike the confident flirt whom Emily had met at the bar just a few minutes earlier. “At midnight... Can I kiss you?” Emily asked. Kelley gave her a soft smile and nodded again, sliding her fingers deeper into Emily's hair. 

“Yes, Em... please do.”

-

When she woke up, Emily immediately noticed that she wasn’t in her own bed. The mattress beneath her was slightly too firm, the comforter over her was a little too thin and the room felt unusually cold. It wasn’t until she realised that her arms were wrapped around another person, that she remembered the events of the previous night. As soon as the memories became clear she felt a blush creep up her cheeks. 

The images flooded her mind. Kelley... the hot brunette who had approached her at the bar, who had somehow made her forget about her ex in the matter of seconds, and had held her close as they danced. Kelley... who had kissed her speechless when the clock had struck midnight. 

As the people around them had counted down to the new year, Emily had tightened her grip on the shorter woman in her arms, almost as if she was scared that Kelley would slip away. She had let her gaze trace shamelessly over Kelley’s face, following her freckles in spiralling patterns across her cheeks, before letting her eyes settle on her mouth. And as one year rolled into the next, Kelley had pulled her in, and had connected their lips. 

The kiss had started out slowly, almost cautiously, as the two women got used to each other. It had felt a little clumsy to begin with, but as soon as Emily stepped in a little closer and tilted her head to find that perfect angle, it had felt incredible. Kelley had sighed against Emily’s mouth, easily parting her lips and pulling Emily in deeper. The blonde couldn’t get enough, and as her teeth caught the flesh of Kelley’s bottom lip, before soothing the area with the tip of her tongue, she thought that maybe she could do this forever. 

They had made out on the dance floor for what felt like hours, and when they separated, lips swollen and eyes hooded, Emily had immediately accepted the invitation back to Kelley’s hotel room. 

The anticipation of where the night was about to go was swirling deep in the pit of her stomach, cumulating between her legs. Emily couldn’t remember the last time she had felt this turned on from just a kiss. Even during the most passionate nights she had spent with her ex, she had never felt like this.  

She kept close to Kelley as they closed out their tabs, shooting a quick text to Emma, before they left the bar and made the short journey down the street to Kelley’s hotel.

Now, Emily felt herself blushing as she remembered the previous night; how skilled Kelley had been with her hands and her mouth, how amazing Kelley had tasted, how hot Kelley had sounded as she came against Emily’s tongue.

Emily thought she knew what mind-blowing sex felt like, but after last night... after a one night stand with a total stranger, Emily felt like her whole world had shifted. Emily wanted to stay. She wanted to wake up slowly alongside this beautiful womanwho was currently sleeping soundly against the curve of Emily’s body. She wanted to take her to breakfast. She wanted to get to know her.

But Emily also knew she was only two weeks out of a long term relationship. Kelley was only three. 

This was not what they had agreed to the previous night, and Emily didn’t want to complicate things by making this a bigger deal than what it was. 

Last night had just been great sex with a total stranger. It had been no-strings-attached. It had been two heartbroken people, finding each other in the right place at the right time. Both women had used each other as a rebound, so they could feel good and forget about their hardships for a few short hours. 

Emily let out a quiet sigh, before slowly rolling out of the bed. The air conditioning of the room was cool against her naked skin and she quickly and silently went about collecting her scattered clothing from the patterned hotel carpet. 

She quickly located her bra and her jeans, relieved when she noticed that her phone was still wedged into one of the back pockets. She pulled the items of clothing on in the dark room. She had no idea where the white blouse she had been wearing the night before had ended up, but just as she started to search around for it she heard Kelley stir on the mattress behind her. 

The woman in the bed exhaled and rolled over, probably seeking the warmth that Emily had just been providing, before settling again. 

Emily knew she had to get out of there as soon as possible, before Kelley woke up and caught her trying to run away red handed. In a moment of panic, Emily grabbed the first shirt she saw - a vintage Atlanta Braves tee, that had been neatly folded on top of Kelley’s suitcase. She pulled it over her head, only wincing slightly as she caught one of the knots in her messy hair, grabbed her phone and her shoes, and padded quietly across the carpet. 

As she walked, she couldn’t stand the idea of leaving without a trace. She couldn’t stand the idea of Kelley waking up and being left completely alone after the perfect night they had shared together. Just before she reached the door, she stopped at the small desk and penned a quick message on the hotel notepad. She considered leaving her number - an open invitation to do this again if Kelley was ever back in town, but decided against it. She set the pen down. 

As she opened the door, she stole one last look at Kelley... at the peaceful expression on her face as she slept, and her messy hair which was sprawled across the pillow.

Emily smiled, so grateful for the few hours they had spent together, before leaving the room. 

 

Thank you for an incredible night. 

Happy New Year!

Em

 

 


2.

 

December 31st, 2018

8:34 pm

 

Kelley thanked the bartender as he slipped the drink across the countertop towards her. She picked up the glass and took a long sip, before turning to weave back through the crowds so she could re-join the group of friends she had come out with. 

Alex and Serv had offered to host her in Los Angeles for the new year, where she could have enjoyed the warmer weather and caught some waves, but Kelley had turned down the invite. Being a professional soccer player meant that she was always on the road. If she made the roster for the upcoming World Cup, she knew that she’d spend the majority of the year with her teammates, so it was an easy decision to stay in her hometown with her parents and siblings for a couple extra weeks. Kelley pretended that this was the only reason she wanted to spend New Year’s Eve in Atlanta. 

She didn’t visit this bar very often. In fact, she really only came once a year - every December 31st - to ring in the New Year and hopefully catch a glimpse of the gorgeous blonde she had met in this very building three years ago. 

Kelley would be lying if she said that the night she had spent with Emily didn’t cross her mind regularly. If she was being honest, she thought about the other woman way too much considering she was practically a stranger. It made no sense how much Kelley missed her. Kelley didn't even know her.

After World Cup Qualifiers with the national team in October, she had come home to Atlanta for ankle surgery. During her few months of rehab, when soccer hadn’t been consuming her days like it usually did, Kelley had spent her time in and around the city. She visited family and friends, tried out local restaurants and coffee shops, and found herself looking for that messy blonde bun everywhere she turned. Emily was a complete stranger, and Kelley still didn’t understand why, years later, she couldn’t get this girl out of her head. 

The night they had spent together had been one of the best nights of Kelley’s life. The pair hadn’t conversed much between all the dancing and the kissing and the fucking and the sleeping, but somehow, Emily just knew what her body had needed. Emily felt familiar. 

Afterwards, she had fallen asleep aching all in the best places. Her toes were still tingling from the three mind-blowing orgasms that Emily had brought her to. She could still taste Emily on her lips. Kelley had drifted off with the heavy weight of Emily’s arm around her torso, feeling warm and content under the covers of her hotel bed. She’d never felt so comfortable. 

The following morning, she had awoken to a cold, empty mattress, and memories which felt like a dream. If it hadn’t been for the discarded white blouse she found under one of the pillows, the bruises that the other woman had sucked into her abs and inner thighs, or the short but sweet note that Emily had left for her, Kelley would have been convinced she’d imagined the whole thing.  

She had tried to find her. She had searched Facebook and Instagram and had been on countless Google deep dives. She had swiped through Tinder for hours looking for a young blonde named Emily. She never had any luck.  

So, for 364 days a year, she pushed the memories of Emily to the back of her mind. She dated other people, she hooked up with strangers, she focused her time and energy into goals which seemed attainable, like playing good football and getting sponsorship deals. She accepted that she would never see Emily again. 

But without fail, every New Year’s Eve, she headed downtown, ordered a drink at that outdoor bar and waited. She waited for a flash of blonde hair on the dance floor, or the sound of the other woman’s contagious laugh. And each year, when Emily hadn't shown up, she went home, alone and disappointed. 

Her friends thought she was crazy. Her sister thought she needed to move on. Honestly, Kelley kind of agreed with them. 

She knew that 2019 was going to be a busy year. She knew that she had a roster to make and a World Cup to win. She knew that soccer had to be her priority.

So, as she reached her group of friends, who were gathered around a table in that familiar bar on New Year’s Eve, she vowed that this would be it. If she didn’t see Emily tonight she would let it go for good. 

A hour later, Kelley was starting to give up. Just as she decided to make her way back to the bar, for one final refill before she called it a night, she saw a flash of familiar blonde hair on the dance floor. 

Kelley couldn’t help the way her heart started racing. From this angle, Kelley couldn’t see the woman’s face, so she couldn't be sure if it was actually Emily, but she started to feel hopeful. She knew she would probably be disappointed, and would realize that this was just another blonde girl on a night out, but Kelley had to check. She couldn’t risk letting Emily slip through her fingers again. 

She nearly lost sight of her as she elbowed her way through the crowds of people, but eventually, she made it to the girl. She had no idea what she’d say if this was actually Emily. She was nervous. 

With a shaky hand, she tapped her on the shoulder, trying to alert maybe-Emily to her presence. It had worked, and when the girl turned around Kelley froze. 

The woman in front of her definitely looked like Emily, but at the same time, she didn’t. Kelley was confused, and for the first time she doubted the memories she had of the other woman. How had she fucked this up so badly? 

She dropped her hand and took a step back. She felt embarrassed. It was clear maybe-not-Emily didn’t recognise her... but it had been a while since their short and only encounter. Maybe Emily had just forgotten who she was? Kelley’s heart fell at the thought.

“Emily?” she questioned, needing to confirm she had definitely got the wrong girl before leaving for the night. 

“Um, no?” she shook her head. Kelley’s swallowed hard, and as she was about to walk away, biting back frustrated tears, the other girl spoke up. “Emily’s my twin. I’m Emma.” the blonde woman explained. Kelley’s jaw dropped. Maybe-not-Emily was maybe-Emily’s twin? This girl, Emma, looked confused for a long second, but then a strange look of recognition crossed her face.

“Wait, are you Kelley?” she asked with sudden, drunken excitement. When Kelley started to smile, nodding her head slightly, Emma had started laughing. 

“Uhh, yeah? You- you know about me?” Kelley couldn’t believe it. Her hands were shaking. 

“Kelley… Emily hasn’t shut up about you since y’all hooked up,” just as Kelley was about to ask if Emily was here, or if Emma could pass on her number, Emma spoke up again. “She’s in town for a few days, actually. She’s staying at my place right now,” Emma was typing something into her phone. “That loser was being boring and didn’t want to come out tonight. What’s your phone number?” Emma asked abruptly, giving her phone to Kelley, and the brunette quickly tapped in her contact information. “Ok, I’ve texted you my address. I live in midtown. If you go over now, she’ll probably still be up. I know she’ll be happy to see you.” Emma was wiggling her eyebrows suggestively. Kelley just laughed, feeling over the moon. 

-

Standing outside Emma’s apartment, Kelley felt nervous. She couldn’t believe this was real. She couldn’t believe that maybe-Emily was actually behind this door, and that she actually wanted to see her - Kelley half expected this to be some cruel prank. Deciding she had nothing to lose, Kelley knocked on the door. 

It was late, nearly ten at night, and for a second, Kelley worried that the other woman might be asleep. But when the door finally swung open a minute later, to reveal Emily... real-life, in-person, gorgeous, definitely-Emily... Kelley’s worries melted away. 

Emily looked a little shell shocked, like she also couldn’t believe this was actually happening. A second later she had a hand fisted in Kelley’s shirt and was kissing her. 

Kissing Emily felt ten times better than Kelley had remembered. Unlike their first kiss three years ago, this wasn’t clumsy or messy. It wasn’t exploratory. This kiss was hot. This kiss was passionate. This kiss was three years overdue.

Sure, it had been a while since they had done this, but they knew each other. Their bodies knew each other. Kelley felt herself smiling against Emily’s lips, breaking the kiss briefly. She was breathing heavy as Emily continued to leave kisses down her jawline. 

“I thought Emma was joking,” kiss, “when she told me she had met you,” kiss, “Fuck, Kelley,” another kiss, “I can’t believe you’re here.”

Kelley just cupped her face and pulled their lips back together. 

-

It hadn’t surprised Kelley that they had immediately fallen into bed together. Both women had been wanting this for so long, so it had felt completely inevitable. It had been the easiest thing ever... to back Emily into the wall of the entryway and kiss her senseless... to then follow Emily into her sister’s guest bedroom. The blonde had pulled her close, looking into Kelley eyes for the confirmation that Kelley wanted this as much as she did, and when Kelley had nodded, Emily had gently pushed her to sit on the edge of the bed. She kissed her once more, long and dirty, before straddling her thighs and pressing her back into the mattress.

-

A couple hours later, both women were tangled under the covers in bed. Kelley was flat on her back, feeling Emily trace mindless patterns across her bare abs. She was completely relaxed and so content. 

“It’s weird,” Kelley spoke quietly into the dark room. “I feel like we’ve been doing this forever,” Emily had just hummed in agreement, as Kelley placed a trail of kisses up her arm to her shoulder. 

“I’ve thought about this, about you, nearly everyday since we last saw each other. I’ve regretted leaving without saying goodbye, or giving you my number, for three years, Kell. And I know we’re still strangers, but honestly, it doesn’t really feel like it anymore,”

“God, I can’t wait to learn everything about you, Em,” Kelley whispered. The blonde slipped an arm around Kelley’s naked waist, pulling her closer, as their lips found each other again. 

Kelley knew that they had the time. They had the time to get to know one another... to learn each other’s likes and dislikes... to have long conversations about anything and everything... to discuss their childhoods and their careers and all their hopes and dreams. As much as she wanted to pull back and talk to Emily all night, she knew that they both needed some sleep. The other girl wasn’t going anywhere. This time, Emily would still be there in the morning. 

Kelley sighed as she relaxed into Emily’s touch, enjoying the sensation of lips on her earlobe and soft fingers teasing the skin of her hips. 

As Kelley pulled her closer, entwining their legs, Emily's kisses suddenly stopped. She quickly lifted her head from the pillow to glance at something over Kelley’s shoulder. “What?” the brunette asked, eyebrows furrowing in slight concern. 

Emily just smiled, rolled fully on top of her and placed a soft peck on her lips. “It’s past midnight, Kell. Happy New Year!”

 

 

 

3.

 

December 31st, 2021

11:49 pm

 

“Bagel! Calm down, girl,” Emily cooed. The dog had decided that right now, just before midnight on New Year’s Eve, was the best time to get the zoomies. She had been charging around the living room in their DC townhouse for the last five minutes, jumping on all the furniture and yapping up a storm. Usually, Emily would be taking her outside to run off her extra energy as soon as possible, but tonight she didn’t really care. Bagel’s antics were making Kelley laugh, and Emily would do anything to keep her girlfriend happy. 

The brunette was at the other end of the couch, her legs tangled with Emily’s under a blanket, and was giggling at their dog as she fiddled with the remote so that they could watch the ball drop at midnight. 

They had opted to stay in this year. The occasion was special to them - the day marking the beginning of their relationship. Once the clock struck midnight, it would not only be a new year, but their three year anniversary... and those three years had been the best ones of Emily’s life. 

The morning after they had reconnected in Atlanta, Emily had woken up to Kelley in her arms. She’d had a weird sense of deja vu from the first time they had done this, three years prior, but this time, instead of rolling out of bed silently and slipping out the room undetected, she had pulled the brunette closer, placed a light kiss against her temple and gone back to sleep. 

That whole day had basically been their first date; they’d had breakfast then lunch then dinner together. Although they hadn’t officially become girlfriends until a couple of months later, they had always considered January 1st to be their anniversary. 

They had fallen into a relationship easily. When Kelley had come and visited Emily in her apartment near DC in early February, she had only meant to stay for the weekend, but the soccer player had ended up practically living with the younger woman in Virginia until she had to head to Utah for preseason in March. The pair had been called U-Haul lesbians by almost everybody they knew, but they had both been so caught up in their whirlwind romance that they didn’t have time to care. Besides, their friends weren't lying.

They had gotten to know each other quickly, and Emily had found herself falling more and more for Kelley, with every new fact she uncovered about the other woman. 

It hadn’t surprised her to learn that Kelley went to Stanford and that she loved to surf. It also hadn’t surprised her when Kelley told her she played professional soccer. Actually, it made complete sense. Kelley was ripped... She was also extremely competitive and incredibly hard-working. Of course she had made it to the top of her sport. 

It had surprised her that Kelley had such a weird obsession with Brussel sprouts. It’d surprised her even more when Kelley told Emily that she had just turned thirty. The other woman didn’t look a day over 25. 

They had quickly committed to each other. Although the distance had been a challenge, they knew this was where their previous relationships had fallen apart, so both women had made such an effort to show up for one another, even if they couldn’t physically be there in person. 

At the end of 2020, when Kelley got traded to the Washington Spirit, they had cried for hours together... so, so grateful that they wouldn’t be separated again once the next season rolled around. They had spent years chasing each other across the country and across the globe. Now, Kelley could play at home. She could wake up and go to sleep next Emily, and Bagel, every day. They could finally stop running and just be.

The pair had never been happier. 

Emily had watched Kelley thrive with the Spirit, both on and off the field. The soccer player had had her best club season in years, and Kelley’s new teammates had quickly become their family. When Kelley helped bring home the championship the following November, after scoring the game-winning goal no less, Emily had just fallen in love with her even more. She had never been so proud and so grateful to be by Kelley’s side.  

So now, as they started another year together, Emily felt like the luckiest girl in the world. 

Kelley caught her attention when she leant across the couch and placed a light kiss on Emily’s lips. 

“Champagne?” Kelley offered, knowing that they had a bottle in the pantry. Emily had hummed in agreement, smiling at her girlfriend who was already sliding off the couch and walking across the open plan room towards the kitchen. Emily cheered as Kelley popped the cork out the bottle, causing Bagel to start barking all over again. The moment made her giggle with sheer joy. Emily loved her little family more than anything. 

She watched as Kelley fished two champagne flutes out of one of the kitchen cabinets, setting them on the counter and filling the glasses. Emily let her eyes wander up her girlfriend's back, from her defined calves to her messy bun. She couldn’t believe how much she loved this woman. She couldn’t believe that Kelley was hers. 

Kelley placed their drinks on the coffee table, knowing they wouldn’t reach for them for a couple minutes, and settled back into Emily’s side. She seemed clingy, but Emily just leaned into her embrace, and pulled her closer.

They had counted down to the new year together, and as the clock struck midnight, Kelley had placed a soft kiss on Emily's lips. 

“Happy New Year, beautiful,” Kelley mumbled, as she stroked one hand through Emily’s thick blonde hair. 

“Happy New Year, Kell,” Emily kept her close, kissing her back for a second before she reached for her champagne glass. Kelley mirrored her actions, clinking their glasses together before taking a drink. 

Emily closed her eyes as she took a sip of the beverage. She let her mind wander back to this day six years ago. She thought about the moment when she and Kelley had shared champagne for the first time... the night they had met in that crowded outdoor bar in downtown Atlanta, surrounded by the scent of cedar and lemon. It seemed like a miracle that they had made it this far.

Emily swallowed, before meeting Kelley’s eyes over the rim of the glass. Kelley has this look on her face... partly mischievous, but also partly nervous. Emily was about to question her, when she saw it... The glint of gold in the bottom of her champagne flute. The sparkle of diamond. 

Emily’s eyes immediately jumped up to lock with Kelley’s. The brunette was smiling. She reached for Emily's empty hand and held onto it like a lifeline. 

Emily had not seen this coming, but at the same time, she wasn’t shocked at all. 

Emily wasn’t a fan of loud and flashy. Of course, Kelley knew that. It made perfect sense that she would plan this... a quiet, intimate proposal which was meaningful to both of them. 

Emily had tears in her eyes, as she looked down at the ring again, sitting at the bottom of half a glass of champagne. Her tears started to fall when Kelley started speaking. 

“I promise I did have a speech prepared, but I’ve completely forgotten what I was going to say,” Kelley said with a nervous laugh, playing with Emily's fingers.

“That’s okay,” Emily reassured quietly, squeezing her hand, relaxing her slightly. “I’m here,”

“Em, Emily... babe... I love you. So fucking much. And I want to spend every New Year’s with you... I want to spend every day with you, forever,” Kelley's voice cracked. Emily just kissed her lips softly before connecting their foreheads, keeping her close. 

And, a second later, when Kelley had finally asked that question... when she had finally whispered those few words that Emily had been longing to hear for so, so many years… Emily had no doubt in her mind when she had responded with yes.