“Alex, what is this? I thought we were going to do pilates or something!”
“If you’re going to make me wake up at the ass-crack of dawn to work out on my day off, the first day of your vacation, I get to pick what we do.”
Okay, so maybe Kelley is a bit of a freak when it comes to exercise, but that’s her business. She used to be a professional athlete, for crying out loud. And just because her ankle injury limits her ability to cut and pivot, it doesn’t mean she can’t keep up a strenuous exercise routine. Right now, it's the most interesting thing Kelley does all day.
So, when her best friend, Alex, invited her to New York City for a long weekend while her husband took Charlie to his parents, Kelley jumped at the chance. She arrived the night before and she and Alex split a bottle of wine, which seems to have left Alex with a bit of a hangover. When they were younger, the growls that Alex had made that morning would have scared Kelley into submission, giving in and letting Alex sleep in for the rest of the morning, but not now. Now, Kelley dragged her best friend out of bed and told her to find a workout class for them to try that morning. Kelley had assumed that meant Pilates or Zumba, not pole dancing.
Pole dancing class.
This has to be a sick joke, Kelley thinks. No way would Alex choose this workout, she would never choose something that opens the possibility of public embarrassment. Kelley feels her whole body get hot and she hasn’t even stretched yet.
“Why would you pick this?”
“Nothing else was taking walk-ins this morning. Plus, the instructor got a ton of great reviews.”
Kelley looks around the studio, there are about 10 other women milling about, but no one that looks like an instructor. “Maybe she wrote them herself because what kind of five star dance teacher shows up late?” Kelley points to the clock hanging above the door.
As soon as she speaks, someone races through the door in a flurry. Dropping a duffle on the floor, the woman looks up and immediately starts apologizing.
“So sorry ladies! My bike tire turned up flat this morning so I had to take the subway and there was a delay, of course.”
Kelley hears her talk but she’s not really listening, too busy taking in the woman in front of her. She has light, blonde hair that is sticking out from underneath a ridiculous, bright orange beanie. She is dressed in an oversized crew neck and a pair of baggy sweats. This person can’t possibly be the instructor, right? She looks so… disheveled. Kelley knows she’s being judgy, but it’s early and Alex wouldn’t let her have coffee before they left.
Before Kelley can say something snarky to Alex, probably patting herself on the back for her analysis about people who show up late to their jobs, her eyes are drawn back to this woman. She removes her hat, exposing more rumpled hair and her rosy cheeks. When she peels off her sweatshirt and sweatpants, Kelley’s throat goes dry. Underneath her clothes, this woman is wearing a matching, black set of a thin sports bra and a pair of very high spandex shorts. Every inch of her exposed skin is toned, her six (eight?) pack abs and chiseled obliques are enough to make Kelley feel a little weak in the knees. She watches the blonde woman pull her hair up into a bun high on her head, exposing a tattoo on her bicep and one on the back of her neck.
Kelley thinks she might be in love.
She sees the instructor walking over to her and Alex, but Kelley can’t will herself to speak. She doesn’t trust what words will come out of her mouth.
“Hi there! Are y’all wanting to join in today?” Her voice is soft but a little hoarse and Kelley wonders if that is because of the cold outside or if it always sounds like that.
After realizing Kelley is not going to be the one who is going to introduce them, Alex steps in. “Yes, I found your class online. The site says you accept walk-ins for your beginner class.”
The blonde woman smiles and Kelley feels her stomach swoop. “I sure do! Just be sure to leave payment with the girl at the desk on your way out. My name is Emily, by the way, Emily Sonnett.”
“Nice to meet you. I’m Alex and this… this is Kelley.’
This time, Alex shoves Kelley hard, breaking her trance. “Yes, hi, I’m Kelley. With two E's. Kelley O’Hara.” The brunette woman babbles and holds out her hand for the dance teacher to shake. “Nice to meet you, Emily.”
She smiles again as she takes Kelley’s hand. Her handshake is firm and she gives an extra squeeze before pulling back. “Please, call me Sonny. Everyone else does.”
Kelley can’t quite figure out the color of Emily’s— Sonny’s eyes. One moment, they look blue and innocent, and the next moment they’re grey and hypnotizing. She seems to have perfect posture, which Kelley is jealous of. Her back still hurts sometimes from the years in her defensive positioning. The woman’s arms look strong and suddenly, Kelley is thinking about those arms pinning her against the wall. Or onto the bed. Or couch. Kelley isn’t picky.
Sonny walks away, calling everyone to the middle to stretch, and Alex shoves Kelley again.
“Ow!” Kelley hissed, rubbing her arm. “What the fuck was that for?”
“Just trying to knock the googly-eyes out of your head.” Alex says flatly. “You were practically drooling. I know it’s been a while since you’ve gotten laid but you looked like you were about to jump her bones right in front of everyone.”
Kelley can feel her cheeks and the tips of her ears go a little red as they make their way to the rest of the group. Maybe it has been some time since Kelley had sex. She broke up with her girlfriend a few months ago and hasn’t really had the time to put herself back out there. Plus, the IT world isn’t exactly ripe with out, gay women, unfortunately. She’s one of only three women on her floor and one of those women is over 50.
Sonny leads them in a series of stretches and Kelley tries her absolute hardest not to stare, though sometimes she can't help herself. When they sit on the floor to work on their calves, Sonny meets Kelley’s eye and winks. She winks. Kelley isn’t sure how she’s going to last another 45 minutes in this class.
In the front of the room, Sonny smiles and leads the group into the first piece of the workout. Kelley knows that her athletic background and love for an ab workout will be to her benefit here. She eases her way through the strength pieces and if she makes sure to flex as Sonny comes around to critique and help correct posture, so what? Kelley knows that she has a good body, it was kind of her job for a large chunk of her life, and she has never been shy about it either. So, when she catches Sonny staring this time, watching Kelley hook her leg and spin around the pole, Kelley has a good feeling that the attraction is mutual.
The class ends with a cool-down stretch and Kelley is sweating like a pig, which she loves. She stays in her spot on the floor and hears the regular attendees cheering for Sonny to show off some of her moves. The blonde completes a series of complicated poses, spinning around the pole and Kelley can’t help but notice her insane core strength and the third tattoo on the inside of her left ankle, can’t help but be very aware of just how hot this woman is. Kelley finds herself getting turned on as she watches the blonde spin and flip upside down, their eyes meeting once or twice. Sonny completes her final move and lands to raucous applause, bowing slightly and walking off the floor.
The other women gather their things to leave and thank Sonny on their way out while Kelley fumbles with her coat and Alex gives her an annoying glare, but that was probably more because it turns out Kelley is good at pole dancing and Alex is not.
“So, what did y’all think?” Sonny walks over to them, pulling her hair out of its bun so that it cascades down one side of her neck in waves. “Will I see you again next week?”
“I’ll think about it.” Alex says with a tone that Kelley knows means her best friend has no intention of ever coming back. “Unfortunately, my friend here is only in town for the weekend.”
“Oh.” Kelley might be tired but she swears she could hear some slight disappointment in Sonny’s voice. “Well, I hope you enjoyed it. You’re either brave or crazy to vacation in this city in the winter.”
“Who says you can’t be both?” Behind her, Kelley can hear Alex’s eyes roll into the back of her head. “Besides, you said you were supposed to ride a bike here. It's like 15 degrees outside.”
Sonny smiles as she puts on her sweatpants and shoves her feet into a pair of white sneakers, but doesn’t tie the laces. “Maybe I’m a little crazy too.”
This time, Alex swings her bag onto her shoulder with a loud huff.
“Do y’all have any big plans this evening?” Sonny asks as she pulls her beanie low on her head, sure to cover her ears, and Kelley thinks it might be the cutest thing she’s ever seen. “I’m sure that there’s something you’re wanting to see or do.”
“Well, it’s not my first time in New York so I’m not really looking for touristy things, you know. I think Alex and I were just planning a girls’ night in.” Kelley smiles, taking a step forward into Sonny’s space. “Unless you have any suggestions?” She looks up into those grey eyes, yeah, they’re definitely grey.
“A few friends of mine are meeting up at a bar a few blocks away. They’re doing a ladies night and the drinks are cheap.” Emily shrugs. “Nothing fancy, but we always have fun. Sometimes we go to this club after, the DJ is usually pretty good.”
“Maybe we’ll stop by.” Sonny writes down the name of the place on a business card for the gym and Kelley slips it in her coat pocket. “Thanks again for today, this was fun.”
Alex makes a beeline for the door and drags Kelley with her. Before the door closes, Kelley meets Sonny’s eyes one more time and winks, which makes Sonny’s whole face flush pink.
“Kel, do we really have to do this?” Alex whines as she brushes through her wet hair when she steps out of the shower.
“You can stay home if you want to, grandma.” Kelley chides, looking through Alex’s closet after deciding that nothing she brought from DC was good enough.
“Don’t call me that, you’re a year older than me!” Alex tosses her wet towel through the door and it lands on Kelley’s head, causing her to shriek lightly. “I just hate clubs, you know I don’t dance.”
“Alex, seriously, you don’t have to go. Have a Facetime date with Charlie or something.”
“What happens when this girl isn’t into you?” Alex teases, pulling on a sleep shirt. “You don’t even know if she likes women.”
“If she’s not, I’ll stay for a drink and then come home, okay? But Al, you saw her, she invited me— us out. There was tension. Now come on, help me pick out something hot to wear.”
An hour later, Kelley was pulling on her peacoat over the tight, black jeans from her suitcase and a wine-colored top with a deep V from Alex’s closet. Her hair has been straightened and she put on eyeliner for the first time in forever.
“Whatever you do, do not bring her back here.” Alex says, wrapping a scarf around Kelley’s neck. “Go to her place or get a hotel room, I’ll pay for it even, but you are not having sex in my house.”
Kelley giggles. “Yes, mom.”
Her Uber pulls up and Kelley skips down the steps from Alex’s brownstone, grinning all the while, daydreaming of a cute blonde with a perfect, soft smile.
The bar is small but warm and Kelley loves it immediately. It feels almost like a bar you’d find in a sitcom, the resting place for a group of twenty-somethings as they navigate adult life for the first time.
She sees Emily sitting at the bar with two other women and Kelley spends a moment taking her in before the blonde woman notices her arrival. Her hair is down with a little bit of a curl and the soft light of the bar reflects off of it, making it look almost white. She throws her head back laughing and catches Kelley’s eyes from across the room. Emily’s whole face lights up and she slides off her barstool, saying something to her friends before downing the dregs of her drink and walking over to Kelley. She’s wearing a pair of loose, distressed jeans and a black, cropped tank that clings to her in all the right places, showing off her abs and now Kelley has to try not to stare for too long.
“You made it!” Sonny says, reaching forward to give Kelley a hug. “Where’s your friend?”
For a brief moment, Kelley wonders if she really did read this all wrong and that Sonny really was just a kind, polite stranger who took pity on Kelley being an out-of-towner. But then she sees the way Emily’s eyes look her up and down once Kelley takes her coat off and knows that she’s right.
“Oh, she’s a grandma, probably getting ready for bed as we speak.” Kelley scoffs, feeling the way Emily’s hands are still running up and down her arms. “Just me tonight, hope that’s okay.”
“More than okay.” Sonny smiles, taking hold of Kelley’s wrist and gently tugging her toward the bar. “As long as you don’t mind my friends, they’re kind of nuts.”
She introduces Kelley to her friends. First, there’s Rose, the small, yet lanky brunette who claims she and Sonny work together, but laughs when Kelley asks if that means she also teaches pole dancing. Then there’s Lindsey, the tall, muscular blonde who met Sonny in college and says that they’ve been joined at the hip ever since. They ask Kelley about her life and she tells them about her boring, government IT job back home.
“Hot and nerdy, just my type.” Rose says and Kelley genuinely cannot tell if she’s being serious.
Emily drops her hand to the small of Kelley’s back and asks what she’d like to drink. She flags the bartender, a tall, slender man with kind of dopey eyes and orders them both a beer. Kelley notices that Lindsey is staring at the bartender and blushing hard.
“That’s Ty.” Emily says, just loud enough for Kelley to hear but no one else. “Linds is kind of obsessed with him but won’t make the first move. It’s kind of funny to watch them both make puppy dog eyes at each other all night, but it’s also kind of pathetic, you know?”
Kelley smiles and leans into Sonny’s space a little before responding. “I don’t know, maybe it's kind of romantic?”
“Maybe. He’ll probably come out with us after but only because Rose will ask, since Lindsey is too chickenshit.”
Before taking a sip from her drink, Sonny pushes her friend Rose out of the barstool next to hers and gestures for Kelley to sit. Rose gives Sonny a death glare but moves nonetheless to the other end of their group. Kelley takes the seat and turns slightly so that she and Emily are facing one another, close enough that their knees are touching.
“So tell me more about you, Emily Sonnett.” Kelley says, playing with the condensation on her beer bottle as she speaks. “What led you to realize pole dancing is your passion?”
“I’m a stripper, it just made sense to make some extra cash using my skills.” Emily shrugs nonchalantly and Kelley nearly spits out her beer. “I’m kidding! I don’t know, I just really like to dance and the extra money really helps, especially around New Year’s, people’s resolutions and all. Plus, there’s not as much competition as there would be for, like, Zumba or whatever. I do teach other classes too though. I do a hip-hop class on Thursdays, partner dance on Tuesdays, like tango and all that. Oh, and sometimes I do ballet with the five-year-olds.” Emily says fondly.
“So what is it that you do full time?” Kelley asks. Emily tenses up a little and Kelley wishes she could take back the question. “You don’t have to tell me. Maybe you’re like a spy or something.”
“Let’s go with that.” Emily laughs. “What about you? I bet you always wanted to be a computer analyst or whatever it is you do.”
Kelley softens. “Not exactly. I used to play soccer, like professionally.” Emily’s eyes go wide. “That’s what brought me to DC. But then I got a really bad ankle injury and had to retire.”
“Oh wow, I’m so sorry.” Emily places her palm on Kelley’s thigh, just above her knee and Kelley can feel the warmth radiating from her touch.
“Thank you.” Kelley replies, dropping her own hand to sit on top Emily’s. “It’s been a few years now but I really miss it.”
“I bet! I can’t imagine how I’d feel if I couldn’t dance anymore.” Emily shakes her head.
“What got you into dance?” Kelley asks.
Emily gives a soft chuckle. “Well, at first I think my parents signed my sister and I up because we were hellions that needed a way to get all that energy out. But over the years, it just became a happy place for me, the place I can go when I need a break or to relieve stress. Lucky for me, I’m pretty good at it.”
“I’d say, based on this morning, you’re more than pretty good.” Kelley wants Emily to know that she was impressed. “Maybe that's what you should do full time.”
“Ha! Maybe I should look into that. Know any strip clubs looking for new blood?” Emily smiles but it doesn’t fully reach her eyes. “So if soccer brought you to DC, where are you from originally?”
“Outside of Atlanta, actually.”
“No shit!” Emily squeezes Kelley’s thigh. “Me too, I’m from Marietta.”
The two women bond over their hometown and Kelley finds herself leaning more and more into Emily, close enough that she can smell her perfume. It’s a little spicy, but mostly warm and Kelley wants to bury her nose in her neck. As they talk, Emily’s hand continually slides higher up on Kelley’s thigh. She’s almost at Kelley’s inseam when her friend Rose bursts their tiny bubble.
“Are we going or not? It’s Friday night, I don’t want to wait in a long line to get inside.”
“Okay Rosie, hold your horses, give me two minutes here.” Emily says, patting her friend on the back in a patronizing way that seems to fit their relationship. She turns back to Kelley and gives her a sly grin and cocks one eyebrow. “Think your bum ankle can withstand a night on the dance floor?”
Kelley smirks and leans all the way in until their faces are barely inches apart. “You’re going to be the one trying to keep up with me.”
The walk from the bar to the club is only a few blocks but their group of five is a little tipsy and therefore they have to make stops along the way. Rose leads the charge, mumbling about being the fifth wheel while Lindsey and the bartender lag behind. Emily holds Kelley’s hand the entire walk, lacing their fingers together and keeps Kelley close for warmth.
They wait in line to have their IDs checked and Kelley feels bold. Maybe it’s the cold air or the drinks she’s already had, but she just wants her hands on Emily. She unzips the blonde’s coat and slides her hands inside, wrapping the taller woman up and Emily’s hands find their way into the back pockets of Kelley’s jeans. She squeezes Kelley’s ass once and that’s when Kelley knows for sure how this night is going to end. Behind them, Kelley hears Rose make a gagging sound. She just smiles and tucks her head against Emily’s chest.
The club is dark and very loud, but Kelley tries not to think about that because it makes her sound old. Emily buys her another drink at the bar before leading her out onto the dance floor. They’re surrounded by sweaty bodies and drunk coeds, but all Kelley can focus on is Emily. She hooks her index finger into the belt loop of the blonde’s jeans and lets her lead them into the middle of it all. Before she knows what’s happening, Emily is pressing her back up against Kelley’s front and grinding her hips to the beat. Emily is a bit taller than Kelley but that doesn’t seem like a hindrance here, especially when Emily bends over slightly and works her ass against the brunette. Kelley’s free hand finds the exposed skin on Emily’s hip and lets the pads of her fingers skate along the hem of the blonde’s crop top. Emily lays her head back on Kelley’s shoulder, allowing more room for Kelley to slide her hand farther up and under Emily’s shirt, drawing out breathy, little sounds that Kelley feels between her legs.
They stay like that for who knows how long, maybe a few songs, maybe an hour. A new song blares over the speakers and Emily spins around in Kelley’s arms.
“This is one of my favorites.” Emily’s lips ghost along the shell of Kelley’s ear as she rolls her hips to the beat. “You’re a pretty good dancer.” She says, punctuating her words with a nip at Kelley’s skin just below her ear.
Kelley's hand is low on Emily’s back, her fingers dipping just below her waistband. “You’re not so bad yourself.”
Emily moves her hands to Kelley’s hips and maneuvers her, catching Kelley by surprise and then Emily is wedging her knee between Kelley’s thighs. Her grey eyes are hooded but Kelley can very clearly see the question they are asking. She gives Emily a quick nod and then they’re kissing.
As far as first kisses go, Kelley can’t think of a better one she’s ever had. Emily is firm, pushing Kelley back into the wall but her touch is light. Her hands grip Kelley’s hips, holding the smaller woman in place, while Kelley’s hands tangle in blonde hair, pulling Emily closer as her mouth opens to the kiss. Kelley can’t help but bear down against Emily’s flexed thigh, can’t help the noises that come out when Emily breaks the kiss and begins an assault on Kelley’s neck. Emily’s hands snake under Kelley’s top and when she discovers Kelley is braless, the blonde groans into Kelley’s collarbone.
“I’ve been wanting to do this since I first saw you.” Emily says, her lips are pressed to Kelley’s ear, the music is too loud for anything else. “You looked so hot in class, you knew what you were doing to me, didn’t you?”
Kelley stifles a moan when Emily flexes again between her legs. “Same thing you were doing to me with that skimpy outfit.” She breathes, scratching her nails across the back of Emily’s neck.
Emily laughs a little in between kisses. “Is that all it takes?”
“Have you seen you?” Kelley sighed into Emily’s ear. “Can’t be the first time you’ve picked up a girl after dancing for her.”
“You’d be surprised.” Emily says simply before leaning back in to nip at Kelley’s lower lip. “Do you want to… you know… my apartment is just a few blocks from here.” She sounds kind of nervous for the first time all night and Kelley thinks it's adorable.
Emily takes Kelley’s hand and leads her towards the door. Kelley sees her tap Rose, who was dancing with some random guy next to Lindsey and Ty, on the shoulder and gestures towards Kelley. Rose rolls her eyes but gives Emily a good-natured pat on the back as they leave. They wait outside the club for an Uber and Kelley curls into Emily’s jacket again, partly for warmth but partly just because Kelley can’t seem to get enough of this woman. She leans on Emily’s shoulder in the car and steals a few kisses before they get out in front of Emily’s building.
Kelley has to laugh a little when Emily races in front of her as they walk through the door, grabbing things that are strewn around on the floor and tossing them in what she thinks are good hiding places. The blonde pulls Kelley into the bedroom and walks her back until the backs of Kelley’s knees hit the bed. Emily’s room is simple, all blues and greys which fit her perfectly. There’s a few framed pictures on the dresser and what looked like a barre from a dance studio pushed off to the corner.
Wow, she takes her side hustle seriously, Kelley thinks.
Emily fiddles with the hem of Kelley’s top and makes eye contact, asking the silent question and Kelley nods. Emily lifts the fabric up and over her head. She makes a soft noise when she remembers Kelley didn't wear a bra and all Kelley wants is to hear it again. Emily kisses along her collarbone while her fingers work the button on Kelley’s jeans, sliding them down to the floor. Emily gently pushes her until Kelley is laying on her back against the pillows. Suddenly, Kelley is very aware that she is completely naked and Emily is still fully dressed. She sits up and paws at Emily’ tank top. “Too much clothes. Want to see you.”
The blonde woman chuckles softly and pulls her shirt off, showing off a lace bralette that is basically see through. Kelley squirms on the bed, desperately seeking the friction she needs, and it catches Emily’s attention. She climbs onto the bed, straddles Kelley’s hips and kisses her. Her hands are everywhere and Kelley can’t get enough. She tries to get her hands under Emily’s jeans but she can’t concentrate but for a few seconds at a time. Emily kisses down her chest and takes Kelley’s nipple in her mouth, rolling the other one between her thumb and forefinger, alternating between the two in quick succession.
Kelley can’t help the sounds that escape her. “Shit… fuck, Em… please!” Normally, she would be embarrassed at how far gone she is already, but she realizes that she’s been waiting for this moment since she laid eyes on this blonde woman that morning. She grips Emily’s ass and tries to pull her as close as possible, but then Emily is sliding down her stomach, leaving kisses and light nips on Kelley’s skin as she goes. Emily settles between Kelley’s legs, leaving soft, open-mouthed kisses up her inner thighs and Kelley feels like she might explode if she doesn’t get some relief soon.
It’s like Emily can read Kelley’s mind. Just before she’s about to beg again, Emily’s mouth is on her and Kelley bites back a scream. She twists her fingers in Emily’s hair, holding her right where she wants— where she needs. “Oh fuck…” Kelley moans and arches into Emily’s touch. “Fuck… oh fuck, Em… shit, baby…” Emily grips Kelley’s thighs and works her up until Kelley can feel her orgasm building inside her. When Emily’s lips close around her clit, Kelley groans and her hips buck uncontrollably as she crests over the edge. Emily brings her back down with her tongue and gently kisses her way up Kelley’s body, where the older woman pulls her into a passionate kiss. “Clothes off, now.” Kelley unbuttons Emily’s jeans and when Emily awkwardly shimmies out of them, Kelley all but rips her bra off and flips them with ease.
“Kel…” Emily whines as Kelley sucks a mark into the skin just above her breast. Kelley kisses up and down her long, pale neck and nips at Emily’s earlobe as she enters her with one, then two fingers. She looks so beautiful, Kelley thinks. Her eyes are closed and her brows are furrowed as she chases Kelley’s fingers, grinding against Kelley’s palm on her center. She doesn’t really say much but the noises she makes, the way her face changes is a language all its own and Kelley wants to be fluent in Emily Sonnett.
She’s quiet when comes. Kelley kisses her until Emily can’t handle it anymore, feeling the blonde tighten around her fingers. Emily makes these soft, breathy sounds and Kelley decides she never wants to leave this bed. She kisses Emily again and curls herself around the taller woman, running her hand along Emily’s abs. Emily pulls Kelley close, until she’s tucked up under Emily’s chin, and presses a kiss into her hair before they both drift off into a blissful sleep.
The sun starts peeking in through the blinds and Kelley blinks awake slowly. It takes her a moment to remember where she is but then, she feels the arm slung across her torso. She looks to her left and sees Emily, fast asleep on her stomach and Kelley doesn’t think she’s ever seen someone look so soft. Emily’s lips are parted slightly and her deep breaths are nearly enough to lull Kelley back to sleep. But, as much as she wants to, Kelley knows she can’t stay. She’s going back to DC tomorrow and shouldn’t be focusing on some girl that lives a few hundred miles away. She gently lifts Emily’s arm and slides out from underneath as quietly as she can. She finds her clothes strewn around the room and collects herself in the bathroom, taking a moment to wipe at her smudged makeup from the night before. Kelley can’t help but notice the amount of athletic tape and first aid supplies on the counter. Weird.
Holding her heels in her hand, Kelley leans in to leave a kiss on Emily’s forehead before walking out. She finds a pad of paper on the table and leaves a quick note on the fridge with her phone number.
That was fun! Call me if your international spy duties ever bring you to DC! -K
“I can’t believe you just slipped out before she woke up.” Alex says while she shovels the breakfast Kelley made her.
“I don’t live here, Al.” Kelley tries to explain. “Do I really want to get involved with someone who lives 200 miles away?”
“I think that's a cop out, Wormy.” Alex replies, giving Kelley a “i’m right, you’re wrong” look. “It sounds like you two got along really well. And you said the sex was good.”
Kelley closes her eyes and gets the shivers reminding herself of the previous night. “Better than good. Way better.”
“Gross.” Alex gags. “Now I hope she doesn’t call you.”
Kelley showers and offers to run a few errands for Alex before Serv and Charlie get back. She visits a few stores before cutting through the park to get to this special vegan place where Alex gets a lot of her groceries. Kelley can’t help but admire Lincoln Center as she follows her GPS, but then she catches something on one of the posters hanging down the side of one of the buildings. Or rather someone.
It’s a poster for the New York City Ballet’s winter program and it's filled with the faces of their most prominent dancers. There are five women, including one with a tight, blonde bun. Kelley feels her jaw drop when she sees Emily Sonnett’s face staring back at her. Her neck is long and she’s standing en pointe with her gaze looking out over the city. Of all the things Kelley thought Emily might do for a living, being a professional ballerina would have never crossed her mind in a thousand years.
Emily just seemed so… cool. All Kelley has ever known about ballet dancers comes from what she’s seen on TV and movies, but they all seem to be super high strung and rigid, which Emily seemed like the opposite of. She was relaxed and confident, she taught pole dancing, for goodness sake! How many ballerinas were also doing that?
Suddenly, Kelley can’t help herself and finds the closest entrance to the building. She asks the custodian in the hallway where the dance studios are and he points her up the steps. She tries to act like she’s supposed to be there, but she’s pretty sure her disheveled appearance and street clothes kind of give her away. She gets dirty looks from a pair of older women who look like they would have no problem smacking Kelley with a cane to shoo her away.
After wandering the halls, she finally comes across some sort of rehearsal space and she can hear a woman with a heavy Eastern European accent barking instructions. Kelley peeks through the door and sure enough, there she is. Emily’s hair is tucked up, exposing that tiny tattoo (are ballet dancers allowed to have tattoos?) and some of her back muscles are visible with the cut of her leotard. Her back is turned and she’s standing at the barre doing stretches, chatting with another dancer. It takes Kelley a minute to recognize that the other dancer is Rose, Emily’s friend she had met the night before.
Accidentally, Kelley makes eye contact with Rose and the pale girl’s eyes go wider than Kelley thought was possible. Rose smacks Emily’s shoulder rather harshly and nods towards Kelley, causing Emily to spin around.
Kelley briefly wonders if she should be offended by the look of shock on Emily’s face but then she realizes that she was the one who snuck out of bed that morning and suddenly, here she was, like a stalker or something.
Emily says something to Rose that Kelley can’t make out and then nods to Kelley through the glass, excusing herself from the studio. As the blonde woman walks to her, Kelley can’t help but take her in. Emily is wearing a tight, black leotard but she’s paired it with basketball shorts and bright orange leg warmers, similar to the color of her beanie from the day before. Admittedly, Kelley has never known or even met a professional dancer, but the outfit seems a little odd, though it fits her at the same time.
“What are you doing here?” Emily whispers. “How did you…” She’s clearly very confused but at least doesn’t seem mad, Kelley thinks, so she doesn’t think Kelley is a stalker. Probably.
“I was running some errands for my friend. I owed her since I, you know, kind of ditched her last night.” Kelley says, shyly averting Emily’s eyes. “And then suddenly, there you were, on a giant billboard. Seemed like an omen or something.”
“Well, there goes my super spy cover story, huh?” Emily chuckles and Kelley thinks she could fall in love with this girl.
“Don’t know why you needed it. You’re literally a celebrity.”
Emily shakes her head. “Not quite. That poster you saw is coming down in a few days and it’ll take a miracle for me to get on the next one.”
Kelley doesn’t know how to respond to that, so, at first, she just reaches for Emily’s hand and runs her thumb softly over her knuckles. “Want to talk about it?”
“Not really.” Emily shakes her head a little but then she backtracks. “Not like, because I don’t want to tell you, it’s just kind of stressful and you… well you don’t need that.”
Lacing their fingers together, Kelley takes a step closer. “I’ll admit that I know less than nothing about dance, but you can tell me anything, I mean it.”
Emily looks down the hall as if to be sure no one was coming and takes a deep breath. “I’m auditioning for a principal role tonight, that’s like the top spot in ballet, but my instructor is new and she kind of hates me and has basically already told me I won’t even get a solo so I shouldn’t bother.”
Suddenly, Kelley is overcome with feelings of rage toward a person she has never met. Who does this woman think she is, telling Sonny that? What does she know? Kelley hasn’t felt this angry since her playing days when Alex or another friend of hers would get fouled on the pitch and Kelley would always be ready for a fight if it came to that. But Kelley also feels a sense of innate protectiveness towards Emily. She just wants to wrap her in a tight hug and tell her everything is going to be okay; that even if it's not, Kelley will be there for her.
How am I supposed to go home tomorrow? I can’t leave her like this.
“Can people watch the audition?” Kelley asks. “Or is it private, like just you and the dragon lady?”
Emily laughs and Kelley feels like she might be helping. “It's public. I mean, you have to have a ticket. She’s just going to be evaluating my performance in the show tonight and scoring it with how my rehearsals have gone.”
“Would you… could I— could I be there?” Kelley asks shyly, worrying that she’s being too forward. Emily hadn’t wanted to tell her about her profession so maybe she just wants it all to stay private.
“Are you going to be my good luck charm?” Emily asks, giving Kelley’s hand a squeeze. “I could use one.”
“You’re going to do great, I know it.”
“You’ve never even seen me dance.”
“If you’re half as good at ballet as you were in that club last night, they’d be stupid not to pick you.” Kelley smiles when Emily blushes heavily. “But was that a yes? It's alright if I come?”
Rather than answering, Emily quickly leans in and kisses Kelley. It’s short and sweet, but it's also a kiss Kelley never thought she’d get again.
“I’ll leave you a ticket at the door.” Emily whispers against Kelley’s lips. “I have to get back or the dragon lady might kill me.” She laughs again and Kelley thinks it’s the best sound in the world. Emily steps back and starts walking back towards the studio. Before she gets too far, Kelley grabs her wrist and pulls her back for another kiss, this time it's just a little bit dirty.
“Use my number, okay?” Kelley smiles and lets go of Emily’s hand, letting her disappear around the corner again.
She’s halfway back to Alex’s apartment when her phone vibrates. Kelley’s heart warms when she sees the familiar Georgia area code pop up on her screen. Emily has sent her a meme. No words, just a Spongebob meme.
Kelley likes the message and all but skips through the city.
Kelley spends the rest of the afternoon googling Emily’s name and watching every video she can find. She watches at least fifty videos of her dancing and each one is more mesmerizing than the last.
She finds an interview Emily did about a year ago and listens to her talk about her career. She learns that Emily came to New York when she was 14 years old so that she could start studying under one of the top ballet masters in the country. That she has a dog back in Georgia, named Bagel, that she hopes to bring to the city with her one day. Another interview she watches follows Emily and her co-workers throughout their day in the studio. Emily plays a remixed classical song for her warm-up and Kelley can’t help but notice just how big her smile is.
After she’s watched every video available, Kelley spends her time trying to learn what she can about ballet. About the different types of professionals, the shows that they perform. She learns that at the New York City Ballet, they dabble in a lot more modern work than other companies, which makes perfect sense why Emily would want to dance for them. She reads about what it takes to become a principal dancer in a company like this, just when Kelley didn’t think it was possible to be more impressed by this woman.
Alex offers to go to the show with her, but Kelley declines. She thinks that it will be better for Emily if she goes alone.
“Whatever.” Alex says. “But the rule still applies, no sex in my apartment.”
Kelley picks out a jumpsuit from Alex’s closet. It's a little long but she’s able to make it work. Her hair is down and Alex gives her a pair of gold hoop earrings to wear. She bundles up in her long coat and hops into the waiting cab to take her back to Lincoln Center.
She hands off her coat to the attendant and makes her way to the will call booth. She tells the young woman at the counter her name and that Emly Sonnett should have left her a ticket.
“Oh, you guys must be pretty good friends! This is one of the best seats in the house.”
Kelley walks to the door and the usher leads her to the front row of the theater. On her seat, there’s a handwritten note that's been left for her. It’s written in perfect, all caps print and there’s a tiny drawing of a dragon wearing high heels.
Enjoy the show! Find me after. -E
The dancing is beautiful, even though Kelley doesn’t understand a thing that’s going on. Emily looks so powerful and graceful and Kelley can feel herself get hot anytime the blonde even glances in her direction. She’s mesmerized by the story and gets into the music. Even though she knows nothing about ballet, she knows Emily is performing well. And when Emily winks at her as she gets into position before the final act begins, Kelley feels herself melt into her seat.
It's strange, looking at Emily up on the stage. She looks so different from the girl Kelley met the day before. There, in the pole dancing class, Emily was relaxed and light, but here, she radiates strength and confidence. Her smile is just as wide as ever and looks like she is having so much fun dancing, just like when she danced with Kelley last night.
When the show ends, the dancers step forward for their bow and Kelley shouts loudly when Emily takes her solo bow, which makes the blonde laugh. They disappear backstage and the lights come up in the theater. Kelley stays in her seat while the crowd files out around her.
She waits, playing a word game on her phone, but then Emily sneaks out from behind the curtain and makes a beeline to Kelley, who jumps up to hug the other woman. Emily squeezes her tight and it feels like Emily wants to pick her up and spin her around in circles. The heavy makeup looks a little silly out of the spotlights and the headpiece she’s wearing seems like it’s twice as big up close but she still smells like that spicy perfume.
“You’re going to have to stay in New York.” Emily is beaming. “You’re definitely my good luck charm.”
Kelley smiles back. “So you got the part? You were so good up there, Em, you were incredible.”
“I won’t know until tomorrow but I know that’s the best I’ve felt onstage in a while.” Emily takes Kelley’s hands and keeps her close. “So thank you.” Emily hesitantly leans in, but Kelley beats her to it, wraps her arms around Emily’s neck and kisses her hard.
Kelley wants to live in this moment forever. There are a few baby hairs that won their battle with the pound of hairspray on Emily’s head and Kelley twists them around her fingers, deepening the kiss. Emily places her hand gently on Kelley’s chest and pushes her back.
“Can we press pause on this”, Emily points between them, “for a minute? I need to change and take all this crap off.”
“I kind of like it.” Kelley teases. “Very sexy.”
Emily quirks her eyebrow and grins. “This what you’re into, Miss Kelley?” She moves her hands up and down, gesturing to her costume.
“You make it work.”
“Keep complimenting me and I might let you buy me dinner.” Emily winks. “I’ll be out in like fifteen minutes, okay?”
“Take your time.” Kelley shoos the blonde back behind the curtain.
When Emily comes back out, Kelley feels like she has whiplash. Gone is the girl with the perfect bun and the tulle skirt, but the girl in the baggy sweats and the outrageous orange beanie is back. Emily trots down the steps from the stage and hops right in front of Kelley.
“There’s a really good pizza place around the corner, come with me? I’m starving.” Emily holds out her hand and Kelley takes it.
“This is New York, isn’t all the pizza good?” The brunette laughs.
The two women spend the next hour huddled on the same side of a booth in the back of a small, grimy pizza shop that has a line out the door all night. Emily rests her head on Kelley’s shoulder and listens to stories about soccer while Kelley has her hand wrapped around Emily’s thigh under the table. When the younger woman’s eyes start fluttering shut, obviously exhausted from her performance, Kelley nudges them up and leads Emily outside.
“You want to come back with me?” Emily asks sleepily and Kelley nods. “One condition though.”
“Anything.” Kelley responds quickly, not caring that she might sound a little desperate to stay with this woman just a little longer.
“Be there when I wake up this time.”
Kelley smiles at Emily and kisses her softly. “Deal.”
The next morning, Kelley wakes up in the same spot in Emily’s bed. It almost feels like deja vu, with Emily’s arm thrown across Kelley’s stomach, hand tucked under the sweatshirt that Emily had given her last night before they drifted off together. She watches Emily bare back rise and fall as she breathes deeply into her pillow. Her hair is down and she looks so soft, Kelley can’t believe she willed herself to leave this bed 24 hours ago. She reaches for her phone and briefly sends out a few texts and then slides farther under the sheets and into Emily’s embrace, falling back to sleep.
The next time she wakes up, it’s because someone is kissing her eyelids, then her nose and her cheeks. She hears Emily saying her name over and over again and she thinks she must be dreaming.
“Kel, Kelley wake up!” Emily’s voice is extra scratchy in the morning and Kelley can’t believe she missed out on that the first time. Her lips are on her ears when Kelley opens her eyes. Emily is straddling her, leaning forward with her arms bracketing Kelley’s shoulders. She’s wearing only a giant, black tee shirt which makes her pale skin pop. She’s so close that all Kelley would have to do is barely lift her head off the mattress to kiss her. Emily’s eyes are bright and her hair falls forward and brushes Kelley’s neck. “I did it, babe!” Emily exclaims before reaching in and suddenly they’re kissing. It takes Kelley a minute to fully understand what’s going on, but when she does, she breaks the kiss and sees Emily smiling broadly on top of her. “I did it!”
“You got the spot?”
Emily sits up and puffs out her chest comically. “You are looking at the newest principal dancer for the New York City Ballet!”
Grinning, Kelley moves her hands high on Emily’s thighs, under her shirt. “So, my girl is a prima ballerina?” She asks excitedly.
”No one uses that term anymore.” Emily blushes. “But yeah, yeah I am!”
Kelley pulls her back down and kisses Emily again, ready to get lost in this woman for the rest of the morning, but Emily has other ideas. She climbs off the bed and grabs Kelley’s hand, dragging her into the kitchen. “Em, what are we doing? I was thinking of a few ways we could celebrate back there!” Kelley laughs and Emily turns her attention to the kitchen, pulling out the flour and eggs, plus a jar of peanut butter.
The apartment is just as quirky as it’s owner. Kelley didn’t really take the time to stop and look around the previous morning. There is a huge wall of windows and the sill is filled with plants of all different shapes and sizes. Her couch is a deep, burnt orange, not quite the same as the hat Kelley is quickly growing fond of but it’s enough for Kelley not to question her favorite color. There are shelves filled with books and there are a ton of funky drawings on the walls. It’s so unlike any place Kelley has ever been but it’s exactly the kind of place Emily would live. Everything about Emily Sonnett fascinates Kelley and she can no longer imagine a world where she doesn’t get to know any of it.
“Glad to see you didn’t skip out on me again, finally get to put my waffle maker to good use.” It’s only then that Kelley notices there is soft music playing from a speaker somewhere and Emily is moving her hips to the beat.
Is she ever not dancing?
Kelley follows Emily into the kitchen and wraps her up from behind, burying her face in Emily’s neck, pressing her nose to that tattoo, and mumbles. “I won’t make that mistake again.”
Emily flips the waffle maker over and fully turns around in Kelley’s arms. Her beautiful, grey eyes are clouded with confusion. “Aren’t you… aren’t you supposed to go home today?”
“Yeah, I am.” Kelley says quietly and Emily’s face falls even though it’s the answer she’s expecting. “But earlier, I told my boss I’ll be out this week. That I want to explore working remotely, so I can be anywhere I want.” Kelley watches Emily’s face light up more and more which each word.
“And where do you want to be?” Emily looks back at her like she might explode if Kelley doesn’t get to the point soon.
“Right here.” Kelley smiles broadly. “I want to be here, if you want— “
She can’t get the words out before Emily is kissing her. She wraps her arms around Kelley’s waist and lifts her off the ground so that Kelley can wind her legs around Emily’s torso and deepen the kiss.
“I want.” Emily breathes. “I want— I want you here, we can figure the rest out later. Can’t let my good luck charm get away, now can I?” Kelley kisses her again as Emily sets her on the counter. They start to get carried away, but then the waffle maker beeps, startling both of them into giggles.
The rest of the morning, they share a plate of Emily’s “world-famous” peanut butter waffles on the couch and Kelley has never felt more at home.
She goes to Emily’s show three more times over the next week and brings a different bouquet of flowers each time. Emily looks surprised every single time and jokes that she’s running out of vases. And every night, she goes back to Emily’s apartment, helps the blonde with her after performance routine and gives her a massage before sliding under the sheets on her side of the bed (she has a side of the bed now). She tucks herself into Emily’s side and breathes a sigh of contentment when Emily leaves a goodnight kiss on the top of her head.
Kelley owes Alex big time, and she knows Alex will never let her forget that.