Chapter 1: Up Against The Wall
Ashlyn found herself sitting in one of the team vans outside of the airport while she waited for some of the other players to arrive. She shook her leg up and down while she scrolled through her Twitter feed. She needed a shower and a nap. And probably a snack too. Yeah, she definitely needed a snack. After a wait that felt way longer than the twenty minutes it was, Tobin climbed into the back row with her while HAO and ARod piled into the middle row and Cheney sat shotgun.
“Hey!” Ashlyn exclaimed, pulling Tobin into a side hug. “How was everyone's flight?”
“Long,” Tobin groaned beside her. She watched as Tobin dropped her backpack between her legs and leaned back against the seat.
“Our flight was delayed. We were supposed to get in two hours ago,” Cheney explained from up front as the van pulled away from the airport.
HAO turned in her seat to greet Ashlyn with a big grin. For as long as Ashlyn had known Heather, the girl was always full of energy, even after playing a full 90 minutes. “What about you, Ash?”
“It was so lame. There were no snacks,” she laughed. Ashlyn was disappointed when the flight attendant had informed her they weren’t offering snacks alongside refreshments, causing her to spend the rest of the flight trying to quiet her grumbling tummy.
“Want to go grab some lunch after we drop off our bags?” Tobin offered.
“Yeah that sounds good, I'm starving,” Ashlyn replied patting her stomach.
“Cool, cool,” Tobin trailed off as she tapped away at her phone. Ashlyn watched as Tobin focused on the iPhone clutched in her left hand and typed out a message. The midfielder was never one for conversation after a long flight but she was more quiet than usual.
“Alex?” Ashlyn asked and nudged Tobin with her shoulder while the rest of the girls fell into their own conversation.
Tobin nodded. “She's waiting to board.”
“How are you two?”
“Good, I think. We haven't seen each other for a few weeks, with me being home in New Jersey and all. She's had a lot of meetings and Nike shoots and stuff.”
“When does she get in?”
“Uh,” Tobin scrolled through her conversation with Alex to find the answer. “She should land at six, so, not until later tonight.”
Ashlyn nodded and turned her attention to the window and watched the buildings blur past them. Tobin was too busy texting Alex to notice the lull in conversation. Up ahead, the rest of the group was catching up on team gossip. There was something about Hope’s husband Jerramy getting arrested again, Christen thinking about getting another dog to add to her growing pack, Ali and her boyfriend breaking up, and mentions of Abby and Sarah thinking of trying for a baby. Ashlyn didn't care enough to keep up or really pay attention, she just wanted to eat some food and call it a night already, despite it barely being past noon. She never cared much for gossip anyway.
The van pulled into the hotel parking lot and the girls climbed out, taking a minute to stretch their legs before heading inside. They met Jill in the conference room, with a few other staff members, to get their rooming assignments and keys.
“You're in room 718 with Naeher,” Jill announced to Ashlyn as she checked her name off of the sheet in front of her.
“Thanks, Coach,” Ashlyn replied, picking up her duffel bag and sliding her room key into her back pocket.
Jill gave her a tight smile before she started scanning the paper for Tobin’s room number. The two left to head up to their rooms so they could drop off their things before going out for lunch.
• • •
“I can't believe you're rooming with Whit,” Ashlyn pouted over her turkey sandwich. she didn’t mind rooming with Alyssa, but Ashlyn would have have rather roomed with Whitney considering the two hadn’t really seen each other since last camp.
“You jealous?” Tobin laughed.
Ashlyn nodded while chewing her food. “She's my best friend.”
“Good,” Ashlyn chuckled as she tossed a sweet potato fry towards Tobin.
She grabbed it off the table and popped it into her mouth with a grin. “Thanks.”
“You're unbelievable.” Ashlyn rolled her eyes.
“Yeah, yeah,” Tobin muttered, pressing the lock button on her phone and checking the time. “You ready to go?”
Ashlyn grabbed her water bottle and stood up to start their walk back to the hotel. It was a little warm for mid January as the sun made its way out from behind the clouds. Ashlyn and Tobin joked part of the way back to the hotel but mostly fell into a comfortable silence. They usually were more animated in their conversations but their flights drained them and both needed a nap to reenergize. As they were waiting for the elevator to take them to the seventh floor, Ashlyn heard Alyssa call out from behind her.
“Hey Alyssa,” Ashlyn smiled as she turned to greet her fellow keeper.
“How's the room?” She asked, dropping her suitcase onto the ground while the elevator made it’s descent.
“Better than the last hotel we stayed in,” Ashlyn returned with a laugh. At their last camp, the two keepers had roomed together and they had the unfortunate luck of being assigned a room that looked like it's furniture--or plumbing, or anything else, for that matter--hadn’t been replaced in over a decade.
The elevator chimed, announcing its arrival and Ashlyn stooped down to pick up Alyssa's bag, which Alyssa thanked her for. Tobin pushed the button for their floor and leaned back against the wall as the doors began to close.
Ashlyn lunged forward to press the open-door button, revealing a frantic Ali Krieger who stumbled into the elevator clad in leggings and a Nike hoodie with two suitcases, a duffel bag, and a purse slung over her shoulder.
“Thanks,” she mumbled out as she doubled over with her hands on her knees in an effort to catch her breath.
“You always pack so much, Kriegs. What gives?” Tobin laughed at the amount of luggage the brunette had.
“You never know what you're going to need?” Ali shrugged before readjusting her purse. Her definition of packing lightly involved a minimum of two suitcases.
Ashlyn watched her catch her breath as she slumped against the wall. Her hair was pulled into a messy bun and she looked exhausted and maybe even a little bit sad. She felt kinda bad for the girl in front of her. Before she could ask if she was okay the elevator doors opened and Ali gathered her bags and made her way towards her room. Ashlyn picked up Alyssa's suitcase again and walked towards their shared room.
“See you at dinner?” Tobin asked while walking further down the hall towards her room.
“You kind of have to, I'm pretty sure dinner is mandatory tonight, Tobs,” Ashlyn chuckled. Alyssa groaned as she struggled to get the door open.
“Right,” Tobin laughed back. “Save me and Alex a seat.”
“Love you, Ash,” Tobin called out before closing her door.
• • •
After a two hour nap, Ashlyn was up and ready to go. She took a hot shower and towel dried her hair while she sat at the end of her bed. Alyssa was busy skyping with her sister back home. Ashlyn was feeling anxious as she wanted to do something to get her extra energy out. She knew Whitney still hadn't made it to hotel yet and that Tobin would be too busy waiting for Alex's flight to arrive to be helpful in any way. She pulled her phone from it's charger and put a snapback on before slipping out of the room. She pocketed her phone and decided to take the stairs up to the roof. She hoped that climbing up six flights of stairs would lessen some of her extra energy. Lucky for her, the door to the roof was unlocked so she pushed it open and went to sit on a plastic crate that had been left up there.
She was glad to be back in camp. With the World Cup coming up soon, she was working hard to get her name on the roster, even if that meant being a backup keeper. It just meant she'd have to work harder than ever to prove to Jill that she was worthy of the slot and starting over the Hope Solo. Ashlyn Harris, the small town kid from Satellite Beach, Florida had made it. To Ashlyn, it was almost enough. She'd always want more, but for now, she'd take what she could get, even if it meant being Hope Solo’s number two.
Ashlyn she heard the door open behind her and nearly fell over at the sudden noise.
“Oh,” Ali called out, startled. “I didn't know anyone was up here. I'll go.”
Ashlyn turned around to look towards the door. Ali looked close to tears so she waved her over. “No, it's fine Kriegs. I'm just hanging out.”
“Okay,” she mumbled out and went to sit near Ashlyn.
“Here,” Ashlyn stood to offer the crate for her to sit. “So you don't get dirty.”
“Thanks,” Ali smiled while Ashlyn sat on the ground. She noticed that her nose didn't crinkle like it usually did.
“You alright?” Ashlyn asked after a few silent moments.
Ali sighed. “It's been a long day.”
“Oh yeah,” Ashlyn laughed. “I managed to sneak in a nice nap.”
“I should have thought of that,” Ali laughed too. “Why didn't you invite me?”
Ashlyn froze for a second before regaining her composure. There was no way Ali Krieger was flirting with her. “You didn't ask,” she shrugged.
They sat in silence for another few minutes before Ali mumbled something again.
“What was that, mumbles?” Ashlyn joked before turning to her.
Ali was bright red. “I said I broke up with Connor,” she stuttered out.
“Oh.” It was Ashlyn's turn to blush. Why did she make that joke? “I'm sorry. Do you want to talk about it?”
Ali shook her head. “I think I just needed to say it out loud. I hadn't really told anyone yet.”
The defender’s words confused Ashlyn at first. She remembered the girls talking about it in the van on the way from the airport, but quickly decided against bringing it up.
“Thanks for listening, Ash,” Ali wiped her tears before they fell. “Even though I didn't say a whole lot,” she said around a shaky laugh.
“No problem. I'm always here if you want to talk.”
Ali looked over at her and smiled. “That means a lot.”
Ashlyn returned the smile and leaned back on her palms. Neither tried to make conversation for a while as they watched the sun begin to slip below the clouds littering the coastline. Ali's phone began to vibrate so she fished it out of her pocket but sighed when she looked at the screen. Ashlyn caught her eye and raised her brow in question.
“It's Connor,” she tugged at her lip before silencing the call. “He's been trying to talk to me for the last couple of days.”
“I'm guessing you don't want to talk to him?” Ashlyn started playing with a string fraying off of her jeans.
“I probably should,” Ali shrugged. “I kind of just... left.”
“Can I ask what happened?”
“I don't really know what happened,” she shook her head. Her phone lit up in her hand again and she quickly declined the call.
“Well, maybe you should talk to him,” Ashlyn offered.
“I know, I will,” she said, sliding her phone back into her pocket.
Ashlyn pulled her own phone out and checked the time. “We should probably get going.” Ashlyn stood up and offered a hand to Ali. “Dinner is in about half an hour.”
Ali took her hand and pulled herself up, thankful that the keeper didn’t push her to talk about Connor. They took the stairs back to the seventh floor and Ali stopped outside of her room to thank Ashlyn again. “I really needed to just say that to someone,” she said again while playing with the hem of her own shirt.
Ashlyn had her hands shoved into her pockets but shrugged. “We're teammates. I'll still be around if you want to talk about what happened.”
Ali smiled and looked up to meet Ashlyn's eyes. She saw the genuinity housed in them and suddenly she found herself leaning forward and wrapping her arms around Ashlyn's neck, pulling her in for a quick hug.
“I thought you didn't hug, Kriegs,” the blonde joked before slinging her arm around Ali’s waist and returning the hug. She was warm despite the slight chill in the air from being on the roof.
“I needed a hug,” Ali giggled as she pulled away. “And you confirmed my suspicion. You give great hugs.”
“What can I say? I've had a lot of practice.”
Ali grinned again. “Thanks Ash. I'll see you at dinner,” she promised before turning and swiping her key card.
• • •
“Because if they flew over the bay, they'd be called bagels,” Ashlyn laughed out as she and Whitney made their way out of the elevator and towards team dinner.
“I definitely did not miss your lame jokes,” Whit playfully punched Ashlyn in the shoulder.
“But you missed me,” she sing songed.
“I always miss you.”
“Damn right you do,” Ashlyn grinned. She slung her arm across Whitney’s shoulders and pulled her towards the food.
Ashlyn piled up her plate and waited for Whitney before they sat down at a table, where Ashlyn made sure to save two seats like Tobin had asked. A few other teammates were trickling in and settling at their own tables at the same time. When Ashlyn was nearly halfway through her plate, Tobin and Alex finally approached the table with plates in hand.
“Alex! How are you?” Whit stood up to pull Alex into a hug.
“Ugh, exhausted,” Alex replied with a small grin. “I've barely had any time to really sit down.”
“Well sit now, Alex,” Ashlyn smiled and pointed to the chair with her fork. “Maybe Tobin will actually be able to hold a conversation now that you're here.”
“Hey,” Tobin grumbled.
“Aww, babe.” Alex nudged her girlfriend with her shoulder.
“Shut it.” Tobin jokingly threw a glare at Ashlyn before she looked down to hide the heat that was spreading over her face.
“Anyway,” Whitney changed the subject as she began rattling off about her new apartment.
Ashlyn tried to pay attention to the conversation but she quickly found herself getting bored. She tapped out a simple rhythm on the table with her thumbs in an effort to distract herself. She tuned out the conversation happening next to her looked around the room. She saw Abby and Pinoe laughing hysterically about something and Syd checking herself out with her phone camera. She shook her head at her teammates and felt a smile find its way onto her face. She definitely missed camp. She continued looking around and saw Jill and a few other members of the staff enter, signaling that the meeting after dinner would be starting soon. As she turned back towards the conversation at her own table, she saw Ali sitting across the room. Ali caught her gaze and smiled, sending her a small wave. She grinned back and stuck her tongue out at the defender, hoping to get some sort of reaction from her. Ashlyn’s smile grew when she saw Ali try and stifle a laugh while turning away.
“I heard Kriegs and Connor broke up but she doesn’t look too beat up about it,” Whitney commented when she looked up to see Ali laughing.
“Some people are good at hiding it,” Alex replied before casting a look over her shoulder to look at Ali. “Maybe it’s just a rumour,” she shrugged.
“ARod and Cheney were talking about it on the van ride from the hotel,” Tobin added in, turning to Ashlyn to back her up.
“Yeah,” Ashlyn agreed. She didn’t want to tell them that she and Ali had talked about it. It felt too personal. It wasn’t her information to share.
“Are you okay, Ash? You’ve been unusually quiet,” Alex prodded her with a small smile.
“Oh, yeah, I’m fine. I’ve just been a little anxious is all.” She stood up and gathered her plate. “I think the meeting is about to start. We should head to the conference room.”
The group nodded and cleaned up their table before walking to the conference room where Dawn was busy setting up the power point for the meeting. Waiting for the meeting to start, Ashlyn pulled out her phone as the rest of the team continued to file in. She replied to the texts she had from Chris and checked Instagram, getting entranced by a french bulldog account and grinning to herself while she double tapped almost every photo she looked at. She heard Jill start to talk so she locked her phone and looked up to see Ali sitting across from her at the table with an eyebrow cocked as if she was asking the question, “Really?” Ashlyn shrugged and smiled guiltily like she had been caught doing something she wasn’t supposed to, then turned her attention to the front of room where Jill and Dawn were standing and welcoming the group to camp before going over their schedule for the week. Thankfully, the meeting was short and soon they were all excused for the rest of the night.
“Curfew is 11 pm!” Jill called out as the girls pushed towards the door.
Ashlyn quickly decided to go for a walk instead of waiting for the elevators to clear out. There was a large group checking in at the same time the team was fighting each other to fit inside the car that was on the ground floor and she knew the anxiety bubbling inside of her would spell trouble for her if she stuck around. So instead of making things worse for herself, she walked for about an hour, taking in Los Angeles. It was her first time back on the West Coast in a while and she realised just how much she had missed it. It wasn’t too cold out yet so she didn’t mind that she didn’t bring a hoodie with her and she ended up on a bench near the hotel where she sat and tried to clear her thoughts. Her anxiety had been hitting her harder than usual and she really needed to focus this camp to earn a spot on the World Cup roster. She leaned her head back to look up at the sky and watched as a plane flew towards LAX. There were a few stars visible in the sky, but the city lights were too bright and drowned most of them out. After two more planes flew overhead, Ashlyn decided to call it a night and began her trek back to the hotel. She greeted the woman working at the desk with a tight smile and a wave before heading over to the elevator lobby. She tapped her palms against her thighs as she waited for the elevator to make its descent. When it opened, Ashlyn was surprised to see Ali nearly sprinting out of the elevator with tears streaming down her face.
“Ali!” She called out just before the defender reached the front door.
When Ali turned, she caught Ashlyn’s concerned stare. Her face flushed immediately and she hurried to get the door open and pushed her way outside. Ashlyn followed her out and found her crouched against the outside wall with her face in her hands.
“What’s wrong?” Ashlyn questioned, lowering herself so she was eye level with Ali. “Who do I have to beat up?” she mused.
Ali giggled before wiping her nose with the end of her sleeve. Ashlyn was being too nice to her. “Connor.”
“Give me an address,” Ashlyn grinned, hoping to lighten to mood.
“He called me again and I answered,” Ali mumbled. She shook her head, “I never should have answered.”
When Ali didn’t continue, Ashlyn pressed her softly. “Talk to me, Ali.”
“I found out Connor was cheating on me,” Ali whispered, biting her lip in an attempt to stop fresh tears from falling.
Ashlyn clenched her jaw but held back her comment. Although she had only met him a small handful of times, she was really starting to dislike Connor.
“I can’t talk to him. Hearing his voice makes me sick. He thinks he can win me back,” she choked out as another sob wracked through her body.
Here Ali was, crying on the street, because this asshole broke her heart. Ashlyn was livid but knew that the anger coursing through her veins like poison would only make the situation worse. So instead, Ashlyn stood up and pulled Ali into a hug, rubbing small circles against her back. She held her and comforted her until her tears subsided. “I really could beat him up, y’know,” Ashlyn noted after Ali pulled away to wipe at her tears.
“I probably wouldn’t stop you,” Ali laughed. “Sorry about crying all over your shirt,” she pouted while reaching out to run her fingers over the soft material of Ashlyn’s shirt that was now soaked through.
“It’s fine, really. As long as you’re okay.”
“I am feeling a little bit better.” Ali smiled and Ashlyn saw that it reached her eyes a little bit more. “You’re going to have to stop coming to my rescue, though,” she laughed.
“What can I say? I’m a sucker for a damsel in distress,” Ashlyn flashed her teeth in a grin.
“Oh, stop it,” Ali laughed and slapped the keeper’s arm lightly.
“Come on, let’s get you inside.”
Ali stopped at Ashlyn’s door and thanked her again for helping her. It seemed to be happening a lot today. She squeezed Ashlyn’s forearm lightly before turning towards her room. Ashlyn tried to stop the smile that spread across her face as she swiped her key card into the door and walked in. The room was pitch black already, save for the alarm clock that cast a soft red glow from the side table and she assumed that Alyssa was already asleep. Ashlyn quickly shed her jeans, pulled on a pair of mesh shorts, and brushed her teeth before slipping under the covers and plugging in her phone to charge. When the screen lit up, she had to admit she was surprised to see a text from Ali.
Kriegs: Thx for being my knight in shining gym shorts ;)
Ashlyn quietly laughed and locked her phone. Something told her that she and Ali Krieger were going to get a whole lot closer this camp.
The first week of camp seemed to fly by. Ashlyn was sore from the extra practice she had been putting in. Hope had taken a real liking to her and had even gone so far as to give her tips and help her work on PKs. Ali had also taken a liking to her and Ashlyn found their banter amusing, especially when Ali started flirting. It caught her off guard at first, but she quickly recovered and started shooting it back just as often. They hadn’t talked about Connor since the first night of camp, but there were some days when Ash could tell that Ali was upset, not talking as often or staying in her room instead of joining in on movie nights. Still, Ashlyn never pushed the defender to talk about it.
After a few drills, Ashlyn grabbed her water bottle from behind the goal post and squeezed the cool water into her mouth. The sun was directly overhead and it was extremely warm for January, even in California.
“Nice saves out there,” She heard Ali call out from behind her. Ashlyn turned to see Ali wiping the sweat off of her forehead with her shirt, exposing her taut abs. “I didn’t know you were that flexible.”
Ashlyn snorted at Ali’s comment. “Put those away,” she nodded towards Ali’s abs. “You’re going to cut someone.”
“You think you’re so funny,” Ali grinned at her but dropped the fabric in her hand.
“Oh, I know I am, Princess.”
“Yeah, yeah. Whatever Harris.” She got closer and grabbed Ashlyn’s water and squirted some water into her mouth.
“Hey,” Ashlyn pouted. “Get your own.”
Ali shrugged and handed the water bottle back to the keeper. “I ran out.”
“You're not getting any free hand outs just because you're cute,” Ashlyn dropped her water bottle back onto the turf.
“Oh, you think I'm cute, huh?” Ali teased.
“You wish, Krieger. Now get out of here, this is secret goalkeeper drills only,” the blonde pushed her lightly before fixing her gloves.
Ali rolled her eyes but jogged back out to midfield where some of the other girls were heading balls back and forth. Jill ended practice earlier as the temperature increased on the pitch. Hope convinced Ashlyn to take an ice bath despite Ashlyn's hatred for all things cold, unless it was alcohol.
“Get your ass in there, Harris,” Hope ordered while she continued to scoop ice into the inflatable pool they were going to share.
Ashlyn grumbled but stripped down to her sports bra and compression shorts before carefully easing her body into the freezing water. “I can't believe I--ahh--let you talk me into this,” Ashlyn complained.
“You’ll thank me tomorrow.”
“Yeah, yeah,” Ashlyn shivered. Hope closed the lid to the ice machine and stripped down before climbing in. She acclimated much faster than Ashlyn, who sat across from her with her jaw clenched and arms wrapped around her own torso. Hope set a timer on her phone and placed it on the metal chair a few inches away.
“So,” Hope started after a few minutes in. “You and Krieger seem to be getting pretty close this camp.”
Ashlyn shot her head up and was met with a small grin planted on Hope’s face. “Uh, kind of.” Ashlyn rubbed at the back of her neck. “She’s going through a hard time right now.”
“It’s not really my place to say,” the younger keeper started but she saw the pointed look Hope was giving her so she nodded instead. “She told me what happened the first day of camp. And after the meeting that night I found her crying.”
“That’s good though. We have to look out for family.” Ashlyn nodded again and prayed that she would drop it. Despite hardly knowing her outside of the pitch, Ashlyn respected Ali enough to not discuss her personal life. Hope kept quiet and instead began moving her legs back and forth, causing small waves to shoot across the pool.
“Hey!” Ashlyn complained as the freezing water traveled further up her stomach, making her flinch.
“You’re a baby,” Hope snorted as her timer went off. “You can get out now.”
“Oh, thank god,” Ashlyn rejoiced, clambering out of the kiddie pool and grabbing a soft towel to dry herself off. She made her way to her locker to change before heading back to the hotel. When she got to the parking lot, there were a few girls waiting to fill up a van.
“Hey Ash,” HAO smiled brightly. “Do you know if anyone else is one their way? We have one more spot left.”
“I think Hope might be out soon. And I saw Press and JJ in the locker room too.” Ashlyn answered. She saw Becky sitting in the passenger seat reading a book and Kling sitting in the middle row.
“Cool. You can take a seat in the van if you want. The girls have the AC on full blast.”
Ashlyn smiled in return and went to open the sliding door. She saw Ali grin at her from the backseat, patting the space next to her. Of course Ali was in this van. Ashlyn smiled back and moved the middle seat forward to climb into the back. It’d make it easier for the last person to get in the van, she reasoned. Kling had somehow fallen asleep against the window already and Ali was scrolling through Instagram, so the van was relatively quiet, minus Kling’s soft snores and the sound of the air conditioning pushing out cool air. The keeper dug her headphones out of her bag and shuffled her iTunes library on her phone to fill the silence that had settled. She saw Ali laughing in her peripheral so she cocked her headphones off of one ear and raised an eyebrow at the defender.
“I didn’t peg you as a Taylor Swift girl is all,” Ali pointed at Ashlyn’s phone while trying to regain her composure.
“Uh, duh. She’s great,” Ashlyn even started dancing in her seat, causing Ali to laugh even more.
“And we’re off!” HAO announced as she opened the driver door and Hope slid in next to Kling.
At dinner that night, Ashlyn quickly ate her food, trying to get out of the room. Pinoe and Syd were in talks of planning an outing to the bars since they had the next day off. Some of the other girl’s had caught wind of the plans and wanted to join in on the festivities. Ashlyn tried to get out of it, claiming she was tired and just wanted to sleep--which was true--but Whitney wasn’t having it.
“Come on, Ash! I don’t want to go without you,” Whit pouted as she sat across from the keeper.
“But I’m tired,” Ash whined. She was only a few bites away from finishing her dinner and hopefully escaping her best friends pleas. “Besides, Tobin and Alex are going,” she nodded at the two who were too busy smiling at each other to even register that Ash was talking about them.
“But they’re gross and in love. College Ashlyn would never turn down drinks.”
“Well, national team Ashlyn is exhausted from putting in extra time to get a spot on the World Cup roster,” Ashlyn pointed out.
“Please,” Whit begged. “I’ll buy all of your drinks.”
Ashlyn sighed. She always had a hard time telling her best friend no, and unfortunately for Ashlyn, this was one of those times. “Fine. But you owe me some ice cream too.”
• • •
Ashlyn found herself practically suffocating in the middle of the dancefloor. The bar was loud and stuffy and there were too many people around her. She had let Whitney not only talk her into coming out tonight, but also into dancing with her and some of the other girls who had joined.
“I’m gonna grab another drink!” Ashlyn yelled to Whitney over the music. She really needed to get out of there before she had another anxiety attack.
Whitney gave her a thumbs up, letting her know she had heard her, so Ashlyn made her way over to the bar, where the bartender quickly took her drink order and left to grab a clean glass. Ever impatient, Ashlyn took the time to glance around the large room. She saw Ali and Syd dancing with Whitney and Kelley; Abby was in an animated conversation with Carli and Hope who were seated in a booth near the door. When the bartender slid Ashlyn her drink, she decided to take a break from the busy dance floor and squeezed her way through to the booth.
“Hey Harris,” Hope nodded at Ashlyn as she slid into the booth next to Abby. Ashlyn nodded back before taking a sip of her drink. Honestly she was exhausted and she had only come out to appease Whitney who was too distracted to even notice she hadn't returned to her side. She wanted nothing more than to go home, but it had hardly been an hour since they all got there.
Ashlyn fell into conversation with the three and they talked about camp and the possibility of going on a hike the next day. She was grateful for the distraction. With all of the hard work she had been putting in lately, she really just wanted to relax, something the three women sittingaround her easily understood. While Syd and Pinoe liked to go out and party, Abby and Carli enjoyed spending their free time refueling and resting their bodies in an effort to come back better when training picked back up.
The group quickly found themselves pulled from planning their day off when they head Julie yelling at a drunken Christen Press.
“Sweetie, you’ve had enough to drink!” The blonde defender tried to reason with Christen who had two shots clutched in her hands.
“But I want to do body shots,” Christen pouted.
“Yeah CP!” Pinoe called out with her fists in the air. “Syd, come do body shots with me and Press!”
Syd was elated. “Off of who?”
“Me!” Christen offered excitedly before slamming the shots onto the table and stripping off her shirt.
Most of the girls cheered while JJ dropped her face into her hands, clearly mortified. “Christen you need to put your shirt back on.”
“You’re no fun,” Pinoe scolded, swatting Julie away, “You need to stay still Press. No laughing!”
Christen tried her best to stop giggling while Syd poured a small trail of salt along the forward’s stomach and gently placed the lime wedge in her mouth. Pinoe asked if she was ready and when Christen gave her a small nod, Pinoe downed the shot, licked the salt from her body, and plucked the lime from her lips.
“Yeah!” Christen cheered, high fiving Pinoe as she sat up. “Syd, it’s my turn!”
Syd was surprised when Christen tugged her shirt over her head and pushed her onto the table where Christen haphazardly shook the salt along Syd’s stomach and stuck a lime in her mouth. Christen completed the shot and ran off towards the dance floor, her shirt long forgotten, and an annoyed Julie Johnston running after her.
“Christen you need to put your shirt back on!” Ashlyn heard Julie yell, causing her to laugh at her drunken teammates. In college, Ashlyn was big on body shots, which usually led to some not very good decisions on her part.
“Remember when we were like that?”Abby chuckled before taking another drink.
Carli snorted. “I was never like that.”
“You were like that at that one Christmas party,” Hope pointed out with a raised eyebrow.
“Shut it, Solo.” Carli was smirking now. “That was one time, a long, long, time ago.”
Hope rolled her eyes and finished off her drink. Whitney was at the table now, with a drink in her hand and a pleading look on her face.
“Come dance with us,” she pouted.
Ashlyn sighed. She really did just want to relax but she knew Whit wouldn’t give up without a fight. So she downed her drink and stood up, letting the now giddy defender pull her back out to the dance floor. She let her body follow the beat of the songs and she was actually having fun after a few songs had passed. Syd (now back in her shirt) and Ali were dancing next to her and Whitney and at some point, Ashlyn found herself next to the brunette and eventually, dancing with her. Ali had her back pressed into Ashlyn who slid her hands onto Ali’s waist. Ashlyn chalked it up to Ali being drunk, as she had seen her dancing with a few of the gals like that earlier in the night. But she definitely didn’t see Ali grinding her hips into any of them or pulling them in by the neck like she was with her.
“Maybe we should get you home,” Ashlyn suggested to Ali over the music, after most of the gals started to make their way back to the hotel.
Ali spun to face Ashlyn, her cheeks tinted red from the alcohol. “Just a few more songs? Pleeease.”
“Fine, Princess. But then we get you back to the hotel and in bed before it gets too late.”
“I pinky promise,” the defender grinned, extending her pinky for Ashlyn to take.
“Pinky promise,”Ashlyn agreed, folding her own pinky around Ali’s.
“Good, now dance with me!” Ali yelled, moving her hips against Ashlyn’s,
Ashlyn shook her head but continued to dance with Ali, noticing how close they were again. She could smell the mix of tequila and strawberries coming off of the defenders skin and she had to remind herself that Ali was drunk and a teammate.
True to her pinky promise, Ali let Ashlyn lead her out of the bar after three more songs had passed. Although most of their teammates had left, Syd, Pinoe, Kelley, and Whitney were still going strong on the dance floor. They had said their goodbyes and Ashlyn found herself holding Ali steady as they walked down the street.
“Ali you need to hold on to me or you’re going to fall,” Ashlyn chuckled at the girl beside her. She had sobered up some and was nowhere near Ali’s level.
“Why do I have to hold onto you to be drunk?” Ali asked. “I mean, drunk to hold on to you!”
Ashlyn laughed at Ali’s mistake and caught her around the waist before she could stumble into the person passing them on the sidewalk. “That’s not what I meant, Princess. I just don’t want you to fall. So if you hold onto me while we’re walking, I can do a better job at making sure you don’t hurt yourself.”
“Oh.” Ali answered. She grabbed for Ashlyn’s hand as they kept walking. “Is this good?”
Before Ashlyn could answer, Ali was already starting to fall forward again after her heel caught on a raised bit of the sidewalk. She caught the defender--barely--and made sure she was steady before crouching down in front of her. “Come on.”
“What are you doing Ash?” Ali couldn’t stop the giggles that were falling out of her mouth.
“I’m giving you a piggy back ride. You almost fell again. I can’t risk any scraped knees or sprained wrists from you.”
Ali shook her head and climbed onto Ashlyn’s back. “Like those ever stopped me from playing before. You’re the one that needs to take care of your precious hands.”
Ashlyn stood up, sliding her hands under Ali’s thighs, and began walking again. “My hands are precious. I need them for a lot of things, but most importantly, my job.”
“Anything else?” Ali asked, tightening her arms around Ashlyn’s neck so she didn’t slide off. Ashlyn just chuckled and shook her head at the girl on her back and continued walking to the hotel. She set Ali down after tapping on the call elevator button.
“Ash,” Ali whined as she leaned against the cool metal of the elevator. She was a lot more drunk than she had originally thought.
“Yeah?” Ashlyn could feel her eyelids already get heavy. Her bed was so close.
“Alex is staying in Tobin's room tonight,” she scrunched her face as she spoke. “And I don't want to be alone. Will you stay with me?”
Ashlyn palmed the back of her own neck. “Uh.”
“Please.” Ali tried to bat her eyelashes but it looked more like exaggerated blinks at this point which made Ashlyn laugh.
“Fine, Princess.” She was too buzzed to try and argue. And Ali looked so proud when she had agreed that she felt her stomach do a small flip.
“Don't call me Princess.” Ali had to slide her keycard a few times before her door unlocked.
“You love it,” Ashlyn grinned.
“Shut it Harris.”
Ashlyn walked into the room and closed the door behind her. Ali shook off her heels and went into the bathroom to take off her makeup so Ashlyn slipped off her shoes and sat on Alex's bed. She ran her hands over her face to try and wipe the alcohol from her system, laughing when she realised what she was doing. Ali walked out of the bathroom with a little extra swing in her hips that made Ashlyn raise an eyebrow.
“Help me unzip my dress?” She asked with a mischievous grin. Ashlyn nodded and blamed it on Ali being drunk. She also blamed the alcohol when Ali let the fabric fall to the floor, leaving her clad in a bra and panties, before turning around to press a kiss to Ashlyn's lips. She stumbled a bit but Ashlyn steadied the both of them before pulling apart.
“Ali, you're drunk.” She breathed out. Ali tasted like tequila and she tried to stop her head from spinning even more.
“So,” Ali grinned, grabbing Ashlyn's collar to pull her back in. Ashlyn let her, throwing aside her judgement when Ali was kissing her like that. Ali nipped at her bottom lip and Ashlyn tried (unsuccessfully) to suppress the sigh that fell from her lips, but felt Ali smile against her lips before pulling them onto the bed, the defender on top and straddling Ashlyn's hips.
“So, this doesn't feel right. I don't want you to regret this in the morning.”
Ali groaned and rolled off of Ashlyn.
“And we're teammates,” she continued. “I don't want this to be weird.”
She chanced a glance at the defender. Ali's back was to her, her body rising and falling with each breath. Ashlyn reached out and touched her shoulder softly.
The defender was asleep already. Ashlyn laughed before sliding off of the bed and covering her up with a blanket. She also filled a plastic hotel cup with water and set it on the night stand with a few aspirin and a note that said, “Take these when you wake up. xx Ash”.
In the doorway, Ashlyn couldn't help but look at how peaceful Ali looked in her sleep. Her long brown hair was falling into her face and her lips were parted just slightly. The keeper felt a smile on her own face before slipping out of the room and returning to her own room for the rest of the night.
Chapter three is halfway done! I hope to finish it soon.
What was your favourite part? Drop a comment!
The vibrating of her phone woke Ashlyn. With her eyes still closed she reached out from under the covers and slapped around the nightstand for her phone. When her hand closed around the cool metal of her iPhone, she peeked at the phone, momentarily blinded by the bright light, and read the message from the group chat displayed on her screen.
Carli: Meeting in the lobby at 8 am for a hike, if anyone is interested. Don’t forget sunscreen!
Ashlyn groaned and locked her phone. Last night the hike has sounded exciting, but as she lay in bed half asleep still, she could feel how sore her body really was.
Alyssa walked out of the bathroom in a pair of joggers and a hoodie. “You going on the hike, Ash?”
“I thought about it,” Ashlyn offered, sleep still evident in her raspy voice. “But I’m still exhausted from training.”
“Aw, that sucks. Well, I’m going to head to Starbucks. Want anything?”
“No thanks. I think I’m gonna try and get some more sleep.” She let out a yawn before plopping her face back into the soft pillows.
Ashlyn woke up at eleven to another text message, but this time she was surprised to see it was from Ali.
Kriegs: Thanks for the aspirin! You’re a lifesaver. My brother would kill me if I showed up to brunch hungover.
She smiled before remembering the fact that Ali had tried to sleep with her the night before. Ali was attractive , she couldn’t deny that, but she also knew that Ali just came out of a four year relationship--a relationship that she was really hurt over. The last thing Ali needed was to have rebound sex with a fellow national team member in the midst of her grief. Ashlyn thought for a few minutes before typing out a response.
Ash: Thought you could use them. Have fun with your brother today :)
Ashlyn got up gathered her things to take a shower, deciding to finally get out of bed. The scalding water helped soothe her aching muscles and she spent at least ten minutes just standing under the steady flow. She ended up finishing her shower just as the hot water began to run out. Ashlyn dressed and decided a coffee run was in order, grabbing a snapback along with her phone and wallet.
When Ashlyn stepped into the Starbucks down the street, the first thing she noticed was how much warmer it was inside the small building. That, and the fact that there was a relatively short line, which she was grateful for (she didn’t mess around when it came to coffee). The young brunette barista who took Ashlyn’s order was funny, earning her a big smile from the blonde keeper who was still trying to wake up fully despite it being closer to noon at this point. Ashlyn took her coffee and sat down at one of the small tables in the corner of the shop before pulling out her phone and checking her news apps.
“Ashlyn?” She looked up to see a smiley Ali Krieger, surprisingly still gorgeous despite the fact she should clearly be hungover after Syd and Pinoe kept feeding her drinks all night.
“I thought you had brunch with your brother?” Ashlyn asked quizzically.
Ali laughed before settling into the seat across from Ashlyn. “I do, it’s just not until one o’clock. And I need my morning coffee to start my day off right.”
“Same,” Ashlyn noted, taking a drink from her own cup.
“Thank you again for the aspirin,” Ali said after a moment of silence. “I took it when I woke up in the middle of the night.”
“You were pretty wasted last night.”
Ali looked mortified for a brief second before her cheeks flooded. “I didn’t embarrass myself, did I?”
Ashlyn debated telling her that they almost slept together, but one look at the defender told her she should spare her the gory details. Instead, she simply shrugged. “You almost fell a few times, but I managed to save you from ruining that pretty face of yours.”
Ali groaned before smiling at Ashlyn again and shaking her head. “You’re always coming to my rescue, Harris.”
“You’re always putting yourself in questionable situations,” Ashlyn challenged with a grin.
Before Ali could respond, her name was called out as her order was placed on the counter. She quickly retrieved her drink, flashing a smile at the barista that called out her name before sitting down at the table again.
“I have about,” Ali glanced down at the watch settled on her wrist. “Ten or so minutes before Kyle comes to pick me up. Mind if I keep you company until then?”
“Of course not.” Ali was quickly becoming one of her best friends on the team, except for Whitney and Tobin, of course. But she was definitely getting up there with the amount of time they spent together.
“Cool. How was last night for you?”
“Long,” Ashlyn groaned before telling Ali how Whitney had convinced her to go out with the group. Ali listened intently and laughed along when appropriate, also recalling Christen shouting about body shots, before admitting that the end of her night was fuzzy and how she hardly remembered getting into her room.
“I’m glad you were there to take care of me. I definitely owe you one.”
She shrugged. “It was no big deal. It gave me an excuse to leave before Whit did.”
“How about a movie night later?” she asked. “I’ll buy a pint of Ben & Jerry’s and we can share it over Netflix.”
Ashlyn thought for a moment before nodding her head. At this rate, half the team would end up owing her ice cream by the end of camp. “Sure. You can text me when you get back and we can hang out.”
“Great,” Ali smiled at her. Just then, her phone chimed. She pulled it out of her pocket and Ashlyn noticed that her face fell just slightly. “Kyle’s here. What’s your favourite flavour?” She asked quickly, typing out a response to Kyle and standing up.
“Americone Dream,” Ashlyn admitted sheepishly.
Ali just laughed before rising from the table and saying her goodbyes. Ashlyn watched through the window as Ali walked out of the glass doors and towards a taller man leaning against a black car and tapping away at the iPhone settled in his hands. She watched as Ali called out to him and he lifted his head before a huge smile found it’s way onto his face and he wrapped his arms around Ali, picking her up and spinning them around. When he set her back on the ground, Ashlyn saw how similar the two looked. She could confuse them as twins, if Ali hadn’t mentioned that Kyle was a year older than her earlier in the week. They had the same smile, for sure. The two spoke for a little while before climbing into the car and leaving.
Ashlyn spent the better part of her day relaxing. She got a massage as a part of recovery, despite it not being an actual recovery day, and she even took a nap after. Ashlyn ordered room service for an early dinner, so she ate her grilled chicken breast and veggies while continuing with the third season of Grey’s Anatomy. Halfway through episode 12, Ashlyn’s phone vibrated next to her and she looked down to see a text from Ali, letting her know that she had made it back to the hotel.
Kriegs: Meet me in my room in five minutes?
Ash: Yea, just let me put away my leftovers.
Ashlyn closed her laptop and readied herself for the movie night. She arrived at Ali’s door a few minutes later and she quietly tapped her knuckles against the dark wood. The door opened quickly and Ashlyn had to remember how to breathe when she saw Ali, dressed in Nike leggings and an oversized sweater, her hair pulled over her right shoulder.
“Come in,” Ali offered, moving to the side to allow Ashlyn access.
The keeper made her way inside and took a seat on the edge of Ali’s bed, similar to the night before when they drunkenly stumbled inside the room. Ali quietly closed the door and went to the desk on the other side of the room to grab her laptop. Sitting next to it is a small paper bag that she also picked up and deposited it on Ashlyn’s lap before setting her laptop on the bed and rifling through her bag for an HDMI cable.
“What’s this?” Ashlyn asked, confused.
“You’re ice cream, silly.” She turned toward the tv to plug in the HDMI cable and Ashlyn can hear her struggling to reach behind it. “I told you I owed you for last night.”
“Right. Need help?”
“I think I got it,” Ali responded, lifting herself onto her toes to reach the slot. She huffed before turning to Ashlyn with a sheepish grin. “Maybe not.”
“Hand it over,” Ashlyn laughed, taking the cord from the defender and easily reaching behind the television to plug it in.
Ali rolled her eyes at the ease in which Ashlyn plugged in the cable. “Whatever. What do you want to watch, Stud?”
Ashlyn quirked an eyebrow at her. “Stud, huh?” Ali shrugged at her, asking again what she wanted to watch. “I don’t really have a preference.”
“Silver Linings Playbook is in my recommended list. Wanna watch that?” She asked, standing to connect her laptop to the television.
“Ugh, yes. I love that movie so much.”
“I haven’t seen it. You can get comfortable on the bed while I set this up.”
Ashlyn pushed off her shoes and climbed onto the bed, propping the pillows up so they could sit against the headboard and tearing off the plastic ring from the top of the Ben & Jerry’s container.
“Jennifer Lawrence is so pretty,” Ali noted after she had settled onto the bed and grabbed the extra spoon for the ice cream.
Ashlyn tried to search Ali’s face in her peripheral to see if she had simply noted that Jennifer Lawrence was attractive or… more .
They were half way through the movie when Ali leaned over and rested her head on Ashlyn's shoulder, the pint of ice cream long forgotten and melted on the nightstand next to them. She had felt Ali shiver next to her, so Ashlyn slung her arm across Ali’s shoulders and pulled the same blanket she had used to cover Ali with the night before over the both of them.
“Thank you,” Ali mumbled, her voice sounding tired.
“Are you tired?”
“No, no. I’m just getting comfortable,” the defender assured her.
Ashlyn nodded and turned her attention back to the movie in front of her. A few minutes later, she felt Ali’s fingers running over her t shirt which caused her heart rate to skyrocket. She was no stranger to girls pulling the same moves on her, but she was definitely new to it coming from a teammate.
“Ali?” she carefully asked but was cut off by Ali’s lips on hers.
“Shh,” Ali whispered, moving so she straddled Ashlyn before kissing her again.
Ashlyn complied and settled her hands on Ali’s hips while the brunette threaded her fingers into the long blonde hair. They kissed for a while, the kisses slowly turning deeper and more desperate as time went on. Ali slid her hands down Ashlyn’s chest, lightly scratching along fabric of her shirt, before dipping her hand below the blonde’s waistband. A sigh fell from Ashlyn’s mouth as Ali began to work circles against Ashlyn’s clit. She could feel her stomach tightening the faster Ali’s fingers moved, her orgasm building up faster than normal.
Ali continued, expletives and her name falling from Ashlyn’s mouth urging her on. After a few more moments, Ashlyn came, her face pressed against Ali’s neck and her hands clutching the brunette’s hips.
“Are you okay?” Ali grinned as soon as Ashlyn pulled back and leaned her head against the headboard.
The keeper nodded her head and opened her eyes to look at Ali. Her eyes were darkened and the grin on her face caused Ashlyn’s stomach to clench again. “What was that for?”
Ali shrugged and bit her lip. “I don’t know. You’re attractive, and I’ve kind of wanted to do that for a while.”
“Do what? Sleep with a woman?”
“You’re not the first woman I’ve slept with.” Ali rolled her eyes.
“College?” Ashlyn asked, confused.
Ali shook her head.
“But you just broke up with Connor.”
“Wow, Ashlyn. Bisexuality exists, y’know. Just because I haven’t openly dated a woman, doesn’t mean I’m not attracted to them.”
“Fair,” Ashlyn replied, holding her hands up in surrender. “Sorry.”
“You should be,” she smiled.
“How can I make it up to you?” Ashlyn asked, having a pretty good idea of what Ali was going to suggest.
“I have a few ideas,” the defender grined, pushing their lips together again.
Hi, I know it's been a while and also this chapter is shorter than the others, but I wanted to get it out to you!
It's definitely going to start picking up in the next chapters.
Drop a comment down below to let me know what you think!