Caught in the moment
Midnight in the room
My breath and heart
Got taken by you
Lindsey didn’t call after the Houston game, though Kelley didn’t really expect her to. She knew that in Lindsey’s mind, a draw was just as bad as a loss. She also knew that Lindsey was in her hotel room re-watching every second of the game film, making notes of the things she’d done wrong. Any foot out of place or mistimed pass would be documented and replayed over and over again in the blonde’s brain until she got back on the field to fix it.
One of Lindsey’s faults was her pension for fixating on things, becoming a bit obsessive, if you will. Sometimes, it would work out in Kelley’s favor, like when she was fixated on finding the perfect chocolate chip cookie recipe to bring to her mother’s annual cookie exchange, naming Kelley her official taste tester. Kelley didn’t have the heart to remind Lindsey of her slight veganism, eating cookie after cookie, even when they were burnt to a crisp or missing important ingredients like sugar or one time, without chocolate chips. No one had ever accused Lindsey of being a good chef, but no one could ever say she didn’t try.
Other times, it became somewhat detrimental to their relationship. Like when Lindsey was fixated on Kelley’s friendship with Sonny. She knew Lindsey wasn’t a naturally jealous person, but the clear annoyance she displayed whenever Kelley couldn’t commit to plans because of doing something with Sonny, or whenever Kelley invited Sonny along on what was supposed to be a moment for alone time, hung over them like a dark cloud sometimes. She accused Kelley on more than one occasion of being more into Emily than into Lindsey, of getting traded to Washington so that she and Sonny could be together. And of course, within 10 minutes, she’d apologize profusely and beg Kelley to forgive her, which she always would. Kelley knew that Lindsey was sometimes insecure about the relationships in her life and didn’t always know how to express her feelings, which could lead to her lashing out if she sensed any kind of danger. Lindsey would rather break up with Kelley before Kelley had the chance to break up with her, as if that might save her from being hurt. Not that there was anything to break up. Because they weren’t girlfriends. Not yet anyways.
“It’s only you, Linds. Only you, I promise.” Kelley would reminder her, cupping the blonde’s chin in her small hands, forcing Lindsey to make eye contact before wiping away angry tears and planting a sweet kiss on her lips.
So, when Lindsey didn’t call or respond to the string of texts Kelley sent, she wasn’t worried. But that didn’t stop her from continuing to pester Lindsey in hopes of getting her to give in. Maybe she just wanted attention, so sue her.
I know you’re there
And I know you saw all my texts
Baby you played so well, you were everywhere
It only took about twenty minutes before Lindsey gave in. When Kelley saw the contact picture come up on her phone, she couldn’t help but smile as she plopped down onto the couch. It was from January camp this year, one of the last nights, when they sprawled out on the golf course with Alex and baby Charlie. Lindsey had snapped a quick selfie of the two of them, laid on their backs, mid-laugh because Alex said something inappropriate around the baby, who was starting to babble, and Charlie had repeated it back to her.
“What do you want, Kel?” Lindsey’s voice was tired and a bit depressive, which shot right through Kelley’s heart.
“I want you to be proud of yourself.”
“Why? It’s not like I got on the scoresheet.”
Kelley sighed. Lindsey had been playing the best soccer of her life before everything shut down in 2020. She was free of Jill and, for the first time in a really long time, she had a coach that she was excited to play for. And then everything closed down and nothing would ever be the same after that.
Kelley also knew she wouldn’t ever admit to anyone (other than Sonnett maybe), but the World Cup was rough for Lindsey. Not rough in the same way that Carli described as the “worst time of her life”, but it had clearly been hard to wrap her brain around losing her starting spot for most of the tournament. And Kelley hated to think about it, but she knew that if she hadn’t gotten hit in the head, Lindsey probably would’ve been that last sub in the final. Lindsey must have known it too but showed Kelley enough grace not to talk about it.
So, when Lindsey was down on herself for not getting on the scoresheet, that wasn’t just about her competitive drive to score goals. It was about proving to herself and her coaches that she could be counted on, that she was the person they should want in a difficult situation.
“And you know that’s not the only measure of success in a game. Linds, you probably ran more than anyone else on that field, I want to see the stats later. That game would have looked totally different if you weren’t there and locked in.”
“Nope. The only butt we’re talking about is yours, and how good it looks in those white shorts.” Lindsey snorted on the other end of the line, which was Kelley’s real intent, to get her smiling.
“Are you still coming before the championship? I need my cheering section.”
This time Kelley snorted. “Um, I think you’ll have about a thousand people in your cheering section, don’t worry.”
“But they’re not all there just for me. I want to look up in the stands and see you, maybe even wearing my number.” Lindsey hinted.
“If people see me in the stands with your number on my back, they might think we’re together or something.”
“Would that really be so bad, Kel? If they knew you were there for me?”
“Maybe I’ll snag a Becky jersey just to throw them of the scent.” Kelley giggled, purposefully avoiding Lindsey's question.
Because maybe she was worried about the reaction if she showed to Providence Park wearing the number 10 on her back. If she was waiting in the tunnel to wrap Lindsey in the tightest hug possible, win or lose. If she kissed her where everyone could see.
Because Kelley had done that before, declared her love on the biggest stage. And it backfired spectacularly. In the weeks and months following the World Cup, Kelley’s ex was bombarded with attention, both good and bad, and in the end, she couldn’t handle it. Or didn’t want to handle it. She said she thought she knew what she was getting into, but that she couldn’t deal with what it had become, especially since Kelley was gone half the time and couldn’t weather it with her.
So, they went their separate ways. Though, Kelley didn’t tell anyone for the longest time, still holding out hope that things might turn out differently. Finally, Sonnett cornered her while they were out together for brunch back in Atlanta after Christmas, and she let it all out. How Kelley wished she could have protected her better, how she should have been around more, how she had started talking to her agent about a trade because she couldn’t keep living in the same city for fear of accidentally running into her. Kelley’s problems kind of got put on the back burner for a while though while everyone dealt with the aftermath of Sonnett’s trade. During that time, Kelley found herself playing caretaker to her two favorite blondes, best friends who never thought they’d be separated.
Looking back to when she finally told Lindsey, at camp for She Believes 2020, the way she pulled Kelley close and pressed a kiss into her hairline was probably the first moment they shared that was less than strictly platonic. No words were needed, just the comforting embrace. When Lindsey scored that goal against Japan, Kelley realized just how much she wanted to always be the first person to celebrate her, always be the first person to hug her. And then she had to go months without that embrace, settling for daily FaceTime calls in between each of their calls with Sonnett. Sometimes, they be on the phone for upwards of six hours, just pretending that they were physically together. Kelley would set her phone or her laptop on the counter while she tried out a new recipe, listening to Lindsey babble about this, that, and the other. They would watch Netflix shows together a lot, and once Lindsey finally gave in to the Harry Potter books, they would read to one another at night. Kelley even had the box set of books shipped to Lindsey's apartment.
If they hadn’t been so hyper-focused on each other, they might have noticed their feelings a lot sooner. But that was okay, at least in Kelley’s mind. Looking back, they may have moved at an agonizingly slow pace, but it brought them closer than she ever imagined possible.
Then the Challenge Cup came, and Lindsey was in her city, just out of arm’s reach for so long. Kelley watched all the games the Thorns played from the stands, even when it was sweltering hot and when she should've been gearing up for her own games. Her heart got lodged in her throat when Lindsey went down during the North Carolina game, only subsiding when she was pulled off the field. But then she was escorted back to the training room, not the bench, and Kelley’s stomach was in her feet. Lindsey gave her a weak thumbs up when she came back out, limping just a little which, to the untrained eye, could have been mistaken for the typical, on-the-field swagger in her step.
They didn’t even get a real goodbye. After Kelley’s team was eliminated, they weren’t allowed back inside the training facility until the tournament was over and the other teams had left. She watched the Thorns last game from her couch at home, but only to catch those glimpses of Lindsey, sometimes smiling and cheering, but other times, with her brows furrowed as she studied the game from the stands. Lindsey FaceTimed her from the airport, wanting to talk to Kelley more than she wanted to sit with her teammates.
Then there was that damn podcast earlier this year. The one that filled Kelley with so much rage that she was surprised she hadn’t blacked out and driven to Seattle, baseball bat in hand. She had known Lindsey was going on Cari’s show, that after being asked about 12 times, she finally accepted. But Kelley hadn’t known the extent of the interview beforehand. To discover that he had approached her that summer, expected Lindsey to apologize? Kelley could’ve strangled him, would’ve strangled him. The sound of Lindsey’s voice breaking with tears was something she would never, ever forget as long as she lived. Kelley had nearly bucked team protocols, ready to fly out to Portland that very minute, but Lindsey talked her down.
“I’m okay.” She said, speaking softly to try and calm Kelley. “I promise, Kel. You don’t have to worry about me.”
“I always worry about you. You almost burned my place down last time trying to make pasta. Pasta, Linds.”
“Whatever. Gas stoves are way harder.” Lindsey rolled her eyes and smiled through the video screen.
So, when Lindsey off handedly asked her if being public would be a big deal, Kelley felt like her heart was being squeezed in her chest. Because she couldn’t lose Lindsey, losing Lindsey might destroy her.
“Kel?” Lindsey’s deep voice drew her out of her head. “Where’d you go?”
Unwilling to bring Lindsey back down with the weight of her fears, Kelley tried to ease the tension the best way she knew how, she bantered. “Just thinking about Becky’s face if I did that.”
“Oh.” Was all Lindsey said, quiet and somewhat weak, which Kelley hated because Lindsey Horan was anything but weak.
“Would you want that? Me wearing your jersey, I mean.”
She swore she could hear Lindsey’s smile and her soft blush from more than 1000 miles away. “Yeah, I would. I would love that.”
“Well, you better find me one then, okay?” Kelley replied sweetly. “I can’t wait to see you, Linds. Now put the game film away and get some rest.”
“How did you...?”
“You’re getting predictable, Horan.” Kelley snickered before hanging up the phone.
Lindsey was so exhausted that by the time she got back to her apartment, she was ready to collapse. It had been raining, because what else does the weather do in Portland, and at this hour, she’d had to park on the street and get soaked while running to her building. She slumped against the wall of the elevator, waiting for the little ding that alerted her that it had reached her floor. Her eyelids were heavy, and her feet dragged on the carpet in the hallway. As much as she missed him, she was very happy Ferguson was staying with the dog sitter until the morning. She put the key in the door, dumping her bags as soon as she made it over the threshold, ready to flop down face first on her bed and pass out.
At first, the lights being on startled her. She could have sworn she remembered to cut them off when she left for the airport a few days ago, but maybe not. It wouldn’t be the first time. But then, as she actually stepped into the apartment, she was knocked back by the smell of something warm and absolutely heavenly. Someone was in her kitchen.
“Hello?” She called out cautiously. What kind of robber sticks around to cook dinner?
She turned the corner and was once again stopped dead in her tracks. There, standing at the stove and stirring a pot of something, was Kelley. Hair piled on top of her head, showing off Lindsey’s last name across the shoulders of the hoodie she was wearing. It was so big on her that the athletic shorts she was wearing were barely visible. She wore thick socks on her small feet and was swaying to a beat in her head. Lindsey couldn’t think of a time she’d seen Kelley look more peaceful, more comfortable, more at home, than she did right now, floating around Lindsey's apartment like it was her own. It took her breath away.
“Well don’t just stand there. You know it’s rude to stare.” Kelley spoke, a wide smile written on her face, apparently aware of Lindsey watching her. “Come help me!”
Lindsey took three big steps, and, in an instant, she pulled Kelley away from the burner, wrapping the smaller woman in her arms. She wasted no time, their lips meeting for the first time in a long time.
“Hi.” Kelley breathed, that smile somehow even wider as she pulled away from the kiss, her arms wrapped around Lindsey’s neck.
“What are you doing here? I thought you were getting in tomorrow. I was supposed to pick you up!” Sometimes Lindsey forgot just how small Kelley was, but now, she was stretching on her tippy toes. Lindsey lifted her onto the counter and bracketed Kelley’s thighs with her arms, going back in for another kiss before she could answer. “Wait, how did you get in here?”
“A magician never reveals her secrets.” A mischievous grin played across Kelley’s face.
“Well, should I be worried that my place is susceptible to break-ins?”
“Only if they have a key.” Kelley giggled, confusing Lindsey. It must have been clear in her expression because Kelley plowed on. “Sonny still had her key to this place, she said you gave it to her for emergencies.” Lindsey nodded. “I wanted to surprise you.”
“Mission accomplished, Miss Kelley.” Lindsey laughed as the brunette swatted her shoulder.
“I hate that nickname.”
“So, burglar, what’s for dinner?”
Kelley hopped off the counter and went back to the pot on the stove. “Stuffed pepper soup with some chicken. But don’t worry, I didn’t use too many hot peppers since you’re a baby about spicy food.” She teased.
Lindsey didn’t respond, choosing instead to rest her hands on Kelley’s hips, still swaying to a beat only she could hear, and tucking her chin in the spot where Kelley’s neck met her collarbone, leaving featherlight kisses while the brunette continued to stir.
Cradling the bowl, Lindsey laid out on the couch, resting her feet in Kelley’s lap, the only person who didn’t mind it. In fact, once she’d finished her own meal, Kelley took Lindsey’s feet in her hands and massaged them gently. The plane ride hadn’t been the best for her sore muscles, so when Kelley worked her way to Lindsey’s calves, she couldn’t help but let a little moan escape her lips, her head falling back onto the armrest.
And, well, how was Kelley supposed to let that go? The small brunette shifted on the couch until she was all but straddling Lindsey. Kelley took the bowl of soup away and placed it on the coffee table next to her own. From there she leaned down, capturing Lindsey’s mouth with her own. It had been too long since they’d been able to do this, and she didn’t want to go another second without feeling Lindsey’s body on hers.
Lindsey’s hands came around Kelley’s back, fingertips sliding up under the hoodie she was wearing, Lindsey’s hoodie, feeling Kelley’s warm skin under her touch and hearing the noises she made as Lindsey’s hands moved all around. They only broke apart to breathe and from there, Kelley began an assault on the blonde’s neck, careful not to leave a mark. Not yet. She thought to herself. She was still on top of Lindsey when she wedged a small but muscular thigh between the younger woman’s legs, flexing against her. Lindsey’s breath caught at the feeling of Kelley rocking into her a little and she couldn’t help but push back with her own hips. Kelley nipped at Lindsey’s earlobe, whispering her ear, running her fingers through thick, blonde hair.
“I missed you so much, baby. Your lips, your thighs, your neck, I missed all of it.”
Lindsey nearly choked after hearing those words. She pulled Kelley back and slammed their lips together. Kelley’s hands moved lower, skimming along the hem of Lindsey's leggings. Suddenly, Lindsey felt like she couldn’t breathe, and not in a good way.
“Kel...” Lindsey gasped, but it spurred Kelley on, her fingers slipping under Lindsey’s waistband. “Kelley...” She tried again, reaching for her small hand, and Kelley pulled back abruptly.
“Shit! Shit, Linds, I'm sorry, I got carried away. Are you okay?” Kelley’s eyes were wide with fear, fear that she’d fucked it up for good this time.
Lindsey cupped Kelley’s face in her hand, rubbing her thumb across her cheek, trying to reassure the older woman that she hadn’t done anything wrong. “Fine, just a little caught off guard, that’s all.” She pulled Kelley back in for a sweet kiss.
She knew Kelley had said she’d wait, but this thing they were doing had been going on for quite a while now. Lindsey wasn’t sure what her hold-up was, to be quite honest. Even though she said she would wait, Lindsey couldn’t imagine Kelley being okay with this much longer. Why would you want to stay with someone you couldn’t be with physically? Kelley could have any woman in the world, so why would she stay when Lindsey’s head was so clearly messed up?
Her therapist said that she was associating sex with him, who basically treated her like a blow-up doll for years, a warm body, there to serve his needs. That after a while, she basically checked out anytime he put his hands on her. And with Kelley, Lindsey was so acutely aware of what was going on and how her body was reacting, that she got overwhelmed and backed out.
“Let’s just go to bed, okay?” Kelley said softly, sitting up and leading them back to the bedroom. Lindsey got a little thrill knowing that the older girl knew the path on her own now. Their fingers intertwined and Lindsey pulled Kelley back to her in the hallway, kissing her again. Lindsey lowered her hands until they were cupping Kelley's perfect ass, lifting her. Kelley wrapped her legs around Lindsey’s waist and her arms around the tall blonde’s neck. The new angle allowed Kelley to deepen the kiss, her fingers playing with the baby hairs at the base of Lindsey’s scalp. Pulling away, Kelley laughed softly, resting her forehead against Lindsey's. “What was that for?”
“I’m sorry. I’m sorry I can’t...” Lindsey couldn’t quite get the words out, but she was sure Kelley understood.
“Shhh.” The brunette cooed, dropping a kiss to the tip of Lindsey’s nose. “I don’t care. It’ll happen, and when it does, we’ll make up for all the lost time, okay? I promise.” Kelley winked.
In the bed, Kelley tucked herself into Lindsey’s side, slipping her hand just barely under her shirt to feel Lindsey’s warm skin and tangled their legs together. Lindsey buried her nose in Kelley's hair, taking her in before leaving a kiss on her hairline. She wondered what might happen if she said it out loud, if she gave in to the thoughts in her head. I love you.
Kelley couldn’t breathe. Watching the championship game from the suite was ten times more stressful than it would have been if she was watching from the field or the bench. When Lindsey’s free kick slammed into the post, she nearly had a heart attack. She wasn’t made for sitting still, it wasn’t in her nature, so she paced in front of the window, much to the annoyance of the few other spectators in the room. At the halftime whistle, she managed to make eye contact with Lindsey, who gave her a small smile before disappearing into the tunnel.
If she’d thought the first half was nerve wracking, the second half nearly drove Kelley insane. Midge was playing so well and when Carli buried that header, Kelley wished she could run out onto the field and join the attack.
Penalty kicks. Her heart couldn’t take it anymore. She hurtled down the steps until she reached the ground floor, stepping out onto the sidelines of the pitch. She made sure to tuck herself into a corner, pulling the brim of her baseball cap low, hiding from any prying eyes that might wonder why she was there or how she got onto the field.
As the first players stepped up, Kelley began to worry the hem of her top, the #10, white Thorns jersey Lindsey had given her. First it was Sinc, who made hers, naturally. Then Kling’s shot rocketed off the crossbar and rattled Kelley’s insides. And then it was Lindsey. Lindsey who almost never took PKs. Kelley didn’t think she could handle it if Lindsey missed, she’d have to leave. Maybe wait in the car or walk back to the apartment or something.
But, of course, Lindsey buried her shot and Kelley felt like she could breathe a little easier. Then came Rocky, Crystal, and Becky, who all stepped up and made their shots. When AD made that monster save, Kelley knew the game was won. She knew it even before little Morgan Weaver walked to the spot. When the ball rolled into the net, the energy was palpable, the crowd was going absolutely bonkers, and the team had all ran onto the field to celebrate.
She watched Lindsey tackle her teammate to the ground, the sheer joy written across her face could have melted Kelley into a puddle right then and there. She stayed in her little hiding place for a while, just watching, until the team was finally being ushered off the pitch. Lindsey locked eyes with her and sprinted toward the tunnel, toward Kelley. She swept the brunette up and off her feet and spun them around. Kelley’s legs were wrapped around Lindsey's torso as she buried her face in the blonde’s sweaty neck.
“You did it, baby!”
Lindsey didn’t think about what she was going to before she did it, capturing Kelley’s lips with her own. They weren’t out in the middle of everything, but they weren’t exactly hiding either, plenty of people could've seen if they knew where to look. Sophia and Kelli wolf whistled as they ran by, causing Lindsey to break the kiss and Kelley to show them her middle finger. If they weren’t so wrapped up in one another, the two women might have noticed how no one was surprised to see them together.
“Should I have done that?” Lindsey asked, knowing that it didn’t really matter, because the deed had been done. She set Kelley back on the ground, trying not to look into those hazel eyes, knowing that her own were wide with panic.
“Hey.” Kelley said softly, reaching up to cup Lindsey’s cheeks, forcing the eye contact. “Everything’s okay. I like that you just can’t control yourself around me!” The brunette giggled, bringing a tentative smile to Lindsey’s face. “Go celebrate with your team! I’ll wait for you.” Kelley pushed her toward the locker rooms, smacking her on the butt for good measure.
Becky followed behind Lindsey and muttered something under her breath that made Kelley laugh.
“About damn time.”
Lindsey emerged from the locker room, half stumbling, and spotted Kelley leaned back against the car. She looked so effortlessly cool, running a hand through her hair as she scrolled through something on her phone.
“Hey, pretty lady! How you doin’?” Lindsey tried to come off slick, but her words were a little slurred.
Kelley laughed as she took Lindsey into her arms. “Are you drunk?”
“Um... no!” The blonde said, stepping back and feigning shock. “I would never. Plus, I only had like four seltzers. Or six. Or maybe—”
“Seltzer?!” Kelley asked, incredulous. “Lindsey Michelle Horan, are you telling me you just won a tournament, sponsored by a beer company, and chose to drink seltzer?” Lindsey nodded sheepishly and Kelley rolled her eyes. “Well, let me see the hardware!” She gestured to the medal around Lindsey’s neck, hooking her index finger around the ribbon and pulling Lindsey flush against her again.
“Thank you for coming.” Lindsey said softly, almost too softly for Kelley to hear. “For being here.” Being here for me.
Kelley tilted her head up and kissed her. “I’ll always be here for you, no matter what.” She whispered against Lindsey’s lips.
“Can we... Kel, can we do this for real?” Lindsey asked, covering her mouth with her hand as though the words slipped out without her permission.
The brunette pulled Lindsey’s hand away and kissed her again. “Are you asking me to be your girlfriend?” Lindsey nodded, a little shy, and Kelley flung her arms around her neck, kissing her deeply.
“So that’s a yes, then?”
@kelleyohara: look at my little champion!
@lindseyhoran10: so nice to meet a fan
@emilysonnett: jersey chasin’ miss kelley
@lavellerose: I KNEW IT