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Denver Arena – Championship Game between Miami Surf and Missoula Cougars
Waiting for the officials to do their final preparations before the opening tip-off, Sherry bounced on her toes at mid-court. She took a quick glance over to the Cougar bench, grinning when she saw Pat was watching her.
Pat winked at her point guard, mouthing the words ‘good luck’.
“You ready to kick some butt?” Pete asked, trotting up to Sherry.
“Yeah,” Sherry turned her attention to her teammate.
“Good,” Pete grinned. “Then let’s get to it,” she held up a fist, tapping it against Sherry’s knuckles when the point guard raised a fist in return.
The officials blew their whistles and the game was on.
Sherry took her position approximately six feet behind the center circle with her back to the Cougar basket. Pete took up a position several steps off to her left but closer to mid-court. Tonie stood inside the circle, her head moving from side to side, looking over her shoulders to make sure she knew exactly where Val and Terry were juggling for position on the outside of the circle.
The official held the ball up, ready for the toss.
Tonie crouched, tightening her thigh muscles, her eyes fixed on the ball.
The ball left the official’s hand, rising straight up between the two players.
Tonie surged off the floor, her arm stretching as far up as it could reach. She felt the Miami player’s body brushing against hers as both players focused on the ball. Tonie’s fingers grazed the leather surface first and with a flip of her wrist, she sent the ball flying over the out-stretched arms of the players surrounding the circle.
Sherry moved when the ball headed in her direction, snatching it out of the air before the player guarding her even knew it was there. She kept control of the ball for just an instant before passing it off to Pete who had started her run towards the basket as soon as Tonie won the toss up. Spinning around after the ball left her hands, Sherry ran for the end of the court, her guard trailing behind.
The quick movements of the Cougar guards caught the defense by surprise and Pete and Sherry found themselves heading for their basket with only one Miami player anywhere close to them.
Sherry eased up when she reached the top of the key, content to let Pete score the first points of the game. Her defender had other ideas and rushed past her to try and catch the other guard.
Approaching the basket, Pete glanced over her shoulder to see the Miami player charging at her. Picking up her dribble, she swung the ball behind her back sending it back in Sherry’s direction and out of reach of their sole defender.
Sherry caught the pass at the free throw line, popped into the air launching the ball for the basket.
Miami 0 Cougars 2
“Yes,” Pat hissed. She knew from watching Sherry all season that if the point guard made the first basket she attempted, she was much more relaxed than if she missed. With Sherry’s first points on the board, Pat could put one worry about the game behind her.
“Nice pass,” Sherry grinned at Pete who was trotting back up court to play defense.
“Anything for you, rookie,” Pete smiled.
Sherry’s responsibility switched to guarding the Miami player that put the ball into play. She hustled to the end line. With arms held out at her sides, she tried to distract the player just enough that she would not make a good pass.
The Miami player faked a pass to Sherry’s left then quickly snapped the ball past her on the right.
Sherry went for the fake. “Damn,” she grunted when the ball zipped by in the opposite direction. Frustrated with herself, she turned to follow the player up court.
Miami moved the ball around the three point arc, patiently waiting for an opening.
Tonie followed her player through the key, tripping when her feet became tangled with another Miami player trying to maneuver on the crowded part of the floor. She could only watch when her player caught a pass and laid it off the backboard for an easy lay-up.
Miami 2 Cougars 2
Pete grabbed the ball as soon as it dropped through the net, stepping out of bounds she looked for Sherry.
Sherry ran in a wide arc crossing within a few feet of Pete, catching Pete’s pass then sprinting down court, her defender trying to keep pace.
The other Miami players dropped back quickly, setting up their defense at the Cougar end of the court.
Sherry slowed at the three point line, looking for the best way to get the ball to the basket.
Tonie was planted near the bottom of the key, her strong legs keeping her defender from gaining position on her.
Terry and Val were exchanging positions at the top of the key, trying to confuse their defenders by running their defenders into one another.
Pete took a lazy run through the center of the key, dragging her defender into the maze of bodies.
Terry broke free, raising her arm to alert Sherry to her situation as she cut for the basket.
Sherry flipped a pass, aiming it to drop into Terry’s arms a step or two from the end of the court.
Terry leaped for the ball, grabbing it she banked it off the backboard to fall into the basket.
Miami 2 Cougars 4
The teams continued to trade baskets until time was called to allow for the network covering the game live to run a few commercials.
“It looks like both teams showed up to play tonight,” the announcer said. “Does that surprise you?” he asked his companion.
“Not at all. We have the two best teams in womens’ professional basketball here and I would have expected nothing less from them.”
“Well I’m a little surprised that neither team has shown any signs of championship game jitters. After all, for many of the players, this is the first game of such importance that they’ve played in. It will be interesting to see if the teams can maintain the intensity of the first few minutes.”
“Let’s get back to the action…”
Following Pat’s instructions during the time out, Sherry back off a few feet when she guarded the inbound pass, the coach wanted to keep the Miami players guessing each time they inbound the ball as to what kind of defense they would face.
The Miami player tossed the ball to her teammate and Pete closed in to slow her down as she ran up court.
Sherry followed her player across mid-court and kept a close guard on her as she maneuvered up the side of the court, looking for a screen from a teammate.
Pete’s player lobbed the ball to a player at the bottom of the key.
Tonie seeing the ball floating in her direction, pushed off from her player. She jumped up, knocking the ball off its planned path.
Sherry left her player as soon as Tonie made her move. She sped towards the loose ball, grabbing it out of the hands of a Miami player and wrapping her arms around it so it could not be grabbed back. She waited for the Miami players to run down court to set up their defense. Once she was left with only her defender to worry about, Sherry started her dribble. She trotted to mid-court, looking to Pat for a play.
Pat held up her right palm, her fingers spread out.
Sherry gave the same hand signal to her teammates, continuing her dribble up to the three point line.
Val moved to the corner of the top of the key, working to keep her guard to her back.
Tonie was doing the same at the bottom of the key.
Pete started a cut across the key, her guard closely matching her step for step.
Val took a step to her left, planting her feet to establish position just as Pete brushed past her. Val stood her ground when the guard following Pete ran into her.
The instant Pete was free, she turned towards Sherry. The ball having already covered half the distance to her, she reached out for it.
The Miami players converged on Pete.
Pete snapped the ball back out to Sherry.
The point guard pushed up into the air, catching the ball and releasing it in one smooth motion as she hung in the air.
“Time,” the Miami coach called to the officials.
“Sherry Gallagher is putting on a show tonight,” the announcer was screaming into the microphone. “She is a perfect six for six from the three point line and has helped to give the Cougars a fourteen point lead.”
“Miami has to do something to shut her down or they won’t have any chance in the second half.”
“Sherry,” Pat yelled to be heard over the noise of the crowd and the music blaring out of the arena speakers. “They’re probably going to come out double- and triple- teaming you, they need to shut you down until halftime. The rest of you be alert. If Sherry has three players hanging on her, two of you should be open. Pete, take over point,” Pat instructed the veteran player. “Let them focus on Sherry while you get the ball in play. Sherry, they’ll try to get you frustrated and start making stupid fouls. Don’t let them. Just keep them occupied until the half.”
“Okay,” Pat glance up at the scoreboard. “Four minutes to the half. Nothing fancy. Bring the ball up, work for the open shot. No stupid fouls. Got it?”
“Got it,” the Cougar players yelled back.
“Let’s go then,” Pat sent the players back out onto the court.
Switching roles with Pete meant Sherry would inbound the ball. As she trotted to the end line, her defender looked around in confusion. Sherry used the player’s uncertainly to get the ball in to Pete.
Pete started up court, loosely guarded by a Miami player that kept glancing over towards Sherry.
Sherry diverted from her normal route up the center of the court, trotting over to within a few steps of the sideline.
Pete’s guard became concerned when she saw the distance increasing between herself and Sherry. She glanced over her shoulder to see if any of her teammates were moving out to help guard the rookie.
Pete saw her defender’s attention straying, taking advantage of the player’s lapse she quickened her steps. The quick move left her defender several steps behind her.
Terry’s guard moved out to help defend against Sherry leaving the post player alone at the top of the key.
Pete snapped the ball to Terry.
As Terry turned for the basket, Tonie’s defender rushed to fill the gap left by her teammate who was now double teaming Sherry as she ran in a lazy figure eight pattern near the sideline. Terry bounced the ball to Tonie.
Unguarded, Tonie threw the ball up to kiss the glass and drop into the basket.
The Cougars back pedaled down court, allowing Miami to inbound the ball unguarded. Pete and Sherry stopped at mid-court, waiting for the ball to reach them before they picked up their players.
The Miami guard dribbled past the center strip, switching hands so her body would be between the ball and her defender, Pete.
Pete fell into step with the player, putting up just enough coverage to make the player work at getting the ball up court.
Sherry was back pedaling, watching both her player and Pete’s.
Val was surprised when her defender released, running past her in Sherry’s direction.
At the same time, the player Sherry was guarding put on a burst of speed running for the key.
“Watch out,” Pete yelled, seeing the pick being set up.
Sherry spun around to follow her player, increasing her speed as she did. She didn’t see the pick until she had turned completely around and by then she was running at full stride. She slammed into the Miami post player, the force of the impact knocking the smaller point guard to the floor.
Pete ran for Sherry, surprised that the officials hadn’t stopped play.
Now unguarded, the Miami guard that was Pete’s responsibility stepped across the three point line before shooting a twelve foot jumper.
“Time,” Pat screamed, concerned over Sherry who was still sitting on the floor dazed after her collision. “How can you not call a foul on that?” she yelled at an official when he came near enough to hear her.
Lizzie trotted out to check on Sherry.
“Nothing to call, coach,” the official shrugged.
“Nothing to call,” Pat stormed. “What about an illegal pick?”
Marcie and Kelley called the Cougars over to the bench, doing their best to keep themselves between Pat and the official.
“Back off, Pat,” Marcie pushed the irate coach off the court. “We don’t want you to get thrown out. She’ll be fine.”
Pat looked out on the court.
Lizzie was helping Sherry to her feet. “You sure you’re okay?”
“Yeah,” Sherry frowned. “She just surprised me.”
“I’ll say. Are you dizzy at all?”
Sherry shook her head, both to answer the question and to clear out the cobwebs that had gathered there during the last several seconds. “I’m fine.”
“Okay, then let’s get you over to the bench before Coach goes nuts.”
Sherry walked for the sidelines. She thought about trotting but didn’t think it would look too good if she stumbled on her shaky legs. “Damn, what’s that gal eat for breakfast,” she mumbled, rubbing her shoulder.
“Bricks,” Lizzie snickered. “Sit down,” she instructed, having seen the player’s unsteady steps.
“Is she alright?” Pat asked the trainer, her eyes focused on the player.
“She’ll be fine but I want her to sit out the rest of the half.”
“I can play,” Sherry started to stand.
“Sit,” Pat ordered. “Wendy, you’re in. Let’s just get through this half,” Pat said, sending the Cougars back out on the court. “No retaliation,” she called out to her players before taking a seat next to Sherry. “You okay?” she asked, softening her voice so the fans sitting behind the bench couldn’t hear.
“I’m okay, Coach,” Sherry smiled. “I just wasn’t expecting her.”
“Need to expect the unexpected,” Pat grinned. “Only way to avoid it.”
“And if I don’t want to avoid it?” Sherry smirked.
“You still need to expect it.” Pat placed her hand on Sherry’s leg, giving it a quick squeeze as she stood up to watch the play on the court.
Sherry watched the coach for several minutes before turning her own attention back to her teammates.
The buzzer sounded ending the half.
Miami Surf 43 Missoula Cougars 58
“Thoughts?” Pat asked her assistant coaches. The three women were standing off to the side of the locker room, letting the players get settled before addressing them.
“Things are going well,” Kelley said.
“Miami will come out with some new looks,” Marcie said, studying a sheet of paper she had written notes on during the first half.
“I agree,” Pat nodded.
“And they’ll going to be gunning for Sherry,” Marcie frowned. “That may be a problem, Coach.”
Pat again nodded. Sherry had come a long way since showing up for try out camp. But she was still a rookie and Pat was unsure how she might react if Miami kept up the pressure on her. “We’ll just have to keep a close eye on things,” she told her assistants. “Let’s see if Pete can keep her grounded.”
“Alright,” Marcie agreed. “I’ll talk to Pete when we’re done here.”
“Good.” Pat turned to face her players. “Feels good, doesn’t it, ladies?” she asked. “We’ve got half the game behind us and we’ve got a nice lead.”
Many of the players smiled and shouted out their assessment of the Cougars good fortune.
“And that’s good,” Pat raised her hands for quiet. “But believe me, the second half will be a whole new ballgame. And Miami isn’t going to roll over and play dead for us. We need to tighten up our defense; they were getting too many easy shots near the end of the half. I want to see you all over them, whether they’ve got the ball or not. Guard your player tight. No more easy passes. No more open shots. Get on them,” her voice was rising as she made her points. “Get into their damn uniforms if you have to but don’t give them one second of rest. And what happen do our rebounding? Did we all of a sudden become flat-footed? Terry, Tonie, you were letting players half your size take the ball away from you,” Pat knew she was exaggerating but she wanted the players to know she had seen them dogging it as half time approached. “I don’t care if we had a hundred point lead, you keep playing like that and Miami will snatch the trophy out from under your noses.”
“Won’t happen, Coach,” Tonie stated. “I’m grabbing every rebound this half,” she declared to her teammates. “And what I miss, Terry will grab,” she challenged the other post player.
“I’ve right there with you,” Terry smiled.
“That’s more like it,” Pat grinned. “Okay, any injuries you big lugs have been hiding from me?” Her question was answered by a group shaking of the heads.
“Nothing I know of, Coach,” the trainer looked up from re-wrapping Pete’s ankles. “Worse we have is Sherry’s run in with the wall,” she said.
“Sherry?” Pat asked, as the players snickered.
“I’m good to go, Coach,” Sherry stuck her tongue out at her teammates. “By the way, thanks for the warning,” she snarled playfully.
“Hey, I yelled,” Pete defended herself.
“Yell louder next time,” Sherry grumbled.
“Let’s get serious for a minute,” Pat told the players. “You all are going to have to be alert out there this half. Most likely, Miami will try to isolate Sherry or box her in. And more picks like that one wouldn’t surprise me. Don’t let them catch you napping. If you see something being set up, let everyone else know. Val don’t that gal pull free from you again, it’s hard to set a pick if someone is guarding you.”
“She’s won’t be setting anymore of those,” Val said, determinedly.
“Okay, we got another half of ball to play before we can take home our trophy. Are you ready?”
“Ready,” the Cougars shouted.
“Let’s go then.”
“I must say I’m surprised that Coach Calvin has been able to stay focused this season, what with all the controversy spinning around her again,” the announcer was saying.
“It is unfortunate that she seems to always have a cloud hanging over her. This year was a little different in that she had two.”
“That’s right. First was a repeat of prior seasons when allegations were made that she had been using her position as Coach to… shall we say, exert undue influence on one of her players.”
“Allegations strongly denied by all parties, I might add, including the league office which has insisted all season that no formal complaint had been filed.”
“That’s true. And then she had to deal with her other outstanding rookie player, Dawn Montgomery, who started the season on somewhat shaky ground. In fact, we aren’t the only ones surprised to find her still a member of the Cougar team.”
“I have to agree, when she purposely took the legs out from Gallagher at the start of the season, I thought for sure she’d be given her walking papers. But not only is she still here, she’s turned her game around and is one of the first players sent in off the bench. Coach Calvin has done a remarkable job with Montgomery.”
“Well if the rumors that have been floating around the league are true, Coach Calvin may not be able to take all the credit for Montgomery’s change of attitude. Many believe that she has simply been using the Cougars to better her chances of getting signed by a team in a larger market. After her mediocre play in her college senior year, few teams were even willing to take a look at her.”
“Looks like they’re getting ready to start the second half. So let’s switch back to the action.
Pat was curious when Miami started the second half with what appeared to be a standard man-to-man defense. It wasn’t until Sherry stepped inside the three point arc that Miami collapsed another player to help guard her. The strategy worked better that Pat anticipated. Confronted with the unending pressure, the point guard was getting frustrated and her accuracy was beginning to suffer.
Slowly, Miami began to reduce the difference in the score.
“Time,” Pat called out when Miami scored, narrowing the lead to only eight points.
The Cougars trotted over to their coach.
Sherry stood with her hands on her hips, breathing hard. Trying to break free of the persistent double team was wearing her out.
“Wendy, go in for Sherry,” Pat told the guard when she saw how tired the point guard was.
“I’m good, Coach,” Sherry protested.
“Take a breather,” Pat said. “We have lots of game left. Pete, take the point. Good job on boxing out on rebounds,” she smiled at the post players. “We need to put some points up. Pete, Wendy, Val, if you’re open at the arc, shoot. Even if we don’t make them, we’ll force their defense to come out and open up the key. Okay, let’s go.”
Miami Surf 82 Missoula Cougars 87 Time remaining: 3:57
Sherry dribbled up court, her second defender waiting at the three point line. She snapped the ball to Pete off to her left and made a cut towards the right sideline.
Pete dribbled to the top of the key, dropping the ball off to Val then ran around to the left and up the side of the key.
Tonie battled with her defender trying to get free at the bottom of the key.
Val spun around, passing the ball back to Pete.
Tonie side-stepped away from her defender, leaving herself momentarily open.
Pete snapped the ball to Tonie.
Tonie grabbed the ball, spinning towards the basket. Leaping into the air, she banked the ball off the backboard.
The ball bounced on the rim, tapping the backboard before dropping back onto the edge of the rim and falling away from the basket.
Tonie sprang back into the air, nudging the ball back towards the basket as her defender tried to gain position. Tonie dropped back to the floor, her foot coming down on top of her defender’s. Unable to hold the player’s weight, the ankle rolled, buckling the leg and taking Tonie to the floor.
Few of the Cougars noticed the ball drop through the basket. They were too concerned with their teammate clutching at her ankle.
“Damn,” Pat muttered. She’d seen the same thing happen many times before and knew the post player was done for the game. “Dawn, get in there.”
After several minutes, Lizzie, with the help of Kellie, was able to help Tonie to the sideline.
“She’s done,” Lizzie told Pat.
“Sorry, Coach,” the player grimaced.
“You did your job,” Pat smiled at Tonie. “Now rest up for the celebration.”
Miami put the ball into play.
Sherry tightly guarded the player dribbling up court until she passed off to a teammate at mid-court.
The Miami player dribbled down the side of the court, watching to see if anyone came free under the basket.
Dawn, struggling to maintain position on the Miami post player, was shoved in the back. Stumbling forward, she glimpsed her player as she stepped out to the edge of the key arm raised high, asking for the ball. Dawn regained her footing, racing out to retake her defensive position just as the ball reached the player.
The Miami player spun towards the basket, squaring up for a shot.
Dawn jumped with the player, her long arm swatting for the ball as it left the Miami player’s hand. She made contact.
The ball bounced over the Miami player’s head, heading for the sidelines.
Sherry ran for the loose ball, leaping into the air as she reached the edge of the court. Flying through the air, she managed to get her hand on the ball, flicking it back towards the court.
Dawn drove an elbow into her defender’s side, charging past her.
Sherry’s quick reflexes saved her from injury. Pulling her legs up under her she cleared the row of metal chairs at courtside falling into the lap of a fan in the first row of seats. “Thanks,” she smiled to the man who had cushioned her landing. Leaping to her feet, she jumped back over the row of metal chairs.
The Miami player Dawn had elbowed was charging towards her, revenge in her eyes. She raced for Dawn intent on taking her down, leaving her feet she lunged for the Cougar.
Dawn reached the ball. Grabbing it, she spun turning her body to the side as she zipped a pass over to the side of the court.
Sherry caught the ball at full stride, running for the other end of the court.
Dawn smirked as the Miami player flew past her, hitting the court and sliding all the way to the sideline. She casually started trotting after the rest of her team.
For the first time in the second half, Sherry was leading a fast break towards the Cougar basket.
And it felt good.
Sherry made it to mid-court before any of the Miami players reached top speed. Cutting for the top of the key, she bounced the ball between her legs switching the hand she was using to control the ball. She changed direction again, running straight for the basket. After one long stride, she picked up her dribble. Another stride, she cradled the ball in the palm of her right hand. Third stride, she planted her foot pushing her body off the floor. Twisting in mid-air, Sherry placed her back to the basket, swooping her hand up over her head she tossed the ball up to kiss the backboard before dropping through the net. Returning to the court’s surface, she waited for the Miami defenders to reach the end of the court.
The players on the Cougar bench were on their feet, as were many of the fans.
The Rookie of the Year was back in the game.
Miami Surf 89 Missoula Cougars 103 Time remaining: 0:12
Sherry dribbled the ball at mid-court, one eye on the game clock. After her fast break, Sherry had led the Cougars on a scoring run that quickly put the game out of reach for Miami. With each bounce of the ball, she could feel the excitement growing inside of her and she couldn’t wait for the final few seconds to tick away.
The Cougar bench was standing, counting down the seconds.
“You did it, Coach,” Marcie stepped beside Pat. “You’ve did one hell of a job with this team.”
Pat smiled, wrapping an arm around her assistant coach’s shoulders and reaching for Kellie with her other arm. “We did a hell of a job,” she grinned.
Pat was bursting with pride over her players and their accomplishment. They had won her the prize she wanted, something that regardless of the rumors and unfounded accusations could never be taken away from her. But as she stood there watching Sherry smiling as she bounced the ball between her legs, Pat knew the championship was not the only reward she could return to Missoula with. The love of the point guard was within her grasp and she was determined not to let it slip through her fingers.
When the clock showed a single second to play, Sherry heaved the ball as high over her head as she could.
The buzzer sounded. The Cougars were the champions.
As the Cougars ran for their bench, the other players rushed onto the court to meet them.
Grinning, Pat walked along the front of the scorers’ table to accept the Miami coach’s congratulatory handshake. She turned to return to the Cougar celebration.
Sherry saw Pat heading for the team, many piled in a tangle on the floor. Without thinking, she trotted towards her coach leaping up and wrapping her arms and legs around the surprised woman. “We won,” she shouted. “Baby, we won.”
“Um, Sherry,” Pat sucked her lower lip between her teeth, not quite sure what to say or do.
“Oh, shit,” Sherry saw the troubled look on the coach’s face and unwrapped herself, dropping back to the floor. “Shit, I’m sorry,” she muttered, her neck and cheeks flushing with embarrassment.
“Don’t be,” Pat smiled at the mortified woman. “Go on, celebrate with the team.”
Chuckling, Pete watched the exchange between the women. When Sherry turned away from Pat to rejoin her teammates, Pete raced for the coach. Mimicking Sherry’s excitement, she tightly wrapped her arms and legs around Pat, squeezing hard.
“Pete, what the heck are you doing?” Pat laughed at the veteran player’s antics.
“Well, I thought if Sherry could mug the coach in front of twenty thousand fans and who knows how many watching on TV then I should get to share in the fun. Although, I’m not sure how my hubby will take this,” she giggled.
“Get off me.”
Pete smirked, leaning in she plastered a smacking kiss on the coach’s cheek. “We won,” she yelled loud enough for fans sitting several rows away from the court to hear. “But somehow I don’t think you’re as happy to have me in your arms as you were to have Sherry,” she whispered in Pat’s ear. Disentangling herself from the coach, Pete ran back to her teammates.
A day after the championship game, the victorious Missoula Cougars returned to their home town early in the evening, their airport arrival welcomed by thousands of faithful fans. Even after they managed to board their bus, they continued to be surrounded by celebrating Missoulians, many following them with horns honking and banners waving on the short drive to the arena.
It was late by the time Pat finished her last interview with the press and began neatening up her office before leaving for home.
Mac walked into the office. “We need to talk,” she informed her coach, her tone all business.
“Be in my office first thing in the morning.”
“Alright,” Pat nodded. After Mac left, she sat behind her desk staring at the trophy placed prominently in the middle of it. ‘Well,’ she thought. ‘My coaching career is over but at least I have that.’
Winning the championship really didn’t make up for all Pat felt she had lost. She thought about the sleepless nights spent wondering what kind of professional career she would have enjoyed had she been able to continue playing. No, the trophy did not make up for all those missed games but it did lessen some of the pain. But there was one thing that could remove even more.
Smiling Pat stood, gathering up her keys and wallet. Tomorrow she would meet with Mac and do whatever was necessary to make sure that a future with Sherry, the truly good thing to come of the just ended season, could be possible.
Pat nervously wiped the palms of her hands on her jeans before knocking on the door to Mac’s office. Even as her knuckles tapped on the wood, she knew she could just open the door and enter her boss’s office. But under the circumstances, she thought it better to wait for the invitation.
“Come in, Pat,” Mac called through the door.
Pat reached down, her clammy hand twisting the cold knob. Pushing the door open, she walked through.
“Coffee??” Mac asked, holding up an empty mug. “I just made it. And I bought fresh sweet rolls on the way in.”
“Thanks,” Pat said as she re-closed the door. “But I’m not sure I could keep it down.”
“Understandable,” Mac said.
Pat accepted the ambiguous response as confirmation as to why the owner wanted to talk to her. “Have a seat,” Mac told the coach, carrying a mug of steaming coffee to her place at the rear of her desk. “We’ll be here a while.”
Pat blew out a long breath, dropping into one of the plush leather chairs in front of the desk.
Mac took a sip of coffee. “First, I want to congratulate you on an outstanding season.”
“Thanks,” Pat smiled tensely. “It was a great bunch of gals to coach.”
“Some rocky bumps along the way.”
“Kinsey was unfortunate,” Mac paused for another sip. “But you handled it well. Having her at the game helped a lot.”
“She deserved it.”
“Dawn caused some problems.”
“She played hard at the end.”
“She did.” Another sip. “We’ll talk more about her later.”
“Alright,” Pat wasn’t sure what there was to talk about concerning the now free-agent post player. Though Dawn had made a remarkable turnaround in her attitude and play, Pat still felt she was a disruptive influence for the team, especially with her continuing relationship with the owner’s niece. But Pat wondered what it really matter since by the end of her conversation with Mac, Dawn and the rest of the Cougars would no longer be her responsibility.
“Let’s talk about Sherry.”
Pat swallowed, hard. She had been anticipating the question but it still delivered a powerful punch to her midsection. “I lied to you,” she said, seeing no reason to hide the truth any longer. Her future was already decided and the best she could hope would be to save Sherry’s career or at least make sure she still had the opportunity for one if that was what she wanted.
“I told you I would never see Sherry outside of the team. I did.”
Mac sipped from her coffee mug, listening to Pat’s explanation about the night she had called Sherry and the two had driven to Salmon Lake.
“We kissed,” Pat said, finishing the story.
“I see.” Mac stood, carrying the mug back to the coffee pot for a refill. She stood for several minutes looking out the glass wall of her office to the court below where Sherry was practicing free throws. Occasionally, the point guard would glance up in the direction of the owner’s office.
“Did Sherry know you were coming here?”
“She’s down there,” Mac motioned towards the arena. “Looks to be concerned with what could be going on up here,” the owner smirked before turning around to face the just as anxious coach. “Relax, Pat,” she grinned, resting against the glass. “I’m not firing you.”
“No. Just how would that make me look if I fired the Coach of the Year? Congratulations, by the way. They made the announcement this morning.”
In spite of the timing of the news, Pat smiled, “thanks. That’s nice.”
“It sure is and I’m not going to have people questioning if I’ve lost my mind by firing you on the day you get that honor. But,” Mac pushed off the wall. She poured coffee into a second mug and placed a sweet roll on a plate. Adding a fork, she handed the plate and mug to Pat. “Here, you look like you could use this.”
Pat placed the plate on the edge of Mac’s desk, deciding her roiling stomach wasn’t calm enough to even give the pastry a taste. Instead she leaned back in the chair, nursing the hot coffee.
“But,” Mac repeated as she sat. “I can’t let what you did go unnoticed. It needs to be dealt with. And this is coming strictly from me,” she emphasized. “I don’t give a damn what the league office has to say. As long as they let the likes of Palmer coach, what they think about you they can shove in a sock and flush it for all I care. But you signed a contract with me and you gave me your word. That I can’t let pass.”
Pat nodded. She didn’t have to respond, after all there was nothing she could say. Mac was right. She had violated the terms of her contract and had broken her personal word to the owner. Those statements were true.
“You’re young, Pat,” Mac continued. “Too young to be a coach at this level many would say and several have. And I’m not immune to affairs of the heart, believe it or not,” she grinned. “But being the owner of a professional sports team presents its own special challengers. And in order for the organization to function, I must have complete faith and trust in the people I put into positions of authority. You broke that trust and I can’t let it slide. We’ll get past this, but for now I’m placing you on unpaid disciplinary leave for thirty days. There’s bound to be some fallout over this with the press but I think you may have already realized once you go public with your feelings for Sherry, you’re going to have a lot of that to deal with.”
Pat looked at Mac in disbelief. “You accept this?” she asked, not even caring about the loss of pay or public humiliation that her suspension would cause.
“Pat, you’re in love. Sherry’s in love. There aren’t too many people who have spent the last several months around the two of you that don’t know that. Unless I’ve been endowed with some super powers in the last few minutes, I know of no way I can stop the two of you from loving each other. Now the question is… how to make it possible for you to be together and still stay a part of the Cougars. Because, believe you me, I have no intention of not having the Coach of the Year and the Rookie of the Year back in uniform next season.”
“I, um,” Pat stammered, her eyes blinking rapidly as she fought back the tears. She never expected Mac to endorse the relationship growing between herself and Sherry as long as they both were employed by the Cougars. And to hear Mac say they were going to work out a plan to keep them both with the team… well that went way beyond any hope she had carried with her when she first entered the office.
Sherry was still shooting free throws even though she had long passed the magical number of one hundred. She was just too nervous and anxious to stop. Catching a movement inside the corridor at the end of the court, she turned to check it out. She was pleased to see the coach emerging from the dark hallway and surprised at the relaxed look on her face.
Pat skirted the court, choosing to climb a few rows up into the seats instead.
Sherry let the ball drop from her hands, walking over to stand on the sideline in front of where Pat was sitting. “Hi,” she said uncertainly.
“Hi, yourself.” The coach patted the seat next to her, smirking when Sherry used the seats between them to climb up to her.
“Meeting with Mac over?” Sherry asked, taking the offered seat.
“No. She didn’t fire me.”
“Then I’m refusing to sign the new contract,” Sherry said stubbornly. “And I might as well go tell her right now,” she started to rise out of the seat.
Pat reached out to stop the player. “Hold on,” she said, leaving her hand on Sherry’s arm.
Sherry looked at Pat, then down at the hand resting affectionately on her arm. She raised her head to look into the coach’s eyes, her own filling with tears. “Pat?”
“Listen to me, okay?” Pat asked softly.
Sherry nodded, placing her hand on top of Pat’s.
“Mac isn’t going to fire me. But she is suspending me for a month.”
“That’s not fair,” Sherry pulled her hand back, again starting to stand.
“Sherry, sit down,” Pat chuckled, reaching over for Sherry’s hand. For good measure, she took control of both of the guard’s hands, holding them tenderly between her own. “Listen,” she looked into Sherry’s eyes. “Please?”
Sherry nodded, enthralled by the feel of the warm hands surrounding her own.
“Mac has every right to suspend me. Truth is I wouldn’t have blamed her if she had fired me. I broke the terms of my contract and I broke my word to her. And,” she said, placing one finger against Sherry’s lips to stop her impending protest. “I’d do it all over again if I had the chance,” she grinned.
“So I’m suspended and you are going to sign a new contract, just not the one you were thinking.”
“Marcie has accepted the coaching position at her alma mater. She resigned yesterday.”
Sherry frowned at Pat, confused by the seeming change in subject.
“That leaves a position open on my staff. Mac, on Marcie’s recommendation and my agreement, is going to offer you that position.”
“I can’t do that. I don’t know anything about being a coach. I’m a player, Pat, nothing more. I’m just going to tell Mac no thanks. I’ll leave basketball, I’m sure I can get a job doing something. Anything. I mean, if you want me around. Because…”
Pat leaned forward pressing her lips against Sherry’s to stop the woman’s blabbering. “You’re not listening,” she chided, pulling away moments later.
“Sorry,” Sherry sighed, reaching up and running a fingertip around her still tingling lips. “What were you saying?” she asked absently.
Pat chuckled. “I’ve watched you this season working with Pete and Marcie to learn all you could about your position and the game. And I’ve watched you turn around and pass on what you’ve learned to Wendy and Amie. Not only did you work to improve your play on the court but you worked to help them improve theirs. That’s what a coach does,” she grinned, “and you’re a natural.”
“So,” Sherry mulled over the comments not at all convinced by Pat’s endorsement, “I go from player to coach?”
“That is so damn cute,” Pat’s grin widened.
“The way your nose crinkles up when you say that.”
“That’s it,” Pat laughed, pointing at the center of Sherry’s face. “That is just so damn cute.”
“Pat,” Sherry cried infuriated yet charmed, grabbing the offending finger. “Will you tell me what the hell you’re talking about?”
“You still play,” Pat chuckled as the guard kept a tight hold on her finger. “Sherry Gallagher, player slash coach.”
“Doesn’t that leave us right back where we started?”
“Um. Okay, maybe it should be Sherry Gallagher, coach slash player.”
“I don’t see a difference.”
“Look there’s plenty of coaches in the league and at the college level, and even the high school level, that have their partners, wives, husbands, whatever, as their assistant coaches. You being a member of the coaching staff puts you a step above being just a player. And you remain on the roster and ready to play because Mac absolutely refuses to give up her Rookie of the Year now that she’s got one.”
“Is that why she didn’t fire you?” Sherry asked seriously. “I heard the news just before I left the apartment. You deserved it,” she smiled lovingly. “I’m so proud.”
“As I am of you,” Pat smiled back.
“So you and Mac came up with this little plan all on your own?”
“Marcie actually gave Mac the idea.”
“I’ll have to remember to thank her at her going away party.”
“Didn’t know she was having one,” Pat smirked. “But now that you mention it, I guess I should thank her for leaving.”
“Brat,” Sherry swatted the coach’s arm, relaxing back in her seat. Suddenly, the end of her world seemed so much further away.
“And you’ll be pleased to know you won’t have Dawn to deal with your first year as coach slash player.”
“Didn’t Mac offer her a contract?” Sherry was a little surprised by the news.
“Yes, but Dawn turned it down. She signed this morning with Los Angeles. Seems that’s why she’s been working so hard. She approached Coach Buttram after she graduated but was told she’d have to improve her court behavior and she’d have to prove it by playing a year on another team. If she could find one to sign her.”
“Which she managed to do by bedding Mandy?”
“And speaking of Mandy,” Sherry snickered. “She’s not going to be too happy to have me around?” She was very aware of the administrative assistant’s continual ploys to get into bed with Pat.
“Probably not, if she was going to be here,” Pat laughed. “But she’s headed for LA too. Dawn got a clause in her contract that Mandy would have a job in the Beachcombers front office. It seems they really are in love with one another. Boy, I hope they know what they’re in for.”
“Huh? Are they crazy?”
“Damn, I love that look.”
Sherry stared at Pat.
“We can say that now,” Pat said hopefully.
“Yeah,” Pat nodded.
“Good because I’ve been waiting to say this for a long time. I’m in love with you, Pat Calvin,” Sherry whispered, relieved to be speaking the words that had been burning her tongue for months.
“I’m in love with you, Sherry Gallagher,” Pat whispered back.
After several heartbeats of just enjoying the sound of the declarations echoing in their thoughts, Sherry asked, “now what?”
“First, you have to go up and talk to Mac. She’s a little anxious to have your signature on a contract.”
“Okay. And then?”
“Well,” Pat began, timidly. “If you don’t have any plans for later I thought we could go to dinner.”
“Dinner? Like in a date dinner?” Sherry teased, only half joking.
“You mean a bona fide date? One where you actually walk up to my door and pick me up?”
“And we go to a restaurant without any cares that someone might see us? A really, real date?”
“Yes, Sherry, a real date,” Pat growled playfully.
“Can we hold hands?”
“Can you kiss me?” Sherry asked, shyly.
“You mean like this?” Pat placed her hands cupping Sherry’s face and gently pulled the woman she loved towards her. This time when she pressed their mouths together she took her time to explore the soft lips with her tongue before sliding the strong muscle inside the warm cavern that opened willingly for it.
Sherry sighed contently, her hands instinctively slipping behind Pat’s head, pulling her closer.
Only the lack of oxygen reaching their straining lungs separated the women who had waited so long to express their love to each other.
“That was nice,” Pat sighed, resting her forehead against Sherry’s.
“Yes it was,” Sherry smiled. “Can we do it again?”
“Later,” Pat smirked, laughing at the pout forming on the guard’s lips. “You need to go talk to Mac and I need to go home and wash the pickup. Can’t be picking my girl up in a muddy truck.”
“Your girl, uh?”
“If you want to be.”
“Oh, I want to be. I really, really want to be,” Sherry placed a quick peck on Pat’s lips as she stood. “I’ll go. You go. And I’ll see you when?”
“How’s five? And I thought if dinner went well, we could take in a movie afterward.”
“Oh, I love the movies,” Sherry clapped her hands together happily, jumping over the back of the row of seats in front of them. She again used the cushioned seats to bounce down to the court surface. “But, Pat,” she turned to face the coach, “I should warn you, I like to sit in the back row and snuggle.”
“Works for me.”
Pat paid for the movie tickets then held the door into the multiplex’s lobby open, waiting for Sherry to walk through before she followed. “You want anything to drink or eat?” she asked as they walked past the refreshment counters.
“No,” Sherry shook her head, rubbing her tummy. “After dinner, I’m stuffed.”
“You should be with what you ate,” Pat laughed. She led her fuming date to the back of the lobby, handing their tickets to a young teenage boy who wasn’t bothering to hide his unhappiness at being on duty.
“Down there,” the boy pointed off to his left. “Second door on the right. Enjoy the movie,” he said, his voice lacking any inflection.
“Goodness,” Sherry snickered as she followed the boy’s directions. “I hope the movie isn’t as boring as he made it sound.
“Don’t think I’ll be noticing,” Pat grinned, pulling open the door the boy had mentioned.
“Oh, nothing. Come on,” Pat grabbed Sherry’s hand, yanking her inside the theater.
They walked up the narrow corridor at the side of the theater, their view blocked by a high wall of everything but the large screen. Rounding the end of the wall, the women were happy to see the seats were mostly empty. They mounted the steps leading to the back of the theater, settling into the two middle seats in the very back row.
“Think it’ll stay this empty,” Sherry asked.
“Let’s hope so,” Pat grinned, slipping her arm behind Sherry’s head to drape it over her shoulders.
Sherry leaned into the embrace, sighing happily.
The lights dimmed as the seemingly endless commercials and previews begun.
Pat stretched her legs out over the seat backs in front of her, twisting slightly to be closer to Sherry.
Sherry turned until she was facing Pat, her legs curled up and resting on top of the coach’s. “Does this hurt?” she asked, mindful of Pat’s injured leg.
Sherry began to withdraw her legs.
“No,” Pat said quickly, placing her left hand over Sherry’s legs to hold them in place. “If it gets too bad I’ll tell you.”
Sherry snuggled as close to Pat as she could manage with the arm rest poking up between them.
Pat’s right hand moved down Sherry’s back, gently brushing the skin under her shirt.
Sherry curled her body even more, arching her back into Pat’s caress. Her own hand started to explore the body under her and she heard a sharp intake of breath when it moved up Pat’s side within inches of her breast. She pulled away from Pat just enough to be able to look into her eyes. “Pat?”
Even in the capricious light reflecting back at them from the movie screen, Pat could see the look of desire on Sherry’s face.
“Take me home,” Sherry whispered.
Pat wasn’t sure she could. Her need for the woman in her arms was so great at the moment she was sure all the blood in her body had settled in one particular overheated and throbbing bundle of nerve endings. She was sure if she even tried to stand, she would end up falling flat on her face after her useless legs collapsed underneath her. “Okay,” she whispered.
Sherry untangled herself from Pat then stood and waited.
Pat took a few moments to try and control her racing heart but eventually gave up when it refused to slow in the presence of Sherry. On shaky legs, she let Sherry guide back down the steps in the darkness.
The women walked to the front of the theater, to the door at the bottom corner of the screen which would let them exit the building directly into the parking area. It took just a few more minutes before Pat’s pickup was driving out of the lot.
Pat and Sherry walked arm-in-arm on the cement walk from the driveway to the front door of Pat’s modest three bedroom house.
It took Pat only a moment to insert the key in the lock and open the door. “Welcome,” she smiled at Sherry, reaching behind her to flip on the living room lights.
“I’ll sight-see tomorrow,” Sherry whispered, stopping Pat from completing the routine movement. “Tonight, I’m only interested in the bedroom,” her voice husky with desire.”
Pat pushed the door shut, sliding the dead bolt in place. “This way.” Her heart was beating so fast she was sure she’d pass out before they made it halfway down the hallway. “Do you…?” she asked, reaching for the light switch in the bedroom.
“No,” Sherry answered. The moon was full and the room was filled with a soft, golden glow.
Pat let her hand drop, following Sherry to the middle of the room. The lack of lighting posed no problem for her as she knew the room’s layout by heart. Her king size bed took up most of the room except for a chest, six drawers high where she stored her numerous sweat suits and work out clothes. A second smaller dresser occupied the wall next to the closet and an overstuffed chair that was seldom used sat in the corner between the room’s two windows. Other than the door leading into the bathroom, the walls were bare.
Sherry didn’t bother to look around the room, not caring how it was furnished. She did, however, care about the woman standing beside her. Turning, she placed her hands on Pat’s waist, guiding the woman backwards until her legs bumped into the end of the bed. With a gently shove, she pushed her down to sit in front of her.
Pat sat, her knees slightly spread and her hands pressing down into the mattress. Her eyes following every movement Sherry made as she bent over to untie her shoes and kicked them off.
Sherry stepped between Pat’s legs. Bending over, she placed a tender kiss on the woman’s lips then stood back up. Pulling the polo shirt she wore over her head, she held it out to her side for a moment before allowing it to fall off her fingers to the carpeted floor.
Pat gulped, her body surging with pent up passion.
Sherry began to remove her sports bra, bending at the elbow she pulled her right arm free first then repeated the motion with her left. Slipping her fingers under the elastic band at the bottom of the bra, she slowly inched it up over her breasts before lifting it over her head and dropping it to join her shirt.
Pat sat motionless, entranced by the moonlight highlighting Sherry’s exposed skin, her tongue licking dry lips and chest heaving with the short gasps of her breathing.
Sherry slid down the zipper of her khakis. Slipping her hands inside the waistband, she pushed the material down her thighs taking her underpants with them.
Tentatively, Pat reached out placing her hands on Sherry’s hips pulling her close. She turned her head, nuzzling her cheek on the bare skin of Sherry’s belly. Using only the tips of her fingers, Pat traced her hands up Sherry’s sides and around her back. She pulled the woman closer. With her ear pressed against the silky soft skin, Pat could hear the heart underneath beating at a pace to match her own. She inhaled deeply, wanting to absorb all of what was Sherry inside of her. She could smell the light trace of herbal soap Sherry had used to wash her body hours earlier. And a hint of the shampoo she used on her hair that smelled like strawberries fleshly picked off a mountain slope. And she could smell the sweet aroma of Sherry’s desire coming up from between her legs.
Sherry bent down, curling her arms around Pat and placing kisses on the top of her head. “Let me undress you,” she asked as Pat turned to kiss her stomach causing the muscles to twitch uncontrollably. She reached behind her, entwining her fingers with Pat’s as she unwrapped the arms that held her. “Sit back, love.”
Pat reluctantly pulled away. She had a tremendous need to press her legs together but was prevented from gaining any relief from the pressure building in her groin Sherry’s position between them.
Seeing the effect she was having on the woman who would soon be her lover, Sherry took her time as she freed each button of Pat’s shirt then pushed it off Pat’s shoulders and down her arms. She tugged the tight tank top out of Pat’s slacks then lifted it off as Pat raised her arms. She smiled, seeing the proof of what she long ago guessed. “I love a woman who feels confident enough to go bra-less,” she murmured, gazing hungrily at the two globes she had revealed. “Lay down,” she said softly, guiding Pat with her fingertips on her shoulders.
Pat was on fire. Just the thought of Sherry’s skin touching her was almost enough to set free the orgasm she was trying so desperately to hold back.
Sherry stepped out of the pants pooled around her ankles, flipping them out of the way before crawling onto the bed. Holding her body above Pat’s, she smiled down at the woman. Slowly. Ever so slowly she lowered her body until their nakedness met.
“Oh, gooooooodddddddddddd,” Pat moaned, unable to contain her release any longer.
With Pat convulsing beneath her, Sherry needed her own release. She grabbed Pat’s hand, guiding it between their bodies. Spreading her legs, she groaned, “inside, please.”
Led by instinct, Pat slid three fingers into Sherry, pressing her thumb against the throbbing clit at the same time.
That was all Sherry needed. Her release was instantaneous, an explosion started by the fingers she held in a vice grip. “Pat,” she cried, rocking her body to force the fingers deeper inside her.
Pat felt a second orgasm building. She wrapped her free arm around Sherry, pulling her down onto her hand. Her fingers curled inside her lover, exploring and probing the smooth, slick walls of tissue they encountered. “I’m gonna come,” Pat groaned.
Sherry’s lips latched onto Pat’s earlobe, sucking and running her tongue over the heated flesh. “Come for me, baby,” she urged, her own orgasm showing no signs of subsiding.
“Oh, gooooooodddddddddddddddddddd,” Pat’s hips bucked when a hot tongue dove inside her ear. Wave after wave of red hot lava rushed through her body and all she could do was hold on to Sherry and scream.
It was several moments before the room was quiet.
Pat lay exhausted, her body rippling with after shocks.
Sherry lay boneless on top of her lover, her legs pressed together trapping Pat’s hand inside of her. “I love you,” she whispered.
“Mmmmmmmmm,” was all Pat could manage, a smile spreading across her face.
“I want to feel all of you,” Sherry said, disappointed that Pat still had her slacks on. “But I don’t want you to move,” she was not ready to release the fingers resting inside of her.
“Not sure there’s any way to get my pants off like this,” Pat chuckled.
Sherry felt the laugh. Twisting her head, she rested her chin on Pat’s breastbone. “I don’t suppose we could stay like this forever?”
“Don’t think so. Want me to…?” Pat asked, moving her fingers slightly.
Sherry clamped down harder on Pat’s hand, “if you do, I’m going to come again.”
“Really,” Pat smirked.
“Yes,” Sherry moaned.
“No sense in wasting a good thing. Besides I’m not sure I’m done yet. And if you come, I’m pretty sure I will to.”
Pat smiled. Just seeing Sherry naked and lying on top of her was causing her to tremble with need for the woman. She felt the heat growing between her legs and knew it would only take the sound of Sherry’s cries when she released to set free her own desire. She wriggled her fingers.
“More,” Sherry moaned, easing the pressure she was using to hold Pat inside of her. “I’m almost there.”
“Not yet, love,” Pat whispered, shifting positions. She slowly pulled her fingers free, stopping all movement whenever she felt Sherry’s release start. “Hold it, baby,” she murmured.
“I can’t,” Sherry groaned, thrusting her hips forward attempting to drive herself back onto Pat’s hand.
With her hand out of Sherry, Pat shifted again. She scooted out from under her lover, rolling Sherry onto her back and spreading her legs. Resting her body on her elbows, Pat placed a knee against Sherry’s clit.
Sherry screamed, the sensation of the rough material rubbing on her throbbing bundle of nerves sent bolts of lightening through her nervous system setting off tiny explosions all over her body. Her hands clutched at Pat, fingers digging into the soft skin of her lover’s back. “Harder,” she cried.
Leaning down to capture a nipple between her teeth, Pat drove her knee against Sherry’s clit. Hearing Sherry’s screams and feeling the body jerking under her sent Pat over the edge.
The women held on to each other as their orgasms detonated.
“Take off your pants,” Sherry whispered when later the women began to snuggle together preparing to sleep.
Pat sat up, swinging her legs over the edge of the bed. She pulled first one foot and then the other up to remove the shoes she still wore. Then stood, unzipping her pants and letting them drop to the floor. She slipped off her panties then fell back on the bed reaching for the blankets folded over the end of the mattress.
Sherry snuggled against Pat, her hand finding a breast and playing with it. “You’re a remarkable woman, Pat.”
“I am?” Pat cupped a hand on Sherry’s buttocks, pulling her on top of her.
“Oh, yes,” Sherry squealed, not expecting the move. “I’ve never had orgasms like that. And never that many.”
“Well then I’d say we’re both remarkable women,” Pat placed a second hand on Sherry’s bottom, squeezing the soft, firm rounds of flesh. “Because I’ve never had multiple ones either.”
“I’m glad,” Sherry smiled, snaking a hand down between their bodies.
“What are you doing?”
“I think I’ve got one more in me tonight,” Sherry said, slipping her hand through the patch of fine, curly hair she had been preventing from exploring up to now. “What about you?”
“Oh,” Pat moaned, her body already reacting to her lover’s touch. “I think I could give it a try.”
“Good.” Sherry’s fingers slid into Pat’s wetness. “You feel so good,” she sighed.
“Don’t make me wait too long,” Pat groaned.
“I won’t, baby,” Sherry promised. Her fingers moved lower until they found the opening they were seeking. “I love you, Pat,” she murmured, driving her fingers inside.
Pat’s hips bucked, thrusting up to meet Sherry’s hand.
Sherry body reacted to Pat’s release. Slipping to the side of her lover’s body, she rubbed her clit on Pat’s hipbone coating her in slickness.
Pat fingers dug into the skin of her lover’s buttocks, pulling her against her. She cried out Sherry’s name as another orgasm exploded inside of her.
“Morning,” Sherry smiled, waking in Pat’s arms.
“More like afternoon,” Pat grinned.
“Really?” Sherry rolled her head to peer out the window, squinting when the bright sunlight hit her eyes. “Ugh,” she turned away from the window, rolling onto the side and snuggling into Pat. “I love waking up with you,” she murmured, squirming into a more comfortable position.
“I love you,” Pat sighed, kissing the top of her lover’s head.
“Can we stay like this forever?”
“If you want,” Pat smiled, running her hand down Sherry’s side. Relishing in the feel of her lover’s skin, she took her time to explore every nook and cranny her fingers came into contact with. “You’re so soft,” she murmured.
“You’re not so bad yourself,” Sherry said, her tongue darting out to pull a well placed nipple into her mouth.
“Oh, gooodddddddd,” Pat moaned. The sensation of Sherry’s lips on her skin was reawakening sensations she thought had been satiated the night before. She rolled onto her back, pulling Sherry with her and groaning when her lover’s hand squeezed her other breast.
Sherry sucked and licked the aroused nipple in her mouth, reaching down between her legs she felt for Pat’s thigh. Raising the muscular leg off the mattress, she began to rub against it in a slow but steady rhythm.
“What are those?” Sherry asked seeing the pair of suitcases on the floor next to the closet, her fingers sifting Pat’s hair.
“Suitcases,” Pat smirked. She and Sherry had been lying in bed most of the afternoon, getting to know each other.
“I know that,” Sherry swatted Pat. “I mean, what are they doing there?”
Pat lifted her head to see the objects in question. “Doesn’t look like they’re doing anything,” she chuckled, dropping her head back onto Sherry’s lap where it had beer resting.
“Pat,” Sherry frowned but her eyes twinkled at her lover’s playfulness.
“Every year after the end of the season, I go down to a place in the Bitterroot Valley. It’s back in the mountains and I usually stay a couple of weeks. It helps me unwind and rejuvenates me for the next season.”
“What’s it like?”
“It’s a lodge but they also have private cabins you can rent. I usually get one of those. You can cross-country ski or snowshoe or rent a snowmobile. The cabins have hot tubs which are great on clear nights when the stars are out. And they come with a small kitchen or you can eat at the lodge, it has a really nice dining room.”
“What do you do?”
“Some snowshoeing or just walking. Watch the animals. Most mornings and evenings you can see deer and elk and, once in a while, a moose or bear will wander through. I do some reading. But mostly just enjoy the scenery.”
“Sounds nice. When are you going?”
Hearing the disappointment in her lover’s voice, Pat rolled her eyes up to look at Sherry. “Come with me?”
“I don’t know, Pat. I’ve got so much to do here. My lease is up at the end of the month and I need to find someplace better to live now that I know I’ll be hanging around for a while.”
“I know of a nice three bedroom house you could share,” Pat said, rolling onto her side to be able to look at her lover while they talked.
Sherry knew what Pat was suggesting. “You sure you’re ready for that step?”
“I’ve been thinking lately about getting myself a roommate,” Pat smiled.
“You have, have you?”
“Have you had any particular kind of roommate in mind?”
“I have a couple of options, but nothing too fancy. Just someone who can cook because I’m lousy at that. And can clean, because I hate to do it. Interested?”
“Well, the cooking I might do once in awhile but only if someone else washes the dishes. But the cleaning, uck. Sorry, I’d have to pass. Guess you better consider your other options.”
“How about if I keep my maid service?”
“Any benefits in it for me?”
“I only own one bed.”
“Well,” Sherry grinned. “I might be talked into trying it out.”
“Good,” Pat said, rolling onto her back. Her arms wrapped around Sherry, pulling her lover on top of her. “Now, will you come with me?”
“I don’t have any clothes for being in the snow.”
Pat glanced at the clock on top of the tall chest of drawers. “No problem, stores are open for a few more hours. We can get everything you need.”
“I don’t know, Pat,” Sherry frowned. “That’s a lot of money and…”
“Have you forgotten you just signed a double contract with the Missoula Cougars? I think a few hundred dollars are well within your budget.”
“Oops,” Sherry snickered, she had indeed forgotten. “But it’s probably too late for me to get a room, don’t you think?” she asked not wanting to assume that Pat had meant for her to stay in the same cabin.
“You won’t need a room, love,” Pat hugged Sherry. “I want you with me. Forever.”
“I want that too,” Sherry melted into the embrace.
“Then you’ll come?”
“Good,” Pat smacked Sherry on the butt then hopped off the bed.
“Ow,” Sherry rubbed the stinging flesh. “What was that for?”
“Get up, lazy bones,” Pat shouted from the bathroom. “Can’t stay in bed all day. We have shopping to do.”
“We just did,” Sherry growled, looking out the window at the fading sunlight.
“I’m taking a shower,” Pat sing-songed.
“Oh,” Sherry leaped up. “I’m coming, love.”
“Okay, all strapped in,” Pat gave a final tug to the straps securing Sherry’s snow boots to her snowshoes then stood up. “Now before you try to walk…”
“Oof,” Sherry grunted as she fell into a mound of soft snow. “Guess I should have waited for the rest of the lesson, uh?” she looked up at Pat standing over her.
“Could have saved you some trouble,” Pat chuckled, reaching down to pull Sherry to her feet. She brushed snow off her lover’s new winter jacket and insulated snow pants. “Here,” she picked up a pair of ski poles leaning against the side of their cabin. “Let’s get these adjusted to your height,” she said, untwisting one of the poles and pulling the end out. “How’s that?” she asked handing the pole to Sherry.
“What should it feel like?” Sherry asked, placing the pole tip on the ground.
“Comfortable,” Pat untwisted the second pole. “Not too high, not too short.”
“But juuussssttttttt right,” Sherry smirked.
“Yes, my little bear,” Pat kissed Sherry. “Here,” she handed her the second pole. “Try that. They’re real easy to adjust so play with them until you figure out what’s right for you.”
Pat grabbed the second pair of poles, adjusting them to her preferred length. Slipping her gloved hands through the loops, she wrapped her hands around the pole grips. “Now when you walk, just walk naturally. Only thing you have to remember is the snowshoes are wider than your regular shoes. So just spread you legs a bit. And I know you know how to do that,” she leered at Sherry.
“Pat,” Sherry cried out in mock horror. “We’re in public.”
“Baby, there isn’t another human being for what, maybe fifty feet,” she glanced around at the next closest cabin.
“You are so bad,” Sherry grumbled, laughing.
“Ready to give it a try?”
“Yes. Where are we going?”
“Down there,” Pat pointing with a ski pole. “Then we’ll head up that road. It’s mostly level for the first mile. By then, you’ll be a pro at snowshoeing and the hills won’t bother you.”
“Okay,” Sherry adjusted the pack on her back then took a first tentative step. The poles made balancing on the wide shoes easy and after a few steps she was comfortable enough to look at Pat instead of her feet. “This is fun,” she smiled.
“Told you so. Biggest thing is when you try to turn or back up. You have to be careful not to put one snowshoe on top of the other. That’s when you get in trouble.”
“I’ll try to remember.”
“Well, if you don’t,” Pat laughed, “you’ll be picking your butt off the ground again.”
“I think I’ll let you do that,” Sherry blew Pat a kiss.
The woman walked in silence for several minutes, the sound of freshly fallen snow crunching under their shoes the only noise to disturb the peace.
“It’s beautiful out here,” Sherry said as they made their way between the snow covered pine trees.
“Yes. I love being out like this. It’s nice to finally have someone to share it with,” Pat sighed.
Sherry turned to look at her lover, the melancholy of her voice reflected in her eyes. “How come you don’t ask your friends to join you anymore?” she asked knowing Pat had grown up in Missoula and the town was full of her friends.
Pat stopped, leaning on her ski poles she took a few minutes to think about Sherry’s question. “Do you realize that we never talk about basketball when we’re together?” she finally said. “Why is that?”
Sherry shrugged standing beside Pat. “I don’t like to. When I’m on the court, I’m two hundred percent into the game. But when I’m away from it, I guess I look at basketball as something I do, not as who I am.”
“Exactly,” Pat nodded, beginning to walk again.
Sherry reached out, placing a hand on her lover’s arm stopping her. “I’m sorry, Pat. That must be hard.”
Pat sighed, smiling sadly. “Seems like since I was named head coach, all anyone wants to talk about is basketball. The rest of who I am just started to slip away. It just got to be easier to do things by myself. That was one of the first things that drew me to you,” she looked at Sherry. “You never once talked about the game when we were away from it. With us now both being coaches that may not be possible,” she said wistfully.
“Let’s make a pact,” Sherry grinned. “When we’re with the team, we talk basketball. When we go home, we don’t. Deal?” she asked, reaching out a gloved hand to Pat.
“Sweetheart,” Pat accepted the hand, drawing Sherry to her. “When we’re home there’s only going to be one thing on my mind.”
“What’s that?” Sherry asked leaning into Pat, her lips inches from her lover’s.
“You,” Pat pressed their lips together.
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