Disclaimers: You know the drill by now.

Sex: Um, yeah. You might not want to read this at work. J

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Touchdown (there)


Kim Pritekel & Alexa Hoffman


Palmer took several deep breaths, knowing that her father and two of her four brothers were in the stands tonight, though she seriously doubted Coach Wilson would let her play anyway.

All the same, number 28, the newest running back for Tismont High School in Dallas, Texas, was ready to go, antsy on the sidelines, unable to keep still. Her time would come. She wasn’t the first female player for nothing.

"Go Pirates! Slash ‘em! Burn ‘em! Put a killin’ on ‘em! Go Pirates!" The blonde cheerleader yelled out with enthusiasm as she waved her gold and red pom poms wildly through the air, kicking her leg high with the rest of her cheerleading sisters.

The cheer ended and she watched the field, the first game of the season, players lining the sidelines, junior varsity players in their jerseys and jeans in support of their superior team.

"Think they’ll let her play?" The blonde looked over at her best friend, and shook her head.

"I don’t know." Green eyes found number 28, pacing back and forth, looking like a caged tiger. Most of the eyes in the stands were also focused on that same player, wondering if the coach had lost his mind. This was good ol’ boy country, and no girl had any business on the playing field with Tismont’s finest. Football, a high school past time.

"It’d be pretty shitty if they didn’t."

"Yeah," the blonde said. "Come on, Di, the girls are moving." The two friends caught up to their squad, and began to cheer anew until there was a resounded, Ohhhhh! In the crowd. The squad turned around to see that a Pirate was down, surrounded by the coach and referees trying to keep players away and determine his injuries.

"Is that Grady, Di?" Felicity Halprin asked, straightening the short gold and red skirt that she wore.

"It better not be," the brunette said, wanting so badly to run out and see. Many of the girls on the squad were dating players, so they all waited for word.

"Well, it looks like number 17, Billy Hicks is being helped off the field," the announcer said. The cheerleaders and crowd watched as the Tismont coach ran back to the sidelines and right over to number 28.

"Get out there, Singleton!" Coach Wilson yelled at Palmer. Taking a deep breath, she nodded and trotted out to meet her teammates. She wasn’t sure what she’d hear from the stands, but wasn’t disappointed with the smattering of cheering. Other than that, there was mostly silence with random shouts of Boo!

"Fuck me, it’s the dyke," the quarterback, Dil Robby groaned.

"Shut up man, and call it," Grady Killner said, making room in the huddle for Palmer.

Palmer flexed her taped fingers, feeling the tightness of the mostly unused gloves, red and gold, a gift from her father when it has been announced that she’d make the team. She could feel the cool September night air against the small bit of bare leg between the end of the tight, gold pants and red and gold socks, the way the grass crunched under foot, the white thirty-yard line beneath her size 11 Nike.

"Break!" the team yelled, and got into position.

The cheerleaders watched with fascination as the team broke out of the huddle, and formed up, their boys, and one girl, restless, feet tapping to unheard beats as they waited for the cue to move. Finally it was called, and Dil ran back, ball in hand looking for his target. Like a blast from a shotgun, Palmer was out of the line and headed down field.

It’s coming to me, it’s coming to me. I’m open. Come on, Dil. Throw it here.....

She turned to look at him when she was down at the twenty, her team fifty yards away.

"Throw the ball!" she called out, not a Tiger even near her. She watched in rapt horror as Dil threw the ball, the perfect spiral glinting off the intense lights that surrounded the field and stadium, like a brown bullet, two hands up in the air, a blue and white sweatband on the wrist, "Fuck!"

"Interception! Tigers have it!" The crowd was on its feet, watching as the play began, the player from the other team trying to get his bearings, find his endzone.

"Shit, I bet this is all she gets, too," muttered Kyle Singleton as he watched his daughter watch the excuse for a play back at the visitor twenty.

"Son of a bitch," her brother, Allen, mumbled. "Yep. This’ll be her lot."

"Fumble! The Tigers have fumbled the ball!"

"Yes!" Di Almon yelled, jumping in the air with the other cheerleaders, turning to her best friend, Kent Gallery. "Didja see that? Grady knocked the ball right out of that fucker’s hand!"


"Yeah!" The whistle was blown, the play called dead, and Palmer Singleton ran back to her team, glaring at Dil.

"Stick with the plan next time, asshole," Grady grumbled, shoving the quarterback.

"Damn girl," Dil muttered, knowing he was in for an ass chewing from Coach.

They got into position again, and he counted it down. "Hut two, hut three, hut, hut!" The ball was snapped, and he looked for his intended, seeing her streak down the field like nothing he’d ever seen, though he’d never tell her that. When she reached the forty, as they’d been pushed back to the five from the fumble, he sent the ball flying with a grunt.

A couple of Tigers were actually paying attention, saw where Dil’s eyes were, and began running toward Palmer.

"Oh shit, oh shit," Palmer whispered, keeping one eye on the ball, and one on the players, just like her dad had taught her. She jumped up, using every inch of her 5’10 _" frame, got her hands around the bullet, and hugged it to her body, turning in mid-air to do what she was born to do . . .

"Run!" Kyle Singleton yelled, beside himself as he watched his youngest child, and only daughter, plowing that field, followed by three very determined Tigers, one of whom got his arms wrapped around her ankles. "Oh, no . . ."

Palmer jumped above the player’s head, using her hurdle jumping skill, and kept on going.

"Touchdown Pirates! Number 28, Palmer Singleton!"

"Go, Pirates! Touchdown, touchdown, Goooooooo, Pirates!"

The offense headed off to the sidelines, and the cheerleaders took a break until there was more action. Kent Gallery turned green eyes to the players, mainly number 28, fascinated by a girl who would want to play such a sport.

What does she look like under all that? Hell, until she was announced as our newest player, I’d never even heard of her.

* * *

Kent slammed her locker shut, her friend Di waiting for her.

"So, did you and Grady celebrate their win?" she asked, eyes twinkling. Brown eyes smiled back, and the cheerleader nodded.

"Ohhh, yeah. It’s so much better when he’s excited." Di grinned.

"Well, I’d imagine so." Kent laughed. "I doubt you guys get very far when he’s not excited." Di shoved her into a near-bye locker, bringing a smile to blue eyes that were watching from the stairs.

Palmer held her French book to her chest, leaning against the railing, and watching the scene before her. She was familiar with Kent and Di’ friendship, how goofy they could be, and violent, as in today’s shove. But her eyes mainly were focused on the blonde, and had been since last December when she’d noticed the cheerleader at the last game of the season. She’d been an assistant team manager for the Pirates then. But now . . .

She blew out a breath, stepping back toward the stairs and the wall where she could hide as the friends walked by. She watched Kent, how she walked and moved, such grace; the same kind of grace she had in cheerleading. Today she wore a pair of loose-fitting jeans that still managed to show off that nice little body of hers. The long-sleeved, gray tee she wore, sleeves pushed up to mid-forearm, showed the smooth, tan skin beneath.

She couldn’t hear them as they laughed, but was jealous of Di and how close she was able to get.

"Shit," she sighed, and headed off to class.

* * *

I so don’t want to be doing this.

Kent slammed her geometry book shut, shoving it across the table, and dug in her bag for something interesting to do while she waited for Di.

Palmer hated the fact that the library had added metal detectors to the library over the summer. She understood it, but still thought it was sad that high school students were stealing library books, most of which were dry as hell anyway.

She walked up to the counter, packet of papers in hand.

"Nice game Friday, hon." Mrs. Leeland smiled as she stamped a book someone had just turned in.

"Oh, thanks." Palmer smiled nervously, taking her backpack off her shoulder and resting it on the floor between her feet. "Can I get copies?"

"Sure thing."

"Thanks." She saw the TIME magazine laying on the counter and turned to lean her elbow on the counter to read it. A quick glance out of the corner of her eye, and blue eyes widened.

"Nice game Friday, hon."

Kent’s head snapped up when she heard the feminine ‘Oh, thanks.’ A tall girl stood at the counter, dark hair reaching to just below her shoulders.

"Whoa. Could it be?" Kent put the book she’d been reading down, and watched with avid interest. She was determined to get a look at the girl who’d want to get herself beat up week after week by a bunch of modern day Gladiators. The girl moved so she was standing at profile as she read a magazine, her hand coming up to tuck long strands behind her ear. "She’s actually kind of girlie," Kent breathed, amazed.

"Here you go," the librarian said.


"You guys kick some Trojan butt this weekend." The older woman smiled. Kent couldn’t see the girl’s face, but watched with wide, green eyes as she left the library.

"Wow," she muttered. "That was her."

"Hey, kiddo."

"Hey, Di." Kent continued, looking at the counter where Palmer Singleton had just stood.

"What’s up?" Her friend plopped down in the chair, shoving her books onto the table next to Kent’s. The blonde looked at her.

"Guess who was just in here."


"Palmer Singleton."

"Where?" Di twisted her neck as she looked around, straining to look behind her.

"Um, was, thus the past tense." Kent grinned.

"What does she look like? Is she big and hairy?" Di smiled, that wicked little smile that had drawn Kent to her so many years ago, deep dimples playing in and out.

"Well, she’s big, but only tall. She’s actually kind of thin." The blonde drew her brows. "How doesn’t she get killed out there?"

"She’s fast," Di said, popping her gum. "Uh, oh. I know that look."

Kent jumped out of her chair, and jogged over to the circulation desk. "Mrs. Leeland, can I have last year’s year book, please?" She gave the librarian her most charming smile. The older woman looked at the cheerleader, knowing full well she and the brunette with the curly hair were trouble, but adoring them anyway.

"You got it, kiddo." She went to the back room to find it. Kent turned to a curious Di and gave her two thumbs up before turning back to the counter behind her. "Here you go."

"Thanks." Another charming smile, and the blonde bounded back over to her table.

"Ohhh, good thinking." Di scooted her chair over next to her friend, and they put their heads together, literally, as Kent flipped through the smooth pages of the 2002 year book.

"She’s a junior, right?" Di nodded. Passing the seniors then juniors, she finally found the sophomores. "Singleton, Singleton, Singleton," She ran her finger down the list of names and black and white pictures until finally the manicured nail landed on the face of Palmer Singleton. She sat back, nearly whacking Di with her head. "Wow."

"She’s pretty," Di added, leaning in closer to see. The football player didn’t look thrilled to be in the picture, but she had nice features, obviously light eyes, though Kent wondered just exactly what they looked like in a colored reality. Her dark hair, then shoulder length, was tucked behind an ear.

"Why would someone who looked like that want to play football?" Kent asked, not for the first time.

"Beats me." Di whistled through her teeth.

* * *

Palmer headed home, her small Honda finally running well after the tuneup her brother, Steven, had given it last weekend. She had been sick and tired of it sounding like a ninety-year-old smoker. Now she purred.

Pulling into the driveway that she only shared with her father, she shut the car off, grabbed her backpack and headed inside. She knew her father wasn’t home from his shop yet, and wouldn’t be for a while. It was hunting season, so the taxidermy business was in full swing. She was still creeped out by it, and was glad she was only asked to help out with the secretarial stuff.

Unlocking the door, she ran down the stairs that would lead to the basement, and her room. Her father had finished the large basement three years ago, right after her mother had left them, and had let her choose how large she wanted her room to be. Never give a teenager that kind of power.

Most apartments weren’t as large as her room, but that was okay. She needed her space, and her father was willing to give it to her. Tossing her pack to the floor, she tossed her long body onto her bed, and looked up at the poster-covered ceiling.

Life was good.

* * *


Your father and I have headed to the Smith’s, and we’ll be back later. Your sister will be back from ballet at 5 p.m. sharp. Be there.


Mom & Dad

"Are you fucking kidding me?" the blonde muttered, reading the note. With a growl, she crumpled up the note, and tossed it into the trash. This was the second time already this week that she’d had to watch the brat. She had plans tonight with Di, too. "Guess not now." She grabbed the phone and dialed her friend’s number.

* * *

Kent brought her bag down to her room, getting ready to settle in for the night, promising to call Di back in an hour so she could study for French first. Flopping down on her bed, she stared up at the ceiling, hands behind her head, text lying next to her, closed as her mind raced to other places. This was her sophomore year, and she had turned big 16 in March, and, just as her parents had promised, had gotten a car.

Though there were some great freedoms with having your own wheels, it kind of sucked, too. For instance, she had become her younger sister’s taxi cab. She got along with Whitney pretty well, she is after all only nine, but still. She never got thanked, never got a "good job, Kent," just a "do this, do that, do the other." She hated it.

Turning her head, she saw the picture she had in a frame sitting on her bedside table. Chad Berry smiled back at her, his cute little dimples winking at her.

"Jerk," she mumbled, and put the photo face down.

Life sucked.

* * *

Palmer turned the page of the text, forgetting to do the reading last night, and knowing she had a vocab test today. She let the French words march through her brain as she read them, praying that one of them would catch on some smart branch in there so she’d have a fighting chance on the test.

She glanced up from her seat in the back of the room, hearing students begin to file in, and her eyes stopped when she reached the student she was waiting for.

Kent and Felicity came in, talking as usual, and plopped down in their seats in the second row, heads bent together as they giggled. A small smile spread across Palmer’s features. Kent’s blonde hair, so beautiful, was pushed back behind an ear to reveal her profile: straight nose, full lips, in a smile now, brows raised at something her friend had said, then shooting down, her eyes and nose wrinkling as Felicity said something else.

"Okay, let’s take our seats, class." Mr. Breaux set his books on the desk, letting us know all conversation was officially over. "Miss Adams,"


"Miss Adkins,"

"I’m here."

"Mr. Barnes,"

Kent listened as the teacher took roll, calling name after name, answering when he finally hit the Gs, and began to doodle on her notebook, waiting for the test to begin.

"Miss Singleton,"

A blonde head popped up, turning in her chair to see the dark haired girl sitting four desks behind her own, raise her hand in acknowledgement. Bright blue eyes met hers, and she quickly turned around, leaning over to Felicity.

"Oh my god. That’s Palmer Singleton," she hissed to the red-headed girl.


Palmer was surprised when she suddenly saw green eyes boring into hers.

God, she is so beautiful.

The girl stared at her for just a moment, then turned to, what she assumed, tell her friend she was there because within a nanosecond, the redhead turned and looked at her, too.

"Wow," Felicity breathed. "Why would she want to play football? She’s really pretty."

Kent shrugged as Mr. Breaux passed out the tests.

As she wrote her name at the top of the page, she thought again of the girl sitting in the back row. She hadn’t seen her so up close before. She was gorgeous! Those incredible blue eyes, the contrast of the dark hair. She quietly blew out a breath.

Why possibly mar that from a silly game?

* * *

Kent shut her locker.

"I’m telling you, hon. He’s been asking about you to Grady," Di said, leaning against a nearby locker. Kent sighed.

"I know."

"What are you going to tell him?" They began to walk down the hall, headed for cheerleading practice. The blonde shrugged.

"I don’t know. I mean, I know we’ve been off and on, but this is a pretty damn big off period . . ." She stopped, the hair on the back of her neck standing on end. She looked back down the hall, but only a classroom door closing met her. Shaking it off, she turned back to her friend. "Chad needs to realize that though he may be this really cute guy, football star, whatever, he can’t just take what isn’t offered to him, Di."

"I know that, Kent. You know that, and deep down, he knows that." Di pushed the doors open that led to the girl’s locker room for them to change for practice. "Thank god we don’t have to wear our shells today," she breathed, heading for their row of lockers.

"No kidding. I can’t believe how friggin’ hot it is out there."

The girls undressed from their school clothes and pulled on the red cotton shorts that bore their school logo, and yellow tees. Putting her hair up in a high ponytail, Kent looked in the small mirror that was attached to the inside door of her locker. She studied a small pimple that had recently formed on the side of her chin.

"Hate those," she muttered, slamming the door shut.



It was a hot one today in Texas, and Palmer forever thanked the gods that Coach didn’t make them practice with their pads on. Yeah, so it hurt more, but at least it was cooler.

"Palmer, I want to see you on offense today," he said, tossing her a red flag indicating this. She took it, strapping it to her mesh shorts.

The split team met on the field, teammate facing teammate as they did a full out practice. The whistle blew, and the plays began.

"Okay girls, today we’re going to work on the pyramid," Leslie Owens, the cheerleading coach, explained.

Kent rolled her eyes, knowing that since she was one of the smallest members of the squad, she’d undoubtedly be on top. She hated heights of any kind.

Behind her she could hear the brutal clashing of testosterone on the field, players grunting as they crashed into each other, and then tackled each other.

"Football is such a gay sport if you think about it," Di stated, watching her Grady being patted on the butt for a good tackle. "A bunch of guys running around in really tight pants, with cups to accentuate their package, smacking each other on the ass, and running after each other to try and tackle so they can get a hold of a nice, fat ball."

"Ew, Di." Kent scrunched up her nose then laughed.

Palmer was given the ball on the handoff, and was off and running, watching as opponents ran out in front of her, trying to grab her, her long legs jumping over all their attempts, or just flat out outrunning them.

"Yeah!" she yelled as she ran into the end zone. She tossed the ball to the coach, and headed over to the sidelines, unhooking the chin strap of her helmet and taking it off. Pads nixed: good. Helmet nixed: bad.

She glanced over to the cheerleaders to see what they were up to. A pyramid was beginning to take shape, the top girls standing around, waiting for the bottom level to get their act together.

Kent Gallery stood there, hand on her hip, watching the football players. She wondered if she was watching Chad. Then green eyes swept over to meet hers. Summoning all the courage she could muster, she stared back, forcing herself not to look away.

Kent looked at Palmer, seeing how the girl’s chest still heaved from her recent exertion, one hand resting on her hip, the other holding her helmet, chin strap dangling. Palmer’s dark hair was swept back in a messy ponytail, some strands stuck to her sweaty face.

"Kent, come on, focus!" The blonde whipped her eyes away and turned to her squad.

Palmer sighed, turning back to the field. Half the time when Kent did meet her gaze, or better, when Palmer had the guts to meet hers, the blonde just looked at her as though she had three heads. She didn’t understand it, and as badly as she wanted to talk to the cheerleader, she just couldn’t make herself do it. Kent made her stomach contents turn to goo, and the butterflies banged around, whacking their wings against her ribs like a xylophone.

Just one word. That’s all I want, one word. Palmer sighed, running back onto the field when Coach Wilson yelled for her.

Cheerleading practice done, Kent and Di ran into the locker room, changing back into their street clothes. Di left to go home, but she decided to stay and watch the scrimmage. Homework in hand, she climbed up to the second level of the bleachers and watched the field, hearing the whistle as a play was called dead.

Chewing on the eraser of her pencil as she studied the math problem before her, she heard the sound of cleats pounding against metal as someone ran up the bleachers. Not just someone, a football player.

"Hey, baby."

Kent looked up into the smiling blue eyes of Chad, her on again, mostly off again, boyfriend.

"Hi," she said, setting her book aside. Now was as good a time as any to tell him.

"Well, jeez, nice to see you, too." He snorted.

"Chad, it’s an off time. You know this." She pulled her hair out of its hair band, allowing the golden strands to fall around her shoulders.

"Well, when’s it gonna be an on time? You goin’ to homecoming with me?"

"Are you kidding me? After what you tried at the movies?" He rolled his eyes.

"Come on, I said I was sorry."

"Chad, I had said no. That didn’t mean anything to you, so your crappy apology doesn’t mean anything to me, either. Give it up. Way too many offs."

"So, what, you’re breaking up with me? Like for good?" Kent took in the look on the boy’s face, and just for a moment felt bad, as if she were doing something wrong to hurt him. Then she remembered that night, when they were making out, which she was fine with, and he tried to get her to take her shirt off. She pushed his hands away and had said no. So, he took it upon himself to rip the shirt in order to try and see what lay beneath.

This memory solidified what she had suspected to be the case for a while. Finally, with a sigh, she said,

"Yes, Chad. It’s over. ’kay?" Instead of answering, he jumped up from the bleacher where he’d been kneeling, rocking Kent as he did, and stormed down to the field.

"Jerk," she muttered, about to turn back to her studies when she saw two blue eyes looking up at her.

Palmer had seen Chad head up the bleachers, and knew some of his past with the cheerleader, so watched. She told herself it was to make sure he didn’t do anything stupid, which may have been the case, but there was more to it than that.

Now, Chad running back onto the field, Kent sat alone, one leg bent, foot resting on the bleacher below it, and green eyes on her. She forced herself, again, to meet the gaze, but finally Kent looked away, turning back to her book.

Kent thought for a moment as she turned back to the French. Those eyes were so intense, and she could have sworn that she had caught Palmer looking at her in the hall, or when she’d felt someone watching her, she’d turned to see Palmer walking the other way. Maybe she was kidding herself, or just freaking herself out, but she thought that perhaps Palmer was watching her.


"Shirts against skins!" Kent’s attention was drawn by the loud call, and she looked back to the field. The Coach had gone, and some of the players had gone, too. Now a handful remained, and they were dividing themselves up into two teams. Ah, now this was where she’d be able to see the boys really play. And girl, apparently. Stunned, she watched as Palmer gripped the hem of her shirt and whipped it off like her teammates, showing a tight sports bra underneath. Number 28 flung the shirt away, and ran out onto the field.

Intrigued, Kent gave the game her full attention, her eyes following the half-dressed girl, seeing what she was really made of.

Maybe she’d have to go to more of these after practice games.

* * *

The team’s first out-of-town game of the season was Friday, and the cheerleaders were required to wear their uniforms all day, just as the players had to wear their jerseys.

Kent was amazed when she saw Palmer in her number 28 that day. She knew she was a player and had to wear the shirt, but at the same time, it just made it that much more clear that she was a player.

Shaking her head, she turned to Di.

"I just don’t get it."

"Get what?" Di grabbed her bio book.


"What about her?" She slammed the metal locker door shut and stuffed the book into her backpack to work on during the long bus ride.

"Well, the other day, I stuck around after practice, and some of the players broke into this impromptu game with skins against shirts." Di raised an eyebrow.

"And I missed that?" She smacked her friend.

"Pay attention."


"So, Palmer stayed, and played. Skins." Dark brown brows shot up.

"You’re shittin’ me!" The blonde shook her head.

"Nope. Totally serious."

"How the hell did she keep those things from bouncing all over God’s green earth?" Kent grinned.

"She had her bra on still, jackass."

"I bet she tapes them down." They began to walk down the hall, headed toward the buses that would take them to Hawkville to play against the Trojans.

"You think?"

"Sure. Otherwise, oww." Di grabbed her own breasts in sympathy. Kent laughed.

* * *

Palmer walked onto the bus, gear stowed under the belly, and found a seat that she hoped would remain her own. She had no desire to sit and chat, nor to have to listen to anyone else.

Finding a seat near the back, she unzipped her backpack, grabbed her Discman and headphones, and settled in. They had two hours ahead of them, and then a game to play, so may as well relax.

"You will be sitting with me, Di," Kent muttered as the mounted the stairs one at a time, the long cab stretched out before them. "I just know Chad will try something stupid."

"Oh, fine. Jeesh. I didn’t want to sit with my boyfriend anyway, thank you."

The cheerleaders walked down the narrow aisle, spotting an empty seat near the back. Behind Palmer. They glanced at each other and grinned, Kent pushing Di into the seat so she could have the aisle.

Kent kept looking at the seat ahead of hers as the bus pulled out onto the main road, her mind whirling around all the things she’d like to ask the aloof football player. She felt Di nudge her with an elbow.

"What?" she hissed, looking over at her friend. Di nodded toward Palmer.

"Talk to her."




"Because. She’s sitting all alone." Di looked at the back of the dark head sitting directly in the middle of the seat.


"Come on.. Just do it."

Kent rolled her eyes and sighed. "Fine." She reached up and tapped Palmer on the shoulder.

Palmer started from the touch and slid the headphones around her neck, glancing over her shoulder, stunned to see smiling green eyes looking back at her. Dark brows drew as she swallowed nervously.

"Hi," Kent said.

"Um, hi."

"Hello," Di grinned, snapping her gum. Palmer looked at her, giving her a tiny wave, then looking from one to the other, trying to figure out what was up. Never, ever did she trust pretty girls who tried to talk to her.

"Can I ask you a question?" Kent said, snapping her attention. Palmer nodded, turning in the seat so her back leaned against the seat in front of her, her knees where her back had been.


"Why?" the blonde asked, her eyes clear and friendly. Though Palmer sensed no malice, she was still wary.

God, she’s beautiful.

"Um," She cleared her suddenly very dry throat. "Why what?"

"Why get beat up everyday and have to deal with a bunch of bully guys?"

"I love to play," Palmer said softly. That question was a no-brainer.

"Oh, oh! Can I ask one?" Di asked, bouncing in the seat excitedly. Kent groaned, already getting her elbow ready to shove into her friend’s side.

"Okay," Palmer said, her amazing eyes shifting to look at the larger of the two girls.

"Are you like a boy trapped in a girl’s body, or something?"

"Di!" Kent smacked her.

"What? It’s a legitimate question." Brown eyes turned to Palmer. "So?"

Palmer looked at the girl named Di, not sure if she was actually being serious or not.

"No. I’m all woman," she said, her voice quiet with a tinge of shy thrown in there. Both cheerleaders looked at her, then Di cracked a grin.

"Di, stop it," Kent hissed, absolutely disgusted with her friend.

"Well," Palmer turned around in the seat. "I think it’s time to get back to studying." She placed the headphones on her ears.

"Di, you’re a shit," Kent growled, smacking her friend once more for good measure.

"Oh, come on, Kent. It’s not like you haven’t wondered why she plays, too."

"Yes, but there’s a difference between wondering and insulting!"

Palmer shook her head, hit play on her CD player, and began to read.

* * *

A deep breath a lot of courage later, Palmer looked into the eye of the opponent across from her. Most of the district had heard about the girl on the team by now, so she didn’t find so many surprised looks when they looked into her eyes. All the same, this guy looked like he was ready to show her "what a real man was all about." She hated that.

"Come on, big fella," she muttered, waiting for the play to go into action. The score right now was 14 home and zip for the visitor. She was not happy, and knew that Coach was even less happy.

"Hut two! Hut two! Hut, hut, hut!"

The play was in action, and all the Coach’s men were running around the field, trying to get something productive done. Dil threw the ball, going, going, going...

"Shit," Kent breathed as she watched the spiral fly right over Todd Covington’s head. The girls tried to keep the Pirate crowd entertained, but truth be told, it just wasn’t in the cards. The team kept messing up too bad.

She exchanged a look with Di, then turned back to the fans. Thank god halftime was in less than five.

The Pirates were a somber bunch as they listened to Coach Wilson chew them a new one. Not pleasant, but they knew they deserved it and weren’t giving it all they had.

These nice bitch sessions were the only time Palmer was allowed in the boy’s locker room, and she wished that she wasn’t even allowed in then. She knew she was part of the problem, but hated to be yelled at. Positive reinforcement, big guy. Try it.

* * *

The team was pumped as they ran back out onto the field, ready to tear those friggin’ Trojans apart, regiment by regiment. Palmer, adrenaline pulsing through her body, took her place on the sideline, fearing her activity in this game was over. She watched, pacing as the game resumed.

Occasionally, she snuck a glance over her shoulder to see what the cheerleaders, well one in particular, were up to. Kent was jumping around, that short skirt of hers revealing far too much leg, though Palmer couldn’t say she minded a whole lot. Man, that Chad was a real fool, whatever he’d done for her to drop him.

Suddenly she realized that green eyes were on her, and she quickly looked away.

"Why the hell does she keep staring at me?" Kent muttered to herself. All too often when I turn her way, she’s already looking at me, she realized. But then again, that means I’m looking at her.

Shaking her head to clear her thoughts, she continued on with the cheer to try and motivate their boys and the crowd.

End of the third quarter was nearing, and the Pirates had moved up to even the score out a little: Pirates 14, Trojans 17, and about to score again.

Palmer watched as Kruger ran with the ball, headed toward the Trojan endzone, his long legs making him fly, three Pirates behind him useless as he crossed that line, bringing the crowd to its feet.

"Fuck!" Palmer yelled. She watched helplessly with the rest of the team.

"Singleton! Get in there!" Coach yelled out, causing Palmer to jump into action. She tugged her helmet onto her head, strapping the chinstrap as she jogged out onto the field.

Kent tried to keep her attention on the cheers, but she saw number 28 running out to play, and nearly held her breath, hoping that Palmer could do something to tie the game up or get the Pirates ahead.

The squad tried to keep their collective attention on the crowd and their cheer, but it wasn’t working.

Palmer ran into the huddle, listening as Dil hissed out orders, and her stomach sank as she was not mentioned.

Getting into formation, Palmer waited with baited breath for the ball to called into play, her hand beating against her bent thigh, waiting for the pitch, and when it was called, she took off like a speeding bullet down the field.

"The Pirates are on the twenty-two, and have seventy-eight long yards to go," the announcer boomed.

Kent watched as the quarterback tried pulling away from the opposing team that had gotten through the barriers, dodging sack attempts.

"It looks like Dil is in a pickle as Trojans crowd him from both sides as he desperately searches for an open friend to get him out of enemy territory, and he throws!"

"Shit!" Palmer saw the desperately thrown spiral sailing beneath the bright stadium lights, and headed right for her. Two Trojans had figured out what was going on, and were headed her way.

"The ball is headed to number 28, Palmer Singleton, who stands on the forty. She’s got it!"

"Run, Palmer!" Kent screamed, waving her pom poms wildly in the air as the crowd was on its feet, watching as the girl plowed down the field, the two Trojans gaining, and one throwing himself at her legs.

Palmer jumped up into the air, barely missing the guy’s helmet with her cleat as she jumped over him, then was off on a dead run once more.

The cheerleaders were going wild as they ran down the sidelines with Palmer, cheering her on to victory.

"Touchdown!" the announcer roared, his excited voice echoing throughout the stadium.

"Yeah!" Palmer threw the ball down, and threw her arms in the air. The extra point was kicked, and good as the Pirates moved up to 21 to the Trojan 23.

* * *

Palmer climbed onto the bus, a permanent smile on her face, remembering how she was carried around on the shoulders of her teammates after scoring two of the touchdowns the Pirates made that game. It seemed as if just maybe those boys were starting to accept her as more than just eye candy for the spectators.

Shaking the memory from her mind, she grabbed her novel out of her pack, and started to open it up when she felt someone sit in the seat next to her. Imagine her surprise when she saw that it was Chris King, a fellow teammate.

"Hi," he said, dimples showing as he grinned.

"Hello," Palmer said, unsure of what was going on, and looking at him expectantly.

"Nice game today." It was obvious he was nervous.

"Thanks. Um, you too." She was also nervous, not real used to having guys just plop down next to her and start chatting. She was a very attractive girl, but never paid any mind to the stares she got, so soon enough people figured out to just leave her be.

"Wait, what?" she asked, missing what he had said from being so involved in her own thoughts.

Kent stepped onto the bus, looking around. She had already told Di of her plans, so her friend had decided to sit with Grady. So, she was looking for her targeted seat companion, green eyes scanning back and forth as she moved her way back through the belly of the big yellow beast.

Then she spotted the brunette, and to her disappointment and surprise, Chris King was sitting next to her, and they were talking.

"Wait, what did you say?" Palmer asked, torn from her thoughts. "Homecoming?"

"Yeah." The football player grinned. "Wanna go with me?"

"Well," She sighed, not sure how to get out of this one. She’d never gone to a formal dance before, and wondered what it would be like. On the other hand, she had to go with this guy, who though was nice, was still a guy. And a dress! Palmer inwardly cringed, then looked at her teammate. Beseeching blue eyes stared back at her. She sighed. "Okay. Tell you what. I’ll go with you under one condition." She held up a finger, and he looked at her, hopeful.

"Okay . . ."

"We go as friends, and not as dates." Dark blonde brows drew.


Ah, the wonder of teenage boys.

"We just go as friends, Chris. That means we’re not dating, we don’t hold hands, and so on." The boy looked struck for a moment, then nodded.



"Um, do I still need to pick you up?" Palmer shook her head.

"Tell you what, I’ll meet you there. Okay?" She looked at him, hoping he understood what she was trying to tell him without hurting the poor guy’s feelings.

"Alright. Well, I guess we can get together sometime this week and arrange colors and stuff." The boy scooted out of the seat and made his unsteady way up the aisle as the bus drove down the road.

Kent glanced, not for the first time, over the edge of the book she was pretending to read, noticing that Chris was seated four seats ahead of Palmer with Angela, fellow cheerleader. Green eyes darted back to the lone figure in seat 22, dark head bowed as Palmer looked at something in her lap. She figured the girl was reading.

Slamming her book shut, Kent carefully made her way into the aisle, and on wobbly legs, made her way to Palmer’s seat.

"Can I sit?" she asked, looking down at the brunette, who, sure enough, had her nose buried in some paperback. The football player glanced up at her, and Kent was met with a smile, that to her surprise, she felt. Palmer was truly a beautiful girl with blue eyes, of which she had never seen the color before. Very clear, inviting eyes, yet intimidating when on the field.

"Sure," Palmer said quietly, moving her bag to the floor between her legs to make room for the blonde.

Kent sat, gripping the back of the green vinyl seat in front of them. She glanced over at Palmer, curious of the title of the book she read, but Palmer’s arm was covering the front. Her eyes moved up to meet curious blue.

"So I didn’t know you and Chris King were friends," she said casually.

"We’re not." The brunette shrugged.

"Oh." Kent looked at her hands, which played with the smooth, yet textured material under her fingers. "So, I wanted to apologize again for what an ass Di made out of herself today." She glanced back at the other girl. Palmer shrugged once again.

"No worries. It was an honest question."

"Maybe, but a totally rude and inappropriate one." This statement brought a slight pout to the blonde’s face, making Palmer smile. She studied the girl who sat next to her, incredibly nervous to have her sitting so close, yet she wouldn’t have it any other way. She studied the face of the angel who now was smiling at her. "I hit her again for you."

"Oh, why thank you. Saves me the job." Palmer smiled back, feeling completely inadequate next to Kent.

"So, can I ask you a question?"

"You can ask me anything." The blonde was taken aback by the openness that shone in the brunette’s face. She felt like she truly could ask her anything. Or tell her anything, for that matter. She cleared her thoughts.

"Why do you play?"

"Well," Palmer sighed, fingers beginning to play with the cover of the book that they were criss-crossed over. "It’s in my blood. My father played college football, and probably would have turned pro if he hadn’t turned his knee inside out." Kent grimaced.


"Yeah. My brothers played in school, and watching football at my house on the weekends is a hallowed event." Palmer smiled, a little sheepish, feeling silly now that she said it out loud. Kent smiled, those green eyes sparkling. That had been one of the things that Palmer had noticed about her when she first laid eyes on her.

"Di says that you’ve been helping the team out since last year," Kent stated matter-of-factly.

"Yup. I was the assistant manager. The whole time." She shyly glanced over at Kent. The girl was in deep thought, that little wrinkle prominent between her eyes when she pondered something. She could tell Kent didn’t remember her. "I was pretty quiet back then," she offered as an explanation. Kent looked at her.

"As opposed to now?" The blonde smiled. Palmer smiled back, but looked down.

"Yeah, well. Don’t have much to say, I guess." Palmer gazed out at the passing scenery for a moment, unable to look at the cheerleader. I don’t understand this, her mind erupted. How can one girl have so much power, yet not have a clue? Just the close proximity of Kent’s body to hers sent Palmer whirling. She had never been with a woman before, hell, she’d never been with a man. But she felt such a deep attraction for Kent. Sometimes it was hard to not reach out and touch her. Especially now.

"Are you going to homecoming?" Kent asked finally, something to cut into the sudden silence of her seat-mate.

"Huh?" Palmer was confused for a moment, then cleared her throat. "Oh." She smiled sheepishly. "I am now." She nodded toward Chris.

"Ohhhh," Kent drawled, understanding dawning. "Good. Maybe I’ll see you there."

"Are you going?" Palmer’s voice was filled with hope, then she mentally beat herself over the head for sounding so eager.

"I think so." The blonde chewed on her lower lip, that thought-winkle winking at her. "Di and Grady have asked me to go with them, and I just don’t want to feel like a third wheel, you know?" She glanced at the football player, who nodded. "But, I may." She shrugged.

"Well, um, hope to see you there."

* * *

"Where the hell did you get this atrocity?" Di asked, holding up a putrid color of pink lipstick. Kent glanced at her through her dresser mirror, seeing her friend sitting on her bed.

"Oh, my Aunt Melanie gave that to me for my sweet sixteen last spring, remember?" She turned to focus on her own reflection, combing out the wet strands of darkened hair from her recent shower.

"Oh, yeah. Man, that was a bad party." Di grimaced, tossing the lipstick back into the case that rested on her nightstand next to her white, canopy bed.

"Tell me about it."

"But, hey," Di brightened, flopping back into the soft mattress. "At least you got a car."

"True." Kent turned to her friend, and joined her on the bed. "What do you want to do today?"

"Don’t know. Oh, are we still going to go dress shopping?" Di asked, reaching over and running her fingers through the blonde strands on her friend’s head. Kent closed her eyes, a soft smile on her face at the pleasure of the strokes.

"You know Palmer’s going?" she asked.

"No shit?" Di asked. Kent nodded again. "How do you know?"

"I asked her."


"On the bus ride home last Friday. She’s going with Chris King."

"No way!"

"Way." Kent sat up, running her hands through her hair again to straighten it. "She’s really nice." She looked at her friend over her shoulder. Suddenly Kent’s face darkened, and a slow, measured smile spread across her face.

"Uh oh," Di muttered. "What’s going through that brain of yours?" Di also sat up.

"Let’s invite her."

"Shopping?" Kent nodded vigorously. "Oh, unh uh." Di shook her head. "Somehow I don’t see her as the shopping type."

"So? She needs to buy a dress, too, right?" Kent countered.

"Well, yeah, but-"

"But what?" Kent hopped off the bed, and began to riffle through a drawer in her nightstand. Di watched, knowing that once her little friend had her mind wrapped around an idea, it took the jaws of life to tear her away from it. "Aha!" Kent yelled in victory, holding up the student directory. She tossed it at Di.

"What am I supposed to do with this?" the cheerleader asked.

"Call her," Kent said.

"What! Why me?" She tossed the directory back at the blonde.

"DI! Come on. Please?" Kent looked at her with beseeching eyes, holding the blue book out to her friend.

"No!" Di said, pushing the directory aside. "You want her to come, you call her."

"Singleton Taxidermy," a deep voice said. Di covered the mouthpiece,

"Taxidermy?" she mouthed to Kent who shrugged. "Um, yeah, is Palmer there?"

"Sure. Can I tell her who’s calling?"

"This is Diane Almon. We go to school together."

"Hang on," Di could hear the phone being put down, and then silence. She tapped her fingers against her thigh to some unheard tune as she waited for the older girl to answer.

"Hello?" came the unsure voice.

"Hi, Palmer. This is Diane-"

"Di. You’re Kent’s friend." A statement.

"Yes. Exactly."

Palmer laced her fingers with the phone cord, totally nervous. If Di was calling, which was extraordinary in itself, then that meant that Kent probably wasn’t far away. She felt her palms begin to sweat.

"Well, Kent and I were planning to go out dress shopping today for Homecoming. Wanna go?"

"What does she say?" Kent hissed. Di shooed her question off, waiting for the girl’s response.

"Well, um," Palmer looked around the office of her father’s shop, seeing the creepy dead things hanging on the wall looking at her, almost as if they were waiting for her answer, too. "I’m working," she finally muttered.

"Yeah, but it’s Saturday. Can’t you even get away for a couple hours?"

Kent couldn’t help the feeling of disappointment as she heard Di trying to talk the enigmatic girl into joining them. She listened intently.

"Well," Palmer saw a truck pull up outside the shop, and a large, burly man jump out and start to untie some poor, didn’t-stand-a-chance Bambi out of the bed.


"Well, we’ve got a customer right now, and my dad will need my help." The bells above the door jingled as Burly Dude stepped inside.

"Can I get some help out here?" he asked around a mouth full of chew.

"Oh, I can hear you’re busy," Di said, hearing the man’s voice through the line. "Another time then."

"Okay. Um, thanks for asking."

Palmer hung up the phone, and hurried back to help her father and the man by opening doors for them to pass through. Luckily her father never asked her to do any of the actual gruesome work. There was no way she could stomach it. Though her father and all four brothers were avid hunters and fishermen, she had never felt the urge or desire to do either, and found the whole practice slightly distasteful. But, her father had managed to make a good living at it for she and him, so she couldn’t begrudge him his love.

Then her mind raced to the phone call she’d just received. Shopping with Kent and Di. Shopping with Kent. The whole idea of spending time with Kent scared her shitless. That little blonde made her so jumpy and crazy. She had no idea how to handle it, and hated herself for it.

Quiet by nature, Palmer was one to watch the world go by and study its occupants as it passed, trying to figure them out and learn, and she had always used her size and wall-flower abilities to protect herself from a world that didn’t even try to understand her.

But Kent. She turned the brunette’s world upside down and made her dizzy. She remembered the first time she’d ever seen the blonde.

It had been the last game of the season last year, and the Pirates had been up by three points. Palmer sat on the sidelines, waiting with glasses of Gatorade to give to the players when they rushed back in from the field. She had heard the cheerleaders behind her, but really thought nothing of it. Sure, cheerleaders were usually hot, but they were often cruel and just generally not pleasant, so she’d never given them a second thought.

"Hang on, Di!" a voice had called out, not far from where Palmer sat. She glanced over, her heart stopping in her chest.

The perky blonde had run over and grabbed a cup of Gatorade, downed it, her golden hair falling down her back as her head tilted back finish the drink, then crushed the paper cup in her hand, given Palmer a quick smile, and run off to join the squad. That had been the junior varsity cheerleaders, so she figured the girl was probably a freshman. But wow, she had been beautiful.

"Palmer! Help me out, here."

Palmer snapped back to reality, and hurried to help her father.

* * *

"Oh my god," Kent breathed as she flopped down across her bed, garment bag laying across her body.

"I second that." Di settled into the big, cushy chair in the corner, her bag hung on the back of Kent’s bedroom door. She looked at her friend. "So are you happy with it?"

"Yeah," Kent put her arms protectively around her dress. "I think it’ll be fun. Just please promise me you and Grady won’t spend half the night making out. I’ll be so grossed out and damaged for life." Di rolled her eyes, then sat up straight in the chair.

"So, were you serious about the movie later?" Kent nodded. Dark eyes looked into green. "Wanna try Palmer again?" She wiggled her brows as Kent became interested in the idea. With one wily grin, Di knew they were in agreement.

"Hello?" Bruce Singleton said into the receiver as he stirred the mac and cheese with a large, wooden spoon.

"Hi, is Palmer there?" The large man recognized the voice from earlier at the shop.

"Hold on a sec." He set the spoon down, and walked over to his daughter. "Two calls in one day, my my. Aren’t we hitting the big time." He handed the phone to Palmer. She glared at him and shoved his laughing form away.

"Hello?" she asked, continuing to flip through the channels on the television.

"Hey, Palmer. Thought we’d try again." Di’s cheery voice said in the receiver. Palmer sat up a bit straighter, turning the TV off.

"Oh, um, dress shopping at night now, huh?"

Di grinned. "Yeah, that’s exactly what we’re doing." She drawled. "No, we’re gonna go see a movie. I’m sure that’s a bit more to your liking."

Palmer smiled, looking down at her crossed ankles, stretched out in front of her on the floor.

"So? Up for it? Somehow I doubt you’re working at eight-fifteen at night."

"Yeah, not really. Um," The brunette glanced over at her father, who was adding some milk to the pan of mac and cheese, knowing that she really had no out except for just saying no. "Okay," she heard herself say, and squeezed her eyes shut as she pounded on her own thigh with the side of her fist.

Di gave Kent two thumbs up, making the blonde grin.

* * *

"She won’t come," Di said, sticking her hands deeper into the pockets of her coat, her words coming out in white puffs in the unusually cool late September evening air.

"Yes she will," Kent said, scanning the parking lot of the theatre again, having no clue what kind of car Palmer drove, if she even had one. She thought she did, as most juniors did, but still . . .

"What makes you so friggin’ sure? I’m freezing my tits off here." Di breathed into her hands.

"Then wait inside, you pansy." Kent glanced to her left, sensing someone was watching her, and there she saw the tall, dark figure of Palmer walking toward them. She wore jeans and a long coat, hands in the pockets of her pants. Kent smiled.

Palmer saw the two girls shivering together in front of the box office, and then her eyes settled on Kent, who looked her way and smiled. Palmer couldn’t keep the smile off her own face.

"Hey," she said shyly as she reached them, and Di brandished a wide smile on her.

"Hey, dead animal girl!" she exclaimed, getting smacked by Kent. Palmer was beginning to wonder if physical violence made up the majority of their friendship.

"Yeah, well, what can you do?" She smiled sheepishly.

"Come on, let’s go in." Kent led the way toward the lobby and the counter where they could buy tickets.

Popcorn and drinks in hand, the girls headed into the semi-dark theater, previews still flashing on the screen.

Kent sandwiched Palmer between her and Di, smiling at the older girl as she settled herself.

"So, have you seen this one before?" Di asked, taking Palmer’s attention from the blonde just as she was about to ask a question. Kent’s brows drew, and she popped a few pieces of popcorn into her mouth to wait her turn.

"So you like working for your dad?" she asked, once she had her chance. Palmer shrugged.

"It’s okay."

"Just okay?" Di asked, yet again turning Palmer’s attention toward her. "You see dead things all day, girl! How ‘okay’ can that be?"

"Well, when you grow up around it, you kind of get used to it, you know?"

Kent sat in her seat, adjusting her butt every now and then, feeling her ire raise. She wasn’t so irritated with Di, as she was just trying to get to know Palmer, too. But the thing was, the brunette would actually make conversation back with Di, and would only really just answer her questions.

She began to chew on her lip as she thought about this, watching the preview for the next Matrix movie. She was bothered by it, feeling left out. It had been her damn idea to include Palmer in their day, for crying out loud.

Crossing her arms over her chest, she glanced over at the two, listening to them talk about Cindy, Di’s older sister, who it sounded like Palmer had known last year.

She shifted again, this time bumping Palmer’s shoulder as she did. Blue eyes looked at her in question.

"Sorry." Kent tried to smile. She got a quick nod, then Palmer turned back to Di.

Damn it!

The movie started, and their conversation came to an end.

As the movie played, only half of Kent’s attention was on the show before her. She kept thinking about the girl sitting next to her, and how bothered she was. Why was the blonde being ignored? She had never encountered this kind of thing before. Granted, she may not be the most popular girl at school, which was fine with her, but still, she could make anyone like her. Anyone!

"Excuse me, Kent."

Ripped from her thoughts, the blonde looked up to see Palmer standing in front of her, trying to get by.

"Oh, sorry." She lifted her legs, tucking her knees against her chest.

"Gotta got to the bathroom," the older girl said in explanation to Kent’s questioning look. Kent smiled and nodded, watching her make her way down the row, then turned to Di, smacking her on the arm.

"Ow, what?" Di leaned across Palmer’s vacated chair.

"What is the matter with you?" Kent hissed.

"What do you mean? What did I do?"

"You keep talking to her, Di." Kent accused. Di, of course, looked at her like she’d lost what was left of her mind.

"You’re kidding me, right?"

"No." Kent pouted. "I don’t think she likes me."


"Cause! She answers all your questions, and actually talks to you, and then she gives me these one word, crappy answers. What’s up with that?"

"I don’t know! Why don’t you ask her?"

Palmer headed back into the theater, counting the rows as she walked toward Kent and Di. While in the bathroom, she had leaned against the wall, taking several deep breaths. Being so close to Kent in the dark was getting to her, and she had to leave or risk doing something really stupid.

Knowing she couldn’t stay there forever, Palmer finally got herself motivated and headed back to the movie.

Di quickly sat up straight, and Kent knew that Palmer was on her way back. Picking up her legs again, she looked up at the tall girl as she scooted passed her, carefully maneuvering herself into the seat given the small space she had.

Palmer looked over at Kent and smiled, seeing the blonde’s smile in return, then was faced with her profile.

She turned to watch the movie again, which just wasn’t keeping her attention. She glanced over and saw Kent’s hand laying on the armrest between them. She felt a little wave of nausea pass through her as she imagined quietly, accidentally setting her hand on top.

Shaking her head of those thoughts, she concentrated on the movie again.

The three managed to get through the line of people slowly working their way out of the theater.

"I have to pee." Di hurried to the bathroom, leaving Kent and Palmer standing near the door.

Kent chewed on her bottom lip, trying to decide what to do. She was bothered by the fact that Palmer hadn’t talked to her much before the movie. Was she just being stupid?

With a big sigh, she turned to the older girl. "Palmer?" Blue eyes looked down at her. "Why haven’t you been talking to me?" She decided that blunt would be better than beating around the bush.

Palmer looked at her for a second, surprised. She felt a wave of dread pass through her stomach, and felt bad. She hadn’t realized that the blonde had noticed.

"Well," she muttered, "I have been." Yeah, nice save, Tonto.

"Sort of. I mean," Kent looked down, burying her hands in her coat pockets. "Wow, I kind of feel dumb here, but it just seems like you were mainly talking to Di. I just wondered if maybe I had made you mad or something."

Ah, hell. Palmer felt like shit, but there was just no way she could be honest with Kent. Yeah, you’re right. I’ve been ignoring you ’cause I really, really like you, and want to kiss you . . . Whoa!! Down, girl.

"No, Kent. I’m not mad." She tried to smile reassuringly, but didn’t know how successful she was. "I guess," She shrugged, "You know, me and Di kind of have Cindy in common."

"Oh." Kent looked down, not truly convinced.

"Ready?" They both turned to see Di standing there, hand on her hip.

"Well, actually, um," Palmer glanced at Kent, then looked at Di. "I’m tired. Um, I should go."

"Oh," Kent said, bothered that Palmer wasn’t going to join them for pizza.

"Okay. Well, thanks for coming." Di said, though Kent could tell that she was just as confused.

"See ya." Palmer gave them a small wave, then headed toward her car. As she walked, she looked out over the night, and thought about the evening. She had made an ass out of herself to a degree, letting her feelings for Kent get in the way, and therefore confusing the poor girl. And now, she was doing what she usually did – run.

* * *

Kent laid in her bed, arms raised above her head, and stared up into the dark ceiling of her room.

She was bothered by the situation at the theater, and being bothered about that bothered her even more. Kent was a very friendly soul, and most anyone who came into contact with her was utterly charmed by her spirit. And for those who didn’t, she shrugged it off and boiled it down to their loss.

But with Palmer, it was different. She didn’t understand why this girl, who she had even defended against Di, seemed to like Di more. What did Di have that Kent didn’t? She didn’t buy the excuse about Di and Palmer having Cindy in common. Palmer didn’t hit Kent as the sort of girl who would even notice Cindy, especially since Di’s sister was a grade ahead of her.

They seemed to have a really good conversation on the bus last Friday, didn’t they? Kent had enjoyed it, and Palmer seemed to, as well. So why not this time? Again she just couldn’t fathom what had made Di more interesting than Kent.

With a frustrated growl, she turned over and closed her eyes.

* * *

Di and Kent were walking down the hall, Kent hugging her books to her chest as her mind was lost I thought. Vaguely, she could hear Di prattling on and on about something, but she had not heard a word. Suddenly, she turned to her friend.

"Do you think I’m interesting to talk to?" she asked, leaving Di staring at her like she’d lost her mind.

"Huh?" came the witty reply.

"Am I interesting? Funny? You know, worth talking to?" They reached Kent’s locker and she quickly twirled in the combo, the door swinging open.

"Yeah, I mean you haven’t put me to sleep yet."

"Gee thanks."

"Why?" Di drew her brows, never knowing her friend to be so self-conscious.

"No reason." Kent stuffed her books in, grabbing the texts out for her last two classes of the day. "Palmer just didn’t find me very amusing."

"You’re kidding me, right?" Di looked at her with a raised brow, hand on her hip. "You, you pest, have never had an insecure day in your life, and now this girl comes along, and you wonder about your likeability?" She rolled her eyes. "And I can’t believe you’re still peeved about that night at the movies. Get over it, girlfriend." She punched Kent playfully on the arm. "It doesn’t matter."

"I know," Kent mumbled, though she didn’t know.

"Honey, this is like the third time this week alone you’ve asked me what I thought about your joke-telling abilities. What’s going on?" Di was truly concerned about her friend, and did not understand what the deal was. Something was going on with her friend, and she really wished she could do something about it.

"Nothing," Kent sighed, slamming her locker shut. "Come on, let’s get to class."

Palmer slid further back behind the drinking fountain, seeing Kent enter her French class. She wanted so badly to talk to her, especially now since she had gotten a better feel for her as a person from their talk on the bus. They had had a good conversation, and the brunette had enjoyed it immensely.

As she looked at the girl walking down the hall just moments before, she saw something in those green eyes that looked bothered, though she had no idea what it could be. For now, she had a French class to get to.

Kent was already seated when Palmer entered the class room, which was mostly full. She had to pass the blonde to get to her desk further back in the same row. Kent was talking to Felicity. Palmer stopped for a moment when she saw the cheerleaders, trying to decide if she wanted to just take the long way to her desk, or risk interrupting their conversation.

With a sigh, she headed toward them.

"Excuse me, ladies," she said quietly, then looked down at Kent. "Hi."

"Hi." Kent responded, looking up at her for a moment, then turning back to her friend. Palmer quickly slid into her seat, and opened her book, keeping her eyes away from the back of the blonde’s head.

Kent continued speaking to Felicity about the upcoming football game, but her mind was solely on the brunette who had just walked between she and her friend. She heard as the taller girl dug something out of her backpack, probably her book, she reasoned. Palmer had said hi, and that’s got to mean something. Right?

* * *

Di walked down the halls of her high school, a singular mission in mind. She was looking for Palmer Singleton.

Di was sick and tired of Kent’s moping, and she wanted some answers.

* * *

"What the hell did you do to my best friend!"

Palmer looked down at the fiery brunette that had just poked her in the chest.

"What?" she asked, her back coming into contact with the cold, cinderblock wall behind her.

"I said-"

"I heard what you said, but what do you mean?" Wide blue eyes studied Di, brows raised in confusion and surprise.

"You’ve turned my friend into a raving lunatic, Palmer!"

"Ow!" Palmer put her hand on her arm. "I don’t understand." Di growled in exasperation.

"Palmer, since we all went to the movies, and you," POKE, "didn’t," POKE, "talk to her! Do you know what I have to put up with? Daily?!" Palmer shook her dark head. "She’s insecure. She thinks that her ‘charm’ machine is broken. You did this, now you fix it."

"But, but, I didn’t do anything, Di. What am I supposed to do?" Kent’s friend calmed herself down, and took a step back, arms crossed over her chest. She studied Palmer, sizing her up.

"Talk to her, Palmer. She thinks that you were ignoring her at the theater," Di said simply. "Were you ignoring her?"

Palmer looked down, taking a deep breath, and shook her head.

"No, not really," Palmer hedged. Di narrowed her eyes, then smiled.

"Fix it," she said, and walked away. Palmer watched her go, then banged her head against the wall behind her.

* * *

Kent leaned down, tightening the laces on her shoes as she waited for the rest of the squad to show up to the field. Suddenly a shadow fell over her, and she slowly looked up, and up, and finally into blue eyes.

"Hi," Palmer said quietly.

"Hey," Kent pulled the laces tight, and stood with a smile. "How are you, Palmer?"

"I’m good. You?"

Kent nodded, straightening the threads of her pom poms. "Good. Just getting ready for practice, you know."

"Yeah. Me, too. Um, how are you doing with the French vocab?" Palmer shifted her helmet to the other hand.

"Okay." Kent cocked her head to the side in thought. "Well, sort of." She grinned.

"Yeah, it kind of sucks." Palmer looked down, kicking at a rock with the toe of her cleat.

"Come on, girls!" Angela called out as the rest of the squad ran out of the locker room. Kent glanced over her shoulder, then back at Palmer with an apologetic smile.

"Well, better go."

"See ya," Palmer said with a small smile, and watched as Kent ran toward the other girls, the team quickly heading toward the field.

* * *

The week was moving along quickly, and homecoming was just a week away.

Palmer stared at her dress, still in its garment bag hanging on the back of the door, and sat on her bed. She sighed, dreading the weekend, though her father was thrilled, albeit confused. He knew of her attraction to girls, and one girl in particular. He had asked why she wasn’t taking Kent to the dance.

"Are you nuts?!" she had yelled. "They’d have us arrested."

Homecoming was coming Saturday night, and the homecoming game was Friday night.

Kent and Di were dressing for cheerleading practice. The squad had a special routine to work on.

"So she talked to me," Kent said, glancing over at her friend as she popped the cap off of her deodorant and lifted her arm.

"Who?" Di asked, shoving her clothes from that day into her gym lockers as she changed into her shorts for practice.

"Palmer. She was nice, but still seemed spooked." Blonde brows drew. "I wonder why that is."

"Maybe she likes you." Di grinned.

"Well, maybe, but-"

"No, I mean likes you. You’ve heard the rumors." She slammed her locker shut, and reached for the deodorant. Kent looked at her friend, a hand on her hip.

"What do you mean?"

"I mean as in like girlfriend, boyfriend stuff. I’ve heard lots of rumors."

"Oh, Di. Tell me you don’t listen to all that shit." Even as she said it, the blonde couldn’t help but have the same thoughts roam through her mind, then quickly dismissed them. "She’s probably just shy."

"Yeah, that must be it." Di snickered. Recognizing the sarcasm in her friend’s voice, Kent looked at her.

"You’re serious?"


Kent turned back to her own locker, chewing on her bottom lip.

"What if she is, Di?" she asked, slamming the metal door shut. Di shrugged, the girls walking out toward the field.

"So what? She’s hot. It’s flattering, if nothing else."

* * *

Palmer, about to run out onto the field, stopped, feeling as though she were being watched. She looked over her shoulder and saw a pair of green eyes looking at her from the stands. Kent smiled when she realized she had been spotted, and gave the brunette a small wave. Receiving both in return, she turned back to her books.

The cheerleader thought back to her friend’s words. Maybe she was actually being watched by Palmer – DI was going start keeping a lookout – and maybe the football player liked her. Was Palmer that way? She had met girls who were into girls before, and that didn’t bother her. It wasn’t really her thing, though she had always noticed a beautiful girl or woman, admiring their shape or hair, or whatever.

But she could never do that sort of thing.

Palmer ran out onto the field for the scrimmage and Kent watched her long, strong body eating up the grass as she reached her team. Long, dark hair was bound up to stay out of her face. Somehow Palmer looked like she belonged out there, like she was indeed ‘one of the boys.’ From what the blond had heard, she was basically accepted as such now, and respected for her talent.

"Interesting," she murmured, and turned to her homework yet again.

* * *

"Singleton, get out there!" Coach Wilson yelled, waving his arm emphatically toward the field. It was the homecoming game, and the Pirates were actually holding their own, 17 to 16. If Grady hadn’t been able to get that touchback, they’d be further behind. As it was now, only one point and they’d be tied.

"Go, Pirates!" Kent yelled, waving her pom poms through the night air, a brisk breeze rushing up under the short cheerleading skirt, and making her shiver. A lot of the girls were trying to jump around as much as possible to stay warm.

Palmer took off like a sprinter when the ball was hiked, and she turned to look over her shoulder, seeing three Maroons coming her way.

"Throw it, Dil!" she yelled, willing the quarterback to get that ball in her hands so she could get rid of these bozos and score.

Finally the ball was shot into the sky, spinning and charging like a rocket, right into Palmer’s hands.

Just as she had the ball tucked safely against her body, she felt a pair of hands on her arm, and then another grabbing her legs. She was going down.

The crowd moaned their displeasure when Palmer was knocked to the ground by three big boys from Dallas.

"Oh no," Kent breathed. As the players stood, Palmer stayed on the field, flat on her back, the ball still safely clutched to her side. The whistle foretold the play’s death, and finally, shaking her head to clear her dazed mind, Palmer sat up.

"Yes!" a coach and a cheerleader yelled out as number 28 got to shaky legs, and tossed the ball to the ref, jogging over to the sidelines.

"You okay?" Coach asked, taking her helmet off.

"I’ll live."

"Let me see your eyes." Checking for concussion, Coach Wilson pulled her out of the play, soon to return to score three times.

* * *

The girls were celebrating the Pirate victory on the field, but Kent and Di decided to beat the crowd and change.

"Oh my god, what a game. Damn, I’ve never seen them play like that before!" Di exclaimed, proud of her boyfriend of nine months.

"No kidding." Kent stopped when they got into the locker room, hearing the showers. "Damn. I guess someone had the same idea we did." She looked to her friend to see that Di had the Devil living in her eyes. "What?" Kent asked, eager to be in on whatever plan the darker girl had.

"I bet that’s Palmer in there." She grinned.

"You think?"

"Well, duh! It’s not like she can shower in the boy’s locker room."

"I wonder." Kent started to stealthily make her way over, then stopped. "I can’t." she said, her hand going to her mouth to hide her smile.

"Come on. Let’s see what she’s got," Di whispered. Kent shook her head vigorously.

"I can’t. I’d feel too bad."

"I don’t." Di pressed herself to the wall, and slowly made her way to the opening of the communal showers, peeking her head around.

Kent stood back, watching, her hand still over her mouth. She found herself inching forward, curious, when Di hustled back to the lockers.

Kent tried not to snicker as the water was cut off, and joined Di.

"What did you see?" she hissed.

"She’s fucking gorgeous!" Di exclaimed in a whisper. She put her hands to her own breasts, making an enlargement motion, then pointing toward the shower. Kent giggled and smacked her friend.

"I can’t believe you did that."

"Why not?" Both girls began to undress.

Palmer moaned as the towel touched her overheated body, glad to be clean, yet beginning to hurt as her injuries started to sing. Wrapping the soft fabric around her body, she headed toward the locker room to get her clothes.

Starting to whistle as she left the hot, steamy shower area, she stopped dead.

Kent looked up to see Palmer standing there with a towel wrapped around her body, one hand holding the short material closed, but not able to cover all. She saw the girl’s beautiful legs and thighs peeking out of the slit the towel made. Her well-toned shoulders still glistened from her shower, and near black hair was slicked back to reveal a beautiful, angular face with bright blue eyes looking back at her.

Palmer nearly dropped her towel when she saw Kent standing in front of her locker in bra and panties. The cheerleader’s body was better than she could have ever imagined in the next to nothing they wore in the squad. Beautifully sculpted abs, well-muscled thighs, and strong yet petite shoulders.

Palmer swallowed and hurried to the other side of the locker room to dress.

Kent looked away, feeling guilty for looking at the brunette, yet her eyes had been pinned to that tall, powerful body. She kept her eyes in her open locker as she dressed.

* * *

Palmer stepped out of her room, heading up the stairs, careful to not trip. She was not accustomed to wearing high heels, but knew that tonight it was basically mandatory.

She had tried to talk her father into loaning her one of his suits, but not surprising, he had begged her to wear a dress, complaining that he never got see his only daughter looking like a girl. So, she had relented.

"Dad, what did you do with my dress watch?" she asked as she pushed gold hoop earrings through nearly closed holes.

"It’s up here . . ."

Palmer looked up when her father’s voice trailed off, not finishing the sentence. Blue eyes, just like her own, were open wide, and a soft smile graced his rugged features.

"Oh, honey," he breathed, stepping toward her, and taking her hands in his, stretching her arms out to the side to take her all in.

"What do you think?" Palmer asked, suddenly, and for the first time shy around her father. He met her eyes and she noticed there were unshed tears in his.

"You’re stunning, Palmer. Just like your mama." He couldn’t have been prouder if she had just told him he’d be a grandfather twice over by noon tomorrow.

"Thank you." She looked down, sheepish, then saw the watch he was holding out to her. She reached for it, but he took her wrist in his hand and clipped the delicate piece on himself.

"You knock ’em dead tonight, honey. And don’t take no gruff from anyone." He smiled at her and kissed her on her cheek, careful not to smudge the light bit of make-up she wore.

Kent climbed into the limo where Di and Grady already waited.

"Aw, you guys looks so cute." She smiled, seeing the happy couple already cuddling.

"You look beautiful, Kent," Grady said shyly. The blonde smiled and looked down.

"Thanks, Grady," she said, a little sheepish. "You fill out that tux pretty good."

* * *

The school gym was festively decorated for the dance, with a small band set up on a portable stage, and table after table of delectable snacks to nibble on lining one wall.

By the time Palmer arrived, most of the party-goers were already there, including her date. Chris, who looked very handsome in his black tux with blue vest, the same color as her dress, hurried over to her, his eyes huge.

"Wow," he said, taking her in, one hand buried deep inside his pocket.

"Thanks," she said, not sure what she was supposed to say. "You look really nice, too." She managed a smile.

"Um, we’re over here." The boy led her over to a table with a few other players and their dates. As she followed him, her eyes were wandering around the room. She was looking for someone.

Kent was chatting with Di and Grady at the table they’d gotten by the bandstand, when suddenly there were quiet murmurs filling the room. She lifted her head and looked for the reason.

It didn’t take long to find it.

Palmer stood in the doorway of the gym, her dress reaching to the floor, the color and electric blue making her eyes glow. The slit up the side was modest, ending just above the knee. The dress was very form-fitting, but elegant. The halter top left her shoulders wide open, the smooth, tanned skin shining from the lights above. Her hair was piled up on top of her head, gold hoop earrings and a simple dress watch her only jewelry. It looked as though she wore a little make-up, but very subtle.

"Damn," Grady breathed.

"No kidding," Di agreed. Kent stayed silent as she watched to see what Palmer would do. Every eye in the room was on her to see what she’d do. She was absolutely stunning. The only thing marring true perfection were the smattering of bruises across her nearly bare back from the game the previous night.

As Palmer made her way to the table where four sets of eyes were on her, she found a pair of green eyes, wide with surprise. Kent sat with Di and Grady, her black dress dipping teasingly low in front, the spaghetti straps clinging to her shoulders. The bodice was fitted, as she supposed the rest of the dress was, but couldn’t tell since she was seated. Smoky eye make-up gave the blonde a dark, almost dangerous, and certainly sexy, look.

* * *

Grady took turns dancing with both his ‘dates.’ He was having a ball, two of the three most beautiful women in the room at his dancing beck and call. Yup, a fella couldn’t have it better.

Palmer danced with Chris, enjoying herself more than she thought she would, but still thinking she would rather be anywhere else. After awhile, however, she needed some space, and went outside to get some air. Chris began dancing with other partners with Palmer’s complete blessing.

Kent sat in a chair, Di and Grady gazing lovingly into each other’s eyes as they danced to a slow song. As she watched them, she felt sad, wanting so badly to have that, too. She wanted to know how it felt to absolutely adore someone, and be adored in return. In short, she wanted to be in love.

Palmer came back in and headed to the food table, deciding to at least get fed before she ditched the place. As she pieced together salami, ham and turkey with cheddar cubes onto crackers, she felt a presence beside her. Looking over, she found Kent also making herself a snack.

"Hi," the blonde said, quickly filling a small plate with the little cracker sandwiches.

"Hey." Palmer tried to smile, but all her courage totally left her.

"You look amazing." Kent glanced shyly over at the older girl. "I think most of the girls in here tonight wanted to lynch you for taking their boyfriends away."

Palmer smiled at this. "They can keep them," she said quietly. Kent nodded, adding some sticks of celery to her plate. "And, um," Palmer looked at the smaller woman. "You look really nice, too."

"Thank you." Kent gave her a genuine smile, liking the compliment very much. "Are you having fun? I see your date has become the hero to all the dateless."

They both glanced out at the dance floor to see Chris dancing with a redhead whose name Palmer thought was Katie.

"Guess so. I have no doubt they’ll all be better dates than I am." She smiled shyly. "Not very good at this stuff."

"Yeah, I can understand that. Formal dances are an art form." Kent nibbled on one of her masterpieces. "So, how long are you planning to stay?"

Palmer swallowed, feeling extremely vulnerable as she talked to this beauty with barely any clothing on compared to her normal fare. She hated that feeling, which only added to her normal nervousness around the blonde.

"I’m not sure. Probably not much longer." She stuck a cheese cube into her mouth just for something to do, though her stomach was churning on high.

"Oh." Kent scooped a bit of the ranch dressing onto her plate for the newly acquired baby carrots. "Want some company?"


Blue eyes shot up to look at the blonde, not sure what to say. Finally managing, "Um, sure."

Kent looked into the brunette’s face, and her shoulders fell slightly. The girl looked, what was it? Irritated? Annoyed? Certainly not interested.

"Oh, hey, no problem." She smiled brightly, though she didn’t feel an ounce of it. "Maybe next time." She set her plate down on the table. "Have a good night." And walked away.

Palmer watched her go, utterly confused. What just happened? I said yes, and she walked away?

Kent felt her throat tighten as unshed tears rose. She made her way over to Di and Grady on the dance floor. She hopped around them as they twirled until she got to Di.

"I’m heading home," she yelled over the music. Di nodded, then buried her face in Grady’s neck.

She hurried out to the lobby of the school and picked up the pay phone. Ride granted from her father, Kent waited, bringing a hand up to swipe at an errant tear.

I don’t understand it! I’ve tried to be so nice to her and get her involved, but she just seems to reject me at every turn.

Kent grabbed a Kleenex out of her clutch, and wiped her nose. She was so confused. Why was she so bothered? Palmer was just one person, and what she thought didn’t really matter.

But it still hurt.

* * *

Palmer leaned against the wall, waiting for her math teacher to come and open the classroom door after the lunch period. She noticed that Kent and Di were headed her way, shuffling through the idled parties of kids chatting and yelling, unwinding after having full bellies. She looked into Kent’s eyes, hoping to get the girl’s attention, though not entirely sure what she’d do with it.

The blonde did indeed look at her, but Palmer was shocked when she saw those beautiful green eyes. The light that usually burned so brightly behind them was gone. She looked withdrawn and . . . sad?

The brunette smiled at her as she passed, and Kent gave her the tiniest of acknowledgement, but mainly just walked on by.

"What the hell is going on with you two?" Di asked as they passed the football player.

"Nothing," Kent muttered.

"Bullshit. What’s up?" Di looked down at her friend, concerned. Ever since homecoming two weeks ago, she seemed so sad, almost angry or hurt.

"Just more of the same, Di. More of the same." Kent headed into psychology.

* * *

Palmer looked down at her handiwork, re-reading the black letters on the page, nodding. This would be good. She knew she could do it, and knew that there would be nothing to lose.

* * *

Kent was laughing with her friend Karen as they headed out of biology.

"See you later, Kar," she said, hurrying to her locker. She quickly put in the combination and opened the metal door, a small, folded piece of paper falling onto the floor. She picked it up and looked at it.

Her name and a drawn smiley face met her inspection. Curious, knowing it wasn’t either hers or Di’s handwriting, she unfolded it to see the small note:

I’ve been watching you. I like what I see.

Brows raised in surprise, she looked down the hall both ways to see, well, she wasn’t sure what she was looking for.

"Odd," she said, tucking the slip of paper into her jean’s pocket.

* * *

Palmer headed toward the field, the cheerleader’s practice complete, and the girls heading back into the locker room. As the first play in the scrimmage began, she looked toward the bleachers, saddened when she didn’t see the usual audience of one sitting there doing her homework.

* * *

A week later, Kent was again gathering her books from her locker when she saw something white clinging to the slotted vent in the locker door. She grabbed it, and saw that it was a folded piece of paper.

For Kent

Unfolding it, the same handwriting from the first note, she read:

Eyes of the most beautiful emerald; hair the color of the shining sun; a heart as big as the deepest ocean.

She re-read the words, a smile coming to her face, despite feeling slightly creeped out.

Deciding to show Di, seeing if the other girl was involved somehow, she pocketed the paper.

"Not a clue," Di said, reading the note for the third time. "And you’ve already received two?" She glanced over at Kent, who was working on her French vocab.

"Yup. That’s number two in your hand."

"Wow. Weird." The darker girl grinned. "Honey, me thinks you got yourself a secret admirer."

"No I don’t." Kent nabbed the note from Di’s fingers. "It’s probably just someone playing a stupid joke. Probably Chad. Jerk," she muttered as she turned back to her homework.

* * *

Kent sat her desk, her open math book waiting for a disinterested student. The blonde cheerleader was thinking, the two notes she’d received tacked onto the bulletin board on the wall. She glanced up at them, re-reading the words and smiling, though she still had no clue who had given them to her.

The smile faded quickly, thoughts of Palmer entering her mind. She hadn’t seen much of the brunette, having stopped attending the Pirate scrimmages. She felt hurt and rejected by the taller, older girl, and was still bothered. She was bothered by Palmer’s actions toward her, and the events of homecoming. She hadn’t sought out the girl to find out what was wrong, which was something the blonde would normally have no problem doing. She was a curious soul who would stop at nothing to try and understand her world.

But somehow it just seemed different. She didn’t feel she could walk up to Palmer and demand answers. So, she’d just stew in her silence, and get over it.


* * *

Palmer reached up to stack her notebook on top of her text on the top shelf of her locker, then grabbed her French book from the bottom. Blue eyes glanced over to the inside wall of the metal locker, and a small smile played across her lips. There, a black and white of the cheerleading squad was taped, the focus of her attention sitting in the first row, legs crossed, and a bright smile plastered across that angelic face.

Palmer sighed, saddened that she couldn’t let this damn crush go, but knowing that soon enough she’d be over it. Somehow she’d let Kent know.

Most of all, though, she was saddened every time she saw Kent. The blonde seemed so sad, lately. Her usually very alive, full of spunk, green eyes were darker, somehow. Almost sullen, and certainly not filled with their usual spark.

* * *

Kent sighed, tired from a long day of classes. She still had cheerleading practice, which she was tempted to skip, but when she opened her locker, again, a folded piece pf paper fell at her feet.

Knowing what it was, she smiled as she bent down to pick it up, wondering what beautiful words the author would have for her. She needed a pick up, and no matter who was behind the notes, they still made her feel special.

Kent: I miss the sparkle in your eyes. Don’t be sad.

The blonde looked at the words, and the hair on the back of her neck stood on end, but not in fear. She raised her head, looking around the hallways of her school for any sort of indication from any one person. The flick of an eye, the look of interest, something.


"Damn," she breathed, looking around once more, then turning back to her locker, folding the note, and putting it in her pocket.

* * *

"I want to know who the hell is doing this!" the blonde ranted, Di watching her pace back and forth in front of her bed, chewing on a nail. "There’s got to be an explanation for it."

Di watched as the blonde went back and forth, with just her eyes, feeling like any moment Andre Agassi would break though the door and join the blonde in play.

"One note was fine, kind of interesting, could have been a mistaken identity thing. Alright, so then a second, still kind of cool, but more than likely the right person by then. So, why won’t they show themselves to me?" She was ticking her ideas off on her fingers. "They’re afraid? They’re hideous? They’re psycho and are planning to kidnap and rape me? Not likely." She sighed, not seeing her friend’s expressive features. If she had, she’d see that Di thought she was nuts.

* * *

Palmer hurried down the hall, not wanting to chance being seen. Today was the day, and she could not chance being found out early. Heading outside, she skipped her last class, and sought the football field.

* * *

Kent scrambled to empty her backpack, excited that this was her last day until next Monday. This was Thanksgiving week, and it couldn’t start any faster.

"Hang on, Di!" she called out, dropping her bag in her excitement. She knelt on the tiled floor to gather all the scattered papers when she saw familiar handwriting. She stopped, eyes focusing in on the folded paper, reached out to grab it with unsteady fingers, and slowly unfolded it.

Kent, if you’d like to say hi, meet me behind the bleachers.

The blonde stared, struck dumb.

"Yo, I’ve been calling you for like five minutes."

Kent’s head whipped around to see Di looking at her, replete with impatient hand on her hip.

"Oh, uh," She looked back down at the note, then at her friend. "Di, I’m going to walk."

"What? Why? What’s the matter? You look like you’ve just seen a ghost." Dark brows drew.

"No, I’m fine. Really, I just want to walk." Di studied her for a moment, then shrugged.

"Alright. See you tomorrow."

"Kay. Bye."

Kent watched her friend leave and the halls clear, feeling the note in her hand like it was a lead weight.

* * *

The sun was bright, even though fall was heavily upon them, and high in the sky, the clouds puffy bits of cotton scattered, and a light breeze.

Kent pulled her light zipper jacket slightly closer to her body as she neared the bleachers. She felt vulnerable out there all alone, going to face what, she had no idea.

Stomach in knots, the blonde whipped her hair back over her shoulder and entered the shade from the large seating structure, sunlight shining through from the slats between. Looking around, she saw nothing, then color caught her eye on one of the metal structural crossbeams. She walked over to it and realized it was a single pink rose.

Smiling, she picked it up, brought it to her nose and inhaled, taking in the sweet scent, eyes closed as it filled her lungs.

Suddenly Kent felt that she wasn’t alone anymore. Eyes slowly opening, she turned around to see a figure standing in the shadows. She studied the person, trying to take in the build. Somehow she felt she knew the person, something familiar about them.

Green eyes widening as realization dawned on her.


"Hey," came the low, soft response.

"What are you . . ." Kent stopped herself, the puzzle clicking into place. "It was you." Palmer nodded, her heart in her throat. She kept a distance away from the cheerleader, not feeling comfortable enough to get close. She had no idea how the younger girl would react to this turn of events.


Kent looked down at the rose in her hand, seeing the vibrant pink color, and trying to get her thoughts clear in her mind. She was so confused. A girl. Palmer. That was her admirer? But,

Blonde brows drew.

"I thought you didn’t like me?" she said, though realized how redundant that statement was at this point.

"Guess not," Palmer said softly, a small smile on her face.

Kent’s heart was pounding in her chest as all this was sinking in. Sudden realization dawned on her of what Palmer was saying. She looked into guarded blue eyes.

"Palmer, um, I’m not, well," She held up the rose. "I’m not really into this." She looked down, not wanting to hurt the older girl. "Girls, I mean."

Palmer felt her heart sink, though she knew it was stupid. She had really gotten no indication from Kent that the blonde was, but she had hoped all the same. She nodded, keeping her face clear of any expression.

"That’s cool," she said, sticking her hands in her back pockets. "I guess I just wanted you to know." She smiled. "I do like you." She began to back away. "Um, I better go. I’ve got to work."

"Oh. Okay." Kent looked at her, not wanting her to go, but not entirely sure what to say, either. "Um, have a nice holiday."

"Yeah. You, too." Palmer took one last look at the blonde, the last she’d see for a few days, and probably the last time Kent would ever speak to her. "Bye."

Kent watched as the football player made a quick retreat, headed toward the parking lot. She watched until she was out of sight, and then looked down again at the rose in her fingers, smelling it once more.

Though it wasn’t exactly what she had thought, for some reason she couldn’t really say she was disappointed, either.

* * *

Palmer sat on the roof of her house, hand on the side of the chimney. She brought her legs up, wrapping her arms around her shins, and laying her chin on her knees as she looked out into the night.

She thought back on her day, especially the end of it. She had hidden under the bleachers in the shadows to see if Kent would even show up. She didn’t want to be seen there, and then feel even more like a fool if Kent saw her and ran the opposite direction.

She closed her eyes, her heart beginning to ache yet again. She willed it to stop, but it didn’t listen. Why did she set herself up for this kind of let down? It wasn’t Kent’s fault for being so beautiful and cute and fun and with a great body and nice and . . .

Palmer sighed.

"Hey, kiddo. That bad?"

The brunette glanced over the side of the house to see her father staring up at her, hands on his hips. She nodded.

"Wanna talk?" She shook her head. "Okay. Well, if you want, dinner’s ready." Mr. Singleton went back inside, hating it when his daughter was hurting, but knowing that she was 17, and would have to go through a lot more hurts before life was over, or before she was even his age.

* * *

Kent laid in the darkness of her bedroom, the twin of the pillow she rested her head on tucked against her body, held close as she stared into the darkness, illuminated once in awhile by the lights of a passing car.

It was the night on the eve of her Thanksgiving vacation, yet she couldn’t seem to be happy. She saw the events of the afternoon over and over again.

Palmer stepping out of the shadows, the rose in Kent’s hand, butterflies in her stomach. How had she felt upon seeing Palmer standing there? Surprised? Well, if you’re into understatements. But, what did she feel?

She sighed, turning over onto her side, spying the small vase, filled with water and a single pink rose, dark gray in the moonlight. She reached a hand out, feeling the silkiness of the petals, the soft scent wafting under her nose on a current now and then. She figured she’d probably hurt Palmer’s feelings.

"She does like me." She snorted at the irony. No, Palmer didn’t like her, she liked her. Di had been right when she said that maybe Palmer liked her in that way, and that maybe all the rumors about Palmer were true.

Green eyes bolted wide open. So, did that mean that Palmer was gay? Does she like all girls like that? Should she be honored? Grossed out? Flattered?

She had yet to talk to Di about it; too stunned by time she got home. She had grabbed the vase and disappeared into her room, not even coming up to make herself something for dinner. Her parents had been with the Smiths again, and had taken her little sister with them.

"What do I do now?"

* * *

"What?" Di sat her glass of juice down so hard the liquid slopped out and began to spread as it seeped through the tablecloth. She looked down at it. "Shit. Give me a towel, will ya?" Kent threw her a dishrag and then turned back to cleaning the kitchen.

"Yup," the blonde said, scrubbing ruthlessly at a shoe mark on the Mexican tile with her Swiffer mop. Di whistled through her teeth as she tossed the orange-stained towel into the sink.

"Damn. Girl’s got balls."

"Something like that." Kent removed the throw-away cleaning pad and hung the mop up in the closet with the rest of the cleaning supplies.

"What are you going to do?" Di folded the tablecloth up into a bundle and took it to the washroom next to the garage.

"I don’t know." Kent chewed on her bottom lip, staring at the shining floor.

"What do you want to do?" Di stood next to her friend, a hand on the blonde’s shoulder. Green eyes looked up into brown.

"What do I do? Do you think it’s weird? Or makes me weird that some girl has a crush on me?" Di sighed as she thought, then shook her head.

"Not really. In this day and age, hell, it’s everywhere. High school isn’t so exciting. I mean, hell, I kind of wish it were me." She gave her friend an evil grin.

"Really?" Kent brightened.

"Hell yeah! Girl, she’s hot, she’s nice, got a nice body . . ." She winked at Kent, making the blonde blush.

"Oh my god," she muttered, burying her face in her hands. "You’ve seen the body of the girl who has a crush on me." Di burst into a fit of hysterics, making the cheerleader blush and cringe even more.

"Oh, too funny!" She took Kent into a warm hug, the smaller girl leaning into the embrace, needing to feel something familiar. It had been two days, Thanksgiving was tomorrow, and she was still at a loss.

"What do I do?" came the muffled question, almost lost in Di’s warm neck.

"Well, ain’t that a question?"

* * *

Palmer continued to sweep the back of her father’s work room at the taxidermy shop when the phone rang.

"Singleton Taxidermy," she said into the receiver, irritated at being interrupted.

"Why are you still there?" her father asked on the other end, the far away, almost tunnel connection of his cell phone irritating her all the more.

"I can’t understand you," she said, dark brows drawn.

"I said," he said louder, which of course didn’t make the connection any better, "Why are you still there?"

"I have work to do," she said, tapping impatient fingers on the broom handle.

"Did you get the turkey in the hot water, yet?"

"Yes. It’s there now. In fact, I was just about to go home and re-heat the water," she yelled across the fading connection. Her father must be going through Rechter Tunnel. She waited, counting to ten, then the connection cleared.

"Okay, good. Allen is bringing a date, so I have to pick up some more stuff. Probably just one more pie."

"Kay. Who’s this one?" She headed over to her dirt pile, glad her father had finally invested in a cordless phone for the shop. She bent down, scooping her mess into the green, plastic dustpan, and headed to the trash.

"Who knows. I think her name’s Carrie or something. Anyway, be home soon. You get home, too. I don’t think the shop needs any more cleaning."

Palmer looked around guiltily, knowing that she was shirking her duties for tomorrow’s feast.

"Okay." She sighed, and pressed the OFF button. She had been at the shop for the past three hours to shirk something, but not what her father thought it was. She was trying to stay busy, even if it meant cleaning this God forsaken place. She could still smell the remnants of embalming fluids and blood mixed with cleaning products. Suddenly needing a reprieve, she grabbed her jacket and keys and headed out.

Palmer made it home in record time, wanting to try and help her father as much as possible. It wasn’t that they had so many coming tomorrow, it was just that the amount could out-eat a small army.

The twenty-seven pound bird had barely fit in the sink, and she had had a mess to clean us as she’d miscalculated the water necessary for the turkey, and half of it had landed on her sock-covered feet.

The turkey would join a huge Butterball ham, and all the fixing on the side. Her mouth watered as she pictured the mountain of food her father, brothers, and their girlfriends or wives would feast upon. Yeah, life was good.

Sort of.


She had done pretty good about keeping the small blonde out of her thoughts today. Of course, cleaning the entire house and then the shop three times over had certainly helped. Damn it all for doing her homework the day school ended. Now she was left with nothing to keep her mind occupied and off the small blonde.

She sighed as she wondered what school would hold in store for her Monday. She knew she really had nothing to lose; after a year-and-a-half she was out of here anyway, and it wasn’t like she had this huge group of friends that might shun her if word got out. Yes, she had told another girl that she liked her, in her own way. Not like anyone on the football team could or would blame her.

But she did worry about what Kent would think of her. It was a lost cause, but she still liked and respected the girl. She hated the thought of Kent thinking badly of her. The only person she cared about, really, as far as what people thought of her.

She sighed again.

* * *

Di laid on her floor, pencil in her mouth as she tried to figure out what the answer to 2(x)2 + 2/5 = 19 was.

"Hate math," she muttered. She heard the doorbell upstairs and hopped up, slamming the dreaded text shut and shoving it into her backpack. Her bedroom door opened, and Kent walked in.

"Hey." The blonde smiled.

"Hi. Um, heading off to church, are we?" She took in the nice denim skirt which reached to just above her knees, the ribbed tee and jacket over it.

"No. I’m going over to Palmer’s."

"What? Whoa. Did you eat too much turkey Thursday?" She plopped onto her bed and patted the spot next to her. Kent sat down, holding her knees together.

"No. I’ve just been doing a lot of thinking." She looked over at her friend, hoping to find some understanding when she revealed what seemed to her to be a good plan.

"Okay," Di drawled, waiting for more.

"Well," Kent looked down at her fidgeting hands. "Maybe I overreacted." She looked to her friend, searching her eyes. "Maybe I got a little freaked." Seeing only confusion, she clarified. "With Palmer." Ding! Just like a light bulb.


"So, I’m going to try and make peace. I do like her. As a person." Di eyed the other girl, unsure of just exactly what Kent had in mind, but supporting her regardless. "See if she still wants to be friends. Or something."

"Or something? Kent, what are you after?" The blonde sighed and shrugged. "I’m not totally sure, actually. I," Kent cut herself off, looking down again, then chancing a look into her best friend’s eyes. "Maybe she knows something about me that I don’t know." Her words trailed off in a whisper, and she suddenly felt ashamed.

"Hey, kiddo, look at me." Green met brown. "Maybe she does, you know? Maybe just be friends, and see what happens. ’kay?" Kent nodded.

"I better go. I want to get this over with."

"Good luck." Di took her friend in a huge hug, then let her go with a smile. She was proud of Kent.

* * *

Palmer whipped the vacuum around, the cord whacking her in the leg, but she didn’t care. She was enjoying the Chris Isaak song on the radio too much to care, her steps in sync with his velvety voice. She hummed along, not wanting to ruin a good thing with her horrible voice.

The music was so loud, she almost missed the chiming of the door bell. She turned off the Discman and yanked the headphones off her ears as she ran down the stairs.

Not recognizing the car in the driveway, she yanked the door open, stunned at who she saw standing on her doorstep.

Kent stared up into a surprised face, her gaze lowering to take in the long hair pulled back into a ponytail, headphones around a long neck, white tank top and mesh shorts. Her eyes snapped back up to the blue.

"Um, hi," she said, feeling very shy and inadequate.

"Hi," Palmer said softly, her hands still on the frame of the door.

"Um, can I come in?" the blonde asked, shy green eyes filled with hope.

"Oh, yeah. Come in." Palmer took a step back, and Kent took a step inside, looking around. Furniture was pulled out, all gathered in the middle of the room, fresh vacuum tracks throughout the carpet, and the smell of recently sprayed lemon wood polish. "I’ve been cleaning," Palmer said, a little sheepish.

"So I gather." Kent smiled, then turned to look at the other girl. As she did, she allowed herself to really look at her, take in everything that the brunette had to offer. Things were different now, Palmer offering her more than friendship. She didn’t quite know how to take the offer, but planned to see what happened.

"I wanted to ask if, um," Kent looked down at fidgeting hands,. "Well, if you still feel the same way." She looked up at Palmer. "You know, if you still like me?" Realizing just how bad that sounded, she scrunched her face. "God, that sounded really egotistic, didn’t it?"

Palmer smiled, nodding.

"Sorry. But, do you?" Palmer couldn’t help but forgive the adorable blonde, the innocence that radiated from her so endearing.

"Yeah," finally Palmer said, knowing how much truth was behind that one word. Kent smiled, and shuffled a bit.

"Well, I’ve thought this week. A lot." She grinned shyly. "And maybe, well, maybe we could go on a date or something. Maybe." She looked at the other girl through blonde eyelashes.

"Okay," Palmer said, rocking on her socked heels. "If you’ll give me like ten minutes, we can go now."

Green eyes opened wide, suddenly afraid.

"Hey, it’s just two friends getting something to eat, right?" Palmer tried to soothe. "Nothing major. There’s actually this great little café down the street by the park." She looked at the cheerleader, praying to god the girl wasn’t here to mess with her head. They had to go back to school tomorrow, and she didn’t really need any games.

Finally Kent nodded. "Okay."

"Cool." Palmer beamed. "I’ll be right back. Need to shower." She bounded down the basement stairs two at a time, and Kent sat down on the edge of the couch, looking around.

The room was very masculine; lots of wood paneling and guy stuff. A glued together pyramid of Coors cans was on one end table, a sculpture of a moose in the center of the coffee table. Other than pictures of Palmer surrounded by a bunch of guys, there was no other even slightly female influence in the room.

"Ready?" Kent’s head snapped toward the doorway that lead downstairs, shocked to see Palmer standing there, hair slicked back from her shower, now dressed in a pair of blue jeans and a sweater.

"Yes." Kent stood, holding her purse to her body, very nervous about this. She had no idea what the hell she was doing, but only that she was going to give it a chance.

"Want to walk?" Palmer asked, opening the front door for the petite girl.

"Okay. That sounds good." Kent passed through, followed by her, well, what exactly was Palmer? "Palmer?" They stepped out onto the sidewalk, Palmer with her hands stuffed into the front pockets of her jeans, and Kent with hers still clutching her purse in front of her.

"Yeah?" came the low, soft reply.

"What exactly are we?" Kent risked a glance up at the taller girl, seeing dark brows draw and Palmer drew her bottom lip in as she thought.

"Well," She sighed, releasing the lip. "I don’t know. What do you want?" She glanced down at her companion.

"I don’t know. Are you, well, are you interested in girls? Or just . . . me?"

"Good question." Palmer saw the lights of Jack’s up just ahead, and cut across the park to the parking lot and toward the building, Kent keeping her pace. "Let’s sit and talk," she offered as she held open the door for the blonde.

This was the kind of laid back place where you sat yourself, and more likely than not, the staff already knew your order by heart. Margaret, the red-headed waitress that Palmer knew well, stepped up to the table.

"How are you tonight, ladies? What can I get ya? Same, hon?" She turned to Palmer, who nodded, pushing the menu to the end of the table. Kent, still perusing, ordered a Coke, and finally breakfast. Palmer was amused, thinking that the eggs and bacon would go nicely with her waffle with strawberries.

"So?" Kent asked once the waitress had left them.

"Oh, right. Well," Palmer folded her hands on the table in front of her, stared down at them. "I’ve always looked at girls, you know? Had small crushes, stuff like that. But . . ." A slow smile began to spread across her beautiful features. As Kent watched it, she realized just how beautiful the girl really was. She couldn’t help wondering, for not the first time, what she’d want with her. "When I saw you, though. Wow . . ."

Kent couldn’t help the simile that jumped onto her lips, utterly, totally and completely flattered by the attention.

"You snagged a Gatorade from the sidelines, and I was hooked." Palmer snapped her fingers. "Just like that."

"Hooked?" Kent asked, fascinated, yet terrified. Palmer nodded.


The blonde bit her lower lip as she tried to think of just what exactly she was trying to say, formulate her thoughts into some sort of sense for herself and Palmer. "What exactly do you want from me, Palmer?"

"Well," Palmer smiled up at Margaret as she laid there dinners down. "Thanks, Margie." She sipped from her chocolate milk, then looked at Kent again. "I like you, Kent. I won’t deny that. I’m, well, attracted to you." She looked up shyly, not surprised to see incredibly large eyes looking back at her. "I’d like to get to know you better."

"You mean like," Kent took a deep breath. "Girlfriends?"

"Well, wait a minute," Palmer put up a hand, the idea, though thrilling, scared her to death. "Let’s just try friends first."

Kent looked at her, then a slow, but genuine smile broke out, like the sun through the rainiest day. She nodded, taking a huge sip from her drink.

"I can handle that."

"Me, too." Palmer gave her an equally large smile, and began to eat.

As they began to talk and get to know each other, Kent tried to discretely check Palmer out. She had seen her hundreds of times, either on the field or in class or hallways, but she had yet to really examine her.

The long dark hair, which was pushed back over Palmer’s shoulders, was thick and shiny. It looked inviting. The contrast that it made with the most blue and beautiful eyes she had ever seen, was amazing. She could easily be a model, so tall and thin, yet very muscular. She thought that Palmer stood above the rest, and not just because of her height, either. She was just too beautiful to be a high school student.

"What?" Palmer looked at the blonde, wondering why she’d been staring at her for the past fifteen minutes. Kent shook her head.

"Nothing." Palmer didn’t necessarily believe her, but didn’t really feel that she was in a position to push.

"Oh. Well, um, what do you like to do?"

As Palmer listened to Kent’s soft but excited voice as she talked about cheerleading, her future plans, and Di, Palmer took in this beauty sitting before her. Granted, Kent made her nervous as hell, and tonight was no exception, but all the same, she felt a comfort level that she had never felt before. She was getting to know Kent as a person, and not just a dream.

She took in Kent’s green eyes, so filled with life and wonder, a hint of mischief. She had the feeling that the blonde could be quite the prankster when she wanted to. All the same, she’d love to see what the cheerleader was capable of.

She sighed quietly as she held her cheek up with the palm of her hand, given free reign to just stare openly at the younger girl, take in her golden hair, melodic voice, interesting way of thinking; all of it. In short, she was entranced.

"So, it’s getting late," Kent finally said, pushing away the remains of the hot fudge sundae that she had been persuaded to get.

"Okay." Palmer snapped to attention, grabbing the check from the end of the table. Green eyes followed her hand.

"So, does that mean you get to pay for everything?" The eyes were twinkling, but Palmer could still hear the nervousness in her voice. "I mean, aren’t you kind of like the guy?"

Palmer chuckled. "Um, well, not really. I mean, we can do this however you want. I want to pay tonight, but maybe you can get it next time?" Please say there will be a next time, the brunette silently pleaded.

"Oh. Okay . . ." Kent smiled and stood, pulling her jacket on. Palmer grabbed some money out of her pocket and left it on the table.

"Hey, um, you know there’s that park just outside. Um, want to take a walk or something?" she asked, not ready to give up the blonde yet.

"Oh," Kent glanced outside the window, seeing the expanse of trees beyond. "Sure." She smiled wider at the smile she received in her acquiescence. Palmer really did have a beautiful smile.

As the girls walked, they gave each other small glances, each hoping to avoid the other’s notice. Kent was surprised at just how comfortable she felt around Palmer. The older girl was so nice and gracious, and just seemed like an all around good person. She figured that if a girl had to get a crush on her, it wasn’t a bad choice.

Palmer could feel her heart beating in her throat, her palms sweaty, despite the cool night. She wanted so badly to be able to touch the blonde, if even just to take her hand. Knowing that was impossible, she kept her hands deep in her pockets, playing with the change they found there.

When they finally reached Palmer’s house and Kent’s car, they turned to look at each other.

"I have to say, those notes were really sweet," Kent said softly, her voice carrying on the breeze that had begun to turn cold. The brunette smiled, a little sheepish, looking down at her scuffed shoes.

"Well, I wasn’t quite ready yet to tell you who I was." She looked at the blonde from beneath her lashes. "I’m glad you didn’t hit me."

"Hit you?" The blonde laughed, "Oh, no. I was surprised, but I would never have hit you." She snorted, her smile rueful.


"And to think, I didn’t think you liked me." Kent brought her keys out of her pocket. Palmer felt sad as she realized that the blonde was intending to leave.

"No." She grinned. "Quite the opposite."

"Yeah, well," To Palmer’s utter shock and delight, Kent stepped up next to her, and gave her the sweetest kiss on the cheek. Palmer raised her hand, her fingers feeling the warm skin where those lips had just been. Kent gave her a very shy smile.

"I’ll see you at school tomorrow, Palmer."

"Yeah. Drive safe."

"Okay. I will. Goodnight." She unlocked her car, and Palmer held the door open for her.


Kent got settled behind the wheel, pulling her seatbelt over her chest and clicking it into place. She looked up at the taller girl and smiled.

"I’m kind of going to need that."

"Huh? Oh," Sheepishly, Palmer gently closed the door, watching as Kent stuck the key in the ignition, and with a small wave, drove off into the night. Palmer watched, a small sigh escaping before she jogged into the house, floating over the sidewalk.

* * *

"Wait, wait, wait." Di’s brows drew as she studied her image over one of the bathroom sinks. "So, you guys haven’t really decided anything?"

"Not really," came the reply from inside the stall. Di waited while the toilet flushed, and the blonde came out, zipping up her jeans, and heading to the sink.

"Then, what are you?" Di leaned against the long expanse of counter, the five sinks lined in a row, bright bulbs burning up above.

The blonde shrugged. "I really don’t know." She grabbed a large piece of paper towel, and dried her freshly washed hands. "She’s so nice, Di." Kent leaned against the counter, too. She smiled, remembering how, well, what’s the word? "Gentlemanly-like." She blurted, running her hands through her hair before drawing it all up in a loose ponytail.

"So you guys just went to dinner?"

"And a walk. Come on, I have to get back to bio." Kent pushed through the swinging door and out into the hall.

"Wow," Di breathed. "You’re going out with a girl." She was grinning.

"Shush!" Kent smacked her arm. "I am not, and I’m not ready for that to get out."

"You are, too, and fine."

"No, Di. I don’t really know what we are, but I do know that I like her. She’s so sweet."

"So you’ve said like a hundred times." They stopped at the doorway to Di’s classroom.

"Well, she is. Very."

"Okay, we’ll continue this conversation after school."

"Kay. Bye."

Kent continued down the hall to her classroom, her mind totally focused on last night. She had no idea that Palmer would be so nice, or so caring. The brunette had promised her that if anything made her uncomfortable, to be sure and let her know. That they could go at a really slow pace, and that there wasn’t a rush.

When she thought of the things she was sure Palmer was talking about, like kissing, touching, that kind of thing, it gave her a small shiver, like the unknown or taboo. She had enjoyed spending time with Palmer and wanted to do more of it.

* * *

Palmer arrived early to French class, not wanting to miss being able to see Kent’s face as she walked into the room. She had a permasmile on her face all day. The night before had been so perfect, and completely unexpected. This time last week, she had been sure that she would have to dread school to start, and what she’d have to face.

Never, ever, even in her wildest dreams, which got pretty wild, did she think that the girl of her dreams would show up at her door, and ask her for a chance. Wow! Life was good.

Her heels tapped an unheard beat on the floor beneath her chair where her legs were wrapped around the legs of her chair, making the desk jiggle slightly.

She glanced up, again, and this time was rewarded. The blonde not only walked through the door, but walked through without her friend and fellow cheerleader, Felicity.

As Kent walked into the room, she was surprised to see Palmer already there, the taller girl usually one of the last in. She was glad Felicity was out sick today, though she did feel bad for the girl. The seat next to Palmer was empty, so she hurried down the aisle to sit in it.

She felt a nervous pang in her stomach when she met those blue eyes, so intense and intensely beautiful.

"Hi," she said as she set her books down on the desk. "Mind if I sit here?"

"No. Please." Palmer smiled, trying to get her nervous bouncing to stop, to no avail.

"How are you?" Kent asked, getting settled in the hard seat, and opening her French text.

"I’m good. You?"

"Great." Kent smiled, and Palmer melted, giving her a big ol’ goofy grin, then feeling stupid for it.

The blonde grinned just from the smile she got. God, could this girl get any cuter? She still wasn’t sure what she thought of the whole thing, nor how far she wanted to take it, but she did know that she genuinely liked Palmer already. Good sign.

* * *

Palmer ran down field, playing better than she ever had, just knowing that somewhere two green eyes were watching her. She hoped. She just wished she could play this well during a real game.

She dodged tackle after tackle, making it down the field in record time, the ball tucked safely to her body, long legs pumping as hard as they could.

From the cheers she heard off-field, she knew that she was being watched. She turned to see both Kent and Di clapping and jumping up and down. She met green eyes and smiled, almost feeling like the blonde’s champion.

Kent met the football player’s gaze, smiled at her once more, then turned to join her squad.

As the rest of the cheerleaders trotted off toward their cars or rides to go home, Kent made her way back to the field, backpack on her shoulder, cheerleading uniform tucked safely in her locker room locker.

She could hear the shouts and laughs from the guys as they started their scrimmage, and she jogged up the bleachers until she found a good place, about five rows up. High enough to get a good look at the action. Pulling her French book out, worried about the following day’s vocab test, she began to study.

Palmer was yanked off the field, having scored a touchdown, and Coach wanting to give someone else a shot. She turned to the bleachers, having seen Kent come back out after practice. Yup, sure enough. She sat, legs bent as her feet rested on the bleacher ahead and below her, a book resting on her thighs.

The brunette walked over to the railing that separated the bleachers from the track that ran around the field. She studied Kent for a moment, seeing how the blonde chewed on her lower lip, a pencil tapping against the side of her leg as she thought about something.

"Hey," Palmer finally said. Green eyes flicked up and held, a smile filling them.

"Hi. Nice touchdown."

"Thanks. Now if I can do that in next week’s game, I’ll be set."

"I’m sure you’ll do fine." Kent closed her book and set it aside, leaning forward over her knees. Kent glanced over at her book laying beside her and had an impromptu idea. "Want to come over tonight and study French?" She bit her lip, feeling vulnerable and shy.

Not sure she’d heard right, Palmer stared at the blonde, the request slowly sinking in, a smile sprouting out of the realization. She nodded.

"Yeah. That’d be great. I think it’s gonna be a doozy." She nodded toward the text.

"I agree. How about six? Or seven? Yeah, make it seven."

"Okay. Seven. Where do you live?" Palmer draped her arms over the bottom rung of the railing.

"Oh." Kent jumped up, grabbing her notebook and a pen, and made her way down the bleachers until she was kneeling down in front of Palmer, setting the notebook against the railing next to Palmer’s arms. "Here." She ripped off the page and handed it over. "Do you know where it is?" The blonde began to chew on her bottom lip as Palmer read over the address.

"Is that by Heaton Park?" the brunette asked, folding the address and holding it in her hand until she could put it with her stuff. The blonde nodded.

"Singleton!" Kent’s head snapped up as she saw the coach looking at Palmer.

"Oops. Think you’re in trouble," she whispered with a gleam in her eyes.

"Me, too," Palmer whispered back. "See you tonight." With a blindingly white grin, she turned and trotted back toward the field.

* * *

Kent looked around her room, making sure that she had cleaned everything, and that every single article of clothing was either put away or tossed in the hamper. She felt a buzzing in her stomach, part excitement, part plain nerves.

Her folks had been glad that she was having a friend over, and were gracious about it. She, of course, didn’t tell them just what kind of friend she was having over. She honestly didn’t think they’d care if they knew, but she wasn’t quite ready to go there, yet. She had, after all, only had this, this, well, whatever Palmer was, for only like two days.

She heard the doorbell ring downstairs, seven on the dot, and ran down the stairs, nearly trampling her younger sister to death, and pulled open the door. Palmer stood on the stoop, books held to her chest.

"Hi," Kent exclaimed, nearly out of breath from her near Olympic grade running skills to get the door before anyone else. She moved aside so the taller girl could enter.

"Um, hi," Palmer said as she stepped inside, and Kent could feel the poor girl’s nervousness pouring off her in waves.

"It’s okay," she tried to reassure with a soft smile and touch to her arm. "Come on in." She shut and locked the front door, then turned back to her guest. Palmer looked around, taking in her surroundings. The place was nice enough, in fact, too nice. It didn’t look lived in, but more like one of those model homes you see on TV or in a magazine.

"Honey? Is that your friend?" came a disembodied voice from around the corner in the dining room.

"Yeah," Kent answered, then turned to Palmer. "Come on. She won’t bite." She led the way to an older version of herself sitting at the table, and surrounded by bank ledgers and a check book. She removed the glasses that had been perched on the end of her nose and smiled.

"Welcome, Palmer. We’ve heard so much about you. I’m Elizabeth Gallery." She extended an elegant hand and Palmer took it, fearing that her larger, calloused one would be a turn off.

"Nice to meet you, ma’am," she said quietly. Mrs. Gallery looked to her daughter, impressed.

"Ma’am? Why can’t Di get that kind of respect?" Green eyes twinkled as they fixed back on blue, the skin surrounding them wrinkled. "So, you go to school with Kent?"

"Yes, ma’am."

"Well, it was nice to meet you. You two girls have fun."

Officially dismissed, Kent ran upstairs, dragging a surprised Palmer behind her.

"This is my room," the blonde announced, standing in the middle of it, waiting for Palmer to look around. She was suddenly hit with a huge case of nerves and tried to hide them, standing there with her thumbs in her back pockets, and chewing on her bottom lip.

"It’s nice." Palmer looked at the desk with a desktop computer on it, and a lamp. Papers were stacked neatly topped with their French textbook. She looked to the walls, painted a soft green, different posters and pictures hung strategically around, standing in one place and moving in a circle. She thought about setting her books and self down on the one chair in the room, but instead waited for a signal from Kent. She looked at the blonde, meeting her eyes. Kent smiled.

"So, ready to start?" she asked hopefully. The brunette nodded. "Cool. Come on." She grabbed her books from the desk, and flopped down on the comfy bed, making sure to leave enough room for Palmer, who sat on the edge, legs together, looking as though she could bolt at any time. "Palmer?" Kent said softly. "You can sit closer, you know. If something is done that I’m not sure about, I’ll let you know."

Palmer met the sparkling green eyes, so much like her mother’s, and smiled herself, nodding.

"Okay." She scooted back, bringing a leg up so just her foot was hanging off the side.

"So, where were we?" Kent opened her book and took out the list of words.

"I think we’d covered up to remarquable," Palmer said.

"I think you’re right."

Palmer began to say the French words, and Kent was supposed to translate them to English, but she couldn’t help but watch the way the taller girl’s mouth wrapped around the words. French was a beautiful language anyway, but Palmer just had a way that she spoke, her voice nice already, that made it that much better.


The blonde was snapped out of her thoughts, caught, more like, and turned back to her book.

"I’m sorry, what? Did you say éteint?"

Palmer nodded with a grin. "Yeah, where did you go?" Then she smiled even more when the small blonde turned an absolutely adorable shade of crimson.

As they studied their words, Palmer kept an eye on Kent, watching her, seeing how she talked and thought, listening to the voice that wasn’t exactly high-pitched, but certainly wasn’t deep, either. It was soft and smooth, very pleasant. She smiled as she thought that she could listen to that voice all day and never get tired of it.

She kept getting caught staring, so finally she just looked down at the book in front of her, giving her eyes something else to look at.

"Palmer?" The brunette looked up.


"Do you like all girls? I mean, are you a lesbian?" Palmer was surprised, but understood Kent’s curiosity, and thought it was indeed an interesting thought.

"Well," she said, tapping her pencil on the hard edge of her book. "I’ve always looked at girls, you know, always found them interesting."

"Have you ever done anything with one?" Kent leaned back on her elbows, her legs stretching out next to Palmer. Palmer wanted so badly to reach out and stroke Kent’s leg, but kept her hands to herself.

"No." She blushed, looking down.

"That’s cool." Palmer looked up into smiling eyes. "Then we’re even." The brunette chuckled.

"Yeah, I guess we are." Finally lifting her head, she smiled full out. "How do you feel about that?"

"It makes me feel a little better!" Kent exclaimed. "It would suck if you had all this experience and then I felt even more out of my league."

"Are you sorry?" Palmer closed her book, and set it and her notebook to the floor, wrapping her arms around the knee that rested on the bed, and looking into the face that she had and still dreamed about so many times.

Kent looked at her, head slightly cocked to the side. She knew exactly what Palmer was asking, and wanted to give her the consideration to really think her answer through.

"Well, Palmer, though I may not exactly be ready to do stuff, per se," She looked down for a moment, wanting to give her blush a slight chance to dissipate before she elaborated. "I’m not sorry we’re trying this. I’m not sorry to be your friend, nor am I sorry you’re over here studying with me." She gave the brunette a warm smile. Palmer studied her for a moment, trying to get her own fears and insecurities swallowed, then nodded.

"Cool." She smiled, and Kent realized it brightened up Palmer’s entire face. Why the hell is she interested in me?

Palmer scooted off the bed, wanting to stretch out, and laid her long body down on the floor next to the bed. Kent scooted over to the side of the bed, stretching out on her side, and looked down at her friend, holding her head up with her hand.

"So, what else do you like to do besides just cheerleading? I mean, I can’t imagine that would take up that much time," the brunette asked. Kent looked at her.

"Just cheerleading?" Kent tasted the words on her lips and found them bitter. "Not much time, huh?"

Oh, shit. Palmer looked up at the blonde, and could see that she was slowly sitting up on the bed, shoulders pushed out, demeanor completely changed.

"I didn’t mean-" Palmer began, but was cut off.

"I happen to be good at what I do, Palmer," Kent spat, her anger building. One too many blonde jokes set alongside that of a ditzy cheerleader. One too many swipes at her ass from a short cheerleading outfit that she had no control over choosing. One too many skeptical looks from teachers after she entered a classroom wearing her uniform for the first time, the teachers doubting her ability to do the work, or willingness to participate from the bad rap cheerleaders got.

Palmer sat up, laying her hands in her lap, feeling horrible.

"Is that all you think of me as, Palmer? Just some ditzy blonde cheerleader? There for the football stud?"

Blue eyes snapped up to angrily meet green.

"Of course not!" she bit out. "I didn’t mean it the way it came out, Kent," she said, her voice angry, but she calmed it by the end. "Honest."

"It’s easier to be the football hero, Palmer. People respect and idolize you. Being a cheerleader is just being arm candy for the players." Kent looked at her sadly, hating the reputation that the cheerleaders had. Though most didn’t deserve it, others capitalized on it, making it that much more difficult for those who didn’t. "You don’t have to deal with that. I know it’s hard for you to understand," she finished lamely, already feeling bad for snapping at the older girl’s innocent comment.

"Shirts or skins, Kent. Gee, think I’ll take skins," Palmer said, eyes hard. Kent met them, understanding showing through.

"You do understand, don’t you?"

Palmer nodded. "All too well." She looked down, wondering if her being there was such a good idea after all, feeling like an ass. She heard movement, then felt Kent’s presence next to her, sitting on the floor, but not touching.

"I’m sorry, Palmer," she said quietly, playing with the fringe on her floor rug. "That was uncalled for. I just get tired of the teasing and totally not being taken seriously."

"Yeah. I can understand that." Palmer glanced over at her to see her staring down at her playing hands. "Why do you do it, then?" Green eyes met hers.

"Why do you?" Kent asked, chin slightly raised in defiance.

"Because I love it, it’s great exercise, and will help me get into a good college," Palmer answered simply.

"All of the above." Kent smiled. Palmer chuckled, nodding.

"Okay, okay, I get it. Do you like football?"

"I don’t know anything about it." Kent grinned sheepishly. She sat there, chewing on her bottom lip, sneaking a glance over at Palmer, trying to decide, then finally got up and headed over to her desk. Opening a drawer, she grabbed a book and plopped down next to the brunette again.

Palmer looked at the book that had been set in front of her, and laughed. Football for Dummies.

"I figured I should know something about it," Kent said. Shyly. "If I was going to root for my favorite player." She risked a glance at Palmer to see a huge, white, megawatt smile waiting for her. She looked away, feeling very stupid as she tried to escape those brilliant blue eyes. "Stop," she groaned, staring back at the floor, a nervous smile on her lips.

"Stop what?" Palmer asked, smile still firmly in place.

"Looking at me that way. You’re making me nervous."

"What, this way?" Palmer ducked her head so her face was in front of Kent’s, and she made the face, exaggerating the features, and making Kent giggle. Kent pushed her away, and laid back on the floor, Palmer stretching out beside her.

"You know, I think we’ve had our first fight." Kent looked over at her floor-dwelling companion and matched the smile she was met with.

"I think so." Palmer looked away, staring at the ceiling, a smile planted firmly on her face. So maybe this wasn’t such a bad idea. Yeah, life was good.

* * *

Palmer laid in bed, the dark shadows that came into her basement bedroom converging on everything, except her thoughts. They were crystal clear as she smiled into that darkness, white teeth against near blackness.

She sighed, raising her hands to rest behind her head as she snuggled into the warm blankets more. Mmmm, not only was life good, it was great.

* * *

Kent switched off her bedside lamp, the football book laying on her nightstand, fresh fingerprints gracing it’s slick cover. She turned over, laying on her side, eyes wide open as she thought about the night.

Palmer had left maybe an hour ago, just long enough for the blonde to shower and read another chapter of the how-to book. As she read over the rules and plays involved in football, all that went into it, her respect for Palmer’s ability and talent tripled. She had no idea the physical skill, ability, agility, and strength went into the sport. The guys, and Palmer, had always made it look so easy.

She sighed into the darkness, seeing the brunette on the field again, running down the field for all she was worth, plucking that ball out of the air like it was standing still.

"Wow," she breathed, and closed her eyes, allowing sleep to take her away.

* * *

Kent rested her hand on Di’s back, hoping to make her friend feel better just through her presence and touch. Young love was so hard to deal with sometimes. Even at 16, she knew this.

"He’s such an asshole." Di sniffled, swiping at her nose with the back of her sleeve, then angrily wiping the tears away.

"Hang on, babe," Kent said softly. "You guys just had a fight. It’s not the end of the world." She felt bad for her friend, knowing how deeply Di cared for the football player, as burly and stupid as he was.

"I know. But he’s still an asshole."

Kent smiled, pulling her friend into a hug. "Nah. Before you know it you guys will be kissing and making up, then making the Chevy rock." Di smacked her friend, but smiled. "There we go. A smack was worth this picture." Kent smiled back, sparkling green eyes meeting angry, hurt dark. "You’ll be fine, kiddo."

"How’s things on your end?" Di sniffled, swiping at her nose once more before breaking down and grabbing a piece of the napkin she’d been using to sop up pizza grease, and blew her nose. "With Palmer," she added, noting the smile that crept onto Kent’s lips, though the blonde bowed her head, not wanting her friend to see it.

"Good," she said, her voice soft. Finally she looked up at Di. "She treats me so well, Di. I had no idea it was even possible."

"Why? What does she do?" Di tossed the crumpled up napkin to her empty plate, and ran a hand through her hair.

"I don’t know," Kent shrugged. "She just makes me feel special, you know? She brings me little things at school, but is so careful about it. She’ll either give them to me on our way home or between classes. She takes me home most days, now." She grinned. "Little stuffed animals or something. Plus, she talks to me, and listens, too. Last night she even let me rant about my family. God, she’s just so kind." She sighed, happy. Maybe life wasn’t so bad.

"You really like her, huh?" Di asked, a soft smile gracing her pretty face. She was excited to see her best friend so happy. Kent nodded.

"Yeah, I do."

"As a girlfriend?"

Kent felt a soft shiver run through her body. She had been thinking about that a lot in the two and a half weeks that she and Palmer had been, well, dating. She had tried to figure out just what Palmer was to her. A friend, definitely. But, there was something more there.

"I don’t know, Di. I don’t know how comfortable I am with a label of any kind, yet."

"Do you guys touch at all?" Di sat back in her chair at Scooby’s Pizza, brushing curly bangs out of her eyes.

"Sort of." Kent thought back to last night.

Palmer had picked her up, and they had gone to the movies, then bowling, then had sat outside Palmer’s house in the backyard on the glider. Kent had begun talking about her family, and how tired she was of feeling ignored.

The taller girl had reached her hand out, setting it on Kent’s arm to comfort. Kent had leaned into that touch, enjoying the feel of the warm, soft skin on her forearm. She had scooted her butt over on the seat, sitting closer to Palmer.

Palmer had felt like she was about to explode, she was so excited by the move. Almost without thought, her arm had gone around Kent’s shoulders, not entirely sure what she was supposed, or allowed, to do. But the blonde hadn’t moved away, instead leaning her head back against the strong arm behind her head, liking the feel of Palmer’s hand on her shoulder, fingers gently playing with the material of her shirt there.

They had sat like that for a long time, sometimes talking, sometimes not. Just enjoying the warm Texas night, even if it was pushing late December.

Kent sighed at the memory. It had been so sweet, and she had felt completely comfortable with Palmer. The football player had never pushed anything on her, instead allowing her to move at her own pace. All the same, she could tell that Palmer was getting antsy, giving her small, secret looks that were becoming less and less secret. She had also started to study Kent’s mouth when she didn’t think the blonde was looking. Kent was always looking.

"I don’t know, Di. I’m so confused on how I feel about that." Kent took a sip of her Coke.

"Why? What do you mean?"

"Well, I mean we touch, hug and stuff. God, she is such a good hugger." She smiled, wrapping her arms around herself, remembering.

"Well, she’s got long enough arms. She should be a stupendous hugger." Di chuckled.

"Oh, she is. Totally makes me feel safe, you know?" Di smiled, a knowing smile on her face. "She is warm and sweet, unbelievably sweet. I mean, I’ve only really dated one other person, and Chad doesn’t hold a candle to Palmer. She’s just, just, so incredibly thoughtful, beautiful, fun, intelligent, trustworthy, fun, soft, did I say fun?"

"Yes, you did."

"Oh. Sorry. But she is. She just . . . is." The blonde sighed, taking another drink. "You know, to be perfectly honest, I have no idea what I want her to do, if anything. I just, I don’t know." She looked down, hating her confusion and inability to get a clear thought concerning the physical issue.

Di looked at her friend, seeing her gush like this, and couldn’t keep the jealousy out of her face. She was happy with Grady, well, when he wasn’t being an asshole, but still. Palmer was so beautiful, and thoroughly sexy, and she had pegged her best friend. She sighed.

* * *

They walked across the football field, hand in hand, Kent glancing over at Palmer once in a while, seeing if she was still there. Every time she looked, she was met with a bright, white smile.

On the fifty yard line, Palmer stopped them by tugging on Kent’s hand until the blonde looked at her. Looking down into green eyes, blue ones slowly closed, and the distance grew smaller between them as Palmer leaned in, her lips barely millimeters away from Kent’s. The blonde could feel her heart rate increase, the blood pounding through her head as she closed her eyes, waiting . . .

Beep, Beep, Beep . . . Smack!

Kent’s palm still stung from the hard plastic alarm clock casing. She really did need to learn to use more finesse.

Then her eyes flew open, her dream coming back to her in full.

"Oh my god," she breathed, a hand going to her mouth, which she realized was the same mouth that Palmer’s dream persona had nearly kissed. She drew in a deep breath, trying to calm that raging heart rate.

* * *

Kent walked up the front walk toward Palmer’s house. She was nervous, shoving sweaty hands into the pockets of her coat as the cold breeze blew through her.

She wanted to throw up.

Palmer’s father had asked Palmer to bring Kent home to meet him, so he was making them dinner today. Kent knew Bruce Singleton knew about his daughter’s preferences, and also knew about the nature of their relationship, and that alone made her terribly nervous.

She hopped up onto the stoop, and brought her hand out to ring the bell when the door was pulled open. Startled, she looked up with wide eyes as a very familiar smiling face peeked out. Kent smiled, instantly feeling shy.

"Hi," said in that quiet, soft voice that seemed to only be used with Palmer, who melted at the sound.

"Hey," the older girl said, just as quiet, and just as shy. She allowed her eyes to roam over the girl before her, taking in the jeans, fitted but not too tight, and the heavy, green sweater with horizontal bands of black running across it. Kent’s blonde hair was down, framing her beautiful face, and spilling over her shoulders.

"Do I look okay?" Kent asked, suddenly feeling inadequate.

"Yes," Palmer said softly. "You look beautiful, Kent." Kent blushed, looking down at her shuffling feet, unable to keep that goofy smile off her lips.

"Thanks. You, too." And Palmer did, dressed in dark blue jeans and a black henley. The tightish material left nothing to the imagination.

Realizing she was staring at Palmer’s breasts, she tore her eyes away, wanting to melt into the cement below her boots.

"Come in." Palmer grinned, but chose not to say anything. She held the door open for the blonde, allowing her into the warmth of the house.

"It smells really good in here," Kent said, still unable to face Palmer, her face tomato red.

"Yeah. My dad makes a mean chicken."

"Is she here?" was yelled from what Kent assumed was the kitchen.

"Yup. Come on out, dad." Within seconds, a very tall, very large man hurried into the room, his wide shoulders seemingly too wide to pass through the doorway. Kent knew she was exaggerating his size, but he was massive. Now she understood where Palmer got her height and musculature.

The man, hair nearly as dark as his daughter’s, save for the gray on either side, hurried over to her. He had a smile on his face, peppered with grayish stubble, giving his handsome face a rugged look.

"You were right, Palmer," he said, his deep voice booming. The blonde looked to the older girl to see what he was talking about. Palmer looked at him with huge eyes. "She does have the face of an angel."

"Oh, god," the brunette groaned, and Kent looked up at her, a soft smile, akin to adoration, covering her lips.

"Thank you, sir," the blonde said, extending her hand.

"Good to know you, Kent," he said, wrapping her hand in a huge one. "Welcome, and get ready for some good eatin’. I’m Bruce, the lobster’s dad."

"Dad!" Palmer managed to turn even more red.

* * *

Palmer walked into French class, weary after a long day.

She saw that Kent was already there, sitting in her chair next to Felicity, and smiled at the adorable blonde, who looked shyly up at her.

"Hey," she said as she passed. Kent gave her a small wave, and then watched the taller girl walk down the aisle to her own seat.

Palmer smiled, unable to help it, when she saw the bottle of lime Gatorade waiting for her at her desk. She turned just in time to see smiling green eyes turn away.

So sweet. They had made plans for the weekend, and she couldn’t wait.

* * *

The night was nice and warm, just a light jacket would do. Palmer and Kent walked through the park in Palmer’s neighborhood. She listened as Kent spoke about college and her fears for the future, fear for the present, and how she resented her parent’s apathy when she told them about her relationship with Palmer.

* * *

Kent sat on the top bleacher staring out over the football field as the players played an end-of-season scrimmage. She could feel Palmer’s eyes on her as the brunette sat beside her, deciding not to play today to rest her swollen ankle after last week’s mishap on the field.

The blonde turned and looked directly into the most beautiful blue eyes ever to be created.

"What?" she asked softly, watching as the soft smile on Palmer’s lips filled her entire face. Palmer shook her head.


"You’re lying. Why are you staring at me?"

Palmer watched as Kent leaned her cheek against her raised knees, those green eyes catching the falling afternoon sun and making them glow.

"You’re just so beautiful," she near whispered. Kent smiled, and reached out to touch Palmer’s hand.

"Thank you. So are you."

* * *

Palmer hurried up the stairs to the fifth floor of the public library, taking them two at a time, and not having the patience to use the elevator today. Kent was waiting for her upstairs in a study room, and she was anxious to see her.

She looked into the window of all those study rooms occupied, and through the open doors of those that weren’t. Finally she spotted the blonde and smiled, heading inside, but slowing her progress so she wouldn’t seem so overzealous. She already felt like a love sick idiot.

Kent heard the footsteps, looked up from her open French book, and smiled.

"Hey, you," she said. Palmer set her backpack onto the table, and unzipped it.

"Hi," she said, reaching inside, and taking out a box of strawberry fruit snacks. Kent’s eyes widened.

"Those are my favorite!" she exclaimed, beginning to reach for the box, then realizing that they may be just for Palmer. She looked sheepishly at the older girl.

"I know," Palmer said, scooting the box to the middle of the table. "I remembered from the trip back from that game when we talked on the bus."

"Oh," Kent looked down, a little sheepish as she remembered eating nearly the entire box on that trip.

Palmer got herself set up across the long, narrow table, tapping a pencil against her book as she tried to find her place. She could hear Kent opening a package of the fruit snacks and smiled.

As time went on, both working in companionable silence, Palmer maneuvered her feet to pull her shoes off with the toe of the opposite foot until finally, her socked toes were wiggling in freedom.

"Do you prefer socks, barefoot or shoes?" Kent asked, after looking under the table to see what the heck Palmer was doing.

"Barefoot," the brunette said. "You?"

"Socks. Do you prefer sandals or tennis shoes in the summer?"

"Um, tennis. And you, madam?" Palmer tossed her pencil on the table, realizing that she, too, was tired of studying.

"Oh, sandals, definitely." Kent sat back in her chair, reaching her shorter legs out in front of her. She accidentally tapped one of Palmer’s feet. Looking at the older girl, and seeing that Palmer didn’t react, but was instead going back to her research for a mid-term paper, she tapped it again. Blue eyes looked up at her through dark bangs.

"Yes?" Palmer drawled.

"What?" Kent asked innocently.

"Uh huh."

She tapped the foot again, but this time scooted further down in her seat so she could feel Palmer’s denim-clad leg, too.

"I think I’m being played footsie with," the brunette said, setting her pencil down yet again.

"I have no idea what you’re talking about," Kent huffed, turning the page in the text she had been reading.

"Right." Palmer studied her companion for a moment. "So, what do you like to sleep in?"

"Um," Kent looked down, thinking. "Well, that depends."


"On my mood, time of year, that kind of thing."

"Ah. So, what about now? What if I were to steal into your room tonight? What would I find?"

Kent broke out into involuntary giggles, covering her mouth as a most interesting thought entered her mind. Palmer raised a dark brow.

"I’m afraid to ask."

"You should be." Kent took a deep breath. "I guess during the summer I like to sleep, um, well, au naturale."


"In the winter, I sleep in flannel pants and a t-shirt. It gets pretty cold in my room sometimes. What about you?"

Palmer tapped on the table even harder, stopping before she broke the tip of her pencil. She thought about it, trying to clear her mind of images of Kent sleeping in the nude. It certainly was hard, but she managed to cover it well.

"Generally I sleep in a pair of boxers. Silk ones." She grinned.

"Silk?" Kent choked out. For just a moment she had a picture in her head, then didn’t quite know what to do with it. She shook it out, and nodded. "That’s nice. What’s on them?"

"Well," Palmer looked a little sheepish. "One pair has little pink pigs with a green background, and a pair is black with little Winnie the Poohs everywhere, with a honey pot between his legs."

Kent thought about that one for a moment, then burst out laughing, slapping her palm on the hard wood of the table. Palmer was watching with amused eyes, chuckling.

"You okay there?" She grinned. The blonde nodded, snorting in her laughter, which made Palmer laugh that much harder.

"Stop," Kent choked out, unable to stop herself from laughing, finally throwing the empty, balled up wrapper from her fruit snacks at the brunette. Palmer tried to get herself under control, but it wasn’t working so well. Sobering, Kent looked at Palmer through her lashes, shy. "So, how bad would you kill me if I told you a secret?"

Dark brows drew. "Why would I kill you at all?"

"Well," Kent began to chew on her bottom lip, making Palmer wary, learning that the lip thing was indicative of the blonde’s nervousness. "What if the secret is about you?" Shy green eyes glanced up.

"Okay," Palmer said, sitting back in her chair, curious to see what the little imp had to say. "Shoot. And, I assure you, there will be no bloodshed today." She gave her a winning smile for good merit.

"Well," Kent began, shocked as shit that she was going to tell Palmer this at all. "You remember after the Homecoming game? You were showering, and when you got out, Di and me were already at our lockers?"


"Well, um, Diwenttosneeakalookandsawyoushoweringandnaked."

Dark brows rose, the brunette leaning slightly forward in her chair, studying the other girl.

"Huh?" Palmer was still trying to translate the hurried message in her brain.

"Yeah." The blonde was blushing, and looked so completely adorable.

‘Di saw me naked. I got that much from that." Kent was nodding. "While I was in the shower?" Again a nod. "Huh." Palmer digested this. "Did you?" A blonde head shook vigorously.

"God no!"

"Why not?" Palmer challenged, shocked at her own boldness, never mind Di’s. "Why did Di do it?"

"Well, I would have been entirely too embarrassed, and because she’s a pervert and wanted to see what you looked like sans uniform."

Palmer just looked at her, shaking her head, totally unsure what to say. In some ways she felt violated, but in others, she was flattered completely. It wasn’t as if no one had ever seen her showering before. Hell, you couldn’t play sports all your life and not have that happen. But still . . .

She wished that Kent would have looked, though. She would have loved for the blonde to see how all her hard work has paid off.

"She says you have nice, um," Green eyes dropped to Palmer’s breasts. Palmer followed the gaze, then looked up again.

"Boobs? Tits? Breasts?" she said, a sly grin covering her face, enjoying the quick blush that was spreading across Kent’s face. The blonde nodded. "Tell her I said thank you."

"Um, well, actually, you’ll get your chance." Kent smiled shyly, looking over Palmer’s shoulder. "Remember I told you that Di would be coming later?" Palmer nodded dumbly, wanting to crawl inside one of the knotholes in the table. The blonde grinned and hurried out of the study room to nab her friend, who was roaming around aimlessly looking for them.

Palmer looked over her shoulder, seeing the dark-haired girl look when she heard her name being called.

"Oh, god," she groaned, knowing what Di had seen. She had no idea if she’d ever be able to look in her dark eyes again.

Kent hurried over to Di, rushing so she’d have enough time to warn Di.

"Okay, Palmer knows about homecoming, kay?" Green eyes looked up, pleading with Di to behave.

"Wait, what? What about homecoming/"

"You know!" Kent gushed in exasperation. "After the game?"

"After the . . . oh!" Understanding dawned, and a slow, sly grin spread across her lips.

"Oh, Di. Please be nice. She’s already embarrassed." Di looked at her long-time friend, debating, but hearing the pleading in her voice, decided to be at least halfway nice.

"Okay. I’ll try."

"Thank you." Though Kent was terrified by the little fire she saw burning in those mischievous eyes. They headed back into the study room where Palmer sat, hands folded on the table in front of her. Kent could tell that she was nervous, and almost felt bad about telling her. Almost.

"So, football, what’s up?" Di asked as she plopped her books onto the table. Palmer met her with wary blue eyes.

"Not much. You, skirt?"

Kent smiled at the familiar nicknames her two favorite people had given each other. She and Palmer spent most of their free time together now, and luckily Di spent so much time with Grady that she didn’t seem to mind. As the two talked, she watched them, though mainly Palmer.

She had given a great deal of thought to how she felt about her, and about the situation. She was still nervous as anything, but didn’t mind the idea so much of . . . what? Of touching her? Kissing her? This thought made her blush slightly.

"Penny for your thoughts?" Di asked, leaning in close, using an exaggerated stage whisper, which of course only made Kent blush more. Palmer watched, absolutely fascinated by the blonde’s reaction to something that had been bouncing around in her head. She couldn’t help but hope it had something to do with her.

"Stop," Kent whined, pushing her friend away. The tall brunette was always so amused at the antics of those two, and slightly jealous of their familiarity. She craved to have that with Kent, and even though they had gotten much closer, spending countless hours together, she still wanted to get closer. She wanted to know all of Kent, including her body.

"Whoa, this one, too!" Di exclaimed with delight, bringing Palmer out of her less than library-like thoughts. Two sets of eyes were pinned to her.

"What?" The brunette tried to cover her tracks with innocence, rapidly tapping a pen on the table.

"Uh huh." Di looked at the guilty face of the blue-eyed beauty and knew there was just no way she could keep her promise to Kent. "So, blondie here tells me she told you about the Homecoming game."

"Di!" Kent cried, green eyes little bits of fire. Blue eyes sprang open. Uh oh.

"Now, now." Di put a reassuring hand on Kent’s arm, which was smacked away. "So, are you pissed at me?" she continued. Palmer shook her head, never sure what to think of this girl.

"How could I be?" Time to get Kent back. "My only regret is that you got see me instead of Kent." She grinned as the blonde buried her face in her hands. Di threw her head back and let a loud stream of laughter fall out of her open mouth.

"Go, girl!" Di reached across the table and high-fived the brunette.

"You know what?" Kent exclaimed, looking at both with venom. Miffed about feeling left out, she turned her gaze to Di. "I’ll see Palmer naked when I’m damn good and ready, and then won’t you be jealous?"

Palmer’s eyes nearly bugged out of her skull at that remark, which even managed to shut Di up. They stared, and Kent stared back, the reality of what she’d just said crashing down around her.

"Oh, god," she squeaked, and stood, rushing from the room. The brunette looked to the other for answers, but Di could only shake her head, shrugging for good measure.

"Did I make her upset?" Palmer asked, worry marking her eyes.

"I don’t think so. She just embarrassed herself."

"But she was just getting us back. Right?" Again Di shook her head.

"I don’t think so, Palmer. I think the words got out before she was ready for them, but I think she meant it." Di thought back to the many conversations she and Kent had had about this very thing, and where Kent stood; if she’d be able to return Palmer’s passion. Kent had all but said she was ready for the next level, though what that was, the blonde wasn’t sure.

Di didn’t feel it was her place to tell the confused brunette any of this. Kent seemed to be doing just fine on her own. With a grin, she stood, gathering all of Kent’s stuff.

"Come on. Let’s go find her."

Palmer and Di looked in every nook and cranny of the library, not finding the hiding blonde. Finally Di said she had an idea.

"Come on. I think I know where she is."

They scurried outside, heading toward the back of the large brick building, finding the back entrance and the long staircase that led to the door. Sometimes the two friends would sit there and talk. Sure enough, Kent sat there, knees bent up, elbows resting on them, hands behind her head.

"Hey," Di said softly, coming to sit on one side of her while Palmer stood, feeling helpless. Di motioned for her to sit on the other side of the blonde, which she did. Kent looked at Palmer, then turned away, her face still red from acute embarrassment. She buried her face in Di’s neck, the other girl wrapping an arm around her shoulders. "You okay?" Di whispered so only Kent could hear. The blonde nodded, but remained buried.

"I feel so stupid," Kent said, her voice muffled, but Palmer heard. "I shouldn’t have said that."

"Why not?" Di asked. Why not, indeed, Palmer wanted to ask. "It’s okay to feel things, sweetie," the brunette continued. "It’s not a crime."

"Should I go?" Palmer asked, hands buried in her pockets, looking at Di over Kent’s head. Di shook her head.

Finally Kent lifted her head, and looked over at Palmer, very shy. She almost felt like she was back to square one with her feelings, but once she saw those beautiful, caring blue eyes, all her worries melted away. She smiled weakly, slid across the hard cement step, and leaned her head on Palmer’s shoulder.

The brunette smiled and put an arm around the blonde’s back, pulling her closer, and resting her head on top of that of the girl she was swiftly falling for.

* * *

Palmer paced in her room, nervous as all get out. It was New Year’s Eve, and she and Kent were going out with Di and Grady. According to Kent’s friend, she had filled her boyfriend in on everything with the two girls, but still – he was her teammate and friend. She had no idea how the Hulk would react.

She wanted to look good for Kent tonight all the same. Ever since the library incident, Kent had become very affectionate with her. They often held hands as they walked or talked, hugging when they saw each other, and oh the smile that the blonde would grace her with. She sighed at the memory. It was like Palmer was the only person in the world who existed for the blonde, and it made her melt every time.

Shaking those thoughts away, she looked at herself in the mirror. She had finished dressing an hour earlier, and just waited for the magic time to pick up Kent. She took in her black pants, fitting her long legs nicely, and holding on to her curves in all the right places. The pants were topped off with black boots and a ribbed, white shirt with capped sleeves. Hair was down and wild around her face.

Yeah, she looked good.

She grabbed a jacket and headed out, tossing her keys in the air, and catching them.

The drive over to Kent’s place wasn’t a long one, but she felt the butterflies anew as she pulled up to the curb. She knew that Kent’s parents knew about them, but she had not seen them since Kent had filled them in. Would they say anything to her? Would they react? Hell, would they be there?

As she made her way toward the door, she remembered Kent telling her she had a surprise that she wanted to show her, Palmer able to hear a snickering Di in the background. She couldn’t help but wonder what it was.

She rang the doorbell, which was almost instantly answered by a tuxedo-clad Mr. Gallery.

"Hi, sir," she said, smiling at his handsome face. "You look very nice."

"Thank you. Come in, Palmer." Kent’s dad held the door open, and she stepped through it, unable to shake the feeling that she was being sized up. "So, you and Kent have plans tonight, huh?" he asked, rocking on his heels. Hell, he looked as uncomfortable as Palmer felt.

"Yep. You, too?" The older man nodded. "Uh, does Kent have a curfew?" the brunette finally asked, trying to find anything to talk about. She had never felt really comfortable around Kent’s parents the few times she’d met them, while her dad had completely enveloped the blonde into the Singleton household.

"Well, I guess, uh, before dawn." He nodded, liking his own answer. He had no idea what to think of this girl that his daughter hung around with. Kent had told her parents that they were dating, and that Palmer was her girlfriend, but Darren Gallery had no idea what that was all about. As long as Kent stayed out of trouble, it was good enough for him. His wife could deal with the rest.

Palmer was about to say something, but stopped dead in her tracks. Her eyes moved up the stairs, and the beauty coming down. It seemed as though Kent had a couple surprises up her sleeve. The long, blonde hair that Palmer had come to love to run her fingers through, was gone. In its place was short, lighter locks, the ends tucked neatly behind her ears, which glinted from the simple hoop earrings in them. The hair made her look older, and beyond sexy.

It took Palmer’s breath away. Well, that is until her eyes wandered further down. Then her breath just plain caught.

A tight, black shirt, gripped those luscious breasts and muscular body perfectly. She thought she felt a slight bit of drool escape down her chin when she took in the tight black leather pants, laced up the sides, tantalizing bits of skin showing between the threaded leather. Her eyes drifted up again to meet intense, fiery green.

"Honey, you look beautiful." Darren Gallery interrupted Palmer’s most un-parent-like thoughts.

"Thanks, dad." It was apparent on the Mr. Gallery’s face that he wasn’t so sure about this new outfit his daughter was sporting. It made her look far too old for nearly 17.

"I told Palmer here to have you home by dawn."

"Okay, dad. Have a good time." The blonde leaned up and kissed his clean-shaven cheek, then turned to Palmer, taking in her outfit, her body, everything.

Palmer could tell something was different, but wasn’t real sure what. She’d go along with it.

Once in the car, Palmer took a chance, and reached across the console to take Kent’s hand. It was obvious that the blonde was trying to make a statement with how she was dressed, and never in her life had Palmer felt more like a 15 year old boy just finding sexuality. The girl oozed it.

Kent wrapped her fingers around Palmer’s, gracing her with a smile, which the brunette matched.

"You look absolutely stunning tonight, Kent," she said, her voice soft. The old Kent came back as she smiled shyly, ducking her head. "I love the hair." The blonde head snapped up, green eyes pleading into blue.

"Really? Oh, good." She smiled with a sigh. "I was worried."

"Why?" Palmer glanced at her companion briefly, then her eyes went back to the road. Her father had cautioned her about driving tonight. Lots of idiot drunks out on New Year’s Eve.

"Well, I mean, you obviously liked me with the long hair, so . . ." Palmer melted, yet again.

"Oh, Kent, you are so adorable." She gave the blonde a full, winning smile, squeezing her hand, and entwining their fingers. "You’d look gorgeous bald."

"Really?" Kent scrunched up her nose.

"Well, mostly." Palmer grinned at the smack she received for that remark.

* * *

Di swiped at Grady’s hand again. For some reason, like a fly, he had no learning curve, and his large hand kept riding up to her ass.

"I’m gonna have to knock you out, Grady. Stop it," she hissed as they waited in the long line to get into Culver’s, a trendy nightclub that tailored to teens without being cheesy. The couple were waiting for their friends, and Di was just about vibrating. She knew what Kent had in store for Palmer, with the hair and outfit, and couldn’t wait to see how Palmer reacted.

Grady was just excited to see two lesbians getting it on.

"Oh, there they are!" Di exclaimed excitedly. "Grady, keep our place." She hurried out of line and to the striking couple headed her way. She took in the tight-fitting clothes, the steamy gazes her two favorite females gave each other, and raised a brow. God, Kent was lucky. But then again, so was Palmer. They looked so good together.

"Oh my god! You two look great!" she said, putting a hand on each of their arms. "Grady’s holding our place, we’re almost in. Annnd," She grinned. "He brought a little something to keep us warm." She moved in between Palmer and Kent, threading an arm within each of theirs. "You gals ready to shake things up? Cause I’ll tell you, you guys are hot!"

The club was hopping, and many disappointed teens were turned away as the building met its capacity. The music was loud, the dancing crazy, and the free bottled water dousing heated bodies and libidos.

Palmer and Kent sat at a table, watching as Grady and Di danced, looking lovingly into each others eyes.

"So, you think they’ll get married after high school?" Kent asked, leaning toward her date to be heard over the music. Palmer grinned, watching the dancing duo.

"I don’t know. Sure look in love, don’t they?" She looked at the blonde, and yet again, for about the thirteenth time in the last fifteen minutes, was amazed at how beautiful she was, and that she was there with her. She looked into Kent’s eyes, trying to convey everything she felt for her in that look.

"Dance with me?" Kent asked quietly. Palmer had to basically read her lips to understand, but she nodded.

Kent stood, taking Palmer’s hand in hers, and led her toward the thrumming dance floor, weaving between couples, singles and groups, trying to find some bare place to dance. Finally settled, she turned, wrapping her arms around Palmer’s neck, their bodies about half an arm’s length apart. Palmer snaked her hands around until they rested on Kent’s lower back, slightly pushing so the blonde would move a little closer.

"Holy shit! They’re dancing!" Grady nearly lost it when he saw the two gorgeous chicks head to the dance floor. Man, they were hot. How the hell did Palmer get so damn lucky?

Palmer looked down into the face of her girlfriend, always awed and inspired by the diminutive blonde, who was smiling up at her. So beautiful, sexy, graceful, smart, fun. God, any and everything she’d want in someone. She had no idea how Kent felt about her, but she knew that she was quickly sliding down into unknown territory, and had no idea what to do about it, or how to take it.

She did know that she wanted so badly to kiss Kent at that moment, but Kent had done nothing in the past couple months to give her that right, or let Palmer know she was ready for that, so she refrained. She would save that for her dreams.

The song changed, a fast-paced, heavy beat pounding throughout the place, and it kind of bummed Kent out. She had enjoyed the closeness to Palmer, and the simple beat of the slower song before. But, they went with it, both using their bodies to their fullest. She watched as Palmer twisted and raised her arms through the air, pounding her fist with the beat, making the blonde laugh and follow with her own silly moves. They bumped hips to the drum solo, laughing and giggling, seeing only each other. They had no idea that two pairs of eyes were on them, Di and Grady having sat to regroup and re-hydrate.

It was nearly two hours later when Di finally battled her way through the throng of thrashing bodies to her friends.

"Hey, you two. It’s almost midnight!" she shouted over the ridiculously loud volume they felt the need to play "YMCA" at. She indicated her wrist so they could get the idea. They both nodded, Palmer reaching down to check her belt loop watch. She whispered in Kent’s ear, the blonde nodding her understanding.

The three made their way over to the table where cold water waited for them. They drank happily, then smiled at each other, Palmer swiping a hand across her wet, cold mouth.

"Man, you two like heated up that floor! Damn," Grady said, eyes wide with the excitement of seeing two lesbos dancing for the first time. He was a happy guy.

"Alright everyone!" the announcer’s voice bellowed over the speakers until the music suddenly quieted. "It’s one minute till midnight. Grab a glass of alcohol-free champagne, and let’s celebrate!"

"Come on, Kent. Let’s grab some for our boys." Di winked at Palmer who looked at her incredulous.

"You’re bad." Kent grinned as they made their way to the bar.

"Yeah, but that should be you tonight. Oh my god is she hot!" She snuck a look back over her shoulder at the brunette who was talking with Grady. "God if I didn’t have Grady, I tell you what . . ."

"Yeah, yeah. So you’ve said." The blonde grinned, feeling bold. Tonight she felt like a different person, more in control of her wants. The new hair, Palmer’s response to it, all of it, the clothes. She just felt sexy, and it showed. Palmer’s eyes followed her wherever she went, and Kent relished the attention.

"Damn, that woman’s hot," Di said, grabbing two glasses of the ‘champagne’ and handing them to Kent, then grabbing two more from the hundreds of pre-filled glasses lining the bar. "How are things going?"

"Great." Kent smiled. "I was really worried about what she’d think of my hair, but she loved it."

"Of course she did. She has good taste." Di grinned, and was rewarded when the blonde head laid on her shoulder.

"You’re such a sweet talker."

"I do my best."

"You are so full of shit, Grady." Palmer was laughing, lightly punching her ex-teammate in the arm.

"About what?" Di asked, walking to her man and handing him the glass of champagne.

"Nothing," he muttered, taking it, and a kiss.

"Hey, hey. Wait until midnight," Di said, pushing him away.

Palmer and Kent watched the couple, thinking how cute they were when the announcer got back on the mic.

"Okay, ladies and gentleman. The countdown starts now!"

As the crowd began to count down from ten seconds, the four of them counted also, Grady with his arm around Di’s shoulders, and Kent grabbing for Palmer’s hand, which was given gladly.

As they got closer to the stroke of midnight, Kent could feel her stomach tightening, wanting to give Palmer a special gift to start off the new year with. She turned to the taller girl, still counting down, and as the announcer hit one, she reached up, cupping the brunette’s face, and leaned up, touching her lips to Palmer’s. She felt large hands on her waist that pulled the blonde even closer.

Palmer had never kissed a girl before, but knew this kiss was special. She had wanted it for so long, had wanted to know what it was like to kiss Kent Gallery, and now that she had her chance, she was in heaven. The blonde’s lips were soft, so very soft, the warm air coming from her nose tickling across her skin, and the young, hard body beneath her hands incredible.

No longer hearing the cheers of their fellow party-goers, Kent reached her hands up, entwining her fingers into the long, dark hair. She tilted her head to the side, opening her mouth just a bit, allowing her lips to slide against Palmer’s, tasting the warm breath that filled her mouth as the brunette took a breath or sighed. She was amazed at how wonderful this was. She figured it would be nice, but this went far beyond nice. It felt good, it felt right, it was perfect. Chad couldn’t hold a candle to Palmer, this girl she had come to care for and cherish.

Kent felt Palmer’s hands slide from her waist to her lower back, pulling her in that much closer until she felt the taller girl’s warm body against her own, slightly gasping at the feel of Palmer’s breasts against her. Even the thought that it was a girl she was kissing couldn’t dampen the feeling. That just didn’t seem to matter anymore. Palmer had treated her better than any boy had, so who was she to fight it?

"Holy shit, Di! Look at ‘em!"

"Shut it. Come here and kiss me." Di grabbed her man by the back of his massive neck and pulled him down for a fiery kiss of her own, an eye still on her friends. They’d been standing like that for the last five minutes, and she thought it must be the most beautiful thing she’d ever seen.

The kiss came to a natural end, both parting with a smile and a hug.

"Happy New Year’s, Kent," Palmer whispered into the blonde’s hair, inhaling her scent.

"Mmm. Happy New Year’s to you, too, Palmer." Kent reveled in the closeness, still able to feel those incredibly soft lips on her own. She smiled at the hardy heartbeat she heard beneath Palmer’s chest. She imagined its rhythm matched her own.

"Want to dance?" Palmer asked, not wanting the contact with this incredible blonde to end. She smiled when Kent nodded readily. Grabbing her hand, the blonde was led out to join the rest of the celebrants, the pulsing beat rushing through their already overheated bodies.

Finding a place, Palmer turned to her dance partner and pulled her close, eyes automatically closing at this new-found freedom in touching. God, she wanted so badly to touch Kent. Little did she know that the blonde was feeling the exact same way.

As the night went on, the music playing frantic, then soft and slow, then simply erotic, the stunning female couple, who had caught just about every eye in the place, continued to dance. Every song they were out there, only stopping once in a great while for water, then one or the other would lead them right back.

Kent was looking up into the most gorgeous blue eyes imaginable. She could feel the body heat radiating off Palmer in waves, only to meet hers and create a funnel of want. She wasn’t even completely sure just what it was that she wanted, but knew that the brunette’s lips had something to do with it.

She leaned up and caught the open lips again.

Palmer moaned into the contact, knowing that the sound would get eaten up by the music. She brought her hands up and buried her fingers in the newly short locks. So soft. The feel of Kent’s lips moving against hers had to be on the top two events to happen in her 17 years on this earth. The first being Kent agreeing to be with her at all.

She ran her hands up and down the blonde’s back, feeling the hot dampness of the shirt from their hours of dancing. She didn’t care as she felt ten fingers begin to knead the skin of her waist through the thin material of her white shirt. She also could have sworn she had heard a small moan from the blonde, but didn’t dare to hope.

Though the kiss was still mildly chaste, meaning no tongue, it was wonderful. Palmer’s dark head was brought down further by a hand on the back of her neck, Kent deepening the kiss as she opened her mouth a little wider, inviting more of Palmer in. The taller girl certainly took the invite, and lightly licked the inside of Kent’s top lip. She smiled when she definitely heard that little gasp.

Kent recovered quickly, bringing her tongue out to meet Palmer’s, deepening the kiss that much more. She could just barely taste the remnants of the non-alcoholic champagne they’d had, in the immense heat of Palmer’s mouth.

Palmer couldn’t keep the moan back now. She brought Kent even closer, her fingers fanned out on her back and moving down to just the very top of the blonde’s leather-clad butt. Kent pushed against her hands, loving the feel of the older girl’s hands on her.

"Wow," Di breathed, whistling through her front teeth. The pair were on fire, and everyone could feel the heat. She had never seen Kent react like that to anyone. She had dated all through high school, and some back in junior high. Well, if you can call chaperoned trips to the skating rink dates. Either way, she’d had her share of boyfriends, and had never, ever seemed so into it. It made sense, of course. She wasn’t really into it, but still.

She shook her head, turning back to her own date. They were heading out, but she didn’t want to interrupt the two to tell them.

"Let’s go, baby," she said, taking Grady by the hand, tugging him away from where his eyes were glued.

"Fuck me," he groaned, already ready for what he knew Di would be giving him later. Damn, he wanted to be a Grady sandwich in the middle of those two.

* * *

The dark Honda stopped in front of the nice house that Kent shared with her parents and sister, Whitney. Palmer turned off the ignition and turned to look at the blonde, who was already looking at her.

"I had fun," she said quietly. Kent smiled.

"Me, too. You’re a very good dancer, you know." She grinned, green eyes twinkling.

"So are you." They stared at each other for a moment. "Come here." Kent leaned over the console, and Palmer met her halfway. Their lips touched, and Palmer nipped the full bottom lip before her, causing a small chuckle. She liked that, so she did it again, and then took Kent in a deep kiss, craving the warmth and wetness she knew she’d find in that mouth.

The kiss lasted for a good fifteen, twenty minutes when Kent slowly pulled away, her eyes still closed.

"God, you’re good at that," she breathed, laying her head on Palmer’s shoulder, where she was automatically encircled by an arm.

"You, too, baby." The blonde head popped up and looked into shy blue eyes. Kent smiled.

"You called me baby." Palmer nodded. "I like it." She kissed the tip of Palmer’s nose. "I should go." One more scorching kiss, and she was gone.

Palmer watched as the cheerleader scurried up the walk to her house, digging her keys out of the small bag she had carried. Kent unlocked the door, and turned to see that Palmer was still there, watching. She blew the brunette a kiss, and hurried inside.

* * *

Palmer lay in her bed, her body on fire from her night with Kent. She had no idea how it could be, and couldn’t help but wonder what all of it would be like. If that girl could kiss like that, god, what else could she do with that mouth?

* * *

Kent’s head arched as her body found the release that had been building since she’d seen Palmer standing at the bottom of the stairs waiting for her, just hours earlier.

She let out a soft sigh, not wanting to alert her parents across the hall of her night-time activities. Her body finally relaxed, and she brought her hand above the covers, her lower body still pulsing in time with her heartbeat.

"Oh, Palmer," she whispered into her pillow.

* * *

Palmer turned over in her bed, warm and completely satisfied. She groaned slightly as she realized that she had been pulled from sleep by . . . something. She groaned again, wanting to turn back over and go to sleep again.

Ring, ring, ring.

"Man," she whined, knowing her dad wasn’t home, so she’d have to answer.

Ring, ring, ring.

"Damnit." She reached out and grabbed the handset next to her bed. "Hello?" she nearly barked.

"Whoa! What’s up?"

Palmer immediately smiled, hearing the soft voice of Kent, still sounding thick with sleep. She fell back into the soft mattress, bringing the whole phone with her.

"Nothing. What about you?" she asked, her voice softening to a purr. She couldn’t help but think of last night. Her body went automatically to 150 degrees, and a slow smile spread.

"Lying here in bed," came the quiet, almost husky, reply. "And thinking about you."

Oh, lord.

"Oh, yeah? Anything good?" Palmer grinned into the receiver.

"Mmm, yes."

Oh, good lord!

"Yeah? Tell me." Palmer’s heart was racing, and she closed her eyes, trying to picture that beautiful blonde over there, reclining in her bed, pink canopy be damned.

"Why not come over and I can show you?" Kent couldn’t believe her own bravado. She had awakened with the unbelievably sexy brunette on her mind, and she wanted to see her. Now. Reality had slapped her in the face by listening to her parents prattle around the house, then her door opened, her mother’s head peeking inside.

"Honey, we’re heading out with the Smith’s. We’ll be back later."

All the prompting she needed. As soon as she’d heard the garage door open, and her parents and sister leave, she had grabbed the cordless from the cradle by her bed and dialed those seven familiar numbers.

Palmer swallowed. Had she heard her right? "You want me to come over now?" she asked, her voice a high squeak which rewarded her with a low chuckle on the other end of the line.


"Give me ten minutes."

* * *

Hair still dripping around her shoulders, Palmer threw on a pair of jeans and sweatshirt, grabbed her keys, nearly forgetting her wallet with her license in her haste to see Kent.

Pulling to a screeching halt in front of the Gallery house, she smiled when she saw the heavy front door open, and Kent’s smiling face standing behind the screen door.

Kent watched, her heart pounding. She thought about calling Di while she had waited for Palmer to arrive, asking Di what she was supposed to do, but decided to just go with the flow. She didn’t know what she was ready for, but figured it would hit her as it happened.

She held the screen door open, allowing the chilly air to course around her bare feet as she watched Palmer head up the walk, hands buried deep in the pockets of her jeans, long, dark hair blowing away from her face as a breeze caught it.

The two smiled as Palmer reached the stoop and was let in. Neither really knew what to do, so without a sound Kent led the brunette upstairs to her room. As Palmer followed, she took in the loose-fitting flannel pants and t-shirt, and still drying blonde hair.

"Come." Kent held open the door to her room, and closed it behind her once Palmer was inside, locking it. She looked nervously at the brunette who stood in the middle of the room, hands still in her pockets, looking back at her.

Without a word, Kent grabbed one of the brunette’s arms, tugging until the hand attached came free and she could grab it, led Palmer to her bed, and sat down, pulling her girlfriend down next to her.

Palmer sat, legs firmly together, one hand in Kent’s, the other resting politely in her lap. She had no idea what she was supposed to do, or what she could do. She just knew what she wanted to do.

"Some night last night, huh?" Kent finally said, breaking the silence. Palmer nodded.

"It was great. The best New Year’s I’ve ever had." She grinned, followed by a grin on the blonde’s face.

"Me, too," Kent said quietly, her eyes drifting to Palmer’s mouth, seeing the small smile, almost a smirk, that was there.

"Kent?" Palmer said quietly, her own eyes fastening on Kent’s lips.

"Yeah?" came the breathy reply.

"I want to kiss you again."

"God, then do it."

That was all the permission she needed. Palmer cupped Kent’s face and turned it up to hers, her lips coming down to claim what they had staked as theirs last night. Kent moaned slightly at the contact, which raced through Palmer’s blood. It was nice to do this without an audience, and to hear their breathing above the music.

Kent brought her hands up to Palmer’s waist, tilting her head to deepen the kiss. She couldn’t keep the random thought from her mind that Di would be so proud of her. She almost grinned against the brunette’s mouth, but it was sucked right off her face when Palmer sucked her lower lip into a hot, wet mouth.

With a small sigh, Kent found herself leaning in even more to the warm body next to her. Her hands began to knead the skin at Palmer’s waist, and she was startled as the brunette pulled away, giggling and twisting out of her grasp.

"Ticklish," Palmer said sheepishly. Kent smiled and found purchase on Palmer’s back, bringing the dark head down for more. She wanted to get as close to Palmer as was humanly possible, but just didn’t know how. She had never fully enjoyed her make out sessions with Chad or Vince, or anyone else she had ever kissed. But it seemed she couldn’t get enough with Palmer. Her lips were so unbelievably soft, and though her kisses were passionate, they were gentle and giving, unlike the way the guys would just take. Not bothering to give back. Unless it was their tongue down her throat.

She shivered at the thought, bringing Palmer even closer. Finally she felt large hands wrap around her waist and tug. Kent went without argument, finding herself straddling Palmer’s hips and sitting on her thighs. With this new closeness came even more intense sensations.

Palmer nearly groaned when Kent got settled on her lap, the kiss getting even deeper, their breasts pressed together as their breathing increased. The blonde buried her hands in Palmer’s hair, tugging at the long locks to get even closer, near panting as her excitement grew.

Palmer grasped what she could of Kent’s flannel-clad butt, feeling the wonderful softness of it and reveling in the feel of this magnificent girl, who she felt even closer to. They had turned a corner, and it felt damn good!

Kent could feel those hands that she loved roaming up and down her back, fingers digging into the skin once in a while, then moving on. Her hands were still in Palmer’s hair, but one of them drifted down to the brunette’s own back, feeling the thick material of her sweatshirt.

Of all days, Palmer wished to any god that she had worn a t-shirt or tank. Anything to feel more of those hands as they moved all around her broad back, running up and down her spine, then coming up to grasp her shoulders again.

The brunette was surprised when she felt the slightest bit of movement from Kent’s hips, slightly rocking against her own. She wondered if Kent even realized it..

For just a moment, this spooked her. She knew that despite her big thoughts, in the light of day she wasn’t ready for where their bodies would invariably take them.

She slowed the kiss, breaking it off and leaning her forehead against Kent’s. They were both breathing heavily, sharing the same air as they tried to calm down.

"What’s the matter?" Kent breathed.

"We need to slow it down," Palmer said, her fingers drawing lazy circles on the blonde’s back. Kent nodded her understanding and hugged Palmer tightly to her, relishing the feel of the brunette enveloping her smaller body. "You feel so good," Palmer whispered into Kent’s neck. "Warm, too." She got a tighter squeeze.

"I had no idea," Kent said, stroking Palmer’s hair, running her fingers through the dark strands.

"About what?" the brunette asked, laying her head against Kent’s shoulder, breathing her in.

"That kissing you, well, that I’d enjoy it so much," the blonde explained. "I wasn’t sure for a long time if I’d even be able to, you know?" She pulled back to look into those blue eyes that had haunted her dreams for the past few weeks.

"Really?" Palmer raised a hand and brushed the short locks behind Kent’s ear. The blonde nodded.

"Yeah. But now, I just can’t seem to resist." She smiled sheepishly, then swallowed at the look that came into those very eyes.

"Then don’t."

Kent found herself wrapped up in strong arms, a warm tongue entering her mouth, soft lips moving against hers. She sighed into the kiss, stilling her fingers in Palmer’s hair, pulling that head closer to her.

It made Palmer soar to hear those words from Kent. She had sensed the blonde’s hesitations since all this had started, and had resigned herself for a while that they may never have anything more than just a close friendship. She cared a lot for this girl, and knew that Kent also cared for her. But her dreams, well, she just figured they’d stay just that. Kent had taken her completely by surprise the night before when she’d gone to pick her up to go out. The way she’d been dressed, those incredible pants, and the looks she’d gotten from the blonde. Wow.

Now she held Kent close, kissing her, trying to let everything she felt for her, and had felt for so long, show through in it. She really hoped Kent got it.

Eventually Kent climbed off Palmer’s thighs and laid back on the bed, pulling the brunette with her. Palmer cradled Kent against her, resting the blonde’s head on her shoulder, and wrapping protective arms around her. This was absolute bliss.

"What do you want in life?" Kent asked, staring at the up close and personal view of Palmer’s long, soft neck.

"I don’t know," Palmer said, absently running her fingers through Kent’s soft hair. "To be happy, I suppose."

"Are you?" Kent raised her head so she could look into blue eyes. Palmer turned to look into those incredibly expressive eyes she had grown to adore.

"You make me happy," she said quietly. Kent smiled shyly.


"Oh, yeah. I had watched you for so long, Kent. I would play out all these stupid scenarios in my head about how I’d get you to notice me." She grinned at the memory.

"Like what?" Kent held her head up on her hand, looking down into the beautiful face of her girlfriend.

"Let me think. Well, I used to dream about you looking out onto the field after I’d made some great play." They both laughed "I know it’s ridiculous, but it’s true."

"I did, you know."

"You did what?"

The blonde smiled, leaning down to place a soft kiss on those lips. "I used to watch you. I didn’t really understand it, but I always wanted to see you in your athletic prowess."

"My athletic prowess, huh?"

"Uh huh."

"I’ll show you athletic prowess!" The brunette surprised the blonde by reaching up, and in one quick move, flopped her onto her back and straddled her hips, looking down into startled green eyes. "Did you like to watch?" she asked, her long hair falling to form a curtain around their faces. Kent nodded.

"Loved it. You were so powerful out there. I thought you were hot." Kent grinned, realizing a long time ago what all those curious looks had been, but never understanding it at the time, nor why what Palmer thought of her mattered.

"Oh yeah? Hot?" The blonde nodded. "And now?"

"I think you’re really hot," Kent said, a slow, almost feline-like, smile spreading across her lips. "And a good kisser." Palmer just stared at her for a moment, taking in all her features, the slope of her nose, the setting of her brilliant eyes, eyebrows, her soft mouth, all of her. Then her body began to take mental stock of their bodies, and the feel of Kent under her. She looked down to see the small, compact body beneath her, and it sent a fire throughout her entire being.

"I don’t want to scare you, Kent, but," Palmer paused, working the words through her mind, trying to taste them, see if they’re right. "I really want you," she finally managed, the words breathy and almost pleading.

Kent was struck to the core at Palmer’s statement, her center responding, but that alone sent a finger of fear through her. She wasn’t ready. She understood, but wasn’t ready.

"Palmer," she said, hoping the brunette would understand. "I’m not," She swallowed. "I’m not ready for that. Yet," she finished softly. After the events of the previous night and then the morning, she knew that it was a matter of time. It would happen, just a mater of when.

Palmer looked into eyes that held so much: fear, worry and desire. She chose to concentrate on the latter, but certainly not tossing the other two aside.

"I understand, Kent. I really do. I just wanted you to know," she explained. Kent smiled, placated. The blonde reached up, their lips a mere centimeter apart.

"Soon, baby. Soon," she whispered, then kissed her.

* * *

Kent smiled as her friend said "wow" for the fifth time. In a row. "Are you done?" she asked, lifting her leg so her ankle could rest on her knee, the phone held to her ear.

"I just can’t believe it. So, you think it’ll happen?" Di asked. She was amazed as the blonde told her more and more of just how close she and Palmer were getting. Not to that, you pervert. But to each other. Just how much things had grown since New Year’s, which was almost two months ago. She chuckled as Kent told her about the time she and Palmer were messing around in Palmer’s basement bedroom and damn near got busted by Palmer’s dad. Kent had jumped up, quickly locking the door just in time for Mr. Singleton to try the knob.

"It was so funny!" Kent laughed. "I thought Palmer was going to die of embarrassment. She had to open the door, her face all flushed and stuff. Man, classic, I tell you."

"So," Di drawled, wanting to get to the good stuff. "Are you guys going to go for the gold?" She grinned at the silence on the other end of the line. She loved seeing those two together. The adoration they shared was so obvious, a blind man could see it. They were never apart at school, and though people had asked Di about it, their secret was still basically that, a secret.

"Um," Kent said, twisting her fingers in the material of her tank top, not sure how to respond to Di’s question. She and Palmer hadn’t talked about it, but the blonde had a feeling it was a matter of time. They kissed whenever they could, even sneaking around the side of their school building between classes, never able to get enough of each other. "I’m not sure," she said, though she couldn’t keep the smile off her face.

"Well, you two are like two suck fish. It’s just kind of . . . well, shit, I’m jealous."

Kent grinned.

"You should be."

* * *

"So she’s jealous, huh?" Palmer asked, laying beside Kent on her bed, kissing the blonde’s neck.

"Uh huh." Kent arched her neck to give the brunette more access. "Did you lock your door, baby?" she asked, running her hands over Palmer’s denim-clad butt. She felt the taller girl nod against her neck.

"And what did you say?" Palmer nuzzled at Kent’s t-shirt, wishing that the blonde would wear v-neck shirts.

"I told her she should be," Kent moaned as she felt Palmer’s wet kisses moving steadily down her neck, her tongue hot as it glided over her skin. With a split-second decision, she grabbed Palmer’s hand that had been resting on the blonde’s stomach and placed it directly on her breast, over her shirt. Palmer stopped kissing and raised herself on her elbow, looking into clouded green eyes, looking for reassurance. Kent nodded and closed her eyes as Palmer’s face got closer to hers, awaiting the kiss that she knew was headed her way.

Palmer’s heart leapt into her throat when she felt her palm placed on the unbelievable softness that was Kent’s right breast. At first she thought she had imagined it, but then her fingers squeezed ever so slightly, and when she heard the soft exhale of breath, she knew it was very real.

As she kissed Kent, she could feel the nipple hardening beneath the heat of her palm, and she allowed her fingers to explore the soft roundness, the rigid peak, the undeniable femaleness of it.

Breaking the kiss, Palmer looked at her hand, in awe that she was given permission to touch Kent like this. She relished the gift.

Kent closed her eyes, amazed at the sensations Palmer’s hand on her breast was sending throughout her body. She arched her back, needing more as Palmer squeezed the flesh, running her fingers over her nipple, nearly making the blonde jump out of her skin. She had no idea it would feel like this.

"Oh, Palmer," she breathed, her body unable to stay still as the brunette began to pinch her nipple, then lowered her mouth. Kent could feel the hot breath engulfing her breast, making the nipple that much more rigid, straining against the confines of her bra, then wetness spread through the material of both shirt and bra.

She wanted . . . what? She gently pushed Palmer off her, sitting up and pulling the tank top over her head, leaving the bra in place.

Palmer watched with wide eyes, stunned twice in as many minutes. Kent laid back down on the bed, arms above her head, hands tucked neatly behind. Blue eyes gazed over the expanse of newly-revealed flesh, and the white satin and lace bra.

She could see the slight discoloration of the nipples beneath the bra, the peaks hard, poking up. Feeling like she’d just been given a huge gift, she bent down to lavish attention on them.

Kent groaned as she felt that warm mouth again. It still wasn’t direct, but only had to go through one layer now instead of two, and it felt damn good! Her hands sprang up to entwine in the long hair that was spread out over her chest and stomach as Palmer sucked a nipple through the satin.

"Oh, god," she moaned, intense sensations shooting from her breasts straight down. It was incredible!

Palmer reveled in the reaction she was causing, as well as how unbelievably beautiful Kent was. She pushed her head up, looking out over the woman laying before her. Kent was flushed from the waistline of her jeans to the tip of her head. Her head lay back in the pillows, eyes half-hooded, mouth slightly open as soft pants escaped. Blue eyes drifted down to take in the smooth, soft neck, leading to pronounced collar bones, which of course opened to the expanse of her upper chest, and then those beautiful breasts.

"God, Kent," she whispered. She smiled as she felt a hand begin to stroke her back, green eyes on hers. "You are so beautiful," she said, her voice filled with awe. "Incredible."

Those fingers on her back stole down to the hem of Palmer’s own t-shirt, and then slowly crawled up, warm fingertips running along extremely overheated skin.

Palmer grabbed the shirt and whipped it off, tossing it to the floor, and looked down at Kent, whose eyes were firmly fixed on her breasts. She sat there, letting Kent take in everything, knowing that she would have to take it slow for the blonde. She had no idea what she was capable of.

"Wow," Kent finally muttered, her eyes glued to the soft-looking cleavage that peeked out over the sports bra Palmer wore. She reached out a hand, cupping the roundness, running a finger over the taut material that held the large breasts in place. "Beautiful."

Palmer fought to keep her eyes open as that hand explored, wanting so much to capture every expression on Kent’s face and share in the moment with her, though it was a battle quickly being lost.

Especially when Kent found her nipple.

The brunette threw her head back, eyes closed as her extremely sensitive nipple was touched, Kent running a thumb across it, and intense sensations slammed through her body.

Kent liked that response. This time she brought her fingers into play, pinching the rigid skin, running a fingernail over it. Palmer was biting her lower lip as her fingers grabbed the comforter beneath her, making fists.

"You like that, don’t you?" Kent said quietly, a statement. She sat up, kissing the soft flesh of the cleavage, getting a closer view of Palmer’s breasts, seeing just how firm they really were. The breasts of a 17 year old. She snaked her tongue out and tasted the skin of that cleavage, taking in the moan that it produced, and then brought that curious tongue to the brunette’s right nipple, just flicking over it, over the material.

Palmer thought she might come right there. Now she understood the torture she’d been putting Kent through only moments before. She could feel that hot breath, that wet tongue, and all the promises behind it. She could also feel the wetness gathering in her shorts.

She dug at Kent’s scalp with her fingertips, wanting more, but not sure what she wanted, or how to get it. The sensations were just falling over her one after the other with every stroke of Kent’s tongue, or every twist of her fingers. She was on overload.

"Oh, baby," she moaned as the blonde took the initiative to move the material of her bra aside just a bit, those searching wet lips finding more of her skin to lavish attention on. She nearly jumped out of her skin when she felt that curious tongue swipe just the very top of her hard, pebbled nipple. "Oh, god!"

Kent grinned into Palmer’s chest. She hadn’t meant to go that far, but once she had, she wasn’t so sure she wanted to stop. It was obvious that the brunette enjoyed this attention on her breasts. There was a part of the blonde that was nervous and ready to stop, holding off for more on another day, but then again, there was that part that was so ready to see what Palmer had to give.

Suddenly Palmer found herself lying flat on her back with a fiery blonde sitting astride her thighs. She looked up at Kent, eyes barely open as waves of pleasure continued to gush south. Kent looked down at her, running her open palms up and down Palmer’s stomach, feeling the warm skin and smooth muscle rippling beneath her touch. She watched the way Palmer’s breasts moved as she breathed, rising and falling with every breath.

"So beautiful," she whispered, hands running up and down the long arms, gently massaging the skin as she went. Palmer closed her eyes, a small smile on her face. She felt like she could purr in contentment.

The blonde’s eyes settled on those breasts again.

"It’s no secret that things could get easily out of control here, Palmer," she said, her massage continuing, her eyes moving up to meet the brunette’s. "Perhaps we should stop." She looked into those eyes, trying to read what Palmer was thinking and feeling. She knew that Palmer was further along than she was, but even still, she wasn’t sure by how much. She didn’t want to push something that might hurt them in the end.

"Yeah," Palmer agreed, her voice hoarse. She sat up and enveloped Kent in a hug, pulling the blonde against her, marveling at the feel of their stomachs touching and the very small barrier between their breasts. "I think so." She nuzzled the blonde’s cleavage, making Kent giggle. She smiled up at her. "I adore you," she said, eyes shining with delight. Green eyes looked down at her, suddenly serious, which made Palmer’s heart miss a beat. Then Kent bent down and kissed her, not deep, but loving.

"I adore you, too, Palmer," she said quietly, a beautiful smile spreading across her face. "Come on," she said, climbing off and grabbing her shirt, tossing Palmer’s at her. "Feed me."

* * *

"So, are you going to come visit me when I’m in college?" Palmer asked, squeezing the smaller hand that rested inside hers.

"Oh, I don’t know," Kent said, cocking her head to the side. The brunette looked down at her.

"Excuse me?" Kent grinned.

"Of course I will, you goof."

"You better."

The couple walked along in the vacant park near Palmer’s house, reveling in the warm early spring sun. It was the beginning of March and the cold air was beginning to blow out, leaving only sun and grass that was steadily becoming greener.

"Are you excited to be a senior next year?" the blonde asked, taking her hand from Palmer’s and entwining her arm instead, hugging the brunette’s arm to her side so she could be closer.

"God, yes," Palmer said, smiling at the new closeness. "I am so ready to get out of that place."

"You gonna miss me?" Kent asked, looking up with pouting green eyes.

"Oh, you are so not fair. You know I can never resist you when you look at me that way," Palmer said, taking that protruding lip between her teeth and playfully nipping at it. "And yes. I’ll miss you very much. But, you’ll be coming to spend summers with me, so what does it matter," Palmer said matter-of-factly.

"Is that so?" Kent asked, surprised by this news, but liking it all the same.

"Yes. Very much so."

"Hmm. I like that."

* * *

Palmer hurried through the crowded hall, trying to get to her locker so she could hurry and meet Kent and Di in the library.

She quickly turned the dial to the right to 20, back over to 15, then finally back to the right again to 40. The lock clicked open and the metal door swung out, something catching her eye as it fell to her feet.

The brunette looked down, seeing the folded piece of paper, and picked it up. Unfolding it, she read the words, then re-read them:


I was thinking about you today and wanted to say hi. I missed you while in my classes, but school must go on. I also wanted to ask you something. (Insert deep breath here) Will you go to prom with me?



She read it again, a slow smile filling her lips. This was huge for Kent. The only problem they had was the blonde’s worries about what other people would think about their relationship, especially when it came to school. In some ways Palmer understood, but her feeling for Kent far outweighed some teasing. She had no real emotional ties to this school anyway, but understood that Kent did.

So, she sucked it up and dealt. But Kent asking her to go to the prom . . . She shook her head, her heart swelling even more than usual.

"You are so full of crap, Di, no wonder your eyes are brown." Kent exclaimed, which of course, earned her a smack.

"Can you guys go one day without spousal abuse?" Palmer grinned as she plopped down in the chair next to Kent. They both looked at her.

"No," Di said simply.

"Not a chance. Hi, gorgeous," Kent said quietly, making sure no one could hear.

"Hey, you," Palmer said just as quietly. "I got something in my locker today," she continued, a smile on her lips.

"Oh? What was that?" The blonde played along.

"Well," she drawled. "This incredibly beautiful girl left a really sweet note telling me how much I was missed. Isn’t that nice?"

"Oh, yes. What a sweetheart."

"Indeed. But, there was also a great invitation in that note."

"You don’t say." Kent looked truly amazed.

"I do. I was invited to go to prom with this wonderful girl named Kent Gallery."

"You mean you hadn’t asked her yet?!" Di near shouted, then looked at the twin sets of narrowed brows and grinned sheepishly, lowering her voice. "What the hell kind of boyfriend are you, Palmer? Jeesh. Falling down on the job already."

"Bite me."


Palmer shook her head and rolled her eyes, looking back at her love.

"Yes," she said simply. Kent grinned from ear to ear, about to bounce out of her seat. She stood, nodding toward the doorway of the library, and Palmer rose, quickly following the little blonde out.

"I’ll be fine. Don’t worry about me," Di hollered to their retreating forms. "Jeesh. Some people’s kids."

* * *

Palmer looked at herself in the mirror, taking a deep breath. Her sister-in-law had just left, coming to help with hair and makeup, which she only allowed a smidge of.

She wore a floor-length black satin gown. It was simple in design, but elegant in style. It had spaghetti straps, allowing her beautifully-shaped shoulders to show, the neckline dipping to tease with a hint of cleavage. Her hair was piled up on top of her head, silver earrings dangling from her ears.

The brunette looked down at the slit that rose up to her knee, making sure that the black heels she wore looked okay. Blue eyes looked back at her from the mirror, made more intense by the smoky makeup that had been applied. A touch of lipstick and she was ready.

She felt good, she knew she looked good, and couldn’t wait to see what Kent had in store for her.

Palmer made her very careful way down the stairs, mindful of her dress and the heels, running her hand down the length of the banister to help keep her footing.

Bruce Singleton waited not-so patiently. His daughter-in-law had lectured him on being nice and respectful before she’d left. So, now he waited, feeling like he was seeing his baby girl for the first time in that hospital almost 18 years ago. Wow. His baby would be legal here in a couple months.

His thoughts were cut short when he heard the footfalls on the carpet, and looked up only to lose his breath.

"Oh, my," he whistled through his teeth, bringing a hand up to rub the ever present stubble on his chin. "Look at that."

Palmer blushed, seeing the look on her dad’s face. He was the only person in the world, next to Kent of course, whose opinion mattered. She knew even more that she looked good.

"What do you think, dad?" she asked, turning in a slow circle for him.

"I, well, hell, Palmer I’m speechless," he said, looking her over, amazed that he had been part of the creation of this beautiful creature. "You look absolutely stunning, honey. You’re gonna knock ‘em all dead tonight. You and that little angel of yours." His blue eyes were twinkling. He leaned down and gave her the smallest kiss on her cheek, smiling proudly at her. "Here you go," he said, offering her the corsage from the fridge, still in its plastic, clear box.

"Would you, dad?" Palmer asked quietly, handing the flower creation to him. Without a word, he nodded, taking the pin out of it and reaching out to attach the flowers to one of the straps of his daughter’s dress.

"All done," he said, taking both her hands and taking her in one last time. "You have fun, sweetie. And you said you won’t be back until tomorrow morning, right?" Palmer nodded. "Okay. Well, uh, here." He shoved something in Palmer’s hand and grinned with a wink.

The brunette opened her palm and busted out laughing, holding the wrapped Trojan up to him.

"Dad, you’re sick." She chuckled.

"Get outta here." He grinned, and walked over to the front door and opened it. "You two have fun."

"We will."

"And Palmer?"

"Yeah?" she asked, looking over her shoulder at him.

"I love you." The brunette smiled.

"I love you, too."

* * *

Kent looked at her mother, waiting for the final verdict. Elizabeth Gallery took another stroll around her daughter, looking at the gown she’d chosen for this most interesting of prom nights. The taller woman wasn’t so sure how she felt about her daughter going to a school dance with another girl, but she did like Palmer Singleton well enough. She just couldn’t quite bring herself to think of the after prom activities. Though she did have to smile when she thought of her own first prom.

"So? Come on, mom. I don’t have a lot of time. Palmer will be here any minute." Nervous green eyes watched her mother’s response in the mirror.

Elizabeth came to a stop in front of her daughter, admiring the red halter top matte jersey dress with a plunging back and low, but decent, neckline. She wore the diamond solitaire necklace her mother lent her, as well as the small diamond stud earrings she’d gotten as a Sweet Sixteen gift. The red strappy heels finished off the outfit.

"Honey, you’re gonna slay ‘em."

All the encouragement she needed.

The doorbell rang and Kent felt her heart begin to pound yet again. Elizabeth hurried down the stairs as the blonde put on the last few touches and got her breathing under control.

Palmer had given her the option of seeing her in a tux, a pantsuit or a dress, and Kent had chosen the dress. She thought Palmer was the most beautiful woman in the world, and wanted the world to know that she belonged to her.

"Kent! Palmer’s here!" Darren Gallery called from downstairs.

"Here we go," she breathed, and grabbed her clutch off the dresser, ready to go.

She made her way to the top of the stairs and looked down, her breath caught in her throat. When she saw Palmer standing in the living room talking to her parents, she was struck to the bone. Again. Palmer was absolutely gorgeous in her gown. Kent had often told the brunette that she should model for extra money, but Palmer would never hear anything of it.

As she made her way down, blue eyes looked up to meet her own. Tonight was very special, and they both knew it.

Palmer kept contact with those beautiful green eyes as Kent walked down to meet her.

"A vision in red," she whispered, handing the blonde the corsage she brought for her.

"Thank you, Palmer." Kent smiled, returning the compliment. "You’re stunning. Help me?" Palmer took the flower arrangement, watching as Palmer pinned it to her dress with slightly trembling hands. She took those hands, giving a look that only the brunette would understand. In that look she told her that it would all be okay, and that they’d make a huge splash at the prom that no one would soon forget.

Palmer smiled in understanding, and they turned to Kent’s parents.

"Well, Kent. We’ll see you tomorrow morning, then? You’re going to the prom after party, right?"

"Yup." The blonde nodded. She hated lying to her parents, but knew the truth wasn’t an option.

* * *

The Hilton came into view, and the dark Honda pulled into a spot toward the back of the lot; one of the few spots left as they were arriving purposefully late.

"You ready?" Palmer asked quietly, looking over at the love of her life sitting beside her. Kent nodded.

"Let’s get ‘em, tiger." She smiled, taking Palmer’s hand in hers. That was all the encouragement the brunette needed. She opened her car door, making Kent stay put as she rushed around the front of the car in that long dress, and opened the door for the blonde. With a beaming smile, Kent said a quiet thank you, and they headed toward the ritzy hotel, hand in hand.

Di and Grady stood by the drink table, the football player guzzling a cup of punch mixed with 7-Up, while his date watched the door. She checked Grady’s watch again, knowing that Kent and Palmer would enter at any moment, and she didn’t want to miss a moment of it. She was so proud of her best friend for her show of guts and dedication to Palmer. She knew that the blonde was falling deeply in love with the football player, and was enjoying every moment of it.

"Oh, there they are," she whispered to her boyfriend, nudging his arm. He looked up, and nearly dropped his glass of punch.

A small group of people were standing at the entrance to the hotel’s ballroom, but they quickly moved and froze as the two women walked in. One dressed in red, the other in black, both stunning.

Di looked around, wanting to see reactions, and wasn’t disappointed. The girls were holding hands, obviously a couple, and people knew it. All movement stopped, the band continuing to play though no one danced. Almost three hundred sets of eyes were glued to them as they slowly strolled in, not looking at anyone, though Kent winked at Di and Grady, who quickly gave them a thumbs up.

Even the murmurs that were so common at large gatherings had stopped. Someone dropped a cup, shattering the glass on the hard wood floor, the noise like a bomb explosion.

Di began to grow angry as she heard some people beginning to whisper, and it wasn’t very nice. But, she decided that Kent and Palmer knew what they were doing and would leave it to them to take care of. Tonight, she was here to dance.

Palmer led Kent toward the dance floor, watching as those who had already been on the floor spread for them, like the parting of the Red Sea. They walked down the aisle made for them, not looking at anyone, only having eyes for each other. They didn’t see the looks of disdain, disgust, or just pure curiosity that they passed. Nor did they care.

"Dance with me?" Palmer asked, once they got to the center of the floor.

"Of course, madam," Kent replied, taking her place in front of her dance partner, hands wrapped around a bare neck while the brunette placed hers around a slim waist.

The music continued, and the duo began to sway together in time with it, not noticing as the dance floor slowly began to clear so they were the only pair under the colored lights.

Di looked around, disgusted at the behavior of her classmates. The looks her friends were getting were ridiculous. You’d think they’d never seen two people in love before. She looked up at Grady.

"How stupid can these people be?" she asked, incensed.

"Follow me," he said, determined to show that it wasn’t no big deal for lesbos to dance. Di followed, not having much choice as Grady picked the fastest pace that his much longer legs could take, taking up residence next to Kent and Palmer, wrapping his strong arms around Di’s waist, and pulling her in close. Di looked up into his face, pure adoration radiating from every pore. She wrapped her arms around his neck, and rested her head against his barrel of a chest.

Palmer drew Kent closer into her, the blonde nuzzling her face into the long, smooth neck, both their eyes closing as they swayed together as the beat of the music, a slow ballad, filled them.

Kent reached up, running her fingernails up and down the back of Palmer’s neck, making the taller girl shiver slightly. Kent looked up and found herself nearly drowning in the soft blue gaze.

Dil Robby looked around, seeing the stunned faces of his friends and fellow teammates, and thought it absolutely ridiculous. He thought the chicks were kind of cute.

"Fuck this. Came to dance." He grabbed his date’s hand, and tugged her toward the dance floor, stopping next to Grady and Di, and pulled her into a dance. Next Chris and his new girlfriend, Tammy, followed, then one of the Pirate’s tight ends, and their kicker.

Within a few minutes, the entire team had gathered under those dancing colorful lights, holding their dates close.

Palmer smiled down at her partner, her fingers fanned out across Kent’s near bare back, feeling her body moving against hers. Unable to stop herself, she leaned down and lightly kissed the blonde. Within a heartbeat, those soft lips responded and Palmer was invited inside. The brunette went willingly, feeling a hand make its careful way up into her carefully styled and pinned hair, and moaned into Kent’s mouth.

"Ready to go?" she asked against the soft lips, and felt the blonde nod. They hadn’t planned to stay long; just long enough to make their point, and then go.

Palmer broke the kiss, and took a step away from Kent, taking her hand and leading back through the newly gathered throng of dancers, not saying a word. With only a quick nod to Di and Grady, they left the ballroom.

* * *

Kent took the key card to room 2413 out of her clutch, and slid it through the slot, the red light turning green, and the lock clicking open.

She had come the day before with money gathered between her and Palmer, and had rented the room for the night. They had until 11 a.m. the following morning.

Palmer followed silently behind the blonde, softly clicking the door shut behind them, satisfied to know that it would lock on its own. Kent walked to the center of the room, the king sized bed off to the right, just past the bathroom and vanity area. She tossed her purse and key card to the long dresser that lined the left wall and turned, looking at the brunette, who stood just inside the door.

Kent had thought that she’d be nervous, but she wasn’t at all. She felt as though she had been waiting her entire life for this, and in some ways, she had been. She brought her hand up, palm up, an invitation. Palmer took it, walking slowly toward her right after she stepped out of the heels, leaving them by the door. She felt the soft carpet under her stockinged feet.

Reaching Kent, she took the soft hand, feeling herself slowly drawn to the blonde until they stood body to body, Kent finally almost at her height still in her heels.

Kent said not one word as she looked into the eyes that she had come to cherish, reflecting the moonlight that came in from the single window behind her. The blue turned gray. It was nice being nearly eye to eye with the dark beauty. Soon enough, the shoes would be gone. But before then, she wanted a kiss.

Palmer bent her head down just a bit, enough to meet those lips, her eyes closing on contact. Kent’s mouth opened up to her, and she began to explore, shivering as a soft whimper escaped the blonde. She shivered again when she felt hands on her back, stroking the bare skin above the dress, then nimble fingers found the zipper.

The soft sound of the zipper being pulled, the small metal teeth giving way, one at a time, until Kent couldn’t pull any further, was the only noise in the room. Palmer shivered as the dress became loosened around her sensitive skin. The satin material slid down her body in one smooth motion, pooling around her feet. She stepped out of it, careful not to step on it. It was still a rental.

She broke the kiss, opening her eyes to see Kent’s already on her, taking in the black satin panties and matching bra, strapless. The blonde sucked in a breath at the epitome of beauty before her. She ran her hands down Palmer’s arms, staring at the bare shoulders, following down the muscular biceps, and then over forearms, finally ending in hands, which she took in her own. She placed them around her body, positioning fingers a the zipper of her own dress.

Palmer swallowed, her heart about to beat out of her chest as she felt the slightly cold metal of the zipper head touch her thumb. She grasped the metal between her thumb and index finger, and slowly pushed it down, loosening Kent’s dress as it did, just like her own. The red began to give way, and then so did her breath.

This type of dress had a bra built in. As the dress fell around Kent’s feet, she was exposed from the waist up.

"Ohhh," she breathed, taking in the site before her. Kent’s breasts were average size, but full, nipples already firm and rigid from the cool night air and her excitement. Kent’s breathing had started to become ragged as the zipper had gone down, knowing that she would be exposed when it fell.

She looked deeply into Palmer’s eyes to see what the other girl was thinking. What she saw there made her breathing hitch again. A hunger filled those blue eyes that she had never seen before.

Palmer reached her hands out, just barely touching the rounded underside of Kent’s breasts, humming her approval as she felt the soft skin, unbelievably soft, like velvet. Finally those large hands fully covered them, feeling the hard nipples pushing against her palms.

"Oh," Kent breathed, her eyes closing at the contact, her center jumping.

Realizing that they weren’t fully undressed yet, Palmer removed her hands and bent down, letting Kent use her shoulder to steady herself as the blonde was instructed to first lift one foot then the other so the shoes could be taken off, and the dress pushed aside. Next, Palmer reached up, sliding the nylons down the strong legs, and then took in the red thong that Kent wore. She could smell Kent’s arousal, which only seemed to intoxicate her more.

Hooking her fingers into the waistband, she pulled gently, seeing first Kent’s prominent hip bones, then the very top of the golden hair between her legs, the panties sliding all the way down. Kent stepped out of them, and Palmer stood. She took in the entirety of the blonde’s beautiful body, totally stunned and unable to believe that it was all for her. It seemed like far too precious a gift.

"God, Kent," she said, nearly a whisper. "You’re so beautiful. I can’t seem to find the words."

Kent smiled, feeling her heart swell at those words. She brought her hands up, stroking the sculpted jaw, and down the long neck, over well-defined shoulders, and then around back to a strong back. She felt the clasp of the bra, and undid it: click, click, click.

The garment fall away and Palmer’s breasts were revealed to her. She loved their largeness, dark nipples already erect, waiting. She bent down, kissing first one then the other.

Palmer closed her eyes, her head falling back. It was almost as thrilling for Kent to see her like this as it was to be touched.

Next, Kent bent slightly, tugging at both the nylons and panties together. She wanted so badly to feel Palmer against her.

Finally both fully naked, Kent took Palmer’s hand, looking at her from over her shoulder, smiling reassuringly.

Palmer followed, stopping when Kent reached the large bed, tugging until the covers pulled back, revealing soft white sheets and a soft mattress. Kent climbed onto the bed, moving toward the middle, and patting the spot next to her. The brunette didn’t have to be asked twice. She climbed in, watching as Kent laid down on her back, her body spread out before her in offering. She took in the way the shadows hugged the blonde’s every curve, hiding half her breasts in shadow, revealing the hardness of her nipples, and covering part of that light patch of hair, turning it nearly blue from the natural light outside.

"Come here, baby," Kent cooed, reaching for Palmer, who gladly went. The brunette held herself up on her arms, and slowly lowered her body, touching skin to skin little by little, causing each to moan at the contact. Kent had no idea it would feel so good. Palmer was so soft and warm, her skin like a balm to her long neglected body.

"God, I want you," Palmer whispered against the skin of the blonde’s neck.

"Then take me, baby. I’m all yours," was whispered back. That was all the invitation Palmer needed.

She started with a slow exploration of Kent’s body; hands, mouth, tongue, teeth. She felt every curve, every plane, lavished attention to every patch of skin she came across. She was lost in total bliss as she felt Kent move beneath her, warm hands caressing her back, moving to cover and hold her butt, then back up to tangle in long strands of hair, long ago taken out of its bonds.

"Oh, Palmer," Kent gasped when she felt her thighs being opened and hot breath running just inside her right thigh, dark strands tickling her other. She arched her neck back when she felt that first swipe of a hot tongue, tasting for the first time, teasing and exploring.

Palmer wrapped an arm around Kent’s hip, her other reaching up only to be caught in a tight grasp, fingers squeezing, needing to connect as Kent became lost in a sea of sensation and pleasure, her body becoming a being all its own, beyond her control as she felt that ball of fire begin to build in her lower belly, spreading rapidly until it exploded in a cry of bliss, the brunette’s name at the tip of her tongue.

Palmer kissed her way back up Kent’s still writhing body, only to find herself pinned beneath a little blonde tiger. Her mouth was ravaged as a thigh took home between her own, pressing into her, her own center already hot and wet from riding Kent’s own wave of pleasure.

She groaned when she felt her nipple being sucked into a warm mouth, a relentless tongue flicking across it as a hand made its windy way down her long body, the skin along the way being kneaded and teased by newly manicured nails. When that hand dipped between her opening thighs, she hissed a breath between her teeth, lifting her hips to those fingers searching for that special place that would make the brunette shatter into a million pieces.

Her voice echoed off the walls as she clung to Kent, her body one huge mass of spasms from being taken, the blonde ruthless in her mission, her mouth covering Palmer’s again. This time it was slow, allowing her to catch her breath. Within moments, Palmer was responding, taking in more of her lover, feeling Kent’s warm body begin to cover her own, breast to breast. Her hands wandered, feeling the softness of her body, roaming through her hair, feeling Kent’s body begin to move against her own.

Palmer wrapped her legs around Kent, pulling their bodies into firmer contact, moving her hips in time with the narrower ones of the blonde.

Kent slid her lips against Palmer’s, resting on her elbows, her hips just barely rocking against the brunette’s body. An idea striking her, she reached down, lifting her hips ever so slightly, and opened herself up to Palmer’s center, slowly lowering herself back down, eyes closing on contact, Palmer groaning at the new wetness that coated her own center.

The kiss continued as they rocked together, teasing, nipping, sliding, licking. Both began to pant as their rhythm increased, Palmer’s hands sliding down Kent’s body to rest on her butt, pushing her further into her, opening her legs wider, and raising them to give the blonde even more access.

"God, baby," Kent panted into her mouth.

"I know," Palmer said, pushing up harder, feeling it beginning to build. By Kent’s breathing she could tell that she was close, too. "Open your eyes, baby," she breathed, seeing heavy lids open to reveal those expressive green eyes. "I want you to see me, baby, see that it’s me with you, making love to you."

"I see you, baby," the blonde panted, raising herself up on her hands, arms straight out as she began to thrust faster, her breasts swinging in time mere centimeters above Palmer’s.

"I love you, Kent," Palmer said, running a hand up Kent’s back to her hair, burying itself there. Kent looked at her, feeling herself begin to explode, but the words still clicking in her mind.

"Oh, baby," she groaned, doing her damnedest to keep her eyes open as she felt her climax wash over her. "I love you, too," she cried, leaning down and taking Palmer in a savage kiss, possessing, claiming, both crying out into the kiss, their bodies thrusting into each other. One final push, and Kent collapsed, burying her face into Palmer’s neck, her body pulsing in time with her rapid heartbeat. She could hear the brunette’s heart pounding inside her chest.

"Oh my god," Palmer whispered, hugging Kent close, needing that closeness, that connection to continue. "I love you, I love you, I love you," she panted. Kent squeezed her, almost painfully, at the declaration.

"I love you, baby. So much. So long," the blonde said into her neck, slowly raising herself to an elbow and looking down into her lover’s face, seeing those shining blue eyes. "Oh, sweetie. What’s wrong?" she asked, lovingly brushing away the sweaty hair that was sticking to Palmer’s forehead.

"I’ve dreamed for so long of you saying that to me," Palmer whispered, smiling through her tears. Kent smiled in return, placing a soft, loving kiss to her lips.

"Well I do. I love you very much, Palmer. Stay with me?" she pleaded, brows furrowing in worry.

"Not a problem." Palmer chuckled. "You’ll have to try and get rid of me. Got it?" The blonde nodded, smiling.

"It’s settled, then. You’ve got me as long as you want me."

Palmer pulled the blonde to her, nearly crushing the smaller body against her.

Yep. Life was good.

* * * * *

Hey, Di!

How goes it? I know I haven’t answered your email in a while, and I’m sorry. I have been so friggin’ busy! You know, finals, getting ready for graduation, all that. Man, I’m so glad I’m done. How did it go over in UCLA? How’d you do? And, speaking of do, when are you due? How’s Grady doing?

Anyway, so let me fill you in a bit. So, our new first grade teacher is kicking ass and taking names. You ought to see Palmer around all those little 6 year olds! Oh my god! It’s hilarious. But she is so good with them. Man, it’s cool to see. Annnd, she’s coaching the local pee wee league champs here in Salem. They are so cute, running around with these big ol’ heads from their helmets on tiny bodies. We get a good laugh.

As for me, with my degree in math, I got a job with that company I told you that had come sniffing around last spring, MediCo. I’ll be working on statistics for them.

We were able to close on that great house I told you about. It’s so cute, perfect for the dogs. They love to head down to the harbor and bark at the boats. Pretty funny. Hey, when are you guys coming to visit, anyway? Make it soon, will ya?

Lots of love, my old friend. Can you believe I’ll be 22 this summer? Ugh!



The end