Squire’s Isle Created by Geonn Cannon

Girls of Summer

Summary:

The Squire’s Knights play their first game of the season, while the ladies of Squire’s Isle get ready for the change of seasons.

Nadine Powell rested her arms on the edge of the table and leaned toward the microphone. “Good afternoon, sports fans! The sky might be gray, the breeze might be chilly, and we may be smelling the sweet promise of rain later tonight, but don’t tell that to the ladies currently taking the field here at the December Harbor Field. The Squire’s Knights are playing their first game of the season and they’re not going to let a little thing like the weather get in the way. I’m going to be here with you through the whole game, so stay tuned to KELF for all the highlights, the low-lights, and everything in between. But right now we’re going to send you to some tunes before the game gets underway. Stick with the Pixie.”

On the field, not far from the KELF platform, Kate Warren stood near home plate and scanned the field. Just a few years ago, she’d been the star of this team. Every year, the team would call her up and ask what it would take for her to suit up again. Every year, she eagerly accepted their offer of restaurant vouchers and gift certificates for local businesses.

The honest truth was that she’d have played for free. She’d loved the game since high school, and playing with the Knights was one of her favorite things. But a few years ago, her teammates began drifting away. Patricia Hood-Colby was the first to go, selfishly choosing to focus on her mayoral career. Her wife, Jill, had also quit the team around the same time due to pregnancy. Other members drifted away because they’d lost interest or they were moving away or simply didn’t have the time, so the team’s sponsor began recruiting younger players to take their place. The last season she played, Kate had felt like a chaperone in the locker room.

So the year before, instead of playing, she did the next best thing and volunteered to coach. The sponsor jumped at the opportunity and now she was Coach Warren, something that made her feel more grown-up than buying a house had. She thought of all the coaches she’d known in her life, the mentors and the guardians and the one to whom she’d lost her virginity. They’d all seemed so wise, so… mature. She hoped she could provide that for the girls she was now in charge of. She laced her fingers on top of her head, feet shoulder-width apart, and watched them warm up.

Above her in the stands, Amy and Nicole Warren were huddled together so they could share a blanket across their laps. It wasn’t quite cold enough for the blanket, but Amy had insisted in case it started to rain during the game. They were both admiring Coach Warren’s posture, her stance, and the way her uniform pants hugged her ass.

“Do you think she realizes how it looks,” Nicole asked, “and is just doing it to drive us crazy?”

Amy considered for a moment before she shook her head. “No, I think she’s focused on the game. The view is just a special bonus.”

Nicole chuckled and took Amy’s hand. Amy kept her gaze forward and refused to glance around to see if anyone was staring at them. It was still odd for her to be “out” as polyamorous, for the entire town to know she, Nicole, and Kate were all partners. For years it had been scandalous enough to have a girlfriend. Now that was accepted so completely that their mayor was a married woman, but Amy had once again closeted herself by falling in love with two women.

They occasionally got stares when they were all three out in public together. Some of their closest friends sometimes came up short when Amy kissed Nicole goodbye, or when they spotted Nicole and Kate out for dinner together, but she was trying to ignore them. She wasn’t going to let a few side-eyes or whispers keep her from enjoying her girls. She focused on Kate, who had moved closer to the bench so she could talk to a player. Amy quit playing the same time Kate did. Playing with Kate was a big part of what she loved about being a Knight, and without her it wasn’t even half as much fun. She much preferred being a spectator.

Kate put her hands in the small of her back and stretched, a move that tightened her ass and showed off the muscles of her legs.

“Okay,” Amy said, “that was on purpose.”

Nicole laughed, nodding her agreement. She and Amy both had to lean back to let Rachel Crawford slip past them. She stopped long enough to say hello to them before she trotted down the steps to the parking lot. Alex had just pulled in, and Rachel moved on a parallel course until her wife had found a spot. By the time she reached the truck, Alex and Shireen Essa had gotten out and were pulling coolers from the bed. Alex greeted her with a kiss and then gestured at the sky.

“Doesn’t really look like a picnic type of day.”

“Picnicking is all in the attitude,” Rachel assured her. “Right, Shireen?”

Shireen, relatively new to the island, said, “Sorry, I have to go with my boss.”

“That is just wholly unfair,” Rachel said.

Alex shrugged. “That’s why I like having her around. She has to agree with me or she’s fired. It’s tough but fair.”

“Not very fair at all,” Shireen said.

“Is that sass?”

“No, ma’am, Chief Crawford, ma’am.”

Alex glared at her and then lifted the cooler. Rachel took a moment to admire the way Alex’s arms bulged against the sleeves of her T-shirt before leading her back to the bleachers. “I had a seat up there, but if you want to spread out a little, there’s a grassy area where we can still see everything…”

She pointed and Alex nodded. Shireen carried the cooler with their food, dropping it off in the spot the Crawfords had staked out for themselves, then went to meet up with some other friends. Some “non-boss friends,” as she phrased it. Alex reached into the cooler and tossed Shireen a beer before she left and helped Rachel spread out the blanket.

“How long do we have until the game starts?”

“Just a few minutes,” Rachel said.

Alex leaned back on her elbows, feet crossed in front of her. “This is pretty nice, even if it does start to rain.”

“Well, you choose to live in the Pacific Northwest, you can’t complain when the sun isn’t shining.”

“I didn’t choose to live here.”

“No?”

“Mm-mm. I was born here. And it’s where you live. So I never had any choice in the matter.”

Rachel smiled and stretched out next to her. “Well, I am so sorry to have restricted your options. I had no idea I was holding you back.”

Alex pecked her cheek. “You’ll have to find some way to make it up to me.”

“I will.”

“Watch that PDA, ladies.”

Alex and Rachel twisted to see Patricia and Jill Hood-Colby walking by. Patricia winked and smiled at them, waving with the hand that wasn’t currently anchored by a two-year-old. Jill was on the toddler’s other side, baseball hat pulled low over her eyes, smiling though she looked weary. Rachel and Alex returned the wave as the Hood-Colbys continued on.

“She looks like she’s doing better,” Alex whispered.

Rachel nodded. “The worst is over. It could have been really frightening.”

At the bleachers, Patricia let Jill lead the way with Isabel as she followed. She meant for it to seem casual, chivalrous, but in truth she wanted to watch how Jill moved. It had been a rough few weeks, starting with what seemed to be a flu she couldn’t seem to shake. She assured Patricia it was just another cold; she was in contact with children all day, and sometimes it seemed as though they existed only to spread disease. But eventually she admitted it was something worse and let Patricia drive her to the hospital. There, she was quickly diagnosed with something that made her laugh out loud.

Chickenpox.

She was a fifth-grade teacher who had grown up moving through foster homes like they came with revolving doors, and somehow she’d never been exposed before. Isabel had gotten the vaccine when she was a year old. Patricia called her mother and confirmed she’d gotten it in kindergarten. Jill was certain it would be fine, but no one ever talked about the nausea or headaches that accompanied the trademark rash. Soon she was eager for all the help she could get. Patricia offered to take a few days off to care for her, but they’d gotten a surprise when they called Michael to let him know she was sick: he had a few days off anyway, he wanted to come home, and he thought that being there to take care of his mother would be the best use of his time.

Michael had already staked out a place on the bleachers. Isabel said his name when she saw him and tried to pull away from Jill so she could run over.

“No, no, baby,” Jill said. “The steps are too dangerous. Let Mommy take you, okay?”

“Michael!”

“I know, Izzie. We’ll be there in just a second.”

Michael got up and met them halfway. He crouched down, scooped up his sister, and grunted when he stood with her.

“How’d this thing get so big?”

“We had to feed her all the food you’re not eating,” Patricia said. “All these years, we’ve been buying too many groceries.”

She sat down, and Jill stepped around Michael to sit on his other side. Michael looked at Jill, looked at Patricia, and then settled Isabel on his lap.

“You don’t want to sit together.”

Patricia said, “Jill’s mad at me.”

Jill focused on the field. “I’m not mad at you.”

“Jill’s sick of me,” Patricia clarified.

“I didn’t say that.”

“You didn’t say a whole lot of anything,” Patricia said.

Jill sighed heavily.

“You did a lot of that, though.”

“Okay,” Jill said. “I’m going to go get some refreshments. You want anything? No, okay.” She walked away, climbing down the bleachers without a look back.

Michael said, “What was that about?”

Patricia angrily ruffled her hair. “Just… familiarity breeding contempt. I’m trying to take care of her as much as I can. All of a sudden this morning, everything I do pisses her off.”

“Or,” Michael said, “she’s spent the past week feeling helpless, and now that she can do some things for herself, you’re smothering her.”

“I’m…” Patricia twisted her lips and rubbed her knees. “I’m just trying to help.”

“I know that. Mom Jay knows that, too. She’s just frustrated. You know how she is about asking for help.”

Patricia watched Jill move across the edge of the field toward the concessions. “I guess.”

“You’ll make up, and she’ll tell you how much she appreciates everything you did for her. You didn’t do anything wrong. I mean, maybe you were a bit smothery. But you were working from a place of love. She knows that.”

“So… what, you’ve been watching Dr. Phil?”

Michael grinned. “Well, I’m a college kid now. We’re all very wise.”

Patricia snorted and put an arm around his neck. “You’re a good kid, Mike.”

She scanned the crowd to see if there was anyone she needed to acknowledge, spotting Cheryl Paxton and Molly Page sitting a few yards away on another level. Sara Tamirova was sitting with her partner, Vanessa Kavik. The artist was thankfully clothed for this outing to the ballpark; her frequent bouts with nudism were a constant headache for Sheriff Rucker, who Patricia spotted near the concession stands in civilian clothes. He looked different in a polo shirt and ball cap, but no less intimidating. Her Chief of Staff – in actuality, the person who kept all the spinning dishes around the mayor’s office from falling off sticks – Leah Kincaid was there with her partner, Jaime, and their daughter.

The loudspeakers on the KELF platform were playing Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers as the teams finally took the field. Today the Knights were playing against a team from a neighboring island, the Grant Island Oyster Catchers. Patricia remembered her days on the team, the competitiveness and camaraderie, and she missed being part of it. She didn’t miss the long practices and the sore muscles that came with it. And she definitely would never trade her priorities now just to lace up her sneakers and head back out onto the diamond. Besides, the current roster seemed to be doing just fine without her help.

“Mama,” Izzie said.

“Yes, sweetie.” Isabel pointed one chubby finger toward the concession stand, where Jill was waiting in line. “She’ll be right back, honey.”

“Mommy.”

Patricia lifted Isabel and put her on her lap. She took out her cell phone and dialed. Across the field, Jill retrieved her phone, looked toward the bleachers, and answered.

“What’s wrong?”

Patricia put it on speaker. “Someone was missing you.” She angled the phone toward Isabel. “Say hi to Mommy.”

Isabel held the phone with both hands, her eyes locked on Jill. “Hi!”

Jill waved. “I’ll be right back, sweet girl.”

“Okay! Bye!”

Patricia laughed and waved to Jill as she hung up.

Jill put the phone back in her pocket. Even as miserable as she felt, even with the frustration she felt toward Patricia, she couldn’t help smiling. Isabel had that effect on her. And, to be honest, so did Patricia. They were two people she could always count on to make her feel better. And what was she angry about? That Patricia was trying too much to ease her suffering? Yes, Patricia had been a little overbearing, but Jill had overreacted. She hadn’t even asked Patricia what she wanted to drink, for crying out loud. Such passive-aggressive bullshit. When she got to the counter, she would get the largest size of Patricia’s favorite soda. And a bag of her favorite chips. Maybe an ice cream.

She made her order, retrieved the peace offering of snack food, and headed back as Nadine’s voice came back over the speakers.

“Okay, folks, it looks like these ladies are serious about playing some ball today! So get back to your seats and buckle up!”

 

#

 

The rain threatened all day by the overcast sky never came, and the day remained dry but chilly. The Knights began their season with a 20-to-4 victory over the Oyster Catcher – or Mother Shuckers, as Kate liked to call them. She treated her team to the traditional celebratory pizza at Joe Lack’s, then let Amy and Nicole take her home for a more private celebration. After the pizza and a few beers, Amy was extremely aware of how late it was and how early she would have to be up for work. She finished her beer and kissed Kate long and hard before congratulating her on the win.

“I’m going to let Nicole take care of the actual full-blown celebration. Nick… give her the good stuff.”

“Always do,” Nicole said. “Sleep well, Amy.”

“Night, ladies.”

She went upstairs and showered, changing into her shorts and a T-shirt. It didn’t matter how long she, Kate, and Amy had been a family of three, there were still nights when she felt odd getting into bed alone. That feeling was doubled when she knew Kate and Nicole would be sharing a bed.  But there were nights when she went to bed with Kate while Nicole slept down the hall. She had taken showers with Nicole while Kate was at work. There was no jealousy. Even though they’d started with the rule that Amy and Kate were partners while Nicole was just a girlfriend they shared, that changed very quickly when they realized they were both falling in love with Nicole.

Amy didn’t know when she dozed off or how long she was asleep, but she woke to the sound of muffled laughter at the end of the hall. She spent a few seconds trying to get back to sleep but the sounds persisted. She tried to ignore it, but her body decided sleep was no longer a priority. She knew no amount of tossing or turning would get her mind onto a different course, so she kicked the blankets away and sat up to put her feet on the floor. She listened again – still quiet bursts of laughter between the moans, which meant they were still getting started – and stood up.

Nicole’s bedroom door was open. Amy moved on the balls of her feet and hugged the wall as much as possible so her approach wouldn’t be seen. When she got to the threshold, she put her shoulder to the wall and leaned forward to look inside.

Kate was on her back, propped up by pillows. She was wearing her uniform top again and her hat was twisted on her head so the brim wouldn’t get in the way of any potential kissing. Amy covered her mouth so she wouldn’t chuckle out loud at the sight; obviously Nicole had requested she wear the uniform. Nicole was currently half-on and half-off the mattress, her head between Kate’s thighs. She had one hand out of sight, but the other was underneath Kate’s top.

“Should’ve known you two wouldn’t be able to keep quiet,” Amy said.

Nicole didn’t hesitate from her mission, but Kate opened her eyes partway and lazily waved two fingers in greeting. “Sorry… did we wake you up?”

“Yeah. But I’m not too upset at you.” She crossed her arms and peeled off her T-shirt as she came into the room. She dropped it onto the floor next to Kate’s pants and Nicole’s underwear. She brushed the back of Nicole’s head with her fingers before she climbed onto the bed. Kate motioned her forward and Amy braced her hands against the wall as she rested her knees on the pillow on either side of Kate’s head. Her underwear was pushed aside and she gasped as Kate’s lips found her.

She could be late to work every now and then, if it was for a very good cause.

 

#

 

Patricia put Isabel to bed, getting away with just one story and a quick singalong before the little girl’s head began to loll against her shoulder. She turned on the bird-shaped nightlight and slipped out. She reached the master bedroom door just as Jill came out of the bathroom in her huge comfort robe. Patricia stopped, unsure if Jill was still angry at her or if they were in the cold-shoulder limbo that came before making up.

“C’mere,” Jill said.

“Everything okay?” Patricia asked.

Jill put her arms around Patricia’s waist and leaned against her. Her hair left a wet mark on the chest of Patricia’s shirt, but she didn’t care.

“If the worst thing I have going for me is that I have a wife who cares about me and wants to make me feel better, than I’ve got a pretty sweet deal.”

Patricia smiled and kissed the top of her wife’s head. “I may have been a little overbearing. Or a lot overbearing. I just can’t stand seeing you in pain.”

“I know.” She lifted her head and kissed Patricia’s chin, then her lips. “I’ll forgive you if you forgive me.”

“Hm. I think that’s an offer I can get behind.”

Jill grinned. “Izzie?”

“Sleeping. Michael is in the house again, so if we do anything, we’ll have to be quiet.”

Jill raised an eyebrow. “Who said we’re going to do anything?”

“I didn’t mean… I just, I thought if you were feeling better… I’m not saying we have to, it’s just, we just made up and you’ve been sick, I don’t…”

“Madam Mayor?”

“Yeah.”

Jill linked her fingers with Patricia’s and led her to the bedroom. “Stop talking.”

Patricia smiled and let herself be led out of the hall.

 

#

 

Nadine wasn’t used to being out so late. All the storefronts that called to tourists during the day were shut up tight, dark inside, and seemed like caves as she rode her bike past them. Even Coffee Table Books, the stalwart centerpiece of downtown for tourists and locals alike, was dark. Streetlights glowed softly on every corner, the same halogen bulbs they had when she was a kid. There’d been a recent push to transition to LED lights, but Mayor Hood-Colby resisted it due to the expense and studies showing it would worsen light pollution and affect nocturnal animals. Nadine wasn’t sure which side of the argument she landed on, but happy as long as she could still see the night sky.

She walked her bicycle up onto the boardwalk in front of Gail’s. The ferry was just coming into the harbor, bright as a jewel, and Nadine felt something she couldn’t name swelling in her chest. It was like part of her had been on pause for ten days, and now she was turning it back on. She rested her elbows on the railing as she watched the cumbersome ship ease toward the dock. This ferry, coming in as late as it did, was almost always half-empty and occupied exclusively by people coming home.

Once it was docked, Nadine carried her bicycle down to the lanes. A few cars passed her, but one pulled off to the side and idled as she caught up with it. She loaded her bicycle into the backseat and got in the passenger seat. Miranda was already leaning across the console, and Nadine smiled as she accepted the long, lingering kiss.

“Mm, I’ve missed you,” Miranda said.

“I missed you, too. How was it?”

“It was…” Miranda grunted and sank back into her seat. “It was Mom, you know.”

Nadine nodded. Miranda and her mother had a highly volatile relationship, built on the fact Mrs. Powell believed Miranda “wasn’t really gay.” She believed that Miranda was just focusing on one small facet of how she felt about “other people, not necessarily women,” and that if she only opened her mind, she could be happy with a man. That argument led Miranda to believe her mother was actually bisexual but had been denying herself true happiness her entire life. It hadn’t exactly gone well when she mentioned that, so their relationship had been strained when Miranda left New York.

Miranda spent the drive home explaining exactly what had happened when she went home. Two weeks earlier, a stepfather she’d never met called and asked if she could come home for a few days. Her mother’s health was failing. While it wasn’t quite “death’s door,” he said that she’d brought Miranda’s name up more than once.

“I think she needs to see you, even if it’s not the end,” he said. “I wouldn’t be doing this if I thought I was inviting you into an ambush.”

“If it turns out to be that, I won’t blame you for it,” she assured him.

It hadn’t been an ambush. It hadn’t been much of anything. They talked about Miranda’s job at KELF and the island, but conversation stalled whenever Nadine came up. Finally, at the end of her first day in the house, Miranda opened a picture on her phone and held it up in front of her mother’s face.

“This is Nadine Powell. This is my wife, your daughter-in-law. She’s a fantastic person and I would love for you to know about her. But if you refuse to listen, then I’ll just turn around and go back to her right now.”

Nadine reached over and took Miranda’s hand. “How’d that go over?”

“She let me tell her about you. I doubt she supports our marriage, but she seemed to approve of you as a person.”

“Well, isn’t that special,” Nadine said.

Miranda brought Nadine’s hand up to kiss the knuckles, then pressed the back of it against her cheek. “Oh, you feel good. You feel real. Skype really sucks.”

“It’s better than not even seeing you for ten days,” Nadine said.

“True. How was the game?”

“We won. By a lot.”

Miranda pumped her fist. “Go team.”

When they got home, Nadine carried Miranda’s bags while Miranda put the bicycle in the garage. She was assaulted at the door by Orson, who jumped on his hind legs as soon as he spotted her. She crouched down to give the dog enough attention that he’d leave her alone long enough to get her shoes off. Nadine distracted him with some treats and let him follow her down the hall to put Miranda’s luggage in the bedroom.

Miranda followed her and said, “Can we forget the homecoming snack and unpacking and just go to bed? I’m exhausted and I’ve missed our bed.”

“Sure.” Nadine propped the bag up against the closet door.

“I should probably at least shower to get the airplane smell off.”

“I don’t mind the airplane smell.” Nadine got on the bed and held out her arms. “Come here.” Miranda joined her on the bed and they stretched out facing each other.

Miranda smiled sleepily. “If I stay down too long, I might fall asleep.”

“Okay.”

“No,” Miranda said, her eyes closed. “I don’t want to fall asleep. I want to put on my pajamas… shower… find out what you’ve been… up to…”

“Okay.”

She pecked Miranda’s lips, which were already slack. She smiled and smoothed her hand over Miranda’s hair. The actual reunion could happen in the morning when they were both rested. She slipped one arm between Miranda and the mattress and draped the other over her wife’s hip. Miranda murmured in her sleep and drifted closer to her, so Nadine curled against her chest. She thought about taking off her glasses when it was far too late to actually do anything about it. Like Miranda, she let sleep pull her under before she was ready, but she didn’t fight very hard.

There would be plenty of time for everything they wanted to do in the morning. At the moment it was more important to just be together.

 

 

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