[Happy Tuesday, Heather Ann.]
Hot water over sore muscles? Absolutely heavenly. Even on the forming bruises. And there were plenty, too. A couple on the sides of my calves, a few on my biceps, and one hell of a blob on my right quad. That sucker was little over softball-size, complete with hexagons. It's what happens when you stuff someone's on-goal shot at the top of the eighteen. Which was also on par for playing U of R. They were tough. They had probably called us every name in the locker at half time that we'd called them. And weren't nice.
Collegiate soccer isn't pleasant. We take no prisoners. It's how we made it to the Final Four last year.
And it's the type of mentality that we need to make it there again.
If the body took a beating for the cause, well, hot showers and ice did the trick. Usually.
I turned the water off, reaching through the gap in the curtain for the towel and thought of nothing. Well, maybe not nothing. More like went over the conversation from dinner at Friendly's with my parents again.
Namely, I'd bucked up and told Dad about Murph. It went better than expected - there were no Irish jokes or anything that made me instantly red. Nothing at all, really, except "How old is he?" and "Is he a nice boy?" The last one was more from my mother, but I told them the important stuff: history major, sweet guy, football player.
Under no circumstances did I even hint at our first ER visit or that we'd slept in the same bed multiple times. Also that he'd seen me with no shirt on.
Some things, really, are better left unsaid.
I wrapped the towel around my almost nonexistent boobs, dumped my face wash and all-in-one shampoo bottles into the shower basket on the sink, grabbed that, and squelched down the hall. The communal shower flops were left outside the room; I opened the door and stepped onto the indoor/outdoor rug, automatically bopping along with the DMB song coming through the open laptop.
My after-shower routine was solid muscle memory at this point. Comb out the hair (now almost even with the bottom of my shoulder blades), clean out ears, and find something comfortable to wear if the shower comes at the end of the day (whereas real clothes are required for start of day ones).
What wasn't routine was the knocking on the door.
As long as the towel covered the important bits, I could care less who was on the other side of the door.
Unless, of course, it was tall, dark, and Irish with the name of Murphy.
"Hey, Ol - You need me to come back when you're...not so naked?"
I gave him props - the hazel eyes never went further south than my nose. "Murph," I said, clutching the towel for safety reasons, "you've seen me more naked than clothes could ever show."
He turned a very pretty shade of red. "Ollie...."
Murph chuckled. "So...have an interesting day?"
"Quite." I leaned against the edge of the door. "Let me put some clothes on and clear off the bed, yeah?"
He shrugged, backing away from the door frame. "Or you could clear off the bed and skip the clothes part, but I'm good either way, really."
Cue flaming cheeks. "Murphy," I laughed. He grinned, sinking into the armchair in the pseudo-lounge as the door swung shut. For as sweet, funny, and overall wonderful as Murph was, this was proof he was, somewhere deep down, still a guy. One who enjoyed looking at his girlfriend in a towel.
There was no need to get fancy with Murph; a pair of sleep shorts from Wally World's men's department and a tank would be just fine. The towel went in the basket under the bed - along with the clothes on the comforter - and for the hell of it, I left my hair down.
He was staring at the wall when I opened the door. "Hey."
"Hi." Murph came through the door like he owned it, nudged it shut with his foot and cupped my head under my hair with both hands so he could commence kissing me like this was the last he'd see of me.
"You are a force, you know that?" he said against my cheek before he made himself comfortable against my pillows, his sneakers in the bottom of my closet and Edgar in his lap.
"What? How?" I vaulted onto the bed after putting the laptop on a reasonable volume, back against the dresser.
"You blocked a rocket of a shot, got up, organized the troops, and then slide-tackled some chick like it was your job."
Technically it was. "Yeah, and I have the bruises to prove it, too."
He shrugged. "They'll fade." He hiked up the side of his long-sleeved shirt - there was a massive bruise on the left side of his chest.
"Don't you have pads?"
"That's not from football."
I ogled appropriately. "What did you do to your brother?"
Murph turned sheepish. "Accidentally gave him a black eye." I stared. "Not as good as yours, but enough that he got a free hit before practice."
This might be why Izzy and I are thirteen years apart.
"I take it you were at the game." I wrapped my lower legs around his calf.
"Yup. Yours and the boys'." He nudged the inside of my thigh with his toes (striped socks today). "Ma likes you."
My chest stuttered. "What?"
"She likes you." He smiled. "You don't take any shit."
There was more to it than that. "I - "
"She asked us if you carried yourself the same way off the field that you do on." He leaned forward, handed me Edgar, and coaxed me forward against his chest. "Liam and I said yes."
Oh, Murph. I didn't carry that central defender confidence with me all the time. Physics would be a prime example. "I still get freaked out."
"Yeah, but you handle it."
Like hell. I turned, resting my back against his right thigh and the wall. "No, I don't. I freak out completely."
"But not the point where it compromises your grades," he said softly, twirling a damn curl around his finger. "I think I know which ones were your parents."
Abrupt topic change much? As this was heading into better territory, I jumped on the bandwagon. "Yeah?"
"Yeah. Your dad is a little taller than you, a good-sized man." He bit his lip. "He had a camo jacket with him. He hunts, doesn't he?"
Time to come clean with that. "Yeah."
"And a muzzleloader."
Murph winced. "Right."
I yanked his outside leg into my lap and tapped his kneecap gently. "What about your dad? What does he like to do?"
"He's a glassblower, but he's done odd jobs here and there to help pay the bills. He doesn't have his own studio or anything, but he makes all kinds of stuff outta glass."
"Why Lake Placid, though? Why not Corning?" There was a huge museum of glass there, and Corning's nickname was the Crystal City. Pyrex had also been spawned there.
Murph shrugged. "I have no idea."
Couldn't argue with that. "What does your mom do?"
"She works in an insurance office - All-State, I think - as a secretary." He smiled softly. "What about yours?"
"My dad makes asphalt and my mom's a treasurer. My sister's in marketing and I'm a waitress over the summer." That was me and my family in a very fairly small nutshell. "Did you - ?"
"Nope." He leaned back against the wall. "Neither Liam nor I inherited our Da's talent with glass." He blushed. "Neither of us are creative, really."
He raised an eyebrow in a very Spock-like manner. "Da thought it would be a good idea for Liam and I to make Ma an ornament or something for Mother's Day. Well, we blew the bubble of hot glass on the end of the stick to pieces. We haven't been allowed in the studio since."
I fought not to giggle. "How old were you?"
It was like Napoleon at Waterloo; I broke into giggles. The situation was not improved when Murph started tickling me in retaliation.
And if one of us rolled off the bed in he commotion, well, we just laughed harder. After he'd confirmed I hadn't broken myself, of course.