Title: Off Pitch
Series: Pitch Prodigies, Book One
Author: Brianna Kienitz
Publisher: NineStar Press
Release Date: October 9, 2017
Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex
Genre: Contemporary, lesbian, musician, new adult, performing arts, romance, sports
Soccer star Adeline Fahey has never taken an interest in the world outside of the pitch. The daughter of wealthy Irish immigrants, and a straight-A student, she sees nothing but the goal—finish her last two years of school and join a professional soccer team—no ifs, ands, or buts.
Then Gabriella Soto, a cello prodigy in her own right and the teaching assistant in Adeline’s dreaded Beginning Spanish class, walks onto her playing field.
After a drunken night in a T-rex costume boots their hearts onto a collision course, Adeline and Gabriella must tackle a field of school scandal, homophobic parents, and their own passionate career goals to have a shot at something more. In the face of so many obstacles, Adeline and Gabriella fear that their love may not be strong enough to score them the championship relationship they never knew they wanted.
Brianna Kienitz © 2017
All Rights Reserved
I stood back to watch my handiwork as the soccer ball soared gracefully into the top-right corner of the goal, and a whistle blew from somewhere near the sideline to signal the end of practice. I sighed with contentment at my own spectacular skill and jogged toward the net to help clean up the mess of balls that littered the goal area. My bedeviled locks clung to my sweaty forehead as the summer sun beat down from the clear August sky and reflected off Lake Michigan, bathing the soccer field in a double-whammy heat wave.
“God, Adds! Do you ever let up? The season hasn’t even started yet,” Jessica whined from her position inside the goal.
“After fourteen years on the pitch together, I thought you’d have learned the answer to that question.” I gave her chestnut ponytail a playful tug, and she glared at me while she leaned casually against the goalpost.
“Well, there was that one time in first grade when we sat down in your living room and watched a movie.”
“Ha. Ha.” I rolled my eyes. Jessica Strobel and I had been best friends since first grade. Now, going into our junior year at Northwestern University, our relationship subsisted entirely on sarcasm and caffeine.
“I’ll tell you what. Since you managed to block almost 10 percent of my shots, and I know what a sore loser you are, I’ll take you out to coffee after we’re done here.”
“Wow, your highness. You are so magnanimous. Thank you soooooo much,” Jessica said with a flagrant eye roll. As much as we teased, I did feel a little guilty for dragging her to this practice. It was the last day before the start of fall classes, and while pre-semester practices weren’t mandatory, I was beginning to feel the stress of the inevitability of graduating in two years. I only had two seasons left to impress scouts and get picked up by a professional team, or risk becoming another college has-been. That was a fate to which I refused to succumb.
Jessica was, and always had been, my rock. She kept me grounded and sane, which was no small feat, given my penchant for being a high-strung ass much of the time. Her role in my life was much like that of the Roman slaves who whispered in Caesar’s ear, “Remember, thou art mortal,” as he paraded victorious. Not that I thought I was immortal but I did have a big head. Jessica was the person who kept my over-inflated ego from carrying me away like a hot-air balloon.
“Fahey! Strobel! Clean up now, chitchat later,” Coach barked from the sideline. “Some of us have places to be.”
“You heard the man.” Jessica gave me a pointed look. “You made this mess. You clean it up.” Without another word, she traipsed off toward the locker rooms. I sighed audibly, but silently smirked at her retreating back. She put me in my place like no one else could. It was only fair that I pick up. If I hadn’t dragged her to this voluntary practice, she would probably still be sitting in our shared apartment in her pajamas, watching whatever show she was currently obsessed with.
Once I had stuffed the plethora of soccer balls back into a bag, I hitched it over my shoulder and hauled it to the sideline where the coach waited impatiently. He seemed focused on whatever he was doing on his clipboard, so I didn’t dare disturb him. I threw the bag into the pile of soccer sundries for the equipment manager to deal with and started to trot toward the locker room. I was only a few steps along when the coach called after me.
“Hold up, Fahey. A word, please.” His tone was always gruff, but I had learned that his demeanor was more warm than harsh. His face seemed to bear a perpetual five-o’clock shadow, but his blue eyes were always bright beneath his bushy rich brown hair. It was as if he was built to be a coach, right down to his powerful physique and firm attitude.
“What’s up, Coach?”
“Gardener is gone,” he said without looking up from his clipboard.
“Yeah. I know.” I felt like he was stating the obvious. Cam Gardener had been the captain of Northwestern University’s women’s soccer team for the past two years. She had graduated last year, and we’d held a big going-away party for her and the other graduates at the end of the semester. I was perfectly aware that graduating meant she wouldn’t be on the team anymore.
“So, we’ll need a new captain.” Coach looked up at me finally. “It’ll be the ladies’ decision, ultimately, but I want it to be you.” His expression was calculating as he waited for me to respond.
“Oh…wow! I…thanks, Coach. I mean, it’s up to the others, obviously, but…yeah. I’ll think about it. Thank you. I’ll think about it,” I babbled and started to walk away. I felt Coach’s gaze weighing on the back of my strong shoulders, and my thoughts began to race. I had never really considered being captain of any team. I was an excellent player by any standards, and it wasn’t that I was selfish, or a showboat, but I was always focused on being the best I could be. I loved being part of a team, but I had never thought of myself as a leader.
The prospect was both exhilarating and daunting. I tried not to let it worry me as I undressed and showered in the locker room. Hopefully, Jessica was up for being a sounding board, and she could help me figure this whole situation out. She was always the level-headed one.
Deleted Scene with Commentary
This isn’t a deleted scene, but a scene that crossed my mind one day after I had finished the manuscript. It takes place the first weekend after school starts. I call it “Adeline and Jessica Visit the Bean.” If you’re not familiar with the Cloud Gate statue in Millenium Park in Chicago, it’s a mirrored sculpture shaped like a bean (hence the colloquialism) inspired by liquid mercury.
I was distracted from watching a family make faces at themselves in the shiny surface of Millenium Park’s famous Cloud Gate statue by a slapping sound beside me.
“Adds, I’m flicking the bean. Get it?” Jessica stared at me with a proud smile, as if she hadn’t just make a lewd joke in the middle of of crowded tourist spot.
I tried to ignore her obscenity. “Is this why you brought me here? I have work to do.” The parents I’d been watching were glaring in our direction.
“It’s the first week of school. How much homework can you have? Besides, there’s plenty to learn here.” She kept slapping the statue. “When was the last time you flicked a bean. Maybe you need some practice.”
I started walking away before she could say any more horrible things in front of innocent strangers.
“Aww. Come on, Adds,” Jessica whined, chasing after me. “You know I’m just worried about you getting rusty.”
“Get rusty for what? It’s not like ladies are lined up around the block.”
“Only because you’re not putting yourself out there. Are you going to tell me you not even a little interested in anyone?”
I pushed the vision of my Spanish TA’s silken hair cascading over her touchable shoulders to the back of my mind, but not before it caused me to flush.
Jessica cracked a sinister smile. “I knew it. Who is she?”
“No one. I mean, I don’t have time for thinking about anyone that way. There’s no one,” I sputtered.
“Mhmm. Whatever you say, Adds.” Jessica wasn’t convinced in the least, but I was being halfway honest. I didn’t have time for stupid schoolgirl crushes.
“Do you want to go get some ice cream?”
“If you think you can distract me from my best friend obligations with comfort food-” Jessica gave me severe look “You are absolutely right. You’re buying.”
I followed Jessica to the nearest ice cream cart, trying hard not to wonder at Gabriella’s favorite ice cream.
I love the interplay between Adeline and Jessica, and I love writing them together. They are the perfect foil for one another, and they are more complete people for being together. I hope you’ll find their relationship as touching as the one that blossoms between Adeline and Gabriella.
Meet the Author
Brianna Kienitz (pronounced Kee-nits) started out as an avid reader of lesbian fiction on Wattpad. When reading no longer sated her appetite, she turned to writing the stories she craved. Brianna believes a good story should make you feel every moment deeply, whether it be laughing until it hurts, crying yourself dry, or screaming with unbridled rage. Her Wattpad works have been widely read and have received multiple awards from the Wattpad community. Her current project, Off Pitch, was named Wattpad LGBT Book of the Month in March 2017.
Brianna lives in Missoula, Montana, where she works as a slayer of transit demons, and a dance instructor. She spends most of her down time hiding in her Hobbit Hole with her wife and cat, curating T-rex costume GIF’s and pretending not to be socially awkward on the internet.
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