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Learning Is Fun

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“Tobin, you have a call on line three,” is paged over the intercom. The company she works for doesn’t have a phone system with extension lines for the employees. Customers have to call the main number and ask for who they want to speak to.

Tobin hurriedly finishes chewing the piece of chocolate she was eating as an afternoon treat before reaching for her phone.

“Hi, this is Tobin,” she answers, swiveling her chair to the side to look out the window. She’s one of the few employees who has an office with a window to the front lawn of the building. She aches to be outside right now, it’s a glorious summer day. She wants to open her window, but they have the air conditioner on in the office. She hates air conditioning, even if it’s hot out.

“Yo, Tobin! It’s Kelley from Centennial School,” a cheery female voice greets her.

“Hey, Kelley, how’s it going? Ready for school to begin?” Tobin replies, a smile crossing her face. She hasn’t seen Kelley much this summer except for meeting up for a few Thorns matches at Providence Park. Kelley had been in and out of town most of her summer off from teaching at the elementary school and Tobin had been swamped trying to put together the catalog for the upcoming year. Over the few years she’s known Kelley, they’ve become good friends, playing pick up soccer, going to concerts and hanging out.

Tobin works for a company that supplies physical education, recreation and athletic equipment for schools and park districts and other youth organizations. Her job is to find new products, evaluate them and then work with the graphics department to get images and write the copy to layout the catalog. She pushes to get as much done before school starts because she also presents at schools and tradeshows, teaching the teachers how to use products and implement new physical education curriculum. She’s a busy woman.

“Well, that’s why I’m calling,” Kelley explains, “we finally got a new P.E. administrator and she’s all high on some new curriculum that she promises is easy to implement. She met the teacher who wrote it in Cali where she’s from. Ever hear of something called PERT?” she asks with uncertainty, her voice rising at the end of the sentence.

Tobin smiles, she’s heard of PERT, she knows the teacher who developed it. They’re pretty decent friends having met a few years ago at a tradeshow and still staying in touch. Tobin had helped her develop the marketing side of her program, even going out to visit, staying at her house with her and her wife, surfing and talking about how to make it a successful product.

“Yeah, I know it,” she says, glancing over to next year’s cover ideas, PERT being one of them, “it stands for Physical Education and Recreational Training,” she shares with her.

“Ah,” Kelley says, now understanding a little more.

“We actually sell it,” Tobin says, smiling wider, “and I can come in and do a presentation and if you guys buy it, I can do the two day training to put it in place,”

Kelley sighs heavily, “Oh, thank God,” she says dramatically, “she asked me to find out who sells it and I was a little worried,” she says, “but I knew if anyone would know, it would be you,”

Tobin chuckles, “Thanks Kel,”

“So, one of the things she wanted was to have someone come in and explain it to us, let us know how it worked,” Kelley states, “She doesn’t want to buy it if we don’t like it or think we’ll use it.”

“So, would you like me to come in and do a presentation?” Tobin asks, glancing at her large dry erase calendar.

“I want you to tell me something,” Kelley says seriously.

“What’s that?” Tobin questions, flicking her pen in her hand, rolling her eyes as she sees another email pop up in her inbox.

“Is this curriculum the real deal or is it shit?” Kelley asks, her voice low and hushed. “She seems really sold on it, but I don’t really know her that well, ya know? All I know is she’s from Cali, has two dogs and loves yoga and running,”

“Huh,” Tobin comments.

“I mean, she went to Stanford, so she’s in as far as I’m concerned,” Kelley chuckles, “but what’s your take on this PERT?”

“It’s the real deal,” Tobin says confidently, “I think you’ll love it,”

“Now, don’t say that because you’re selling it,” Kelley teases, “I know it costs a lot of money,”

“It does,” Tobin agrees, “but it’s worth every penny in my opinion,” Tobin goes on to share with her how she knows the creator and spent time getting trained to present and implement the curriculum over the past winter. She briefly explains how, in her opinion, this curriculum separates itself from the rest on the market.

“So, when can you come over?” Kelley asks, “Wait, let me check the Thorns schedule, if it’s a Friday we can meet and then get dinner and watch the match,” Most of Kelley’s coworkers liked soccer just as much as Kelley and Tobin did. They’ve gone as a group to matches for the last few seasons.

The two agree on next Friday, the Thorns are away so they plan to go to a bar to watch the match after. They chat for a few extra minutes, Kelley telling her how her summer went while she was in Georgia visiting family and sharing how she traveled to a few different conferences around the country. When Tobin gets off the phone, she gives herself a fist pump, stoked that she’s got a solid lead on this curriculum. She springs from her chair, intent to check in with her boss and let him know the exciting news.

 

On the following Thursday, Tobin texts Kelley asking if they’re still on for tomorrow’s meeting. When Kelley confirms, Tobin sends back a thumbs up and then heads back to her prep room to finish preparing for her presentation. She’s in the middle of packing of rolling bag with her projector and copies of the marketing sheets when she hears someone enter the room.

“Tobin,” a voice calls. It’s Allie, a coworker and one of her best friends. She works in sales, one of the company’s top sellers in nationwide accounts. Sometimes the two of them go on sales meetings together, Tobin to discuss curriculum and technical products and Allie to secure a quote or a purchase order on the spot. She’s smart, the tall blonde knows when to close a deal or come back for a follow up. She knows how district sales operate with bids, contracts and preferred vendors. Tobin doesn’t know how she does it, it would be too much for her.

Allie keeps telling her she’s a salesperson as well and Tobin just shrugs it off, saying she lets the products speak for themselves and is more interested in their customers finding exactly what they need. She hates to think she’d ever schmooze someone or push a product on them. It’s not her style, she’s much more laidback. Yet almost every month, she gets a bonus in her paycheck for commission on curriculum sales.

Tobin’s head pops up from behind a table, “Yo, Al, what’s up?”

“What are you doing tonight?” she questions, looking at her expectantly.

Tobin shrugs, standing up and leaning her hands against the table, “No plans tonight,” she says.

“Bati just told me he’s going out for Thirsty Thursday with the boys,” she replies. Bati is her husband, his real name is Jose, but nobody calls him that. “I was thinking of grilling some steaks,” she raises her eyebrows and plasters a hopeful look on her face.

Tobin smiles, “You mean, you were thinking of me grilling your steaks?”

“Uh huh,” Allie nods, smiling at her, “I think Alex and maybe Kling and Sonnett are coming too,”

Tobin rolls her eyes, “I can’t be out late,” she warns, “and I’m not drinking tonight. I’ve got a big presentation tomorrow,”

“That’s fine,” Allie grins back at her, “I’ve got something for you to chill with,”

“I’m riding my bike over,” Tobin states, “and I don’t chill until the weekend,” she says, “you missed it by one day.”

Allie frowns, then perks up, “We can chill Friday, before the match,”

“Remember I’m going out with Kelley and her friends right after the meeting,” Tobin reminds, “but if you want to meet up…” she shrugs.

Allie shake her head, “Alex wants to go to Toffee Club and I promised her we would,”

Tobin frowns, “Sorry,”

Allie shrugs, “No worries,” she says, “we’re still on for Saturday, right? I’m off tomorrow, remember for the long weekend,”

Tobin nods, “For sure,” she smiles, “I can’t wait,” It’s Labor Day Weekend and some staff are taking an additional day off to enjoy a four day holiday. Tobin has invited some of her coworkers over to her place on Saturday for an afternoon craft day. Tobin is the artsy one of the group, always pushing to find time to create something. She likes art. No, she loves art. She loves visiting museums in different cities, she loves getting turned on to create something. There is nothing better than seeing some piece she created and the mix of pride and satisfaction in knowing it was her hands that brought the piece to life.

Allie then glances around to be sure they were alone. She clears her throat, “Have you given any more thought to what we talked about?”

Tobin sighs, “Al, I really do not want to go on another blind date,” she confesses, “they’re so uncomfortable and awkward.”

Allie sighs, “Please?” she puts her hands together as if in prayer, giving Tobin a puppy dog look. Tobin shakes her head.

“I’m just not feeling it, Al,” Tobin says, fiddling with the zippered case for the projector she still needs to pack.

Allie looks her over, “Okay,” she relents with a sigh, “but I’m going to invite her out with us one night and you’ll be there,”

“Fine,” Tobin agrees, “as long as you don’t make it weird,”

Allie laughs, dramatically placing her hand on her chest, “I would never!”

Tobin laughs and shakes her head, both of them knowing how untrue that statement is. She squats down and packs her projector, satisfied she’s ready. All she has to do is grab her laptop and pack it and she’s good to go.

“Do you think Sinc will start tomorrow?” she asks Allie as she moves toward the door, Allie following.

“I saw on Twitter that Parsons said she had a full practice yesterday,” Allie informs her, “she should be ready to go.”

Christine Sinclair is the star forward for the Thorns and recently had picked up a knock in the previous match.

“I hate NC,” Tobin mutters, “I hate them with a passion,”

Allie laughs, “You could never hate anything,” she says, bumping her shoulder as they walk back into the office, “you strongly dislike. You’re a pussycat.”

Tobin chuckles, “Yeah, you’re right,”

 

 

The next morning Tobin carefully selects her outfit for the day. Since a department head will be in the meeting with the P.E. teachers, she should be a little more formal and businesslike in her apparel choice. But since she’s going out right after, she wants to be able to just slip on her Thorns shirt as well. She decides on her favorite black dress slacks with a crisp light grey button down. She pairs the outfit with her black Doc Martens, keeping it casual enough for her Thorns jersey later. She takes her Thorns hat as well to complete her outfit.

A quick curling iron session, some light makeup and she’s ready for her day. As she drives to work, she prepares herself mentally for her coworkers’ comments about her appearance. They usually barrage her with a mix of compliments and teasing when she comes to work wearing something other than jeans. After suffering through forty minutes of comments, jokes and pleading for her to model for them, Tobin’s friends settle down. The day is busy with the beginning of back to school approaching, so they’re all kept busy taking orders and answering customer questions on products. Tobin is hunkered down in her office, comparing the merits of Olympic weightlifting benches from a variety of companies.

“So, you’re meeting them to check out PERT?” Alex questions, arching an eyebrow at Tobin as they eat lunch in the upstairs cafeteria. Tobin nods as she chews her chicken, “Kelley said the new department head had heard of it and really wants them to check it out.”

“How come you haven’t met with Kelley’s team already?” Alex questions, tilting her head at her, “You know, right when we picked it up?”

“I did ask Kelley,” Tobin explains, “that was when the old head resigned and she said to wait until they got a new one,”

Alex nods in understanding, “Figured it was something like that,” she says, “you usually see her to check out all the new stuff,”

“I do,” Tobin acknowledges, “they’re a great group of teachers,”

“So, where are you watching the match tonight?” Alex changes the subject. She works in the accounting department. She’s the expert with numbers, something Tobin abhors. Tobin hates math and resents how much she has to use it daily. Alex, on the other hand, loves nothing more than having her books balance. She’s the one Tobin would turn in her business expense receipts and recap sheets to. Over the years, with careful nurturing and a lot of patience, Tobin was the prime example of having her shit together on business trips. Other employees would turn in incomplete reports with missing receipts and then face the wrath of Alex. Tobin, after experiencing that a few times, sat down with Alex and asked her to help her understand exactly what she needed and how would like to receive them. So, Tobin would make individual copies of each receipt and made sure her report was correct and balanced before handing it over to her. Through all of that, Alex has become one of her best friends as well.

“I’m not sure yet,” Tobin replies, balling up her napkin, “somewhere around the school, I would think,”

“Can I tell you I’m so excited for the craft project?” Alex grins at her, “Are you sure I can’t bring anything?”

Tobin thinks for a minute and then snaps her fingers, “Would you mind making your famous gauc? I have chips and salsa,”

“Sure, no problem,” Alex agrees happily.

Tobin stands up, moving to the sink to rinse out her Tupperware containing the remnants of her chicken dish. Alex packs her lunch bag up, standing to toss her napkins in the trash. She elbows Tobin, “Good luck,” she says, “not that you’ll need it,”

“Thanks,” Tobin grins at her, “it should be cool,”

“I’m just jealous that you get out of here early,” she complains with a frown.

“Well, it’s not like I’m not working,” Tobin points out.

“I know,” Alex sighs, “I need a vacation,”

“We’re doing the Seattle trip for the Thorns,” Tobin reminds her, “I booked the room already,”

Alex nods, “I know,” she says, “but I mean, like, a vacation,” she emphasizes the last word, “you know, toes in the sand,”

“Yeah,” Tobin says, “I can’t even think of that until after Thanksgiving after we go to print,” she scrunches up her face.

“Where are you going in December?” Alex asks as they exit the cafeteria, walking down the stairs.

“I have that Texas show the week after Thanksgiving,” Tobin states, “then I’m here for a couple of days and then ten days in Hawaii,” she smiles, looking forward to her time to relax and unwind.

“Nice,” Alex nods, “your family is coming here for Christmas, right?”

“Yep,” Tobin continues to smile, “it’s my first year of hosting,”

“You’ll do great,” Alex chuckles, “you have the host mentality,”

Tobin shrugs her shoulders, “What are you doing in December?”

“Not going to Hawaii,” she replies flatly, rolling her eyes, then shrugs, “I am going to California for a week with Servando,” she tries to say it casually, but Tobin can hear the excitement in her voice.

“That’s great!” Tobin encourages “So, you guys are really a thing now?” She knows they were seeing each other on and off but hadn’t really committed to being an actual couple.

Alex gives her a dazzling smile, “We are,” she says, “he’s going to meet my parents and I’m going to meet his when we’re in Cali,”

Tobin gives her a side hug before they enter the office, “I’m happy for ya, Al,” she says genuinely, she knows Alex really likes Servando. She’s met him a few times and thinks he’s perfect for her. “He’s a really good dude,”

“Thanks,” she replies, still smiling, her hand on the doorknob to the inner office hallway, “What about you? Anyone on your radar?”

Tobin shrugs, “Honestly, no,” she says, “I’ve been so busy, I just don’t think of it,” she replies truthfully. And she doesn’t for the most part, although there are nights when she’s lying in her bed, alone with her thoughts, she wonders. She wonders if she’ll ever meet someone and fall in love. Some nights, she aches for the closeness, for just someone to just fucking hug her, for that comfort and reassurance that she isn’t going to go through life all on her own.

“Huh,” is all Alex says and Tobin can see the gears turning in her mind, going through her mental Rolodex of names, trying to figure out a girl she knows that Tobin might like.
They part ways in the office, both returning to their desks. Tobin sits for a moment, thinking of their exchange. She does feel lonely sometimes. She keeps herself busy and most of the time that does the trick, surrounding herself with her friends or going off on her own and exploring new places she doesn’t think they’d be into. But sometimes, usually in the evenings, when she’s sitting on her couch watching TV, she thinks about how nice it would be to have someone there with her. Maybe they’d sit close to each other, their arms and legs touching, sharing a bowl of popcorn. Maybe they’d lose interest in whatever program is on and start kissing.

Tobin shakes her head, ridding herself of those thoughts, refocusing because she has a half an hour before she should leave to make it on time to her appointment. She shouldn’t be sitting at her desk feeling sorry for herself because she’s single.

 

 

“Yo, man, what’s up?” Kelley greets, gripping Tobin’s hand and pulling her for a bro hug, “You’re looking sharp,” she states when they separate, looking her up and down.

“Hey, Kel,” Tobin smiles, giving her a little shrug, “how’s it going?”

“Ah, back to school is always a drag,” Kelley says, wrinkling her nose and walking next to her as they head down the hallway to a conference room, “meetings after meetings after meetings,”

“Ick,” Tobin comments, then takes a deep breath, “well, I hope this one doesn’t put you to sleep,”

Kelley opens a door, “You? Never,” she grins, “if whatever you’re saying is boring, I just get distracted by how hot you are,” she chuckles, gesturing for Tobin to enter the room.
Kelley is one of the most outgoing people Tobin has ever met and she’s always been the type to flirt and make comments, it’s just her nature. Always quick with a joke or a smile, super friendly, hilariously funny and very kind. They get along well, having similar interests, playing pickup soccer and hanging out. Since she met her a few years, Tobin has been going out with Kelley and her friends or having Kelley meet up her and her friends more often. It’s a good mix.

She’s greeted by a chorus of her name being called from the those in the room. Tobin works her way around the room, saying hi to Julie Ertz, an athletic blond with a charming smile and kind eyes, Ashlyn Harris, a tattooed woman with a quick wit and deep thoughts and A.D. Franch, an even tempered woman with a gentle soul, except when she’s at a Thorns match, then all bets are off. On the opposite side of the table she greets second year teacher Rose Lavelle, a wisp of a woman who is quiet at first and then her wit comes out, Amy Rodriguez, who’s one of the nicest people Tobin’s ever met and who she sees at church on most Sundays, Heather O’Reilly, who’s just as into soccer as Tobin is and she sees at her weekly pick up games and Kyle Krieger, an outgoing, fun loving man who exudes kindness, the brother of her friend Ali who she works with at Portland P.E..
This group represents the seven schools in the district ranging from K-5th grade, middle school, junior high and the highs school. These are the teachers that Tobin generally sees at the regional and state conferences, presenting innovative activities to their peers. Many of them have received accolades such as Teacher of the Year on a state level.

Tobin sets her bag on the chair near the AV cart and notices a woman in the room approaching. She has her dark hair pulled up in a bun, she’s wearing a sharp suit with a skirt and her green eyes makes Tobin’s stomach flutter. She’s stunningly beautiful with a carmel skin tone and an alluring aura about her.

“Hi, I’m Christen Press,” she greets, her tone cheerful to match her smile, “I’m the new P.E. Department Head.” She extends her hand out to Tobin, who reaches for it to shake.

“Tobin Heath,” She greets, smiling at her, gazing into Christen's greenish eyes, “from Portland PE,” feeling a rush from her touch, her stomach doing a flip flop. This woman is absolutely gorgeous, she thinks.

“Thank you so much for coming out,” Christen says, realizing they’re still shaking hands and they release at the same time, a little embarrassed.

“You’re very welcome, I’m glad Kelley called me,” she replies, trying to keep her cool, “small world that you ran into Jesse and heard all about PERT,”

Christen nods as she beams at beams at her, “Yes, I met her at this tiny one-day conference,” she explains excitedly, “and I really think it’s a great curriculum!”

“I do too,” Tobin agrees, feeling her enthusiasm as she pulls out her projector and laptop, “give me a couple of minutes and I’ll set up and see if we can convince these guys as well,” she grins at her. Christen grins back, liking Tobin’s laid back style already. She can just sense from watching how she interacts with her teachers how easy going she is. She’s interested to learn how she seems to know them so well, it’s more like they’re friends than she’s just a salesperson they buy equipment from.

Christen sets her bag down on the floor and her briefcase on the table and pulls out her notebook. Her pen skitters off the table and as she bends to retrieve it, she hears Tobin say something. Next, she feels is her head colliding with something hard and she takes a step back, her hand gripping the table to keep her upright. “Ow!” she squeaks out.

“Urg!” she hears, looking up to see Tobin grimacing slightly as she hands her the pen.

The two make eye contact, both looking horrified. “I’m so sorry!” they exclaim in unison, both feeling the hot blush blooming on their faces. Their eyes lock on one another, each trying to read the other’s expression.

“Are you okay?” Kelley loudly asks, pulling them both from their little bubble. A quick look from them reveals the others are all staring at them with a mix of concern and amusement.

“Yes,” Christen answers quickly, sitting down in her seat and busying herself with opening her notebook.

“Yeah,” Tobin answers, “just hit my head, so you know it’s not serious,” she says in such a disarming and humorous way, Christen looks up and see the smile she’s giving her. She gives her a quick grin back, feeling embarrassed.

“Just give me a minute to make the room stop spinning and I’ll start,” Tobin chuckles, making everyone but Christen grin. She looks at her with new concern.

“Are you okay?” she whispers, her eyes large and full of concern.

“Yeah,” Tobin smiles whisper back with a smile, “I was joking, you alright?”

Christen nods, feeling relief. It’s on the tip of her tongue to ask Tobin how long she’s worked for Portland PE when Tobin turns to her and give her a grin.

“Ready?” she asks, raising her eyebrows expectantly.

“Sure,” Christen smiles, interested to hear what she has to say. Christen has done her research on this curriculum and she really thinks it would benefit the teachers and students in the P.E. classes. She wonders if Tobin is going to explain it well or just schmooze her way through it like a salesperson knowing she already has the sale. She had spent many hours going through the features of the software and details of how the curriculum offers so many opportunities for cross curricular activities.

“Okay, guys,” Tobin speaks, standing up and making her way to the front near the screen. She shuts off half the lights so the room is not completely dark, “if we can start, I’ll give you a little history of the creator of this curriculum.”

Tobin goes on to speak of the elementary teacher Jesse Widmark and how she developed the curriculum to fight against P.E. being subjectively graded rather than objectively. As she speaks, Christen glances around and sees that Tobin has everyone’s complete attention. As she talks about how the lessons are ones that they may already be familiar with, Christen clearly senses Tobin’s excitement as she explains how Jesse added an educational twist to each activity.

She clicks her remote and the screen shows a diagram of an activity and she ask if it looks familiar. Julie replies that she knows this game. Tobin’s smile grows wider as she switches the slide and explains the educational twist and Julie exclaims how awesome it is. Christen soon realizes that Tobin shows an activity for each grade level they teach and soon all of the teachers are leaning forward as she speaks.

Tobin goes through the assessment portion that features quizzes the students will do as they cool down and how the teachers will have a portion of objective grading to collect. Then she shows the self-grading sheets the students complete themselves to set their own goals and take ownership of learning the skills.

Christen is surprised to hear that now the curriculum has added a health section and how the software has been enhanced making it easier to use from an iPad. Tobin clearly knows more about this curriculum and how to navigate it than she does. It’s impressive and a little surprising. When Tobin completes her thorough presentation and asks them if they have questions, all eight teachers raise their hands and Tobin strides back near Christen to take her seat as she answers them one by one. She uses her laptop to show them how the operating system works with a group of imaginary students as she answers their questions, running through taking attendance, entering grades, scans of self-reflection and goal setting sheets and checklists for mastering levels of specific locomotor skills in each section.

When Ashlyn asks Tobin a question, Christen likes how Tobin listens and clarifies it so she understands what Ashlyn is asking her. She likes how she listens and addresses each question, answering them with complete confidence and sincerity. She’s unlike any salesperson Christen has ever met before. There’s no agenda, no hard sell, she’s just truly explaining what the material is and how it works.

“So, after you enter the grades in,” Tobin is saying, “the software creates the email and this bottom box is where you can add a personal note.” She circles the area on the screen with her cursor.

“That’s really cool,” Julie states, “do you how much time this saves us?”

Tobin smiles, “It’s a pretty cool feature,” she says, “I would think that having all of these quizzes and self-reflections would be an ideal tool for when you guys have parent teacher conferences too,”

“Oh, absolutely!” Heather exclaims, “Especially when the parents question their child’s grade! Just pull up their stuff and ask them what grade they should have earned!”

Tobin makes eye contact with everyone in the room before asking if there’s any more questions. They all shake their heads no. “Okay,” she says, leaning over to pull out a file folder. She opens it up and hands the first paper clipped stack to Christen, “If you wouldn’t mind taking one and passing it around,” she smiles at her, “This is an inventory list of the equipment needed,” she states, “what’s cool is that it’s almost everything I’d imagine you have already,” She hands out a few more, including a packet of sample activities for them to check out. “You might only need a few additional items, like extra scooters or more foam balls, but not too much more than that. I know the company I work for sells equipment,” she says, “but I like that with how restrictive budgets are, this one has pretty much all of the stuff you normally are using. There’s no proprietary components except
the actual curriculum,” she grins at them, “Don’t tell my boss I said that though,” she chuckles as they snicker.

Kelley stand up and clicks on the lights, “Thanks again for coming out Tobin,” she says, “this is super cool,”

The other echo her sentiment as they gather their belongings. “What do you say we meet back here in ten and then we’ll head out?” Kelley suggests.

Christen is placing her notebook in her bag when Tobin clears her throat. “Uh, Christen?” She looks up, “Yes?”

“I put this together for you,” Tobin hands her over a file, “there’s a CD-ROM in here with a statement of how this curriculum meets state standards, there’s another one showing what the expenditure unit is per student for this curriculum and some other stuff showing the merits of it and some studies showing the advantages of intentional learning and cross-curricular activities.”

“Oh, thank you,” Christen says gratefully, “this is wonderful,” she says as she takes the file, “I’m not sure I’ll need everything,” she smiles and leans in towards her, “my superintendent is a former P.E. teacher so I think we’ll be in good shape,”

“Great,” Tobin smiles, “included in the purchase price is a two-day training,” she informs her, “all of that info is in there as well,”

Christen sticks her hand out, “It was very nice meeting you and I think your presentation was wonderful,” she says sincerely, “Jesse would be proud of how well you speak of her product.”

Tobin grins shyly, “Aw, thanks,” she says, shrugging a little, “it’s easy when you believe in something and just feel it’s going to make a positive impact with the kids,” she says honestly.

Christen beams at her, “It shows,” she says, “I’m sure I’ll see you later,”

“Bye,” Tobin says, unsure if she means tonight or some other time, “it was very nice meeting you and thank you for your time.”

She watches as Christen exits the room, then follows her path and shuts the door, figuring she would just change her shirt in here before the others return. She feels her head for the first time, grateful there’s no bump and unbuttons her shirt as she walks back to her bag, slipping the shirt off and folding it gently. She’s just pulling her jersey out when the door bursts open. She pops up to see to Christen looking at her with wide eyes.

“Sorry!”

“My bad!”

They are both blushing wildly as Tobin is completely flustered and feeling grateful she wore a decent bra and then she suddenly forgets how to put on a shirt, getting her head stuck in an armhole before she gets it on.

“Um,” Christen bites her lower lip, unable to stop looking at Tobin, “I left my other briefcase in here,”

“Oh,” Tobin breathes, “sorry,” she says, “I was just changing, I’m going with Kelley to eat and then watch the Thorns, hence the jersey and I thought I’d change in here real quick,” she’s speaking way too fast, embarrassed she’s been caught. It’s so unprofessional.

“Oh, I am too,” Christen says, her cheeks are pink and Tobin is positive hers are as well. “I’m sorry,” Christen apologizes, “I should have knocked since the door was closed,” she says.

“Yo, Tobes, you ready?” Kelley’s voice trails off as she sees the weird looks the two women have on their faces. She has her hands on the door frame, leaning in and watching them suspiciously.

Christen pivots towards her quickly, “Five minutes,” she says hurriedly, “I forgot my bag in here,” she rushes towards Tobin to retrieve it. “Have to change! Be right back!”

Kelley enters the room and watches curiously as Christen swiftly exits the room, her heels clicking loudly down the hall. She turns and arches an eyebrow at Tobin, looking her up and down, “Putting the moves on my boss, are we?”

Tobin raises her hands, shaking her head, “No way, man,” she says as Kelley laughs. She tilts her head at her.

“Dude, your jersey is on backwards,” Kelley cackles.

“Fuck!” Tobin mutters, pulling at her jersey as Kelley giggles.

 

 

Tobin and Christen offer to drive to the bar, Tobin because she would probably leave right after the match. Christen states she’ll need to leave to let out her dogs. The group splits off to follow them to their vehicles with Kelley calling shotgun as she skips along. Tobin finds herself at the opposite end of the table as Christen while they eat. She’s relieved because she’s still feeling embarrassed for getting caught changing in the conference room. The table is getting a little rowdy in the bar, Tobin chuckling as the teachers are making wild bets on the upcoming match. Her and Christen make eye contact a few times from their seats across the table, both smiling shyly.

The bar fills up as the after work and match crowd enters, making talking a chore to shout above the rising voices. Fortunately, the match starts and the first half diverts their attention for the next forty-five minutes, only turning to each other to cheer and slap hands when the Thorns score. After using the restroom during halftime, Tobin returns to the table and sees her seat is taken by Julie, who is talking to Kelley, so she heads towards the other side to chat with Heather. Christen is next to Heather with Kyle across from them, smiling at her as she approaches.

“What do you think of the match?” Tobin directs her question to Christen.

“It’s really good, the Thorns have a great defense and Sinclair is so on fire right now,” she replies. She notices how Tobin looks at her while she's speaking and then see her eyes glancing at her outfit. She changed into jeans and Thorns t-shirt, feeling it was casual and comfortable after being in heels and skirt all day. She left her hair in the bun, ruhing to change after stumbling in on Tobin changing her clothes.

“You follow soccer?” Tobin questions.

“Oh yeah,” Christen replies, nodding her head.

“She played for Stanford,” Heather informs her, “with Kelley,”

“Oh,” Tobin nods, “that’s cool,” smiles at her.

“Yeah,” Christen shrugs, “it’s nice to remember the good stuff now,” she says, “but it was super stressful back then,” she looks at Tobin, “Did you play?”

“Just high school,” Tobin replies, “I play pick up once a week,” she says, “if you ever want to kick it around, hit Kelley up, we meet up most Sundays,”

“Huh,” Christen nods, scrunching her face up adorably, “I’ll think about it,” she says, “I haven’t played for years,”

“Oh, there’s a ton of people who only play once in a while,” Heather informs, “and we play twenty minute shifts, so if your worried about running, it’s not a big deal,”

“Hey, Tobin, you want another beer?” Julie calls, holding up her empty bottle.

“Nah,” Tobin replies, “I’m gonna get a water, thanks,” she replies, looking over at Christen’s empty bottle, “would you like something?”

“I’ll take a water, please,” Christen replies, seeming to be slightly relieved that Tobin phrased her question that way. She didn’t want to turn down drinks, but she’s not a big drinker.

Tobin looks at Heather, but Heather lifts her full beer. “Kyle, you want a water?” she asks, knowing he doesn’t drink, giving him a head nod when he nods his head, “I’ll be right back,” Tobin says, taking a step and then putting her hand on Christen’s shoulder, “did you want a lemon or lime or anything in it?”

Christen’s face brightens, “A lemon would be great, thanks,” She feels her shoulder heat up from her touch. She thinks Tobin looks so casually cool in her jersey and the snapback backwards on her head. There’s just something about her.

“No problem,” Tobin smiles and walks to the bar. She returns a couple of minutes later, Christen eying how Tobin is carrying three glasses with her long fingers, setting the drinks down on the table in front of her.

“Thank you so much,” Christen says gratefully, stirring the lemon in her water before taking a sip.

Tobin passes Kyle his water and sits in Julie’s seat next to Christen when the second half begins. The whole group is out of their seats multiple times as the Thorns let loose with four unanswered goals and a complete domination of North Carolina Courage. Talk is limited to the game as they watch and they all let out cheers when the final whistle is blown.

“Victory shots!” Kelley yells, “Who’s in?” she looks around the table.

Most of the group nods but Tobin shakes her head, “I gotta pass,” she says, “I got that thing tomorrow,” she explains.

“Oh, yeah, your art thing,” Kelley nods knowingly.

“I’ve got to go and let out the dogs,” Christen quickly adds, taking advantage of the moment of silence.

“Wait, what art thing?” Ashlyn questions, looking at Tobin.

“Oh,” she replies, her hand going up to scratch at the back of her neck, “I do this craft lesson thing and my coworkers are coming over tomorrow,”

“You like, make shit?” Heather grins, looking at her expectantly.

“Yeah,” Tobin shrugs, “I’m teaching them how to do a fall painting tomorrow,”

“That’s cool,” Amy smiles, “do you do it a lot?”

Tobin shrugs again, “It’s like, seasonal,” she replies, “I’m doing another on the first Saturday in October, it’s a Halloween thing,” She sees how all the women at the table lean in as she speaks. “Uh, I can text Kelley if you guys want to come,” she says, “we usually do the craft, have drinks and then eat later,” she shrugs, “we just hang out and chill.”

“That would be so much fun Tobin,” Kyle exclaims, “can I come, please?”

Tobin smiles, “Sure,” she says, glancing at the table before settling her eyes on Christen, “any of you can,”

“That sounds great,” Kelley grins, looking at the table, “I’ll let you know who’s in,” she answers for the table.

“Okay,” Christen stands up and grabs her purse, “I’ve got to go,” she says, “this was so much fun,” she smiles at the table, “thank you so much for inviting me,”

Tobin and Christen both give their farewells and head out of the bar together. Once outside in the hot August air, Tobin bites her lower lip before speaking.

“It was nice to meet you, Christen,” she says, praying internally that she doesn’t bring up the shirt thing.

“Nice to meet you as well,” Christen smiles, “I’m sure I’ll be calling you soon,” she says, suddenly thinking that sounded like a pickup line, “for the curriculum,” she adds hastily, wanting to be clear. She has no clue if Tobin is gay and doesn’t want to seem like she’s hitting on her.

“Yeah,” Tobin nods, “that sounds cool,” she says, “I’m over there,” she lifts her arm to point across the lot.

“I’m this way,” Christen jerks her thumb over her shoulder.

“See ya,” Tobin says, giving her grin, “get home safe,”

“You too,” Christen smiles back, slowly turn to walk to her car. She walks, unlocking it as she approaches, thinking of how nice Tobin is. She can feel her face begin to flush as she thinks of walking in on Tobin with her shirt off. She was taken aback at how toned Tobin is, feeling completely flustered at how attractive she found her. She starts her car, looking over her shoulder and seeing a vehicle slowly pass before she backs out.

Tobin is whistling as she starts her car, eying her mirror as another vehicle passes her before pulling out to exit the lot. She follows the car in front of her, stopping when it stops to let someone out in the next aisle over. She watches as the car begins to move and lightly steps on the accelerator. She maybe moves a foot when she hears a loud crunch and her car rocks, jerking her in the driver’s seat. She looks in her side mirror and sees another car has backed into her. She lets out a huff of frustration and sees the car move back into the spot, so she edges her car over a little and stops it, turning the ignition off and getting out.

Tobin uses the flashlight on her phone to illuminate the back side of her car, wincing as she sees a dent just behind the back wheel well and a scrape of light paint. She sighs and instantly realizes it doesn’t look that bad. Her truck is old, but she loves it and she thinks she could pop it out and the paint would probably rub off.

“I’m so sorry!” A panicked voice says loudly, “I though you had passed already!”

Tobin looks up, her mouth dropping open to see it’s Christen.

Christen realizes it’s Tobin and her mouth opens as well, a horrified look on her face.

 

XXXX