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Learning Is Fun

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“I think I really like her, Al,” Tobin confesses, the pain pill the nurse had given her making her rather talkative as they walk through the food vendor area on the farm, “Oh, look!” she points animatedly, “Cheese fries!”

Alex laughs, “You are so high right now,” she says, shaking her head. “How about the pork belly with a sweet potato?”

“Oh, man, that sounds amazing,” Tobin nods, “what else do they have? We can split something,” Tobin grins at her, heading towards the vendor. Alex follows her, shaking her head again.

 

“So let me get this straight,” Alex says as they eat, sitting at a picnic table, “first you bumped heads, then she walked in on you changing your shirt and then she hit your car and finally her dog ran into you and broke your wrist.”

“Um hum,” Tobin nods as she chews.

“Hhhmmm,” Alex considers as she eats another bite of her potato, “and you had a fun time with her watching the match?”

“Yeah, well, we didn’t really get to talk or anything,” Tobin shrugs, “she just seems super cool, and like, super smart,” she says, exaggerating the words super, “but she just like, exudes this like, kindness, you know?” she looks at Alex who nods encouragingly, “And she just is so pretty but I don’t know if she’s into chicks, you know?”

“Well, she did suggest playing tennis,” Alex counters, pointing her fork at her.

Tobin rolls her eyes, “She just moved here, Al, she’s just looking to make new friends,”

“Maybe,” Alex nods, “but maybe there’s more. You said you thought she was checking you out when you didn’t have your shirt on,”

“Yeah, I don’t know,” Tobin frowns stabbing at the pork a few times before she gets it on her fork and then looking up at Alex, “maybe I’ll ask her out for coffee? But then the whole work thing might make it awkward,”

Alex’s shoulders slump, “I didn’t think of that,”

“I just don’t know what to do,” Tobin sighs, “I just know I like her,” she gives her a wide smile. She’s feeling the shot of pain medication from the nurse at the clinic.

“Well, just be her friend and maybe it will work itself out,” Alex suggests.

“Yeah,” Tobin nods, “maybe I’ll do that,” she looks at Alex, “Can we keep this between us until I figure it out?”

“Absolutely,” Alex nods.

Tobin looks over by the food vendors, “They have slices of pie,”

“Stay put, I’ll go get two,” Alex grins, “then we’re going to walk it off,”

 

XXXX

 

“Channing, I’m sure she thinks I’m sort of lunatic!” Christen exclaims into her phone to her sister.

Channing smiles back at her, “I’m sure she doesn’t,” she assures her, “so you had a couple of incidents,”

“Channing, I hit her car and probably broke her wrist today!”

“Okay,” Channing says, “take a deep breath, for one, and two, your dog probably broke her wrist. It’s not like you were the one that took her out.”

Christen just looks at her, she’s on the verge of tears, “I really like her,”

“Ah, and there it is,” Channing says triumphantly, “I knew you wouldn’t be so upset if there wasn’t something more to it,”

“Channing, she would never date me,” Christen says emphatically, “at this point, if I had her over for dinner, she’d be terrified she’d get food poisoning,”

Channing laughs, “Chrissy, you’re spiraling,” she says, “you’re an excellent cook,” she says absently, waving her hand at her, then her eyes get wide. Christen can tell an idea has entered her head.

“What are you thinking?” she asks her sister suspiciously.

“Well,” Channing draws out the word, “it would be a perfectly friendly thing to call her and check to see how she’s doing,” Christen leans back on her couch, considering the idea.
“I mean, you do feel responsible for getting hurt,” Channing continues, “and maybe you could invite yourself over for dinner tomorrow,” she suggests, “with only having one hand to use, she probably can’t cook very well right now,”

“Huh,” Christen tilts her head, running through the idea, “maybe bring up how much it sucks cooking for one person…”

“You get the idea,” Channing smiles at her, “and then you win her heart with Mom’s famous pot roast,”

“I don’t even know if she eats meat,” Christen murmurs, “I was at the other end of the table when we had dinner,” she frowns.

“Call her sometime later today,” Channing suggests, “that will give you time to make something she likes,”

Christen visibly brightens at the idea. “I could text Kelley to get her number,” she nods, thinking this would be a good peace offering.

“That’s the spirit!” Channing cheers.

“You don’t think it would be creepy to contact her?” Christen asks hesitantly, wanting to be sure she wouldn’t make Tobin feel uncomfortable. She doesn’t want to scare her away.

“Not at all,” Channing assures her, “if anything, she would think it was sweet of you to check on her, I’m sure,”

It’s quiet for a moment. “Maybe I’ll call her tonight,” Christen considers, thinking she’ll text Kelley after this.

 

XXXX

 

 

“Okay, I need to know why you want to call her,” Kelley demands, she called Christen after receiving her text.

“Um, I just…” Christen huffs, she doesn’t know Kelley all that well, but they work in the same school and if Christen is going to make any solid friends, she knows she needs to open up to them. “I think her wrist is broke and I feel responsible,” she rushes out to explain.

“Uh, what?” Kelley squeaks, “What the hell were you two doing? And how were you together?”

“I was at the park with my dogs and Khaleesi got away chasing a rabbit and Tobin was on the path running and Khalessi took her out,” she explains hurriedly.

“Holy shit!” Kelley exclaims, “You guys didn’t know each other would be there?” She laughs, “That’s hilarious!”

“No, it isn’t,” Christen replies and Kelley hears how upset she is, “and I feel so bad. Tobin was all scraped up and hit her head and her wrist was swollen, yet she was so nice just like when I was panicking when I hit her car,”

“Wait, wait, wait,” Kelley interrupts, “you hit her car?”

So, Christen explains the while thing. Including the walking in on Tobin without a shirt.

“She’s certainly got a hot bod,” Kelley remarks, she pauses for a moment, “She carried Khaleesi to the car?”

“Yes, and I saw how she couldn’t even grip her with her hand,” Christen replies and again Kelley can hear how distraught she sounds.

“Wait a second,” Kelley murmurs, the wheels turning, “Christen, are you into her? Do you like her?”

There’s a pause before Christen meekly replies, “Yes.”

“Oh my God!” Kelley exclaims loudly, “Why didn’t I think of this?” she says, “You two would be perfect- I can totally see it!”

“Kelley-” Christen starts but is cut off.

“Okay, here’s what you should do,” Kelley continues animatedly, “You have to ask her out, I’m positive Tobin has no clue if you’re gay, she hasn’t asked me and never would. She’s super shy about relationships, she hasn’t been in one for a couple of years,”

“Huh,” Christen remarks, realizing Kelley is actually helping her. “I’m listening,”

“I think her last girlfriend took a job in another state and they tried to do long distance, but it just didn’t work out. So, she threw herself into her job and other hobbies and she hardly ever does the bar scene.” Kelley informs her, “But, Christen, she’s a really good person, like one of the best I know.”

“Thanks, Kel,” Christen replies, “I know you wouldn’t steer me towards someone who is a disaster,”

“Well, not intentionally,” Kelley laughs, “I’ll send you her contact info,”

“Thanks,” Christen says gratefully.

“Hey, how’s your dog?” Kelley asks, suddenly remembering that part of the story.

“Oh, she’s got a small fracture in her lower leg,” Christen states, “and some bruising on her ribs on one side,”

“Oh, poor puppy,” Kelley says heartfully, “is she okay?”

“She’s pathetic,” Christen chuckles, “she’s whiny and being needy, so I’m giving her a lot of extra attention.”

“The poor baby,” she says. “Christen,” she says, growing serious, “you let me know how’s it’s going between you guys, okay? Anything I can do to help you out, I’ll do. Tobin is good people and I think the two of you would be awesome together.”

“Thanks, Kel, I appreciate it,” Christen says, “do you think we could just keep this between ourselves until I know what’s going on?” She really doesn’t want the rest of the group to find out she was trying to date Tobin. Not until something happens, if it does.

“Of course,” Kelley agrees, “my lips are sealed.”

"Thank you," Christen says with relief.

"Oh, and Christen?" Kelley asks, her tone snarky, "Just don't poison her or anything, okay?"

"Goodbye, Kelley!"

 

XXXX

 

 

“You call me if you need anything,” Alex says as she hugs Tobin, “I mean it,”

“I will, Al,” Tobin says, “you or Allie,” she nods at her when they part, “Thanks,” she gives her a slightly lopsided grin, “today was fun,”

Alex grins back, “Most of it was,” she says, frowning as she looks at Tobin’s wrist, “you’re sure you’ll be okay on your own?”

“I will,” Tobin assures her, “I’m going to take a nap and then eat and then veg out on the couch,”

“Okay,” Alex nods, satisfied with her answer, “I’ll talk to you tomorrow,”

“Alright,” Tobin says as they walk to the door, “see ya,”

Tobin yawns and shuffles over to the kitchen, noting the time. She shakes out another pain pill, it’s only her second one today and she’ll take one more before bed tonight. She swallows it down and looks longingly at her couch. She kicks off her sandals, leaving them near the counter and walks over to the couch, she removes her phone and wallet from her pockets and sets them on the side table before adjusting the pillow and grabbing the second one from the other end of the couch. She lies down, placing the second pillow on her side and resting her braced arm on it. She’s out in minutes.

 

XXXX

 

Christen is holding her phone in her hand, biting her lower lip as she contemplates calling Tobin. She wants to do this. She figures it’s after dinner time, so it would be fine. It’s really just the friendly thing to do, for her to show her concern for Tobin’s wellbeing. They’ve gone out socially once, so it would be appropriate. She’s pumping herself up internally. She nods to herself and takes a deep breath and presses the newly added contact in her phone.

“Hello?” a low, raspy, sleep filled voice answers.

“Hi, Tobin?” Christen asks, unsure if it’s her.

“Yeah?” Christen hopes it’s Tobin because this voice is really turning her on.

“Um, hi, it’s Christen,” she replies hurriedly, “I got your number from Kelley and I was just calling to see how you’re doing?”

“Oh, hey,” the voice perks up and Christen can now recognize it as Tobin’s, “yeah, I’m alright,” she says, “how’s Khaleesi?”

Christen smiles at her thoughtfulness, “She’s doing okay,” she replies, “she has some bruised ribs and a small fracture in her leg, so she’s casted and limping around.”

“Aw,” Tobin says, clucking her tongue, “poor sweetheart,”

“How are you?” Christen asks pointedly.

“Uh, my wrist is fractured,” Tobin replies quietly, “two bones, I see the ortho Tuesday, but the nurse didn’t think it needed surgery,”

“Oh no,” Christen frowns, “I’m so sorry,”

“Chris,” Tobin says, her voice still edged with sleep, “it wasn’t your fault, come on now,”

“I know, but I just feel terrible,” Christen says, “I know it was an accident,”

Maybe it’s because she’s still pretty sleepy or maybe it’s the pain pill talking, but Tobin suddenly bravely puts herself out there, "Well, what would make you feel better?”

“Well,” Christen says slowly, amazed that Tobin handed her this opportunity on a platter, “I think if I bring you a meal that would help,”

“Yeah?” Tobin smiles to herself.

“Yeah,” Christen smiles into the phone, “do you eat meat? Like, if I made a pot roast?”

“Oh my gosh, I haven’t had pot roast in forever,” Tobin says enthusiastically, “that would be amazing,”

“Then it’s settled,” Christen says simply, “what day would work for you?”

Tobin is quiet for a moment, “Would tomorrow be alright? I mean if you don’t have plans?” Tobin asks quietly, her voice full of uncertainty, she just wants to see Christen again.

Christen laughs and it makes Tobin feel a flutter in her chest, “I don’t have plans,” she says, “would it be easier if I came over to your house? I imagine you aren’t driving right now,”

“Oh, yeah,” Tobin realizes, “I didn’t even think if that,” she says, “you want to hang out and maybe watch a movie or something? The puppies are more than welcome, I have an enclosed yard.”

“Are you sure?” Christen wants to know.

“Yeah,” Tobin assures her, “I figure you’d want to keep an eye on Khaleesi, so if you brought them, you could relax,”

“Oh, that’s really considerate, Tobin,” Christen says quietly, “I really appreciate it,”

“Well, the dogs are part of the deal,” Tobin says simply. “Oh! I have two kinds of pie for dessert!”

“Two?”

“Yeah, my friend Alex and I went out to a farm for a fest today,” Tobin states, “they’re homemade from the orchards,”

“Tobin, you went to a fest today?” Christen questions, her maternal instincts kicking into gear, “Didn’t your wrist hurt? Aren’t you supposed to take it easy?”

“Well, I’m feeling it now,” she admits, “but whatever they gave me at the clinic,” she chuckles, “I was feeling no pain,”

“Well, how about a relaxing afternoon and an early dinner,” Christen proposes, “I don’t want to be out late on a work night and you should take it easy,”

“That sounds great,” Tobin happily agrees, “come over any time,” she says, “I’ll text you my address,”

“Great,” Christen agrees, "um, do you want to do lunch, too?" she asks, "I could come over kind of early so you don't have to worry about eating tomorrow," she offers, not wanting to be pushy, but really wanting to help her. The idea of being with her more than just for dinner is also a factor in her asking.

"Ah, yeah," Tobin replies, yawning, "I really haven't thought how making meals would be," she admits, "being one handed is kind of hard,"

“Then, I’ll be over around noon with a little something for lunch,” Christen says, “and I’ll bring my crockpot with the pot roast,” She doesn’t want to let Tobin know she already has her address courtesy of Kelley.

“Perfect,” Tobin says, “I have plenty of stuff to drink and dessert,”

“I’ll see you tomorrow,” Christen grins, feeling great about how easy this went.

“I can’t wait,” Tobin says sincerely, “it’ll be really nice to hang out with you,”

 

XXXX

 

Christen smiles when her phone goes off, seeing the text message from Tobin with her address and a smiley emoji. She sends back a thumbs up and begins to ponder what she should wear tomorrow. She decides to go with something comfy, some nice sweats and a top and a sweatshirt in case it gets cool. She remembers what Kelley said about Tobin being a little shy and gets inspired and pulls her rainbow Nike Equality shirt out, hoping that would give Tobin a clue to her sexuality.

After making her decision on her outfit, Christen heads to her kitchen to make sure she has the ingredients she needs for the meals she intends to make. She decides to make the soup tonight, feeling it always tastes better reheated the next day. When she can leave it to simmer on the stove, Christen gathers her dog bag, making sure she packs up food, bowls, treats and plastic bags for poop. She folds one of the blankets the dogs like to lay on, wanting them to have a place they feel comfortable to hang out. Satisfied she has everything prepared except for making the pot roast in the morning, Christen relaxes in front of the TV, checking on the soup every once in a while. She figures she’ll stop and pick up a nice salad on the way tomorrow.

A few hours later and Christen is heading to bed, having taken care of the soup, taste testing it and nodding with a smile. It’s good. She’s just completed her evening ritual before bed, washing her face and brushing her teeth when her phone goes off. A Facetime call.

She trots into her bedroom, picking it up and smiling as she answers Channing’s call.

“Hi!” she says excitedly, throwing back her comforter a little to slide into bed. She moves carefully since both dogs are on the bed. Khaleesi can get up easily but Christen helps her down so she doesn’t hurt herself.

“You’re pretty smiley,” Channing grins at her, “how’s it going?”

“You’ll never believe how easy it went!” Christen says excitedly, a rush of giddiness flowing through her.

“I take it you talked to Tobin,” Channing chuckles, watching as Christen nods quickly with a big smile on her face and her eyes shining with happiness, “tell me everything,”

 

 

XXXX

 

 

Tobin does a quick once over to her place, she’s a neat person to begin with, but she wants to make sure her house is clean before Christen came over for the first time. Her wrist is hurting, but she wants to wait and take her final pain pill for the day before she goes to sleep. About an hour later, she feels confident her place is up to her level and decides to have a quick snack before going to bed. She chooses an apple, munching on it as she flicks through the channels on her TV.

Her phone goes off, the ring tone indicating it’s Alex.

“Yo,” she answers with her mouth full.

“Ew, what are you eating?” Alex asks.

Tobin swallows, “An apple,” she says, “what’s up?”

“I was just checking in and seeing how you were feeling,” Alex replies.

“Ah, alright,” Tobin answers, “it hurts, not gonna lie. I hate that the pain pills are the only thing that work for it right now,”

“Well silly,” Alex chides her, “that’s why you have them, so take them properly.”

“I am,” Tobin defends herself, “I just don’t like to rely on them,”

“Well, hopefully you won’t have to soon,” Alex suggests, “hey, are you coming in to work on Tuesday?”

“I don’t think so,” Tobin states, “I think I’ll take the whole day off, I’m in a good place right now, it won’t set me back too much.”

“You going to Uber to the doctor?” Alex wants to make sure Tobin is making good choices. Sometimes her friend can be a little impulsive.

“Yeah,” Tobin says, “I’m not even thinking of driving for a while,”

“I can pick you up on Wednesday, it’s no problem,” Alex offers.

“That would be great,” Tobin replies, “thanks, the coffee is on me,”

“Perfect!” Alex laughs, “What are you doing tomorrow?”

“Well, uh,” Tobin pauses, “actually, Christen is coming over tomorrow.”

“Well how did you swing that?” Alex asks, clearly surprised at this.

“She called me,” Tobin says and Alex can hear the happiness in her voice.

“So, she is into you,” Alex chuckles again, “and you were so worried.”

“I’m not a hundred percent certain, but there’s definitely something,” Tobin states.

“She cooking for you?”

“Yeah,”

“Tobin,” she says, her tone growing serious, “are you sure you want to eat anything she makes? I mean, with the track record the two of you have…”

“Al,” Tobin scolds her, “come on now,” she says, “let’s not put something like that out in the universe,”

Alex chuckles, “I mean, I’m just saying, it just seems like food poisoning would be the next logical progression,"

Tobin sighs at her, “Yeah, I know,” she says, “and you’re right, you know? On paper this could be a disaster.”

“I haven’t met her and I know nothing about her,” Alex states, “but I think in this universe, she’s probably an excellent cook and you won’t get food poisoning from her. You’re due for some good mojo.”

Tobin laughs, “I could use a break, so I’ll believe that,”

“Tobin, she’s into you,” Alex says triumphantly, “you have to know that any woman that is willing to cook for you is looking for something,”

“Maybe,” Tobin says hesitantly, “I don’t want to completely get my hopes up just yet.”

“Okay,” Alex sighs, “I’ll let you be cautious,” she says, “but if I hear that Christen had to practically sit in your lap and kiss you to make you realize she likes you, I’m going to give you such a hard time!”

“Al, I’m not going to tell you if we kiss,” Tobin states, “and I’m certainly not telling you how it happens if it does,”

“Fine,” Alex agrees too quickly, “I’ll just ask Christen when I meet her,”

“You wouldn’t!” Tobin gasps.

“Don’t test me,” Alex warns, “I want all the dirt.”

Tobin sighs, “Al,” she whines.

“All the dirt,” Alex repeats with a teasing warning. “I’ll talk to you later, Tiger. Good luck!”

Tobin looks at her phone, Alex had hung up. She shakes her head and tosses her phone down next to her on the couch and finishes her apple.

 

XXXX

 

 

“Shit!” Tobin hisses, unable to button her jeans with one hand. She sighs and runs her left hand through her hair, “Guess it’s sweats,” she mumbles, aggravated that it took her so long to get them on as she does a goofy hip shake and pulling her jeans down with her left hand. She inspects her choices and decides on a pair of basic black sweats with a narrow leg. She finds her favorite slides and slips her bare feet in them, frowning as she passes her mirror, seeing her hair down and brushed, but not really styled. She has her glasses on because she just felt lazy and achy and is realizing the second day after her mishap, she’s much more uncomfortable.

Her knee is definitely bruised under the scrape, her shoulder is giving her a vague ache and her wrist just hurts. She keeps forgetting she has a scrape on her head near her temple, unintentionally running her brush over it and hissing in pain.

It’s cool outside and overcast, unusual for August, but she’ll take it. The house is stuffy, so Tobin opens a few windows and her interior door and lets the air come in through her screen door. She loves her screen door, she knows it sounds stupid to say it, but she does. She loves her house. It’s an old bungalow, one story with a basement, built in the forties, back when craftsmanship was taken seriously. The house has character, Tobin feels as if it has its’ own life force, you can feel it.

It’s the warm feeling she gets when she enters it after a long day, it’s the smell that occurs through the screens on her windows when it rains, that slightly metallic, but earthy smell. It’s the creaks on the hardwood floors and the solidness of her front door. It’s the natural wood finish of her floors and trim and cabinets that grounds her, how it brings nature into her home and how she paired it with natural leather and cloth fabrics in earth tones throughout the rooms. She loves her house.

It’s how she chose this house over the veritable mansions she could afford with the inheritance she received from her grandfather after his passing. How she liked to live simply, despite her wealth. Allie and Alex are the only ones outside of family who know that Tobin has money. Like, serious money. Alex knows because Tobin went to her to get educated about money. Allie knows because she was by her side when her Grandfather became ill. Money isn’t something Tobin talks about very often, it’s not something she lets define her. She likes to earn her money and work for her goals. Her Grandfather had left her the money to chase her dreams and in the last two years, Tobin has used some to take a couple of nice vacations and yeah, maybe she’s a little overly generous with birthday and wedding and Christmas gifts, but she only purchases items that are meaningful to the recipients.

Anyway, she doesn’t like to talk about her money.

She also loves her couch, collapsing onto it, kicking off her slides and putting her feet up on the coffee table, pulling a pillow up against her side to rest her braced wrist. She swears she’s just going to rest her eyes for just a moment as she closes them and then she drifts off.

 

 

XXXX

 

 

Christen slowly pulls into the driveway of Tobin’s house, the dogs wagging their tails discovering they have reached a new destination. She decides to carry in the crockpot first, waiting to get a sense of the interior before bringing her dogs in.

She looks at the building, a soft smile comes to her face at the straight lines and low hedges, the colorful burst of flowers and natural grasses flowing with the breeze. It’s not a huge house, it’s one story and Christen can see windows peeking out from behind the flowers indicating a basement. The driveway slopes up setting the building on high ground with a few trees in the large front yard and looking up the drive, she can see a large outbuilding. It’s made of wood, looking like a barn.

She moves to the passenger side of her car, removing her purse, the dog’s bag and the still warm crockpot from the floor. She has one of those padded thermal zippered cases so it won’t burn her as she carries it to the front door. She sees the interior door is open through the screen, so she steps close, both of her hands holding the crockpot and glances in.
She sees Tobin passed out on the couch, legs up on the coffee table. She grimaces, not wanting to disturb her but she doesn’t know what else to do.

“Knock, knock,” she calls out rather softly, not wanting to startle the sleeping woman, taking a step back and keeping her eyes on Tobin, watching as she turns her head and opens her eyes.

“Oh, hey,” she says, issuing a muffled groan as she leaves the couch, padding to the door, “Hi,” she greets sleepily, opening the screen door wide for Christen to pass through.

“Hi,” Christen greets back, angling her body to pass her. They’re fronts brush briefly and the contact gives both of them a shiver.

“Where are the puppies?” Tobin questions, blinking behind her glasses, she’s not quite awake yet and Christen can tell.

“Oh, they’re in the car,” Christen explains, “I thought I’d bring this in first,” lifting the crockpot and the bags hanging off her arm a little higher.

“Oh,” Tobin looks at her, “uh, kitchen is this way,” she says, “I’d offer to take something, but it looks complicated,”

“Oh, it’s fine,” Christen assures her, “can I put this on the counter?” Tobin nods and leads her to the kitchen.

“Yeah, over here,” Tobin gestures to the counter on the other side of the fridge, “this one has an outlet,” she explains.

“Perfect,” Christen grins, setting it down.

“You can put your other stuff on the table,” Tobin says, “it’s fine there,”

Christen nods and places the bag and purse down, turning back to the crockpot, “I just want to put this back on, if you don’t mind,”

“No, that’s fine,” Tobin says, taking a step back, “whatever you want to do,” she looks at her shyly, “this is very nice of you, I really appreciate it,” She takes off her glasses and rubs her eyes.

Christen glances at her as she unzips the thermal bag, giving her a soft smile and a half shrug, “It’s nice not to cook for just myself, you know?”

“Yeah, I know,” Tobin says wistfully, then she puts her hand in front of her mouth as she yawns, “Sorry,” she apologizes, “the pain pill makes me a little sleepy,”

“Well go relax,” Christen suggests, walking towards the door, “I’ve got another load of stuff and then I’ll bring in the dogs,”

“I’ll man the door,” Tobin offers, trailing behind her, “it’s cool,”

Christen enters the house laden with a few grocery bags, setting them on the kitchen table and then returning for the dogs who were waiting patiently. Tobin watches as the animals sniff along the driveway, checking the area as they’re lead by Christen to the door.

“Hi puppies,” Tobin greets, smiling when she sees their tails wagging. She elbows the door open, flattening herself against the door jamb to let the dogs and Christen pass and then follows them in. Khaleesi comes right up to her, licking her hand and nuzzling her leg. She limps around Tobin with her brightly wrapped right lower leg, bumping against Tobin’s her legs as Morena takes her turn.

“Girls,” Christen calls, “easy,”

Both dogs seem to take a step back, moving slowly near Tobin who is quietly talking to them as she goes down on one knee, giggling as they lick her face. Christen can’t stop smiling as she hears Tobin asking Khaleesi how her leg is and if she’s sore, as if she’s a human. She loves it.

Tobin straightens up, smiling shyly at Christen, “I like dogs,” she mumbles, then she licks her lips, “Uh, can I get you something to drink?”

“Are you hungry?” Christen asks, “I brought lunch,”

“Yeah, sure,” Tobin smiles, stepping away from the door, “let’s get started,”

Christen grins and follows Tobin, bringing a bag to the counter.

 

 

“Oh, this soup is so awesome, Chris,” Tobin moans before taking another spoonful, “you’re an awesome cook,” They had already eaten the salad that Christen had brought while the soup was warming up on the stove. Just a couple of spoonfuls of this homemade soup and Tobin has eliminated any thoughts of possible food poisoning that was lurking in the back of her head thanks to Alex.

“Thanks” Christen blushes at the compliment, shyly smiling at her. Tobin smiles brightly at back at her, taking a piece of buttered bread, “I love bread,” she murmurs, taking a bite.

“I do too,” Christen agrees, “but my hips don’t,”

“Your hips are fine, Chris,” Tobin answers offhandedly, suddenly realizing what she’s just said, swallowing audibly.

Christen shoots her a flirty look, “Yeah, you think so?” She’s amused at the panicked look on Tobin’s face.

Christen watches as the look disappears and becomes and thoughtful as Tobin looks at her, “I do,” she says softly.

“You been checking out my hips?” She grins at her, her eyes twinkling playfully.

Tobin sits back in her seat, biting her lower lip, evaluating her, “Maybe,” she says, her face still reflecting the thoughtfulness, as if she’s carefully guarding her replies, measuring them in her head before she speaks.

“Yeah?” Christen pushes, “You like what you see?” She sees Tobin glancing down to look at her shirt and how things click in her head just by Tobin’s expression. She’s noticed the pride colors and it that seems to have shifted something in her.

“I do,” Tobin replies with a little more confidence, a slight smile forming on her face.

“Good,” Christen states, turning her attention back to her soup.

“Good?” Tobin questions, raising her eyebrows.

“Uh huh,” Christen says, closed mouthed.

Tobin just looks at her, trying to read her expression. She gives up after a few seconds, picking up her spoon and continuing to eat, wondering what that all was about. It was obvious Christen was flirting with her, but then she just left her hanging there.

“You know,” Christen suddenly speaks, “bread certainly doesn’t affect your hips at all,” she states, giving Tobin a somewhat flirty look, “or your abs,” She’s referencing when she saw Tobin with her shirt off.

“Yeah?” Tobin questions.

“Oh yeah,” Christen nods and grins at her.

Tobin’s not dense, even if her brain is a little clouded by the lingering pain pill in her system. “You….you like me?” she asks awkwardly, internally cringing at how middle school that sounded.

Christen’s smile nearly blinds Tobin and her musical laugh makes her heart speed up.

“I do,” she says simply, “I like you a lot, Tobin,”

Tobin just looks at her with a cheesy grin on her face, “I like you, too,” she says, “a lot.”

“You know,” Christen begins to eat again, feeling like she’s flying, “I don’t just run my car into anyone,”

Tobin’s eyes nearly pop out of her head, “You did that on purpose?” she gasps.

Christen laughs hard, “No, I swear, I didn’t,” she giggles, “I just thought it was funny to say,” she snickers.

“You got me,” she says, smiling at her, “I didn’t expect you to say that,” she laughs.

“So,” Christen says, her confidence at an all time high, “you’re single?”

Tobin nods, “Yeah,” she says, “you?”

Christen smiles as she nods.

“You wanna go out on a date sometime?” Tobin asks, feeling a bit more of confidence flowing in herself. Again, as soon as it comes out, she thinks it's the Norco that's speaking for her.

“How about we call this our first date?” Christen counters, “Food, maybe a movie, this is total date material.”

“Uh, okay,” Tobin agrees, a smile forming, “cool with me,”

They rinse the soup bowls together, shyly smiling at each other and Christen insists on putting the remaining soup in one of Tobin’s Tupperware containers to have for tomorrow.

“You want to hang outside for a bit?” Tobin offers, wondering what they should do now that this is a date. She feels like there are now expectations or something that she to meet.

“We could,” Christen agrees, “as long as Morena doesn’t get Khaleesi all hyper,” She opens the bag she brought to pull out the dog dishes.

“Ooh!” Tobin exclaims, “I’ve got a mat for them,” she says, squatting down to a bottom cabinet and standing up triumphantly with a smile. She points over to the wall near the hallway, “I usually put it there,” she says, “my friend Allie has dogs that come over,” She walks over and lays the mat down.

“You have friends named Alex and Allie?” Christen asks, “Doesn’t that get confusing?”

“Yeah,” Tobin laughs, “and I have another friend named Ali and we all work together,” she says, “it does make for some confusion sometimes,” She thinks for a moment, “She’s Kyle Krieger’s sister,”

“Oh, what a small world! ” Christen nods, “It has to, I would imagine,” Christen chuckles as she fills a bowl with water and sets it on the mat. She straightens up and looks around, “Tobin, your house is so nice,” she says genuinely, “it has such a homey feel,”

“Thanks,” Tobin smiles, “when I first saw it, I was smitten,” she shares, “I had to have it, there was just something about it,”

Christen smiles at her response, what an interesting thing to say about a house. Smitten. But she gets it, she thinks it feels like when she visits her grandparents’ house. You can tell it's a home as soon as you walk in. “It shows,” she says.

Tobin just smiles, “Ready?” she asks and Christen reaches for a leash in her bag, clipping it to Khaleesi.

“I don’t want her run around,” she explains.

“We can take it slow and let her check it out,” Tobin offers, leading her to the back door in the kitchen.

 

“I call this my reflecting pool,” Tobin states as the two stand before a small pond with a small stream of water leaving from one side and circling around letting the water move, a three foot waterfall that splashes down on rocks into the water. Natural grasses are to the sides of the waterfall, the blades spreading wide against the rocks. There’s ferns and wildflowers surrounding the side edges and on one side is covered swing on a small patio with another patio on the other side with two cushioned chairs and small table. “I love water,” Tobin confesses, “and the sound of water is soothing, so I did some research and built this,”

“You made this?” Christen asks, her eyes large as she looks at Tobin and then shifts her gaze back to the water, “This is wonderful,” she breathes out, her mouth slightly open as she looks at all of the rocks and little details of painted ceramic pots mixed in with bursts of color planted on them and funky metal sculptures.

“I like to come out here and think,” Tobin shares, “clears my head,”

“I can imagine how soothing it would be,” Christen nods, “Khaleesi seems to like it,” she chuckles, looking down at the dog who is now lying on her side near the edge of the rocks bordering the water. They both turn their heads at the same to look for Morena, sniffing around one of the trees and then wandering around.

“Is she going to be okay?” Tobin asks with concern, “Did she need surgery?”

“It was a closed fractured,” Christen informs her, “no surgery, no tendon damage, she was lucky.”

“That’s good,” Tobin nods, her relief evident, "I think we both were,"

“How about you?” Christen asks, “you look a little pale, are you okay?”

“I’m definitely feeling it more today,” Tobin admits, “but I’m good, I’ll see the ortho doc tomorrow and once I get a cast I’m sure I’ll feeling better.”

Christen frowns, “That stinks,” she sighs, “I hope it goes well,” she says, “will you text me tomorrow and let me know?”

Tobin smiles a little, liking that she’s concerned, “Sure,” she says, “want to sit for a bit?” she questions, gesturing to the chairs. They move to them, Christen dropping the leash as Khaleesi doesn’t seem interested in doing anything other than lying in the grass.

Christen sits down in the chair to Tobin’s left, giving her a grin, “So tell me all about you, Tobin Heath,” she says with a smile.

Tobin grins back at her, “I will if you will,” arching an eyebrow at her.

Christen shrugs and crosses her legs, “Sure,” she says, leaning back in the comfortable chair, “what do you want to know?”

 

XXXX