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Learning Is Fun

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“Oh my gosh, Tobin!” Her sister Perry exclaims, “She is gorgeous!” she’s looking at a framed photo of Tobin and Christen taken at The Pink Door. She moves to look at another one, this one from the thank you dinner after the tornado. Tobin comes up next to her, handing her a glass of eggnog. “Tobin, you in this suit,” Perry lets out a low whistle, “you look fantastic!” she looks over her shoulder, “Hey, Katie! Come see Tobin in a suit!” she calls to their other sister, “And her girlfriend!” she says loud enough for their brother Jeffrey to hear in the kitchen. Tobin is shaking her head, eyes closed, waiting for them to start in on her.

“You could pull her?” Jeffrey asks her, his mouth open as he looks at the photo again, “What the fuck, Tobin,” he says, offering her a high five, “She’s hot!”

“And she’s taken,” Tobin responds, slapping his hand. She takes another sip of her eggnog, “Per, what can we spike this with?”

“And watch your language!” Perry scolds Jeffrey. “Brandy,” Perry replies absently, still inspecting Tobin’s photos in the living room.

“Actually, let me pull up this recipe,” Katie offers, “do you have rum and cognac?”

“Cognac?” Tobin makes a face, “What am I, a seventy year old?”

“Where do you keep your booze?” Jeffrey questions, opening cabinets in the kitchen.

“In the barn,” Tobin replies, “come on, I’ll show you,”

“What’s this?” Perry questions, standing next to the wooden box on the floor near the dog bowls.

“Oh, that’s for Khaleesi and Morena’s stuff,” Tobin replies, pulling on a pair of snow boots near the back door. The dogs are hovering near her, waiting on any chance to go outside.

“They’re so well behaved,” Katie comments.

Tobin snorts, “Who do you think gave me the shiner?” she shakes her head and laughs, “and broke my wrist!”

“Wait,” Katie frowns, “when did you break your wrist?”

Tobin hands her a sweater, “September,” she says, “you coming with?”

“To see your barn?” Katie’s eyebrows are high on her forehead.

“We’re all going,” Perry commands, a glint in her eyes, “we can do some shots.”

“I like that idea!” Jeffrey cheers, his hand on the door. “Let’s get our Christmas Eve rolling!”

 

 

“Why are you working?” Katie questions as she gazes at the canvases lining the walls and ceiling of Tobin’s barn, “You should be painting,” she turns and smiles at her.

Tobin gives a shrug, “Maybe one day,” she says, “come on, the bar’s over here,”

Tobin ends up turning the heat on in the barn and they stay out there for hours. Over drinks, they catch up with each other, going deep into topics. They ask Tobin about her job and what it means now that the company is sold and what she’s going to do. Tobin deflects, she’s still unsure, but unhappy that her boss is being such a jerk. She shares that she’ll make a decision before the end of January unless things continue to go downhill.

They ask about Christen and want to hear all of the details of how they met again, Jeffrey cackling about her breaking her wrist from Khaleesi crashing into her. Perry, like the big sister she is, teases him about his girlfriend and the three women grill him about her. Katie laments being single although there’s a guy she’s dated a couple of times who could be very nice. She’s just unsure and doesn’t know enough about him yet. Perry is happy with her boyfriend, she thinks they’ll be doing holidays together soon, she confides in them that she did a background check on him before she told him about having money and how he thought it was no big deal. He was more interested in learning if she was planning on expanding her gym or possibly making it a franchise. They talk about the idea of it, Perry still uncertain and wanting to learn more if her gym was niche enough to survive in the market.

They go in the house to make dinner, deciding to go back to the barn and watch Elf on her big screen. After dinner, Jeffery says he wants a rematch from last year in cards and Tobin breaks out a deck, the movie running unwatched as they play. The card game turns into drinking games and soon the are playing flip cup and laughing at how horrible Tobin is playing the game.

Feeling sentimental, they start talking about Christmas from years ago and that leads the four back into the house to get gloves and hats. It’s after midnight on Christmas Eve and they are on Tobin’s front lawn building a snowman. Perry is passing around a bottle of Peppermint Schnapps she brought with from the barn as they play in the snow. Things get blurry after that and nobody is in any sort of shape to drive so they decide to sleep over and stumble into the house, waking the dogs.

After sorting out sleepwear and Tobin finding enough toothbrushes for everyone, Jeffrey crashes on the couch with Khaleesi to his delight, Perry and Katie and sleep in the guest room and Tobin finds herself snuggled with Morena in her own bed.

 

XXXX

 

 

“Oh. My. God!” Perry exclaims the next morning from the living room, looking out the front window, she turns to face the three in the kitchen, laughing hard, “Where did we get spray paint?”

“What?” Jeffrey asks, rolling off the couch and coming to the window and looking out. “What the fuck?” he laughs.

Tobin and Katie join them, taking in the scene on the front lawn. There’s a large snow woman, the breasts give it away, with arms raised above her head. Spread out in front of it are at least a dozen smaller snow people, complete with little stick arms, four of them with gloves on and four others with their hats from last night, arranged as a choir. Their bodies are spray painted with bright red paint, red rimmed mouths open as if they are singing with the main conductor appearing to have a snow crown.

Katie turns to look at them all, "We have to do this next year," she says, grinning at them, "we have to have a sleepover just like this from now on,"

They all nod with bright smiles.

The four of them crack up, the hazy memory returning to them. They eat a light breakfast for their delicate stomachs, drinking Gatorades before having coffee. Tobin’s siblings leave to go back to their hotel to shower and get dressed for the day, promising to return before their parents arrive in the early afternoon.

Before she showers, Tobin trudges outside, chuckling to herself as she takes a few photos of the snow choir. Once back inside, she sends a couple off to Christen.

Tobin: Merry Christmas! Let the angels sing!

She’s carrying her phone with her to her bathroom when it goes off.

Christen: I have no words.

Tobin: We may have been drinking last night. Like. A. Lot. LOL

Christen: Ya think? When did you do this?

Tobin: Sometime after midnight last night. It’s a little hazy.

Christen: How are you feeling baby?

Tobin: Not gonna lie. Pretty hungover.

Christen: Aw! Did you have fun?

Tobin: So much! Did you last night?

Christen: Yes! I retained my title as Monopoly champ. All is well.

Tobin: Hope that doesn’t affect the gift giving from your family.

Christen: I won fair and square. No tears from anyone this year. It was all good fun. Except for when Channing threw her hotels at me. But that was funny as hell.

Tobin: I’m going to shower now, I’ll talk to you later okay?

Christen: Wow! You really had a late start! Feel better and I’ll talk to you later- and Merry Christmas, babe, I love you.

Tobin: I love you too, can’t wait to see you in a couple of days!

Christen: Same here! Go shower! It’ll help your hangover!

Tobin is all smiles as she undresses and turns the shower on.

 

 

“Have you been drinking?” Their Father addresses them over his glasses, sniffing the eggnog in his hand.

“Yes, sir, we have,” Jeffrey nods and gives him a salute. “Hair of the dog,” he explains with a lopsided grin.

“You two have some catching up to do,” Perry adds with a giggle as she hands a glass of eggnog to her Mom.

Tobin is in the kitchen, smiling as she stirs the mashed potatoes, “Katie, this can go the table,” she says, sticking the spoon upright in the mound of potato goodness. She takes the roasting tray from the oven, peeling off a piece of foil to cover the prime rib roast she’s made. She glances at her Mom who is smiling at her.

“What?” Tobin asks, a small smile on her face.

“Just watching you,” her Mom replies, “you’ve got this down well, young lady,”

Tobin smiles at her as she removes the roasted vegetables from the oven, “I learned from the best, Ma,” she says, “I’ll always be grateful to you for letting me help in the kitchen,”

“Is there anything I can do, honey?” her Mom asks, setting her glass of eggnog down.

“Will you make the gravy?” Tobin asks, “I can’t get mine quite like yours,” she holds up a whisk.

Her Mom steps closer, taking the whisk in hand and slipping an arm around her, “I’ll show you how,” she says warmly, then looks around, “Have I ever told you how much I love your home?” she asks, her eyes focused on the Christmas tree, smiling fondly at it. “You still have Grandpa’s decorations,” she says softly.

“That’s his tree, too,” Tobin nods, feeling emotional, maybe from the booze, maybe from the holidays, she doesn’t know, “I miss him, Ma,” she says quietly, sniffling, “Grandma, too,” Tobin feels her Mom squeeze her side tighter, “I know sweetie,” she says, “I do too,” She knows Tobin has always been the most sensitive of her children. Especially since she was so close to her Grandparents.

“Hey, what are you two doing?” Katie asks, coming near the stove, Tobin turns away to face the cabinets, “Mom, what spices do you need?”

“Perry, come here,” Her Mom calls out, “I’m going to show you girls how to make my gravy,”

“Hey, what about me?” Jeffrey asks indignantly, “That’s pretty sexist, I like to cook,”

“Then get over here,” Cindy laughs, “Tobin we’ll need a little salt, onion and garlic powder, some flour and we’ll go from there,”

Tobin nods as she faces the cabinets, discreetly wiping her eyes, and gathers the items.

“I learned how to make this gravy from your Grandma,” her Mom begins as she inspects the items in front of her, she pauses to smile at each of her children, “here’s how we do it,”

 

 

XXXX

 

 

“Merry Christmas, sweetie,” Tobin smiles at Christen, “did you have a good one?” It’s late and through their texts throughout the day, they had agreed to Facetime at bedtime.

“Merry Christmas,” she smiles back, “I did, we had a great time today,” she says, “how about you?”

“It was so much fun,” she says, “we ate too much, drank too much and then ate again,” she chuckles, “oh, and my brother is in love with Morena,” she adds.

“Oh, is he now?” Christen questions, “Have they been good?”

“So good,” Tobin nods, she’s still a little tipsy, “what did you think of their pictures?”

Christen laughs out loud, “Where did you find those hats?”

Tobin giggles, “I went to PetSmart,” Tobin had dragged Perry outside to take photos of her with the dogs, so she could send photos of her and the dogs wearing Santa hats around the large snowman.

“They looked adorable,” Christen grins, “everyone loved it!”

They talk about the highlights of their day until they both grow tired. They each refuse to hang up first and end up both falling asleep while the Facetime App drains their phones the next morning.

 

XXXX

 

 

Christen finds it endearing that Khaleeesi stays by Tobin’s side after they hug in greeting when she enters her house two days after Christmas. The humor leaves when she spies Morena, her baby, sitting next to who she assumes is Tobin’s brother on the couch, glaring at her and issuing a series of woofs and whines, yet not leaving his side. She drops to a knee, holding her hand out searchingly and when neither dog approaches, she looks up at Tobin “What have you done to my babies?” she accuses, almost glaring at her.

Tobin gives her an amused look, which slightly pisses Christen off as she watches Tobin move to the couch, letting Morena sniff her hand, the dog leaping off the couch to follow, Khaleesi gets a sniff and when Tobin stands next her side, she transfers a few dog treats from her hand to Christen’s. Suddenly both dogs are crying and whining, tails wagging and slapping as they both gobble the treats and lick at Christen’s face, nearly knocking her off her knees.

She’s embarrassed when she realizes this has all gone down in front of Tobin’s family who are politely smiling at her. She scrambles to her feet, brushing at her pants, certain her face is beet red. “I’m so sorry,” she says quickly, her eyes wide, looking between Tobin and the rest of her family.

“Oh sweetheart, it’s fine!” The woman who must be Tobin’s Mother says, smiling gently at her, her eyes warm and brown like Tobin’s, instantly setting her ease. “We’ve been telling Tobin she’s spoiling the dogs too much!” she teases her daughter who just slowly shakes her head, a smile on her face.

Meeting the Heath family involves hugs. Lots of hugs. They’re a family of huggers and, with the exception of her Mother, Tobin’s siblings all manage to tease Tobin during their greeting hugs. Even her Father. It’s all good natured and she can feel the good vibes surrounding in the living room. Tobin gently removes her coat, giving her a soft kiss, brushing her lips in greeting as she moves to hang her jacket in the closet.

Christen places each hand on Tobin’s checks, examining her eye and temple, looking it over critically. “How does your eye feel?” she asks quietly.

“It’s fine,” Tobin smiles at her, “I iced it a little Christmas Eve and the swelling went down the next day.” Below Tobin’s eye is a bruise, deep purple and red with just a little puffiness. Her cut is still bandaged, but the area around it doesn’t look swollen any longer.

Tobin slips her hand in hers and leads her to the kitchen, offering her a drink, her Mother, who insists she call Cindy, politely offering a nice spread of appetizers. She is hungry, not having eaten since breakfast before heading to the airport to fly in. It’s just past noon and she glances over to see covered pots and skillets on the stove. She arches an eyebrow at Tobin as Perry offers her a margarita, explaining they were having tacos for tortilla wraps before they had to leave to catch their flights home later in the afternoon. It all clicks then, the chips and salsa, the guac, the merriment in everyone’s eyes, a mix of tequila and amusement at her entrance.

“I hope you’re not mad Morena loves me,” Jeffrey brushes against her shoulder, his tone teasing.

She looks him over for a moment, just long enough to make him and Tobin start to sweat before she grins at him, “I can see you’re a charmer, just like your sister,” she says, then she eyes Tobin, sending her a wink, “you both have a way with women.”

The group howls with laughter, Katie high fiving Christen and Jeffrey laughing the loudest. “Tobes, she’s perfect for you!” he laughs, then turns to her, “Please tell me you keep her in check just like that,” he says to Christen, looking hopeful. Christen gives him a sly nod and they all laugh again, Tobin shaking her head, knowing Christen has captured their hearts just like she has her own.

Lunch is easy and comfortable, the Heath family genuinely interested in Christen and her job, family, schooling. It never feels like an interrogation, just a fun, light conversation, going around the table. Christen asks Tobin’s siblings about themselves, and her parents as well. Christen and Perry chat about yoga and she learns Perry lives only forty minutes from her parents’ house near LA and her gym is only twenty minutes away. Katie and her bond over tennis, Katie having played in college. Jeffrey is a deep well of Tobin facts he gladly shares with her of embarrassing stories that makes Tobin’s face turn red as she laughs. Cindy and Jeff are warm and personable, very down to earth and kind. It doesn’t take long for her to feel extremely comfortable with Tobin’s family.

When they’ve finished eating yet haven’t left the table, Christen smiles over at Tobin who returns her smile. Tobin is positively beaming at her, her smile wide and her eyes shining with happiness. Both in their own little world, neither notice how the others have caught them, glancing at them as they keep up their conversation. Perry elbows Tobin, whispering something to her and Tobin puts her head down, leaning over to listen and looks up at Christen and smiles.

Christen looks away to take in everyone and then she clears her throat a little, letting her eyes fall on Tobin. “I have to ask you something,” she states.

“What, babe?” Tobin questions, tilting her head, trying to read her expression.

“So, you really didn’t give me any details when I asked before,” Christen slowly smiles, “but could you please explain why there is a choir of thirteen snowpeople on your lawn?”

“Yes, Tobin,” her Dad chimes in, giving her and interested look, leaning his arms on the table, “do tell how that happened,”

“Yes, sweetheart,” Her Mother adds, resting her chin on her hand, “I’d like to hear how that came about,” she shifts her eyes and gives Christen a sly grin, “especially the little one holding the bottle of Schnapps.” This family loves to tease, just as much as Christen’s own and she’s loving it.

Immediately, Tobin, Katie and Jeffrey point to Perry, “It’s all her fault!” They exclaim.

 

XXXX

 

 

“Babe, your family is so nice,” Christen says, her head resting on Tobin’s chest, half of her body sprawled on top of her. They’re lying on the couch, intent on napping for a little bit. Tobin is playing with her hair, her fingers lightly running over her scalp, she hums as she keeps doing it.

“I’m lucky,” she says quietly, “even though I’m wired a bit differently from them, they love me,”

Christen sharply turns her head up to look at her, “Hon?”

Tobin shrugs, “Being gay in a Christian household wasn’t super easy for a while,” she explains, “high school wasn’t always the most fun for me,”

Christen shifts so she’s sitting more upright and can look at her, “How so, babe?”

Tobin shrugs and frowns, “It was mostly me,” she says, “I really internalized the thought of being gay,” she explains, “so I kind of struggled with it for a while.”

“Oh,” Christen says softly, trying to think of Tobin being at odds with her family. From just meeting them today and seeing the obvious love they have for one another, it’s difficult to imagine.

“Yeah,” Tobin says, “I really had a hard time getting my head around the idea that it was okay to be gay and be a Christian.”

“Oh,” Christen says, knowing how important her faith is to her, “was your family not supportive?”

Tobin chuckles, “Actually, they totally were,” she says, “once they found out. Perry actually sat me down and basically drew it out of me that I liked girls and telling me liking girls was fine,”

“She did?”

“Uh huh,” Tobin nods, a small smile on her face, “I thought I was being so secretive and nobody knew but I think she knew before I did that I was gay. She basically told me that if this was the way I was wired, then God knew it before I was born, so what type of God would do that and not accept it?”

“Woah,” Christen says, curling up her legs and slowly rubbing her fingers on Tobin’s forearm, “that was pretty deep.”

“Yeah,” Tobin agrees, “and then I talked to my Mom and she was totally cool about it. When I told her about how I thought our church would be mad, she actually laughed, and I was like what? But she told me there were plenty of people who went to our church that are gay,”

“Aw,” Christen smiles, “how sweet,”

“Yeah,” smiles at her, “my Dad, I think he was more confused than upset and he was quiet about it for long time. It wasn’t until my Mom made us all go to a Pride Parade and my Dad saw the PFLAG floats and parents just walking around offering hugs to kids who couldn’t hug their own parents because they wouldn’t accept them. He actually started tearing up when he saw that and he just stood behind me hugging me for so long during the parade, just holding me, it was just something else. That night, me and him went outside, kicking a ball around and he told me how much he loved me no matter who I loved and he would always be my Dad and be proud of me.”

“Hon,” Christen says, wiping the tears at her eyes, “that is so amazing,”

“Yeah,” Tobin sniffs, “it was and I really needed that validation from him to know it was okay and it just like, set the dominoes in motion that everything would be fine and just ignore those who didn’t agree.”

“So, everything is good now, right?” Christen wants to know.

“Yeah,” Tobin grins, “I mean, they don’t totally get me but that’s fine, I don’t totally understand them sometimes either. But it’s never been of source of contention if that’s what you’re wanting to know.”

Christen nods, “I was,”

Tobin smiles, “How about with your family?”

Christen laughs, “I knew when I was fifteen,” she says, “but it wasn’t until I was sixteen that I just told them I liked girls over boys one day during dinner.”

“You just were like, pass me the corn, and hey I like girls?” Tobin chuckles.

Christen chuckles with her, “Pretty much! Homecoming was approaching and my Mom asked if I was going,” she shrugs, “so I just told them.”

“What did they say?” Tobin eyes her intently.

“They all knew by then, I’m sure, so it wasn’t a shock.” Christen shares, “Channing was like, cool, do you have a crush on anyone and pass me the breadsticks.”

Tobin looks at her wide eyed, “Really?”

Christen nods, “They were awesome,” she says, “I’m so grateful it was so easy,”

“That’s awesome, babe,” Tobin says and leans in to kiss her.

Christen smiles and kisses her back, then she looks at her, arching an eyebrow, a sultry look on her face, “Wanna go do some gay things with me?” she suggests.

Tobin studies her, her eyes growing dark, “Are you suggesting something in the bedroom or like, going out an buying some new flannel shirts?”

“Bedroom,” Christen nods, a slow smile spreading across her face.

“Oh yeah,” Tobin smiles back at her, “I think I was starting to get withdrawals from you,” she says as she stands up, stretching her hand for her to take.

Christen stands next to her, “Let’s go get super gay together,” she chuckles.

“Super duper,” Tobin adds, pulling her along.

 

XXXX

 

Tobin finds her short week after Christmas hasn’t softened Steve’s maniacal drive. Since he’s considered an employee of SchoolMart, he has bosses to report to now and a set amount of vacation days. He can’t casually take off days whenever he wants anymore like he did when owned the company. It appears to Tobin and her coworkers, this is not a fun thing for him anymore.

Alex nearly has a mental breakdown trying to assemble all of the financials for the end of the year reports. Steve is making her do strange reports she’s never done before and things are getting a little contentious between them. Then he comes back to have her do additional reports since SchoolMart wants the normal ones she usually does. So, she’s basically doing everything twice and it’s really pissing her off.

Ali is going crazy sending over version after version of newly designed business cards, letter heads and marketing materials with Portland P.E. stating it’s a SchoolMart company. They need to be reviewed by a committee of SchoolMart people and all of them have opinions on changes to be made. It’s frustrating and Steve is no help, just telling her to make the changes requested and send the ideas back to them for approval. So, she’s spent her days redoing things that they keep changing.

Morgan Brian is trying to work with their logistics manager to combine their shipping volume to get better freight rates but things aren’t going smoothly. She thinks the SchoolMart person is intimidated by her since she knows her shipping stuff inside and out. The person she’s dealing is becoming more and more defensive and unwilling to cooperate.

Crystal Dunn in purchasing is doing her best to patiently explain the hows and whys of the uniquely seasonal products she brings in. Having to explain herself to four different purchasing agents from SchoolMart is testing her deep well of patience. Especially since they refuse to work as a group.

Allie Long feels guilty because SchoolMart has left sales alone for now, but she’s feeling the stress of everyone else. Lindsey is an inside salesperson and feels like she’s drifting along without knowing what her future will be. Emily is in the same boat as Lindsey.

As the office manager and HR person, Abby is nearly pulling her hair out with the structural changes for insurance, payroll and the time cards. Add on the pressure of hearing everyone complaining about Steve and worrying about the company and their jobs, she’s very stressed out.

Tobin hates it, she really does. She hates seeing everyone so freaked out and how Steve has changed so rapidly. Tobin has a long talk with Jesse explaining her vision of what she thinks PERT could become. She convinces Jesse to come up to Portland to meet and she would buy her plane tickets and she and her wife could stay at either a hotel or Tobin’s place, on her. They would review Tobin’s idea in much more detail and would nail down how they’d make it work. Jesse hesitantly agrees, telling Tobin she thinks this is too good to be true, but she trusts her. She says she’ll get back to her about dates when her wife gets home. Before she leaves for the day, she goes through her desk drawer, selecting a few files and stuffing them in her backpack. Her exodus from the company continues.

 

 

XXXX

 

 

Christen notices Tobin’s change in temperament when she comes over that night. “What’s up with you?” she asks, feeling Tobin is about to burst wanting to tell her something.

“I’m going to quit,” Tobin smiles at her, “and Jesse’s coming up here at the end of the week and we’re going to talk about making PERT happen.”

Christen’s eyes nearly pop out of her head, “This is quick,” she says, “are you sure?”

Tobin nods, “Yeah, I talked to her for about two hours today,” she explains, “and we agreed we would work together, but she’s coming to hear my bigger plans.”

“Your bigger plans?” Christen asks skeptically. She hasn’t heard these plans yet.

“Yep,” Tobin grins, “big plans.” She spreads her out wide, “Huge plans. Huge!” she laughs, “And we’ll stick it to SchoolMart along the way.”

“Tobin!” Christen exclaims, “What are you going to do?”

“I’m going to invest in PERT, Jesse will be the main content creator. I’ll kind of be in sales and marketing and make sure everyone is trained in the content and we’ll have a staff of sales people and a graphics department and all sorts of things,”

Christen smiles,” You’re sure about this?”

“Well,” Tobin scratches the back of her neck, “we’ll find out this week,” she says, “I’m going to have some of the gals over and see who wants to get in on it.”

“From Portland P.E.?” Christen asks, her eyes wide.

“Yep,” Tobin nods, “nobody is happy there,” she explains, “Steve is stressing everyone out, SchoolMart doesn’t appear to want anyone from our company,” she shrugs, “so…we’ll see.”

Christen nods slowly, “And you feel you’ve given this enough time to make sure this is exactly what you want to do?”

Tobin nods at her, “Yeah, I really do,” she replies, “I really want to still do something positive with my life and I really like doing the sessions and meeting people and I really believe in Jesse’s curriculum.” She pauses for a moment, “I feel like this is something that would potentially change kids lives, you know? Make a difference.”

“How much travel are you envisioning?” Christen asks curiously.

“Actually, I don’t know,” Tobin hesitates, “I want to do this because I really believe in this product and I think my big plans for it would become something huge. I want this to happen even if I’m not super involved. There’s something else I want to concentrate on for myself.”

“And what is that?” Christen asks curiously.

“I want to get in shape and try out for the Thorns this spring.” Tobin answers adamantly, “I really thought about what you said when were coming back from Hawaii,” she says, “and if I don’t try this, I think I’ll regret it for the rest of my life.”

“Oh, honey!” Christen exclaims, hugging her, “That’s amazing! It’s so exciting!”

Tobin smiles at her, “I just want to try,” she says, “I’ve always kind of regretted not going to school for soccer, you know?”

“I thought you didn’t want to go to college,” Christen tilts her head at her.

“I had offers to play,” Tobin explains, “and I turned them down. I just wasn’t in the right headspace then,” she shrugs, “my Grandpa got sick right after I started working at Portland P.E. and it messed with my head pretty bad. I didn’t want to leave.”

“I could understand that,” Christen nods, “you would have been miserable,”

They sit for a minute, taking it in. “So, how are you going to make this work?” Christen asks, “Starting a business and training for tryouts?”

“Allie will be the sales lead, I’ll train everyone about the curriculum, after that, I’m doing my own thing,” Tobin explains, “I’ll work with Ali and Alex on finding a building, but for now, they could work out of the barn until we get a place and all the licenses.”

“Will it be a conflict of interest doing this with Portland P.E. selling it?” Christen prudently asks.

Tobin shakes her head, “Nah,” she dismisses it, “Steve is pressing her to sign off on the five year exclusive contract letting Portland be the only company to sell it. She’s not going to do that and is going back and forth him. She told me if he keeps pushing, she’ll pull out of selling to him totally and that would really screw him over.”

Christen’s eyes go wide, “Can she do that? She has a contract, right?”

Tobin looks at her with a gleam in her eyes, “Yes, she does,” she smirks, “a contract I wrote. It’s valid until January 31st unless a new one is signed. That’s why Steve is pushing so hard. Asking for an exclusive for a year, yeah, sure. But five years?” she shakes her head, “No way. As the owner of a singular product line, it’s stupid. You don’t want to rely on one company promoting your stuff, especially now with SchoolMart. They carry thousands of products, it could get lost in the shuffle. ”

“She’s got him by the balls,” Christen murmurs, realizing how Jesse has the advantage.

“Yeah, and with how Steve is treating everyone, I know he’ll be so stubborn that he’ll overstep and Jesse will tell him one year only or she won’t sell at all to him because he’s being a dick.”

Christen scoots closer, rubbing her hand on Tobin’s leg, “So when does your training start, stud?”

“I took a half day on Wednesday to meet with a trainer,” she replies, “he’s the strength and conditioning coach for the Thorns and has his own gym.” She shrugs, “I figure I’ll just tell him why I’m really there and show him how serious I am and go from there.”

Christen nods, “Well, anything I can do to help,” she smiles at her, her eyes narrowing a little, “like massages and stretching, hot showers, soaking in the tub,” she kisses her, “I’m your woman.”

Tobin smiles at her, “Thank you,” she says, looking at her seriously, “without you I wouldn’t be doing this. I won’t let you down.”

Christen shake her head, “Honey, you’re not going to let me down. It doesn’t matter to me if you make the team,” she says, “I mean, I know it would be amazing, but you just trying is what this is all about. No regrets.”

Tobin bites her lip as she nods, “Yeah,” she says, “no regrets.” She looks over at her, “You know this will take up a lot of my time,” she says slowly, “with getting PERT off the ground and I imagine I’ll be doing workouts twice a day and stuff,”

Christen nods, “I understand,” she says with a small smile, “we’ll just keep talking about schedules and work something out. I’m not worried about it, honey.”

Tobin smiles and leans over to kiss her briefly, “Thanks, babe,” she says, looking deeply into her eyes, “I love you.” She bites her lower lip for a moment as she thinks, “I’ll make sure I delegate stuff,” she says as she nods, “so I don’t spread myself too thin and you and I won’t be seeing each other and stuff.”

Christen nods, “We’ll cross those bridges together, alright? Let’s not worry about it now, but we’ll make a game plan as things come together.”

“Thanks, babe,” Tobin smiles at her, “I’m super excited about this,”

Christen grins back at her, “So am I.”

 

XXXX