Turns out Tess’s new friend, Lo was a wizard with digital graphics and computers. She hired her the night of the party to come work for the foundation. Meda fell in love with her work right off the bat and doubled the girl’s salary. She justified it to the board that her skills were very valuable and she didn’t want anyone else to be able to come in and steal her talent with the promise of better pay. Of course, the board agreed. They agreed with anything Meda said and did so happily.
Damon was already trying to sweettalk Lo into doing some work for the Sounders and Tess had to put her foot down. Any work Lo did for the Sounders would be on a contract basis and she would be paid contract price. It could not interfere with her work for the foundation. Damon readily agreed. Lo was over the moon about everything and couldn’t stop thanking Tess enough.
“Girl I don’t know what to say!” she gushed. “I mean you don’t even know me and I’ve got this amazing job because of you. This is like the best thing to ever happen to a girl like me. How in the hell am I ever going to repay you?” Tess just laughed and led Lo into her new office. It was a spacious room with large monitors and big open windows to let in the natural light. Lo stopped and stood in awe, tears streaming down her cheeks. “Oh my God. All this for me?” Tess nodded, nudging her to step into the room.
“Yep! Only the best for my best girl!” she giggled. “Seriously, Lo your talent speaks for itself. You are so worth all this and more. It should be me thanking you for taking this job. Now stop with the crying and let’s go for a tour around the arena.” Lo wiped her cheeks with the tissue Tess handed to her. She was sure she was a mess from the crying but Tess assured her she looked as adorable as ever.
Tess showed her all the ins and outs of the arena, including the player occupied areas. When they passed the workout facility, Lo blushed hard as she caught sight of some of the Sounders shirtless and covered in sweat. “I swear, Lo if you get any cuter I’m just gonna die!” Tess giggled. This girl was priceless!
“Hey it may be normal for you to see that much yummy man flesh but not for me. Last time I saw a guy naked, or even half naked, the lights were off.” Tess dissolved in raucous laughter, catching the attention of one of the younger players who’d been drafted for the upcoming season. He looked up from his arm curls and smiled at Lo, giving her a suggestive wink. And damned if the woman didn’t blush harder. Lo turned her back and started walking away. Tess caught up to her and stopped her.
“Hey girl, you ok? Don’t pay any attention to Jean-Paul. He’s a big flirt.”
“Yeah I’m fine,” Lo croaked out. Clearing her throat, she smiled at Tess. “Just not used to any attention is all. I’m sure I will the longer I’m in this job.” She said that often, which made Tess wonder what had happened to her. They walked toward the front door and out onto the street. Tess took her to the café at the corner. The girls sat down to a hearty lunch and talked more throughout the meal.
“Ok, girl I have to ask. Why are you so down on yourself? You are a babe!” Lo blushed and set her fork down. She’d been picking at the salad she had ordered.
“You’re just saying that so I don’t quit,” she chuckled but the mirth didn’t reach her eyes. “Ok ok,” she sighed. “I’m thicker than most girls, Tess. Hell, I’m probably closer to a porpoise than a woman the way my thunder thighs rub together. I’m surprised I haven’t caught anything on fire yet from the friction.” She held her hand up, sensing Tess was about to speak. “No, I know I’m fat. I’m not a size four with perfect boobs and perfect hair. I’ve struggled with my weight my whole life. Mom says it’s just my big Irish bones but I call bullshit.”
“Lo honey, there is absolutely nothing wrong with you. So what if you have curves? I have thighs the size of tree trunks.”
“Tess, no offense but you have no idea how I feel. I appreciate you trying the whole pep talk thing though.” Tess sighed, laying her fork down.
“Lo, now you listen to me and you listen good. I do not bullshit. And how do you know I don’t know how you feel? I play hockey for Christ’s sake, a ‘man’s game’. Do you not think I’ve had my fair share of teasing and bullying because of it? And don’t get me started on the whole self image destruction I went through with Apollo before we got together. I second guessed everything about myself, even going so far as to get an appointment at a salon to dye my hair blond.” Lo’s eyes widened as she listened. “Yeah I do know how you feel, sweetie. It took me a long time and a lot of work to get where I am, being the confident woman sitting here with you. I no longer care what anyone thinks and haven’t for a long time. I can help you get there too.”
“Wow. I had no idea. You’re so gorgeous and don’t you dare ever dye that beautiful head of hair! I don’t know, I’ve been told way too many times by guys I’m just more than they can handle, if you catch my meaning.” Tess nodded, scrunching her nose in distaste. “The only ones who pay me attention are the ones who want to get close to one of my model perfect friends. Kinda makes me think that’s why they keep me around.”
“Well you need to stop hanging out with those hags and hang out with me and Meda. We’ll have your sultry siren side coming out in no time, babe! The men won’t know what hit them!” Lo laughed and wiped a tear she didn’t know she had shed away. “Besides, I know TONS of men who like their women with tits and ass and a whole lotta sass!” The girls dissolved in giggles, trying to finish their lunch. By the time they got back to the arena it was time for an afternoon meeting with the foundation board. For the first time in a long time, Lo walked into a room with her head high.
“That’s my girl!” Tess whispered proudly. “Own it like the boss you are!” The meeting went smoothly, the foundation approving the construction of a youth athletic facility on the open land behind the arena. It would allow the Sounders and Fury to work closely with the city’s youth. There were plans for transportation for the kids to get them to and from practices, skill camps to be held throughout the off season and an afterschool tutoring program run by some of the players and staff. It was going to be a great undertaking but it was one that would be worth it in the end.
“Wow I wish we’d had something like this when I was growing up,” Lo said as they left the conference room. “My parents were great but we were poor. There were four of us girls. Dad worked two jobs and Mom did whatever she could to bring in money. There was never much of it. They could never afford for us to do anything extra.”
“I’m an only child. Though Meda is my sister in everything but blood, I have no idea what it’s like to have real siblings. The Dakiedes boys don’t count,” Tess chuckled. “We were always together because our dads were best friends but it still wasn’t the same. I got to go home to peace and quiet while Meda had to stay at the circus.”
“Yeah,” Lo chuckled. “It was loud at our house too. I’m the youngest. When my oldest sister Lanie got going, the whole damn block could hear her. And when it concerned a boy? Girl you better grab you whatever you can to plug your ears cuz that girl could blow an ear drum.” Tess bowled over in laughter.
“Oh my God, that’s hysterical,” she giggled. Looking up, she saw a figure leaning against Lo’s office door. It wasn’t Apollo though. He was going to meet her at home for a quiet dinner and some sexual hijinks. When she realized who it was, she slid a sly smile to Lo. “I think you have a fan of those curves, girl. Look.” Lo looked up and gasped.
“Holy shit!” she whispered. “Is that the guy from earlier??” Tess nodded, grinning. Jean-Paul stood propped against her office door, a lopsided sexy grin on his face. “Oh Lord,” she breathed out.