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Chapter Seven

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Michelle stepped back, admiring the banner with pride. "Do you think we should move it higher?"

"No," Bryan replied, from between clenched teeth. He ripped the piece of duct tape from the roll, fixing the "open" sign to the door. "It's fine where it is. Stop fussing. Besides I put the ladder away already."

"What do you think?" Michelle called over.

Dolores manoeuvred open an old sandwich chalk-board that one of Bryan's friends had donated. "Grand opening!" scrawled across it in Michelle's best chalk curlicues, with an arrow pointing towards the gym; Dolores set it at the end of the block to help direct traffic.

"It looks good, very professional," Dolores called back, wiping her hands free of chalk dust on her grey track pants. Bryan rolled his eyes.

Michelle inwardly would have also preferred a permanent sign, however, her friend at a print shop had given her a deal on a piece of heavy-duty outdoor vinyl. Sure, it had "Webster Family Reonion" printed on the reverse which was vaguely bleeding through; sure, she'd had to sit from laughing when her friend explained why he was donating the banner. But it looked good enough for the opening.

"Personally I think Webster's Family Onion is a better name," Bryan groused, throwing the duct-tape on the small card table inside the door functioning as a no-frills reception desk.

"How did you know I was thinking about that? Anyway, what sort of a gym is a 'reonion'?" Michelle giggled again, nudging him with her shoulder. "Besides. Come on. 'Creampuffs' is adorable."

He rolled his eyes again, folding his arms over his chest. "I still can't believe you talked me into that horrible name."

"I can't believe you let Uncle Gary cheat you out of our seed money."

"How long are you going to hold that over my head?"

"Forever? Maybe longer."

He made a low grumble of protest, and then fished his phone out of his pocket. "Shit. Derek's bailing." Inwardly, Michelle was not surprised. Outwardly, she was not surprised. Even Bryan seemed resigned; with a heavy sigh he put his phone back in his pocket. "Whatever."

"I invited some people from my church," Dolores offered. Then: "I don't know if they will show either."

A long silence, broken only by the snaps of the banner in the breeze.

"I'm sure people will show eventually. It's 9am on a Saturday. Who works out at 9am on a Saturday?" Michelle said, cheerfully.

"Lots of people. Dedicated people. People who wouldn't be caught dead calling themselves 'creampuffs'," Bryan retorted.

"Oh, they'd call themselves 'Muscletoners' instead? That sounds like a bad product on the Shopping Channel."

"And 'creampuffs' sounds like—"

Dolores coughed into her hand; the siblings turned around.

"Hi." Justin waved with his free hand, while the other held a tray of coffees and a bag of pastries. "I, uh, came to congratulate you on your opening. With pastries. Because Creampuffs? I guess?"

Michelle ran through a list of appropriate responses to the gesture. While she did that, Bryan strode over to shake hands and take the coffee tray, handing the bag of pastries to Dolores who peered inside with interest.

"—nice of you, man," he was saying. "Want a tour?"

"Sure," Justin replied, easily, giving Michelle a smile.

"Thank you," she finally blurted. She cleared her throat. "For the coffees. And showing up! You're our first client!"

"Oh, yeah, I'm not joining," Justin replied quickly, his hands in his pockets. "I hate gyms. I play in an indoor hockey league, though, and I jog, so I'm okay. For exercise."

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