Authors: Melody Banks
# # #
God, I wish I could kiss him.
I’m afraid I just might do it, to tell you the truth. Afraid I’ll snap, have one of those impulse control breaks and grab him, right then and there.
evening, and, just like we planned, Austin and I have met up for our exercise ‘date.’ I don’t normally dress up to hit the gym, but today I’ve taken care to do my makeup and hair, and to put on my best exercise clothes – a tight, sexy shirt red shirt with form-fitting black pants.
But the jokes’ on me.
Within five minutes of starting our workout, I’m a sweaty horrible mess. Austin’s really putting me through my paces. I can see how he got his incredible body – but this workout is insane! I like to think of myself as being in good shape, but I’m on the verge of passing out!
Thank God our
workout is almost over. I don’t know if I can handle much more of this!
And not just because of the routine. Being this close to
Austin is driving me equally wild.
He’s mere inches from me,
his toned, tight body practically on top of mine. His arms are around my waist, and his hands are placed firmly on top of mine as he guides me through bicep curls with a free weight barbell.
“Just five more reps,
Jane,” Austin says, as I push back against the mounting pressure. “You’ve got this!”
He’s guiding me through the motions, half supporting my weight as I struggle to make it through the final minutes of our work-out.
You know how they talk about Runner’s High, that euphoric burst of endorphins you get during amazing work-out? Well, right now I’m feeling something of the opposite. I suppose it could be described as more of a Nauseous Low: dizziness, cramps, fatigue and near-vomiting.
Austin says, as I collapse into a heap on the mat. We’ve just finished a grueling 90-minute session, and I’m beat. We did legs, triceps, biceps…and a bunch of other muscles I ca(n’t remember, but I’m sure I’ll know on a first name basis tomorrow when they’re killing me.
“Don’t you feel great?”
Austin asks enthusiastically.
I want to laugh.
I feel a lot of things, but great is not one of them. I’m dying to get home and into the shower, although my arms are shaking so badly I’m not even sure how I’m going to be able to drive my car.
“Uh, something like that,” I mutter, trying to force a smile. I rub my fingers over my left calf, massaging the aching muscle.
“Take tomorrow off,”
Austin instructs, “and we can work out again Saturday if you want.”
Saturday? He’s ready to do this torture again so soon?
“Okay,” I find myself agreeing despite the pain. “What time.”
“Six again?” he asks.
That’s prime date time. I’m surprised he doesn’t have any big plans.
“Sounds good,” I tell him.
“Great!” Austin says. He plops down on the mat beside me. “Here,” he gestures toward my calf, “let me show you how to do that.” He takes my lower leg into his hands and begins rubbing.
I try hard to keep my mind focused on what he’s showing me, to concentrate only on the technique. “Your touch is too light,” he says, kneading the muscle. “You’ve got to really get in deep.”
I wonder if Austin realizes how sexual all of this sounds?
Of course he does
, I reason. Men are never oblivious to that kind of stuff. And, besides, I like it better that way. In my fantasy I like to believe that Austin’s having the same kind of thoughts I am. That even if they’re fleeting, he’s let his mind wander, to what it might be like….
But all too soon his sixty-second massage is over, and I’m in the car headed home, shaky arms barely managing to grip the wheel.
# # #
“He’s not jailbait!” Lisa says. She laughs. “I can’t believe we’re having this conversation again. You’ve gotta stop saying that, Jane. He’s twenty. Twenty! Get it through your thick head, Jane. That’s more than legal.”
the following night and Lisa and I are out celebrating our friend Missy’s birthday. Missy has two kids and a husband at home, so we’re making it an early night – just Mexican food and a drink or two and then we’ll be going our separate ways. Which is fine by me, actually. I’m still sore from yesterday’s workout. In fact, if anything I’m feeling worse now that the soreness has had time to set in.
“He can’t even drink,” I say, picking up my margarita and
tapping the side of the glass to make a point.
“Who cares if he can drink? Do you know what kind of stamina guys his age have?” Missy chimes in. “I’d kill for a twenty year old.”
Her words run through my mind.
Do you know what kind of stamina guys his age have?
Believe it or not, this thought hasn’t occurred to me, but it’s an incredible turn-on. After seeing him in the gym, I can only imagine what his body could do in the bedroom.
“They can go for hours,” Missy continues. “
They never wear out. And right after they finish, they’re ready to go again. You’re talking twenty-four hour hard-on,” She sighs dreamily. “It’s incredible.”
“Sounds like you’re speaking from experience,” Lisa teases.
“Hey, I was young once,” she says.
I was, too, but I don’t remember anything like that.
‘Twenty-four hard-on’s’ weren’t exactly part of my youth.
Despite getting pregnant
at sixteen, I wasn’t exactly the wild child you might imagine. I was a high school sophomore when I met the man who would become Chad’s father. His name was William, and we were deeply in love. We talked of marriage, a life together, children…in the end, only one of those things came true.
The other dreams died when William did, at eighteen years old in a car accident
the summer after graduation. We’d only just made love for the first time a month earlier – my gift to him for getting his diploma. In some ways, I thought of Chad as William’s gift to me. Even though he was gone, he’d left a part of himself behind, a part I’d have forever.
Those years after his death had been horrific, but
I regretted nothing about my life. Those days were far from easy – I was a single mom before I’d even learned how to drive a car. Raising Chad quickly became my entire life, and I was happy with that, but some part of me still wondered what I’d missed out on during all those years.
I push the thoughts out of my head. This is Missy’s birthday
dinner, and we’re supposed to be having a good time. As much as my heart is breaking inside – it still breaks every time I think of William – I don’t want to bring everyone down and ruin Missy’s night by talking about the sadness from my past.
“You’re a free agent,” Miss
y says. “How long ago was it that Rick left?” she asks.
Eighteen months,” I say.
They both gasp. “
It’s really been that long,” Missy says. “I thought it was closer to a year. Where does the time go?”
The waiter comes by and she orders us a fr
esh round of drinks.
“You’ve spent your whole life raising your son,” Lisa says. “You deserve a little fun in your life.”
“Yeah, I’ve spent my whole life raising my son.
, Chad, who is Austin’s best friend. What do you think he would say if he found out about all of this?”
“I bet he’d be happy for you guys,” Lisa argues. “Besides, didn’t
Chad tell you that he and Austin don’t really talk anymore?”
That was true,
Chad had called the night before and I’d brought up Austin – casually, I’d hoped. Chad had seemed distracted – he was a busy college student, and often seemed distracted when he called, so this was nothing new. Hearing about Austin hadn’t particularly peaked his interest. According to Chad, the two former best friends hadn’t spoken in over a year. No great falling out, just a slow drifting apart that was bound to happen when Chad went away to The Ohio State and Austin went to Notre Dame. Last Chad heard, Austin was hard at work establishing his interest sales company. Chad hadn’t even known Austin had dropped out of school or that he was moving back home.
Never the less, I was pr
etty sure my son wouldn’t take too kindly to his mother hooking up one of his friends.
“It’s a new age,” Missy says. “The age of the cougar.
In fact, forget Pine Heights. There’s so many hot young guys around here I’m gonna rename this place Cougar Heights!”
I groan. There was that word again. “I
that term. It makes me sound like a predator. I didn’t set out to date a younger man, you know. And we’re not even dating!”
“Yet,” Missy says.
And Lisa agrees. “You’re not dating
. But at this point I’d say it’s inevitable.”
Aren’t you seeing him again tomorrow night?” Lisa asks.
“Just to work out.”
“Uh huh.” They exchange a glance. “Work out. Is that what the kids today call it?”
I wad up a napkin and throw it at her.
“We’re really going to exercise. At a gym and everything. No funny business.”
“Too bad,” Missy says. Lisa nods in agreement.
Outwardly, I protest. But inside I’m thinking:
Too bad, indeed.
# # #
“I forgot the gym closes early on Saturday,”
“Oh?” I ask. It’s
five o’clock. We’re scheduled to meet in an hour. I’ve just finished showering – showering before my workout, there’s a new one – and I’m getting ready to pack a gym bag to go meet him.
Now here he is, calling to cancel.
I should have known it. It’s a Saturday night. He’s probably got a hot date lined up and he’s looking for a way to ditch me.
“That’s okay, we can meet another day,” I say, letting him off the hook.
“Oh, no, we can still work out tonight. But I was thinking…why don’t you come over here? I’ve got a pretty great home gym. It’s not all set up yet, but enough of my equipment is unpacked that we should be able to get in a good workout.”
He’s inviting me to his house?
“I didn’t even realize you were living there yet,” I say. “I thought it was still empty.” As soon as the words leave my lips, I want to kick myself.
Real smooth, Jane, real smooth.
Ever since I ran into Austin at the coffee shop I’ve been watching the Gates house like a hawk, waiting for any sort of movement. But other than all the boxes and furniture being delivered a few days ago, there’s been zero activity. I haven’t seen Austin coming and going at all, haven’t seen his car in the driveway one time. But I don’t need him to know this; I don’t need to let him know I’m paying such close attention to his movements.
Austin doesn’t ask how I know.
“I just got settled in today,” he says. “I hope you don’t mind if the place is still a little junky.”
“That’s no problem. We can do it another night if that’s better.” I don’t want him to feel obligated.
But he seems eager to meet.
“Let’s definitely do it tonight! We made a lot of progress the other day. You don’t want to fall too far behind.”
“Mmm-kay,” I say.
“Once you get on an exercise schedule, it’s important to keep it
going,” Austin says. “Not that you
a ton of exercise, Ms. Selby.”
Oh, God, not the Ms.
Selby crap again.
Jane,” he corrects himself before I can correct him. “See you in an hour.”
“See you then.”
I arrive at six o’clock sharp and ring the bell.
greets me at the door. “Come on in.” He’s wearing a pair of blue jeans and nothing else. No shoes and, most startlingly, no shirt.
“Sorry, I’m running a minute behind. Let me get changed.”
I settle on the couch while he disappears into the bedroom to put on his workout clothes. He leaves the door open and – I can’t help it. I watch.
Oh. My. God
. If this is some type of advertisement for what exercise can do for a person, then I’m sold. I remember what he used to look like, the scrawny little guy that hung around my house. He’s now got the body of a Greek god.
This is beyond cruel. How am I going to work out? My heart is beating wildly out of my chest.
But workout we do. He doesn’t put me through the paces quite as hard as on Thursday, but it’s still exceedingly tough – mostly because I can’t stop thinking about the site of his near-naked body in the bedroom.
When we’re finished, I’m hot and bothered…in more ways than one.
I’m all ready to head home and shower when Austin says, “Why don’t you stay for awhile?”