(Continued from Odd Tuesday)
The reservoir trail was flat and easy for the first quarter mile or so from the pump house. Mike’s stride was fluid and smooth using his longer legs to an advantage. He didn’t begin to labor until the hard packed gravel along the shoreline morphed into the dirt and rock of the grade up through the sugar maples into the woods.
He had left the bar reasonably early the night before. Or as early as he could-he had to enjoy a couple of shots with Megan in salute to, as she put it, him finally paying some attention to her ass. Mike had laughed and told her that her ass was very interesting and worth paying attention to.
They both laughed but on some level he knew that evening would not be the last time he would be in close proximity to Megan’s bare backside or bare anything else for that matter. The way she said “I’m not exactly who I pretend to be” and the certain softness in her eyes when she said it, convinced Mike he would probably end up seeing her again-and seeing a lot more of her when he did.
He had gotten to the trail first, not wanting to hold back Kim at all. He didn’t know what this was. Was it a date? Was it a run? Was it a running date? Why did it have to be anything? Of course, he knew it had to be “something” because it was Kim. She stood out from the women The Club typically drew and was-as far as Mike could tell-out of his league completely. Yet, here he was.
Was she just giving him a little something when she knew that he wanted so much more? Or did she need something from him? The other times he had run with her had been just that. Happenstance meetings at 5K’s or just fun runs. Was something else at play? After chewing the possibilities over for most of the morning, he opted not to think about it. It was a run.
She arrived in a slick, black Porsche Cayenne. A Porsche? Mike thought. Really? It must have been new-he somehow remembered a white Beemer. Mike approached the car as she got out. “Now, that’s nice…” he said.
“I haven’t had a chance to wind it out yet-but it feels fast you know? Like a horse that wants to run and you have to reign it in…” The image of Kim Chen doing Lake Highway at 110 is something he couldn’t quite wrap his brain around. She leaned against the roof of her car stretching her calves, first one then the other. She was wearing black tights that hugged her bottom and legs like a second skin and outlined every slim muscle and tendon. There was a light sheen of perspiration on the back of her neck and behind her ears. She had come warm and loose.
“How did Odd Tuesday wind up?”
“About how you would expect…” he said, not wanting to give her any details about him and Megan.
“Megan’s gunning for you big-time…” she flashed him a wide smile.
“Yeah…well…” he fumbled as she walked past him to the trail delighting in his discomfort. “Are you ready?” she asked. And they were off.
She crested the incline ahead of him by a short ten yards. He would give her the hill-she fairly pranced over the rocks and roots like a deer. He kept pace well enough but made up ground once they hit the ridge. The trail was a three and a half mile loop and on the flats overlooking the lake he began to wonder if this was a race. Lengthening his stride he figured he would let her dictate if it was or not, but if it was a race, he wanted to win it.
By the time they negotiated the decline back to the water he had pulled up even. He kept close, over her left shoulder back just far enough so she wouldn’t be kicking him or he wouldn’t be jostling her. But also close enough to watch the contours of her bottom and the regular piston pumps of her legs. She was so easy and fluid that he felt like he was running with a bucket on one foot.
He knew nothing about Kim’s husband except that he was older than she was-older than they both were. A business guy-computers, he thought-who traveled a lot. The way she dressed, the jewelry that she discretely wore-not to mention the freaking Porsche-told him there was money there.
She carried an air of comfort with her-a confidence-that comes from having no real day-to-day concerns about the essentials that most other people Mike knew struggled with. If she worked at all, it was something easy-a hobby. But still, given all that, she was a regular at The Club and seemingly disappointed when her name didn’t come up in the lottery.
Two and a half miles into the run, the trail fell off of the hill back down to the flats of the shore. Kim looked over her left shoulder and said with a wink “Are you still here?”
“I’m not going anywhere…”
That’s when Kim decided it was a race. She quickened her pace. Her feet kicked up a little higher so he could see the soles of her shoes and the distance between them suddenly doubled. Mike dug his left foot, then his right…then without being able to match the weightless glide of her stride…he began to find his own pumping-slugging-beating pace.
He watched her shoulders, then her butt, let her keep the pace until he saw the pump house. The trail was wide enough so that he was able to make his move-such as it was-with about 200 yards to go. He pulled up even, she seemed surprised to see him but smiled easily and found another little gear. He pushed, but she reached the Pump House just ahead of him leaving him stumbling to the finish-gasping and bent with his hands on his knees.
She walked, hands on hips, back arched, mouth open to the sky breathing deeply. “Up”, she said, walking backward looking at him. “Walk it off…Mikey-that was great!”
“You were toying with me…”
“Nope, nope…I thought you had me….Did you stumble?”
“Yeah into a freaking wall.”
They walked silently regaining their breath. Then, unexpectedly, she reached down, and took his hand without breaking stride. “Nice run…” she said.
Her hand was warm in his-not grasping, not squeezing-light and easy. Was his rule about not getting involved with married women a strict dictum or more of a guideline? Something else he chose not to think about right now.
“Do you want to go get a coffee?” he asked. “Or a smoothie…or…” Christ! that was lame, he thought.
“Naw, not right now…” she said. Then, after a pause, “I’m not exactly who you think I am…”
It was so close to being the same thing Megan said to him less than twelve hours ago that he came up short on the gravel. Kim, still moving tugged at him but he wasn’t moving. Instead he pulled her hand gently so she would face him. “Who is?” he asked.
“Let me find out who you are. Show me.”
The sun was behind him so she squinted slightly looking up into his face. “You’re not working tonight, right?”
“No, Wednesday’s my day off.”
“Give me your phone.”
He pulled it from his back pocket and handed it over. She took it, swiped open his contacts and keyed in her address. “Stop by my house tonight….say seven?”
“Seven’s good”, he says taking his phone back.
She smiled a tight wry little smile then popped him lightly with both hands to the chest. “See ya then.” she said spinning away.
“Come hungry”, she called over her shoulder.
To be continued….