Chapter 5: I Run. Sometimes.
Zoe loves jogging on the trail. Not only does she exercise, she thinks about all kinds of stuff, including her blog. And if she’s thinking about her blog, there’s probably a date or a guy that’s on her mind, too.
And today, that guy is Trevor. She’s thought about him every day since they met. She’s blogged about him, too. Some followers wrote scolding comments because she made him meet her at a speed dating event. She must admit, she deserved that negativity.
She was surprised, though, at how many said she should go out with Trevor.
“Make it up to him.”
“I’ll take him if you won’t.”
“Screw the bet with your mom.”
Shouldn’t they care more about the bet? If she loses, she’ll have to shut down the blog.
The irony is that her view count has skyrocketed since she posted about the bet. Her comments strings are longer than ever.
On the trail, she sees a marker for mile four, and the street light ahead is red. She stops at the intersection and waits, takes big gulps from her water bottle.
“Zoe?” she hears.
She turns toward the voice. No way. It’s him. With his shades and workout clothes, he could’ve run by without Zoe realizing who he was.
“Trevor, hi,” she says, surprised.
Did she think him into existence somehow? If so, the timing sure sucks. She’s a hot mess right now. Her ponytail is a damp, lifeless blob. She probably smells. And she’s 80 percent sure there’s a sweat-stain on her butt. Of all the times she had to bump into him, why now? Why couldn’t it be as she’s stepping out of the hair salon?
“What are you doing here?” she asks. Stupid question.
“Same thing you are.” The light at the intersection changes. “Mind if I join you?”
“Sure. I mean no. I don’t mind.” They trot through the crosswalk, continuing on the paved path. She dodges a low-hanging tree. “I haven’t seen you on the trail before.”
“I usually go to the gym.” His muscles seemed to ripple in the sun as he said that. Funny how those things happen. “I just learned about the trail. I’m new to the area.”
“That’s right. My mom mentioned that you moved here recently.”
Her mom also mentioned that he’s an architect. She said that a few times, actually, and that he has his own house, a nice house, one that is obviously void of a woman’s touch. This is a man who definitely doesn’t have a girlfriend, her mom said.
“How’s the decorating going?” Zoe asks.
“Good. You’re mom’s been a big help. She definitely knows her stuff.”
“Yeah, she’s great.”
They run a little more in silence. He’s panting some. They’re on a bit of a hill, maybe that’s why.
“How did things go with the rest of the speed dating?” she asks.
“It was okay. I didn’t really see anybody I was interested in, besides…”
Besides who? Besides her?
Instead of finishing his thought, he leaves it and starts jogging slower.
“Am I going too fast?” she asks.
“No, it’s just…” Breath. “There’s an incline and…” Breath. Breath. “I haven’t gone running in a little while.” He puts his hand up. “I need to rest a sec.”
They veer off the path onto the grass. The river shimmers nearby past the low brush.
A few beads of sweat trickle down his sideburns and short beard. “You run pretty fast.” He coughs a couple of times, then smiles. Though he seems to be laughing at himself, rather than smiling at her.
“Are you okay? Do you have water?”
“I didn’t bring any.”
“Are you a runner? Gym guys aren’t usually runners.”
“I run. Sometimes.”
“Here.” She hands him her bottle. “Don’t go crazy on it, Mister LA Fitness.”
She watches his Adam’s Apple glide back and forth as he drinks. Why is she suddenly fascinated by a man’s Adam’s Apple? Or is because it’s on Trevor’s body?
He gives the bottle back to her. Instead of screwing the cap back on, she takes a drink. She wants to put her lips where his just were. She’s feeling flirtatious. On the trail, of all places.
His eyes follow her movements. They linger on her wet lips. “Speaking of LA,” he says, “How’s the blond guy from speed dating?”
“Drew? He’s from Connecticut.”
Trevor shrugs. “I figured he was from California.”
“So you were watching me,” she teases.
His mouth turns up in the corner slightly. But his voice is thick and unapologetic when he says, “Yes. I was.”
How can this be? How can a man make her blush and feel pretty after she’s jogged four miles?
“I’m running in the ten-miler that’s coming up in a couple of weeks,” she says.
He casually raises his chin. “Yeah?”
“Drew’s running in it, too.”
Trevor’s jawline hardens a little. “Maybe I’ll sign up.”
“You’ll be ready for a ten-miler two weeks from now?”
He flashes a smile. “Volunteer.” Zoe wishes he weren’t wearing sunglasses. She wants to see his green eyes while he’s smiling.
A part of her starts to feel giddy, knowing that he’ll be at the race, too. That he wants to sign up because she’s going.
Zoe turns her attention back to the river. She’s not supposed to like this guy. Her mom’s matched her up with him. She doesn’t want to lose the bet.
“Volunteering is good,” she says. “There’ll be a lot of girls there for you to meet.”
Zoe doesn’t even know why she said that.
It’s that stupid bet.
Or is she just running? From him?
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Chapter 6: Got It Bad