Chapter 8: Collision
The ten-mile race doesn’t start for another fifteen minutes. Zoe maneuvers her way through the group of participants and spectators, glancing at the faces, hoping to see a familiar one. Trevor.
“Need help?” asks a lady with a bright green volunteer shirt.
Zoe responds, “I’m looking for a volunteer named Trevor Dobbs. Black hair. Really cute. Funny.” She could go on…
The lady shakes her head. “Sorry. Doesn’t sound familiar.”
Zoe thanks her and moves on. She’s holding a race bib and safety-pins in her hand. She wants Trevor to do the honors. Pin the tail on the donkey.
Really, it’s another reason to be close to him, an excuse to have him in her physical space. She’s been wanting that again, even though it scares her.
An announcer gives the racers a two-minute warning before start time. Zoe works on pinning the bib to her shirt, looking up now and again in case Trevor shows up. Maybe he decided not to come, she wonders. She probably turned him off after all, not that she’d blame him. It’s for the best, perhaps.
The thought makes her deflate inside, and she accidentally pricks herself with the safety-pin.
Trevor closes his car door and throws a sling-pack over his shoulder. It includes a PB and J sandwich, a banana, and Gatorade for Zoe at the end of the race. He knows there will probably be food there. But if there’s not, he doesn’t want to be empty-handed.
Trevor makes his way through the flock of spectators. Families with strollers and dogs flank each side of the road. He carves out a space to stand higher up and get a clear view of the finish line. For a while, he watches the runners stream past it, listens as the announcer rattles off names. Some participants bend over to catch their breath, others finish with enough steam to run another ten miles.
A big cluster of runners hit the finish line, a wave crossing under the big black awning.
“Good job, Stan, Kirsten, Jack, Taylor, Zoe, Christine,” the announcer says.
Trevor claps and whistles, even though she’s probably too far away to hear. She looks happy and tired and in need of a hug.
He makes his way in her direction, relieved that California Drew from the speed dating event is nowhere around.
When Trevor sees Zoe getting closer, his chest rises and fills. He calls her name, and their eyes meet like in a silly movie. She’s smiling at him. He hasn’t seen her smile this big before. And now she’s trotting his way. Almost a full run, actually. He drops his sling-pack on the ground to brace for impact. She throws her arms over his shoulders, around his neck, and he tips back on his heels as he catches her. Man, she feels so good.
It’s the best collision ever.
Zoe doesn’t want to let go of Trevor, but she should. There’s so much she needs to tell him. So much went through her head during that ten-mile race.
She looks at Trevor’s tan shirt. Thanks to her hug, there’s been a transference of sweat from her to him. “Sorry. You’ve been slimed.”
“It’s okay, I…”
“…I didn’t think you were going to make it. And if you did, I thought you’d be helping out at the tents.”
He reaches for his bag on the ground. “I decided not to volunteer after all. I wanted to see you at the end.”
He wanted to see her at the end? Where did this man come from? He’s amazing.
Zoe’s eyes start to glisten. “I’ve been running, Trevor.”
“I know,” he smiles. “And you’re really good at it. You almost took me down a second ago.”
“No,” she swallows. “I mean, I’ve been running from you, because I’m afraid. You’re so nice and sweet. And you’re sticking. I’m not used to that. I’m used to guys flaking up and not caring. I don’t know what it’s like to be with someone who’s really interested in me. Here you were, doing just that, and I was pushing you away.”
The knot is returning to her throat, constricting and expanding.
Speaking like this is unchartered territory for her. She’s wrestling with that unknown, unraveling the fear of falling in love.
She adds, “I was getting in my own way with that bet with my mom, and the blog. So stupid. I wish I could have a do-over.”
He steps forward. “We could arrange that.”
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