Two weeks. It’s been two nerve-wracking weeks since that night at Dorian’s – the night we made out like horny teenagers on his living room sofa, high on wine, lust, and his intoxicating scent, while his kids slept soundly upstairs. We parted ways that night with such sweet promise, but since then, the only taste I get is my early morning views of him from my bedroom window.
Maybe I just imagined the intense attraction between us, the unmistakable chemistry, the scorching heat that had both our bodies on fire and aching to take it just a step further, even though we somehow managed to keep it at kissing. Okay, and a little dry-humping. I mean, I was straddling his lap with his strong hands on my hips, guiding my movements up and down, back and forth across the thick, luscious bulge of his jeans. Yes, he drove me crazy with desire, but I hadn’t intended for it to go that far that soon, and when I’d whispered as much against his mouth, he’d put on the brakes, undoubtedly for my sake. Maybe to keep my imagined virtue intact. Who knows?
What I do know is, the taste I had of him wasn’t enough, but I haven’t had a single window of opportunity to construct another run-in, nor has he made the next move. Normally, I wait for the guy to make the first move, so the fact I made the first move in this scenario should tell you just how much I wanted something to happen with this guy. Now that I’ve made the first move, though, I’d be breaking every rule in the book to make the second one.
Who the hell ever liked rules, anyway?
A week ago, I started hitting the treadmill extra hard at my gym, in hopes that I can run into him on one of his morning runs soon and be able to keep up, instead of just watching him like some pathetic, desperate weirdo. Yes, the thought has crossed my mind that he may already think I’m a nut job the way I watch him every morning, but then if that were the case, why would I get that hint of a wry smile and that small wave I get every day from him since our little sample night? Why wouldn’t he run in the other direction instead of past my house, or keep his head down like he doesn’t see me sitting there drinking in the sight of him?
I feel the sharp end of a towel whipping at my butt just as Ashley, my best friend and partner in crime, jumps onto the treadmill next to mine in the brightly lit, near-empty cardio center of our local health club.
“Looking good there, Nic. You’re sweating like a parolee at a drug screen, but your form is on point, sister.” Ashley quips as she punches at the buttons on the dash of her own machine, getting it started.
“Thanks,” I huff out, slowing my speed. I grab for my towel to wipe the sweat from my forehead and back of my neck.
Ashley leans over to get a look at my stats. “Damn, girl. Since when did you get so serious?”
Still panting, I answer, “I’m just trying to be on my game.”
She gives me the side glance. “Yeah, I invented that game. Spill,” she demands.
I give her a sly smile, but instead of answering, I face forward, punch the up arrows to jack the treadmill speed back up to a full sprint, and feeling pretty smooth for having avoided her grilling questions, spare a small glance back at her. I notice she’s giving me that unimpressed eyebrow lift, but there’s no time to worry over it when there’s work to be done and progress to be made.
“Mm-hmm, I see how this is. You know, you can’t run from me forever,” Ashley mumbles beside me. Then, louder, she says, “Hey, isn’t that him?”
Overcome by my sudden curiosity, I turn my head just enough to see where she’s pointing to near the front entrance, my eyes darting from left to right in search of the gorgeous man I call my neighbor. Despite my raging heartbeat already pounding from my sprint, I feel adrenaline pulse through me in heavy spurts, just enough to push my limits and cause me to lose my momentum. I feel my ankles begin to wobble, and before I know it, I catch air, watch the belt of the treadmill beneath me that I’m suddenly somehow parallel to – that can’t be a good sign – and I push my arms out in front of me to attempt to break what I know is going to be a treacherous fall.
As soon as my outstretched hands hit the rapidly moving belt that my feet should be on and not my face, I hear the “Oomph!” escape me when the weight of the rest of my body bears down on my hands that the treadmill, still moving at sprinting speed, sends shooting down the way. When my palms reach the edge of the machine and collapse the several inches down to the floor, it catches me off balance once again and my chin bounces off the edge of the still spinning contraption I’ve now deemed a deadly weapon of mass destruction.
I manage to push myself up the slight amount so the belt won’t continue rapidly rubbing a burn on my chin, and about this time, I begin to notice the shooting pain radiating up my left arm beginning at my elbow.
“Oh, shit, Nic!” I hear Ashley yell in conjunction with the rapid beeps of her hitting the Emergency Stop button on her own machine, then mine, and she hurries to crouch down next to me on the floor.
Panicked that she really did see Dorian come in, and that there was even the slightest chance he just watched me completely and royally bust like that, I look around to see who might be watching and quickly try to compose myself and rise to stand.
“Are you serious? Did you really see him?” I ask quietly, unable to spot him in the crowd of faces who all seem to be staring straight at me. Fantastic.
Ashely works to contain an indeliberate chuckle, covers her mouth with one hand, and shakes her head. “No,” comes her muffled reply.
This makes me angry. Is she kidding me? I just completely busted ass in the middle of the gym like some bad YouTube video and didn’t even have the wherewithal to play it off with a pushup afterward, and it was all from a joke?
“Not cool, Ash. Not cool,” I accuse, using the arm that isn’t throbbing at the elbow at the moment to reach up to cup my chin. Bleeding, of course, and now that I make myself aware of that, it starts burning, too.
She takes the towel hanging from the arm of her machine and tries to approach me with it to help me wipe the dripping blood away as I hear some gym employee, probably a personal trainer of some sort, inch closer and ask if I’m okay. I wave him and her both off with my good hand that’s now covered in chin blood and start making my way to the door.
Ashley follows. “I didn’t know you’d tank like that. I was just teasing you. Wow… I’m really sorry. Seriously, are you okay? Do we need to have someone call a medic to look you over or something?”
“No! No medic. I just need to get home and lie down for a minute.” I start feeling a bit woozy, but I’m certain it’s the heavy dose of reality that hit, or the massive shock of embarrassment I feel at the moment like some kind of public stage fright. I grab my keys from the hook they hang from next to the exit and wipe my hand on the thigh of my workout pants, smearing the blood across the tight, thankfully black fabric before pushing the door open with the same, good hand.
We get outside, Ashley trailing right on my heels, and I try to make a beeline to my car, albeit a crooked one, judging from the way my head is now spinning.
“Seriously, you don’t look so good. Do you maybe need some water or something? Are you sure you should drive right now?”
I lean against my car to steady myself for a moment. My arm is throbbing. My chin burns and blood still trickling down from it has me feeling plain old nauseous at this point. I open my mouth and draw in a breath to push out a rebuttal, but my rebuttal never makes it past my lips. Little dots start forming around the edges of my vision and they start closing in, forming a tunnel that starts going dark.
The doors of what look to be the inside of an ambulance open wide, letting bright lights of an emergency room flood my waking vision as I am rolled into a hospital. Oh, my goodness, y’all, could it really get any more humiliating at this point?
I try to sit up, but it’s this moment that I notice my left arm has been stabilized against my side, making it hard to gain the momentum my body needs to do such a menial task as get myself upright, go figure. I feel a big wad of gauze taped to my chin, which I can only assume will be a barrel of monkeys to pull off later – and consequently, I am now kicking myself for not opting to wax my facial hair, peach fuzz though it may be, because that’s going to be a fun time peeling away ultra-sticky medical tape from.
“Nicole? Are you awake? Is she awake?” I hear Ashley call to one of the paramedics wheeling me down a corridor and into a curtained off space in the back area of the ER department.
“I’m awake,” I say groggily.
I see her head pop up next to me as they park me and kick the stopper down on the wheel of my roll-away gurney-bed. I assume her eyes are wide with worry. That is, until she looks over to her left, my right, and my eyes follow her line of sight.
Oh, fresh hell, y’all, please tell me I’m still unconscious and having a treadmill concussion-induced nightmare.
Yep, if there was any mistaking that gorgeous face and that tall, well-formed body wearing a pair of light-blue scrubs walking directly my way, the sound of his voice would be a dead giveaway.
A nervous chuckle escapes me when my eyes lock on to his. “Dorian…”