Fate Interrupted (Chapter Three)

The gym smelled like disinfectant and dirty socks. It was a ghost town, too. By late afternoon, angry clouds had rolled in – quenching the thirsty yards and deterring everyone into watching movies on the couch at the same time. Dean wiped his wet shoes on a black mat and swiped his membership card.

"Hey there, tall, dark, and handsome!"

He looked up and smiled, making the pretty redhead behind the front desk blush. "Hi Stacey," he said, grabbing a folded towel from a nearby rack. "You look good."

"Thank you," she said, resting her elbows on the counter and giving him a nice view down her unbuttoned polo shirt. "Thought you were going to call me."

His eyes narrowed. "I was, but I dropped my phone getting out of the car and the thing froze up."

"Oh."

"Even the Geek Squad couldn't retrieve my contacts."

Stacey made an o-face. "Well, no wonder," she said, jotting something down on a piece of scrap paper and handing it to him

He took the scrap and glanced at her number. "You doing anything Friday night?"

Her face brightened. "I'm wide open."

"I will call you," he said, stuffing her number in a pocket.

A coy smile spread her lips. "No excuses this time."

"Hi Dean."

Dean turned to see a stunning blond coming out of the women's locker-room, her car keys in hand.

"Hi Robin," he smiled, admiring Robin's formfitting tights. "You look great."

Robin paused at the front door and squeezed her eyes into slits. "You never called."

"His phone broke," Stacey volunteered before Dean could get a word out.

Robin pushed her lips into the side of her mouth. "Right," she said slowly, pushing through the glass door and fading off into the parking lot.

Dean turned back to Stacey and raised his brow.

She shrugged. "Her loss."

"We'll talk soon," he said, crossing into the middle of the warehouse-sized room where Megan was doing sit-ups on a big red ball. His legs locked up like an engine without oil. His pulse rate doubled. Megan came back up, her arms folded across her chest, glanced at Dean in the mirror. He breathed a sigh of relief and kept moving. It wasn't Megan. He shook off the creeps and draped his towel over a red bench press, threw a plate on each end of the long barbell and climbed beneath it. The dimpled ceiling's rows of fluorescent lights made him squint, triggering a dull thud to begin pulsating behind his eyes. He could still see Megan thrashing under him like it was ten minutes ago.

He lifted the bar from its rack and carefully lowered it to his chest. The hard metal tapped his pecs and he pressed it back up, exhaling through his mouth. You can cum on my tits if you want to floated through his mind as he lowered the bar again. He pressed it back to the ceiling, focusing on a dimple that was larger than the rest, pushing last night further from his mind with each press of the bar. He racked the weight with a controlled clang and sat back up, avoiding the barbell with his forehead like doing the limbo. No Refill girl sat on a pectoral machine across from him, staring at him with those gripping green eyes.

Dean looked away, a lump in his throat. Stacey smiled from the front desk and wiggled her fingers at him. He blinked a few times and turned back around. No Refill girl acted like she hadn't seen him, squeezing the machine's arms together in front of her chest. He readied himself for something to say, his breath hitching. Out the corner of his eye, he watched her biceps flex as she squeezed out her reps. His mind reeled, intent on not letting this second chance slip through his fingers.

She released the weight and got up without making eye contact, tightened her ponytail and hurried over to a shoulder machine across the room. The way her butt cheeks jiggled inside her spandex shorts drove him insane. Her legs were tan and toned and when he realized he was starting to stiffen he lay back down on the bench and knocked out another quick set, rounding up an opening line. After the tenth rep, he racked the weight and it hit him like a ton of bricks. He glanced over at her and scrambled to switch out the smaller plates with the largest.

His sneakers traipsed across the thin carpet, its colorful confetti pattern unfolding beneath him like a birthday party. Weights clanged around him and someone laughed out loud. The room seemed to get longer with each step he took. No Refill girl released the machine's weight and their eyes met again. Dean had to focus extra hard to keep from tripping over his own feet. She pulled out one of her ear buds, her jaw dangling in the air.

Dean jerked his chin to the shoulder press. "I thought you said you were going to take it easy today."

Her brow crumpled. "Are you following me?"

"What?" he gasped. "I probably got here before you did."

She folded her arms across her chest, perhaps noticing the way he was stealing glances at her breasts. "When did you get here?"

He checked his watch. "Five minutes ago. When did you get here?"

"A half an hour ago."

"Oh," he said flatly. "Well, I'm not following you. Not that I wouldn't want to follow you," he said, growing silent as her eyes thinned. "I mean, if I was going to follow someone, you would make a perfect…" He trailed off and swallowed dryly. "Listen, can I get a quick spot?" He thumbed toward the bench press. "There are only a handful of elderly people over there and I don't trust em. They look pretty weak."

A short laugh escaped her, making his adrenaline spike. Her smile lit up the room like whites lights against freshly fallen snow. "Sure," she said, getting off the machine and following him to the bench press.

His heart jack hammered inside his chest, pumping blood through his veins too fast. He felt dizzy and prayed he wasn't coming down with a summer cold. They were the worst kind. The silence between them thickened. His gut tightened into knots as he dug for something witty to say, which had never been a problem before. He groaned inwardly, deciding he had to be getting sick. Even his B game was pathetic today. The smell of her perfume mixed with her sweat, stirring his hormones into a wild frenzy and further clouding his thoughts.

He turned to her as they passed a lonely row of elliptical machines. "So did you just join the gym or something?"

"Yeah, I moved here three weeks ago."

His eyebrows rose into the middle of his forehead. "Where from?"

"Des Moines."

He nodded. "Iowa, huh? You must love corn." A deeply seeded cringe bloomed inside of him as soon as the words slipped from his mouth.

An uneasy laugh broke from her lips. "My sister and her husband relocated here to open a dessert bar in downtown, so I came to help."

Dean stopped at the bench and pinched his eyes together. "That is awesome. Where at?"

"In the Third Ward. It's called Sugars."

"Great name," he smiled, almost saying something else but deciding to quit while he was almost ahead. "So how's business been?"

"Really good. We have a long menu of specialty drinks, so we get a nice after dinner crowd."

"So do you make the drinks or bake the desserts?"

"I mostly bake, that's kind of my thing."

"What's your best seller? Cupcakes?"

"Booze."

He laughed. "That's not surprising in Milwaukee."

"So I've noticed."

Dean lay back on the bench as she stepped behind the long barbell. "Well, I can't wait to check it out. I bet your cupcakes are amazing," he said, staring up at her breasts.

Her face flushed. "They are," she replied softly, scanning the long bar and heavy plates through uncertain eyes.

"Now, if I get pinned, I just need you to call 911. Okay?"

Her smile made his heart skip a beat.

Grasping the bar with a shoulder width grip, he pushed it from its cradle, trying not to blatantly admire her well rounded breasts. Her smell filled his senses as he lowered the heavy bar to his chest and pushed it back up with her staring down at him from above. It was surreal. The fluorescents ignited a halo-like glow around her, like an angel sent from Heaven's gate. The reps went by in a dizzy blur. He took his time, never wanting it to end. On the last rep, he feigned fatigue and struggled with the bar only halfway back up. His face turned red and her eyebrows dipped together.

"Call 911," he choked, his cheeks ballooning with pressure.

She sprang into action and lifted the bar with both hands, helping him drop it back into its cradle with a loud clang, emphasizing its heavy weight for the whole room to hear.

He sat up, gasping for exaggerated breaths. "Thank God you were here! You just saved my life."

She came around the bench, half smiling and half frowning, her hand covering her heart. "Are you okay?"

"Thanks to you I am," he panted. "Bit off more than I can chew."

She unleashed the warmest smile he had ever seen, one he wouldn't trade for the world. "Well, I'm glad I could help," she said, not sure if he was pulling her leg or not. Her emerald gaze glanced to the front doors. "Well, I should probably get…"

Dean hopped to his feet, giving himself a head rush that made him stumble a bit. "The least I could do is show you around sometime…you know, for saving my life and all."

She smiled again, not nearly as warmly this time, and dropped her gaze to her black Adidas with hot pink soles. "I'm sure you would've survived."

He wiped his forehead with the towel. "How about Saturday night?"

She looked back up, those green eyes making his head swim.

He cleared his throat. "Not a date," he quickly added. "More like a tour thing."

She squinted at him. "A tour thing?"

"Yeah, with drinks and dinner and stuff.Maybe a bullhorn."

A smirk pulled at the corner of her lips. She nodded to the front desk. "Have you given her the tour?"

Dean followed her nod with his mouth hanging partway open. Stacey smiled at him again. He swallowed dryly, grasping for words. "Stacey? She's just an old friend."

She slowly nodded. "I have to work late on Saturday, but thanks for the offer."

He watched her make a beeline for the front doors, stunned by his inability to close the deal. "Hey!"

She stopped and turned to face him from across the room, as did two older women chatting nearby.

"What's your name?"

She sharpened her gaze and hesitated before answering. "Evy."

It was the most beautiful name he had ever heard, especially coming from those sweet red lips. "I'm Dean."

She flashed him a bashful smile and continued for the glass doors. He watched her butt shake as she went, caught up in its spell, unable to tear his gaze away even after she had slipped outside.

"I'm free for dinner Saturday night."

Dean's brow folded. He slowly turned to a gray haired woman leaning on the machine next to him. A wry grin cut across her wrinkly cheeks, her eyes shimmering like diamonds.

Dean couldn't stop a smile. "I'll pick you up at eight."

She laughed sharply and slapped his arm. "Are you kidding? I'd starve to death by then! I eat at five on the dot so make it four-thirty."

"Bummer," Dean murmured under his breath, glancing back up front and wiping his face with the towel. He stared past Stacey, the wheels spinning in his mind, knowing what he had to do.