Authors: Earl Sewell
Tags: #Fiction, #Romance, #Contemporary, #General
By the time the ten-mile run was over, Angela felt a sense of pride because she'd made it across a new milestone. As she made her way over to the refreshment stand, she stopped to ask Jesse a question.
"I've been trying to stretch out this muscle in my hip, but no matter what I do, I just can't get it to loosen up."
"Have you ever done yoga before?" Jesse asked. Angela gave him a sarcastic glare. "Okay, I guess not. Yoga really helps to loosen up your stiff muscles," Jesse said.
"Now I have to pay a yoga instructor?" Angela pouted.
"No. I can teach you." Jesse held her gaze.
"What else will you teach me?" Angela played along with him. Jesse swept his tongue over his lips.
"You'll just have to come by for a few lessons," Jesse said.
"Tomorrow morning at eleven," Jesse said.
"My place." Jesse removed his cell phone and sent her a text that contained his address. "I'll see you then."
The following morning, Angela arrived at Jesse's house. She was wearing her black running shorts but didn't have on any panties. She was also wearing a matching top that could be easily removed in the heat of the moment. Jesse welcomed her into his home. He showed her around and then took her into the enclosed patio area where he had two mats on the floor. He also had some very relaxing music playing and a waterfall ornament sitting in the corner emitted a soothing, tinkling sound. The enclosed patio had a wonderful view of the backyard, which was in full bloom.
"Wow, this is nice," Angela said.
"Yeah, it is. I fell in love with the house the moment I saw it." Jesse shared his love of his home. "So, shall we begin?"
"Okay," Angela said.
"Now, which side is hurting?" Jesse asked. Angela pointed to her hip. Jesse stepped closer to her and massaged her hip. Angela felt butterflies prancing around in the bottom of her tummy the moment he touched her.
"Okay, I need you to take off your shoes and stand on the mat and face me," Jesse said.
"Do I need to take off anything else?" Angela was ready to make love to him. As far as she was concerned, hot sex would loosen her hips up just fine.
Jesse laughed and then scratched the back of his neck. "If I didn't know any better, I'd swear that you were trying to seduce me," he said.
"And if I am?" Angela stepped closer to him.
"Then I'd have to say that I like being sedu--" Jesse's and Angela's lips finally met. Jesse caressed her cheeks with his hands and cradled the back of her head. She felt his erection pressing against her tummy. She allowed one hand to slide down to touch it, curious to know what he was working with. At that moment, she exhaled and broke away from his kiss.
"Damn," Angela said, catching her breath.
Jesse was about to taste her sweet lips once again, but the doorbell rang.
"Are you expecting company, baby?" Angela asked.
"No," Jesse said and continued to kiss her.
The doorbell rang again and again.
"You sure you don't want to get that?" Angela asked, slightly irritated.
"Yeah, I'm sure," Jesse said, trying to kiss Angela again, but the noise of the doorbell was too distracting.
"I'll run them away," Jesse said.
"Which way is your bathroom?" asked Angela.
"Follow me. There's one near the front door." As they walked toward the front of the house, the doorbell continued to ring.
"I'm coming. Damn!" Jesse yelled out.
"The bathroom is right here." Jesse opened the bathroom door and hit the light switch. After that, he kissed Angela once more and then went to see who was at the door.
"JoAnn!" Jesse snapped. "What are you doing here?"
"I tried calling you but you wouldn't answer your damn phone," JoAnn shrieked at him.
"Is something wrong with Trina?" Jesse asked, concerned.
"She told me that you have a girlfriend." JoAnn tried to peer past his shoulder.
"That's none of your business, JoAnn." Jesse tried to be patient.
"It is my business if she mistreats or harms my daughter!"
"What the fuck are you talking about?" Jesse lost it. He couldn't believe that JoAnn was actually violating the restraining order that she'd put against him to come talk about some trivial bullshit.
"It's that Barbie bitch in the black shorts, isn't it? I saw her when she bounced her ass up to the door. It looked like she didn't have on any panties."
"Have you been spying on me?" At that moment, Jesse smelled alcohol on JoAnn's breath, and he was about to explode.
"I wasn't really spying. I just happened to be in the neighborhood and saw a strange car sitting in the driveway."
"Damn! How long have you been sneaking around like this?" Jesse now realized that JoAnn had gone completely crazy.
"Jesse. Is everything okay?" Angela asked as she exited the bathroom.
"Hell, no, everything isn't okay, bitch! You need to get the fuck out of my house," JoAnn exploded, and tried to force her way past Jesse. He grabbed her and held her still.
"This is my damn man, and this is the house that we bought together!"
"Jesse? Are you still married?" Angela was confused.
"No! I'm not still married. She's just crazy!" Jesse pushed JoAnn back out.
"I'm not crazy, bitch! Get out of my house!" JoAnn continued to assault Angela with angry words. "That's my bed that he's fucking you in!" Jesse slammed the door in her face.
"Open this damn door, Jesse!" JoAnn began pushing against the door like a madwoman. "Open the damn door. Let me in, Jesse!" JoAnn began ringing the doorbell repeatedly.
"I think I'm going to go now. I don't fight over a man," Angela said and hurried back to the enclosed patio to get her shoes.
"Angela, wait. It's not what you think," Jesse tried to explain.
"She's obviously still in love with you, Jesse," Angela said as she quickly put on her shoes.
"But I don't love her. Our marriage ended over a year ago."
"Well, if she's crazy enough to show up unannounced like this, she's probably crazy enough to pull a gun on me." Angela now had her shoes back on. "I can't deal with this type of drama, Jesse. I just won't."
"Angela. Please." Jesse captured her gaze. "I think we're on to something special. I want to continue."
"There your black ass is!" JoAnn had walked around the house and entered the backyard.
"Goodbye, Jesse," Angela said and rushed toward the front door and her car.
"That's right. You'd better run!" JoAnn tried to race around to the front of the house but tripped and fell over the garden hose.
Jesse picked up a nearby telephone and dialed 911.
When Jesse spoke to Angela again, he explained that JoAnn had been spying on him and that he had absolutely no feelings for her. He reassured Angela that he was indeed divorced.
"I'll even show you a copy of my divorce decree," Jesse said to her over the phone.
"Jesse, I like you. I really do. But I can't deal with drama in my life right now. I've been through too much already."
"Angela, I know. And believe me, I don't want to put you through any more. And Lord knows that I don't want any drama. JoAnn was drunk when she came over. By the time the police arrived, she'd passed out on the back lawn. I had to call my daughter, Trina--" Jesse stopped talking for a moment. "It was just a mess." Jesse was afraid that all of his baggage would scare Angela off.
"I think I need a little more time," Angela said. "Just give me a little space right now, okay?"
"What does that mean?" Jesse asked.
"I just need to take my time before I jump into another relationship. I need to make sure that I'm ready to trust someone again."
"So, are you saying that you don't trust me?" Jesse asked.
"No, it's not that. I think we're both still kind of vulnerable right now. I was married for eight years and you were married for longer than that. It takes time to get a person out of your system. I think we just both need a little more time."
"I'm not going anywhere, Angela."
"I know, Jesse," Angela said.
Thirty thousand people had registered for the running of the annual Chicago Marathon. It was going to be unseasonably warm for October and runners were being told to hydrate in advance of the run. Jesse had rented tent space so that everyone from his running club would have a place to gather prior to the race. Everyone was buzzing with excitement, anticipation and nervous energy. When the time was right, herds of people began making their way from the tent area over toward the starting line.
"Are you ready to do this?" Both Jesse and Regina asked Angela as they moved toward the starting line.
"Yes," Angela said.
"Now, here is what's going to happen." Jesse was speaking directly into Angela's ear so that she could hear his voice above the noise of the crowd. "The first ten miles or so will be very crowded and we'll be moving slowly. Once the crowd begins to thin out, you'll be able to find your stride and knock down the rest of the miles."
"Jesse and I will be running with you, so you'll have plenty of support," added Regina. The buzzer sounded and the three of them began their journey toward completing the 26.2-mile run. Just as Jesse had explained, the crowds were bad for the first ten miles. After they passed the ten-mile mark, there was much more room. Angela moved along and was feeling very strong. By the time they reached mile fourteen, Regina said that she was feeling stronger and needed to pick up her pace.
"Go ahead," Jesse said. "Get your run on. We'll see you back at the tent."
"Is that okay with you, girl?" Regina asked Angela.
"Yes. Go ahead. Run your race," Angela said. Regina picked up her pace and left them.
"Are you doing good?" Jesse asked.
"I'm good, but it's very hot," Angela said.
"I know. It's hotter than it normally is this time of year. Make sure you drink plenty of water. And pour some on your head to help cool you off." The two of them pressed on. By the time they reached mile twenty, Angela was in trouble.
"I can't make it, Jesse." Angela stopped running. "I need to sit down and get some rest."
"No, you can't stop now," Jesse said and forced Angela to keep on moving. At mile twenty-five, Angela was completely exhausted.
"Jesse...I can't make it. I feel like I'm going to fall flat on my face. It's too hot and I feel so weak. My feet are killing me. I feel like I'm running on my bones."
"Just a little farther, baby. Dig a little deeper," Jesse encouraged Angela. It was quiet then, and every runner around them seemed to be moving at a zombie's pace, with barely enough energy to remain upright.
"My foot is bleeding, Jesse." Angela glanced down at her right foot. "My shoes have rubbed the side of my big toe raw."
"Damn." Jesse looked down at Angela's foot. Some blood had soaked through the fabric of the shoe.
"I know this is going to sound horrible, but you don't have time to bleed. You're one mile away from accomplishing something you never thought possible. So suck up the pain and let's keep it moving."
"Jesse, I don't want to," Angela complained.
"Angela. You're only running twenty-six miles. Slaves who were running to freedom had to run across entire states through the wilderness with no shoes. Now you mean to tell me that you can't find the will to carry on?"
Angela thought about what Jesse had said for a moment and willed herself to move. Four hundred meters from the finish line, Angela's legs gave out completely and she collapsed. Jesse caught her before she hit the ground.
"I can't..." Angela began to cry. "I tried, but I can't make it. I'm sorry. My feet, my legs, my back, everything just hurts."
"I know, baby, but we're right at the finish line. Look right there. Do you see the banner? That's the finish line. Don't come this far and stop."
"Is that your wife?" A female police officer who was sitting in a nearby squad car asked the question. "Is she okay? Does she need help?"
"Angela. Don't give up now," Jesse pleaded and then answered the officer. "Yes, she is my wife and no, she doesn't need help. She's going to make it."
"What's her name?" shouted the officer.
"Angela," Jesse answered.
The officer then turned on the squad car's loudspeaker and began cheering for Angela. "Come on, girl," the officer encouraged. "A couple that runs together, stays together. You can finish this race. Get up, Angela, and fight!"
"See there, babe." Jesse beamed. "Complete strangers are pulling for you."
Angela released a big sigh and allowed Jesse to help her to her feet. She began walking slowly and painfully toward the finish line. She was crying, she was in pain, but she continued to move with what little energy she had. About a hundred meters from the finish line, Angela realized that she was about to complete the race. A swell of energy rushed through her body and she found the strength to begin running again. She ran hard.
"There you go, Angela!" Jesse shouted out as he ran alongside her. "Go get your medal!"
Angela crossed the finish line and collapsed into Jesse's arms.