Weight- Part III

THIS IS A WORK OF ORIGINAL FICTION

It will be serialized over the next several days…the ending will be marked in the classic styling…
THE END

“I don’t think so, Mer,” Corinne finally replied to her office friend, turning down a set up for the first time.

“No? I know Steven turned out to be…y’know…less than perfect for you. And I’m sorry about that. That’s not a reason to give up, though. There are good men out there.”

“I know. I appreciate you thinking of me. But I’m gonna concentrate on ‘me’ for a while.”

“I noticed you’ve lost some weight. I didn’t wanna bring it up, but now you did, so…good for you!”

“Yeah. I’ve been working on it for a bit now. I’m glad you can tell.”

Working out with Dan was paying off, and the emotional support he gave her was even more helpful. For the first time, she stuck with a weight loss strategy for more than a week. She’d lost a little each week for the last nine. Her clothes fit looser, and she felt happier.

“That’s enough for today,” Dan panted, slowing the treadmill in his basement to walking speed from thirty minutes of an unbroken jog.

“Go fifteen more minutes right there,” Cori answered. She was on stroke four hundred on his rowing machine.

“You’re a beast, Cori,” he teased her, but sped his steps back up a half mile an hour. “How many are you doing?”

“Six.”

“Hundred?!”

“Yeah.”

“Shit. Now I have to do at least seven when we switch machines.”

“Why?”

“’Cause you’re makin’ me look bad in my own house!” he kidded.

“It’s incredibly generous to let me come over so much,” she soberly replied. “Thank you.”

“Hell, my pleasure. I never used this shit until you started coming over. I’m down thirty pounds! And it’s just nice having you here. Thank you for working out with me.”

“It has been kinda nice. It doesn’t even feel like working out most of the time…wait a minute…you’re down thirty?! I’m only down twenty! Maybe I’ll do eight hundred…”

“You don’t have as far to go as me. It’s alright if I’m a little ahead of you…”

“No it isn’t.”

“I’ve got more to lose. You said your goal was seventy-five to eighty. Mine’s one twenty-five. At least. Should probably be one fifty or one sixty. You’ve got way less left than me.”

“Still. You’ve lost more so far. Bugs me.”

“Damn, you’re competitive. Like…a little crazy about it.”

“Yeah, it’s a personality defect. I own it.”

“I wouldn’t call it a ‘defect.’ I like it.”

“You do? I’m definitely doing eight now. You can stay on there for another ten minutes.”

“Eight?! Should have never said I liked the killer instinct. Now I’m up to a thousand rows. Ugh. Shut up, Dan!”

“If you keep telling me your plans to up your reps, we’ll be here all night.”

“I don’t wanna be on these machines all night. We could hang out longer, though. I mean, clean up when we’re done and go out or something. Want to? I wanna see the new Marvel movie.”

“Yeah? I guess we could do that…”

“You not wanna go out? Or you just don’t like Marvel movies?”

“No. I love Marvel movies. But I haven’t been to a movie theater in…it’s been years. The seats were always…uncomfortable.”

“Well, we’ll sit upstairs in the first class section. It’s damn near a couch. Nice and comfy.”

“Costs more, though.”

“My treat. Besides, we’ll save some by forfeiting popcorn and candy.”

“Is Tom Hiddleston in the new one?”

tomh

“He’s your fella, huh? Loki? Not Thor? You’re a villain girl! Oh no!”

“I don’t like him because he’s the bad guy. He’s just hot.”

“What’s hot about him?” Dan felt disheartened. Tom Hiddleston was a naturally slim man. Dan could see himself, with a year or more of really hard work, achieving a look like one of the other featured heartthrob actors in a Marvel movie, but he’d never be Tom Hiddleston. Dan felt drawn to Cori in a more profound way in recent months than when he’d been artificially coupled with her almost two years ago, and while he assumed this yearning was unrequited, he still valued her opinions (especially concerning what she found attractive in a man).

“He really respects women. He’s a gentleman…defends the women he works on films with when they get asked junket questions about their underwear and stuff. That is hot.”

“So it’s not even about how he looks?”

“Oh, he’s for sure handsome. But that’s not what makes him hot.”

“Huh. So who is the celebrity crush for you?”

“I have a list. It’s not just one dude.”

“Ha! Can you recite the whole thing?”

“Sure. If you tell me yours.”

“I don’t obsess over famous women.”

“Uh-huh.”

“Seriously. If you ask me if someone’s appealing, I won’t lie about it or anything, but it’s not something I actively think about. Will you still tell me your list?”

“I guess. Tom Hiddleston, obviously. Jason Momoa from Game of Thrones…”

jmomoa

“Which guy is he on the show?”

“Khal Drogo. Whew. Hot stuff.”

“Yeah?” This comforted Dan. That actor was a big guy that could never be considered ‘thin.’

Hell yeah. And Daniel Dae Kim, Idris Elba, John Legend. Oh! And Alexi Lalas. Mmm.”

“Ginger soccer player Alexi Lalas?” She had also named an Asian-American actor and an African-American actor and musician. She didn’t seem to have a ‘type.’ “That’s an eclectic ‘list.’ So you’re attracted by…what?”

“I dunno. Originality. Fidelity. Not being intimidated by female strength. Seductive deep voice.”

He cleared his throat and continued in his lowest innate register. “Thought there’d be more of a pattern. I mean, physically.”

“Do you only think tall, blue eyed blonds are pretty?”

“No. Of course not.”

“What attracts you to a woman, then?”

“Kindness. Courage. Honesty.”

“Bullshit.”

“Really. And a nice, pretty smile, I guess.”

She reflexively smiled at him. A real smile, unforced and organic. “I’m at eight hundred now. Ready to switch?”

“You’re gonna run for fifty-five minutes?”

“I’ll walk most of it. Are you gonna do a thousand rows?”

“I’ll do as many as I can while you’re on the treadmill. Late movie tonight for real?”

“I dunno. If the seats are really like a couch, after a two hour workout, I might fall asleep. Embarrassing.” He fantasized briefly about her dozing off with her head on his shoulder, and waking her when the show ended.

“Wanna go tomorrow instead?”

“Don’t you have a date?”

“Nope. Do you?”

“Nah. I told Mer I was ‘working on me.’”

“Haha! Nice. No fix ups for a while then?”

“Taking a little break from insufferable social interaction.”

“In favor of suffering in my basement?”

“Yeah. It’s actually pretty fun breathing heavy here with you and turning out a sweaty mess.” She winked at him, and he was glad he was sitting down on the rower and no longer trying to run in a straight line on the treadmill. He’d have been in danger of falling off.

“Tomorrow night then?” he asked, his voice raised a fragment of an octave from uncorked nerves.

“Yeah. Come over for dinner first, since you’re treating at the show. I’ll make chicken tenders and macaroni and cheese.”

He felt surge of warmth unrelated to personal exertion at her recognition of his favorite comfort foods. “Cori, that kills all this work we’re doing down here.”

“I found a recipe with pureed vegetables as cheese sauce thickeners instead of flour, butter and cream. High protein, whole wheat pasta. And I’ll coat the chicken with crunched up bran flakes and bake it. I’ve already tried it. Tastes pretty good. You can’t even tell it’s not terrible for us. And we can have dessert too. Banana-strawberry-pineapple milk shakes. It’s just blended frozen fruit with fat free vanilla Greek yogurt.”

“That sounds fantastic! But you don’t have to cook for me or whatever…”

“You let me come here to work out almost every day. You don’t have to do that. I tried going to a gym. It was awful.”

“I hated the gym too. That’s why I bought this stuff. Really, it’s no problem for you to come over. You’re making me do this every day. It’s not just good intentions anymore. You sure shouldn’t feel like you owe me anything.”

“It’s not really like paying back a debt, I guess. But you’re a big part of my success. Let me make you dinner sometimes and maybe be a little part of yours. I enjoy cooking. But cooking for one is…depressing. It’s doing me a favor.”

“Ok. Dinner and a movie tomorrow. And dinner at your place more often, too.”

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