Eye Candy

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Watching Jackie run is painful. Mostly for my erection.

Do you know how uncomfortable it is to sport a boner while jogging? My only saving grace is that my shorts are baggy, unlike hers.

Hers are molded to her ass. Spandex, pink with a white stripe down each leg. And she’s wearing a sports bra with a sliced tank top over it. I can see so much of her skin, I’m having trouble concentrating on anything but the part of me demanding to make himself known.

“I’m . . . awful . . . at . . . this,” she pants, coming to a clumsy stop, her ponytail drooping to one side. She tugs the elastic free and pulls her fingers through her hair. “Dumb. Dumb idea.”

I come to a stop too, nowhere near as out of breath as she is. I can run ten miles. We’ve only gone a few blocks from my house.

“I don’t know why we didn’t do this at your apartment,” I argue. Again.

“Because! I don’t want him to see me like this!”

Her full lips are parted, breasts heaving as she sucks in another breath. Her cheeks have a pink hue and are slightly damp from perspiration. I agree with her. I don’t want him seeing her like this either. She looks like she just sweated it out between the sheets, and the very idea makes me wonder what sounds she makes during sex.

High, gaspy ones, or is she a screamer? I bite down on the edge of my lip as I imagine Jackie screaming my name in my ear as I ride her from—

“. . . give up, do you?” She has her fists on her hips like Wonder Woman and eyes me impatiently.

“Give up what?”

“I swear. Men never listen. There’s no sense in my asking J.T. out because he’ll just say, ‘What? Were you talking?’”

“Your man voice needs work,” I say instead of the truth. That I wasn’t listening because I was having a sexual fantasy about her while we stand in front of Riley Mason’s house. Riley steps outside now, dressed in a short skirt and a top that is cut really, really low. Riley was one of my ex-wife’s wine-night friends, and she’s about fifteen years older than me.

“Vincent,” she calls, her voice dipping. “You have a friend.”

Jackie smiles at me knowingly.

“Jackie, Riley. Riley, Jackie,” I introduce. “Jackie and I work together.”

“Nice to meet you.” Riley sets down a watering can—empty by the sound of the hollow clunk when it hits the porch. I wonder if her plants need watering or if she came out here because her nose was “bothering” her.

I’m betting the latter.

“You too,” Jackie says.

Riley flits a glance from Jackie to me. “They say the couple that works out together stays together. Is it true?”

She’s fishing, and Jackie knows it. I may not have told Jackie about my string of one-nighters, but I did mention that after Leslie left, Riley asked me out repeatedly. She brought over casseroles topped with Doritos and once delivered a bottle of pink wine for us to share. I accepted the food but never the booze, and finally stopped answering the door. Riley did not adhere to Girl Code.

“Oh, no, we’re not dating.” Jackie flashes me a shit-eating grin. “He’s free as a bird. We’re friends. Coworkers. He’s trying to help me get in shape for a date.”

“Really?” Interest blooms in Riley’s eyes.

“And I for mine,” I chime in before I’m forced to recite any number of polite refusals.

“Oh.” Riley’s smile vanishes. “Best of luck to you both.” She wanders inside, leaving the watering can behind. I have my answer about the plants.

Without discussing it, Jackie and I start back to my house, our pace settling into a stride.

“Why not her?” asks my insane coworker. “She’s gorgeous.”

“She’s overbearing. And too old for me.”

“That’s a sexist thing to say.” Hands on her hips again, Jackie scolds me. “If I wanted to date a man ten years my senior, I would.”

“First of all, she’s fifteen years my senior. Secondly, you would date a forty-year-old like Sergio?” I say of the production manager.

“Not Sergio.” She makes a face. “But a nice, normal guy of a certain age, sure.” She shrugs. It’s cute. “Why not?”

“Well, I would date an older woman too. I mean, if Riley were normal. Besides, I think she and Leslie are still in the same spinning class.” I hazard a glance over my shoulder to see Riley’s front room curtain twitch and then drop. Nuttier than a fruitcake, that one.

“That’s a definite ‘no,’ then. I didn’t realize she and Leslie were friends.”

“Yeah, hard to believe Leslie kept any of them after the shit she pulled.” Yowch. Been awhile since bitter divorced guy crawled out to grumble about the state of the world.

Jackie loops her arm around mine and suddenly I’m not so sad I let that one out. Knowing what divorce feels like, she has always offered silent support. She didn’t tell me to get over it or to “get back out there.” She supported me and she listened. Like she does now.

“I don’t know why I said that,” I admit. “I’m not angry with her any longer.”

Jackie nods.

“It’s like you told me once. It’s a wound that never healed.” We walk a few more steps and I turn my attention to her. “Did you heal?”

She loops her other arm around mine and we slow our pace. “Lex hurt me pretty bad, so no. I don’t think I’m fully healed. But I believe it’s possible. Once I find the one who understands me, doesn’t judge me. Once I lose myself in someone else, I hope I can forgive him, if not forget about him.”

“Sorry, Butler.” I put my hand over both of hers.

We finish walking to my house in silence.