I Found My Heart in San Francisco
Book 1: Awakenings
By: S X Meagher
Disclaimers: See Chapter 1
Feedback: I'm consumed by self-criticism; therefore only positive feedback will be read. If you enjoyed the story please stroke my fragile ego, if not, flush it from your memory bank and move on. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
During the next few days Jamie checked out 4 potential gyms. All were reasonably close to her home, but they were vastly different. Her first stop was at Mia's club in North Berkeley. It was a rather toney, expensive place but Mia really liked it. She arranged for a visit and agreed to accompany Jamie.
Jamie agreed that the facilities were top notch but she hated the atmosphere. It was filled with young professionals and a few members of the Junior League set. Most of the people were quite good looking and very fit. There was a juice bar that was filled with people checking each other out while trying not to be obvious about it. The locker rooms were very nicely appointed, but it reminded Jamie of the girls' rest room in high school during a dance. Women were comparing notes on which guys were there and who was dating whom. The dressing area was populated by women fixing their hair and adjusting their perfectly matched outfits prior to their workouts. Jamie realized that she might have chosen this place a few months ago but now she really wanted to work out--not socialize.
Next she looked at a club that was very close to campus and open 24 hours. It was fairly nice also, but she learned that she could not bring in her own trainer. That rules that out.
Next was a club that was inexpensive and populated by serious weightlifters. Maybe later, but right now this place would intimidate me.
Much to her surprise her favorite club was small, a bit out of the way and women only. 'Women Power' was obviously for women who were serious about working out. There was a small locker room that held only that...lockers No showers, no saunas, no Jacuzzis. But there was a dazzling assortment of free weights and well maintained weight machines. There were 5 elliptical cross trainers, 7 treadmills, 5 stair climbers, 5 recumbent bikes and 5 upright bikes. The women seemed friendly, but most of them were very serious about their workouts. The staff was all women also and what Jamie liked most was that she was free to bring Ryan for only $10 per visit. She also really appreciated that there was a clear price schedule for membership. No hard sell, no 'special only if you sign up today' garbage. They merely explained the price and asked her if she wanted a 1-week guest pass to try out the facilities. She happily accepted and called Ryan as soon as she got home to relay her findings.
Ryan had been unimpressed with the branch of her club in Oakland. So she agreed to meet Jamie at 'Women Power' to try it out. They decided to meet on Friday afternoon. Ryan was free from 2-6 p.m. so they agreed to meet at 2:30 since Jamie was free anytime after noon.
Jamie picked her up at their normal meeting place and they slogged through Friday afternoon Berkeley traffic to reach the gym. They had previously arranged for Ryan to take BART to campus that morning; that way Jamie could drop her off at work on the way to Palo Alto. As they muddled along a thought occurred to Jamie. "Have you eaten today?" she inquired suspiciously.
"Um, not really", Ryan sheepishly admitted. "I did have breakfast, but I haven't had any other breaks today. Why? Is my stomach grumbling?"
"Why didn't you say something?" Jamie asked with an exasperated tone.
"I know you wanted to check this place out and I didn't want to slow you down. I can get something before work. It's really no big deal."
"Oh please!" Jamie smirked. "The way you eat, missing a meal must be catastrophic to your system! Your poor stomach must be leading a revolt right at this minute."
"It's not that bad," Ryan said as she looked at the site of the possible rebellion. "Although," she patted her stomach as she leaned her head down to listen, "I do hear the faint signs of discord."
Jamie glanced at her watch as she shot Ryan an amiable grin. "It's only 2:35 now. If you're due at work by 6 we don't have to leave the East Bay until 5:30. If you're not going to work out an hour and a half should be enough to decide if we like this place. We could easily spare an hour for you to eat."
"Gosh, it all sounds so easy when you say it like that," Ryan admitted as she closed her eyes. "I do so love lunch," she purred with pleasure.
As Ryan completed her statement Jamie looked at the sensual smile on her face and realized with a bit of surprise that Ryan no longer flirted with her. That's kind of weird. She was so flirty when we met and now she is just like any of my other friends. I wonder what changed? Maybe she really got the message that I was straight. I guess I should be thankful...it's a lot more comfortable to be with her now. But still...
"Hey, anybody home in there?" Ryan asked in inquiry.
"Oh, sorry. What were you saying?"
"I just wondered where you wanted to stop. Now that you brought it up I have to feed the beast or there will be trouble," she again patted her stomach as she grinned.
"What are you in the mood for? We can get you almost anything around here." Jamie waved her hand at the plethora of restaurants on the surrounding streets.
"Hmmm," Ryan's eyes closed in concentration. One blue eye popped open momentarily as she asked warily, "I can have anything I want?"
"Yep. Anything," Jamie answered authoritatively.
Jamie glanced at the intense look of pleasurable concentration on Ryan's face and had to smother a laugh. She could almost see the panoply of international dishes floating through her imagination.
Finally, Ryan's eyes opened fully and she said with barely contained glee, "Chinese."
"Chinese it is," Jamie replied. "And I know just the place."
* * * * * * * * * * * *
Ryan sat with a steaming bowl of hot and sour soup in front of her and a blissful look on her face. "This is divine, Jamie. How do you know so many good restaurants?"
"I like to eat too, Ryan. Not as much as you do, but I can hold my own. You should get me down to the Peninsula or the South Bay. I think I have been to every restaurant within 20 miles of Hillsborough. My dad was never home for dinner, and my mother loves to try new places so we cut a swath though the whole area. A place can't be open for more than a week before my mother hits it."
"That could not be more different from my experience. My family doesn't go to a restaurant more than once or twice a year and that is only under duress," she added.
"You know, Ryan, I really don't know much about your family. Who's at home with you?"
"Well, there's my father, Martin, my oldest brother Brendan who doesn't officially live with us, but he's always there for meals, my brothers Conor and Rory and me, I'm the baby. Oops, I almost forgot my dog, Duffy, I guess he's really the baby."
"What about your mother?" Jamie asked tentatively.
"My mother is dead," Ryan stated without explanation as she bent her head to concentrate on her soup.
"I'm sorry to hear that," Jamie stated sincerely. She wasn't sure if Ryan wanted to discuss it but she asked, "Has she been dead long?"
Jamie continued to look at the top of Ryan's head. When the deep blue eyes lifted Ryan realized that the question was still open so she elaborated, "16 years in December."
"My God, Ryan, you were just a baby!" Jamie cried with alarm.
Her previously somber face eased into a small smile as she demurred, "Well, not quite a baby, but I had just turned 7."
"Oh Ryan, that must have been devastating for you," she said with sympathy.
Ryan paused for a moment, as if considering the idea. "I don't think devastating covers it, to tell you the truth. Losing your mother changes everything. I don't know if I would be a better or worse person, but I know I would be different if she was still alive," she said thoughtfully.
"How did it happen?" Jamie asked softly.
"She had breast cancer," she replied. After a moment she looked contemplative and continued, "You know, it's funny. She was only 30 years old when she was diagnosed. She had no family history; she was thin; she ate a healthy diet; she had children when she was young; and she had good medical care. And she was dead in 4 years," she said as she looked up at Jamie with a lost look in those deep blue eyes.
Jamie wasn't able to say a word. She just reached over and tightly gripped Ryan's hand as she looked into her eyes with empathy. They sat like that for a few minutes, sharing their feelings with their eyes alone. Ryan had never looked smaller, younger or more vulnerable. Jamie thought her heart would break at the feelings she could plainly see in her friend's eyes. A solitary tear leaked out of Jamie's eyes and Ryan reached over somewhat tentatively to wipe it away with a finger.
"Wow, I don't know where that came from," Ryan sighed as she leaned back in her chair. "I guess I'm feeling sadder than normal because her birthday is coming up."
"Do you remember her well?" Jamie asked, not wanting to let go of this intimate moment.
"Yeah, I do," Ryan said with a small smile gracing her lips. "She was basically sick from the time I can remember, but she tried so hard to be there for me. I still don't know how she did it." She smiled sadly as she shook her head briefly. I'm really lucky in that my family talks about her a lot. Although sometimes I don't know if I really have all these memories or if I remember her through their eyes. I guess it doesn't matter in the end though," she said simply.
"Your father never remarried?" Jamie inquired.
"Remarried!" Ryan laughed. He's never had a date that I know of. I guess he wasn't much of a catch when we were young. Who wants a man with 4 wild kids who's away from home for 3 days at a time?"
"You were left alone that much?" Jamie asked with alarm.
"No, we weren't alone much at all until the boys got old enough to take care of me. We have a gaggle of aunts and cousins who all live in the City, many of them within walking distance. While my mother was sick and for the first few years after her death someone stayed with us when my father was at work. After a while, Brendan was old enough to be in charge. I'm sure it was hard on him, but he never complained," she said reflectively.
"How old are your brothers?"
"Rory's 25, Conor's two years older than him and Brendan's two years older than Conor."
"Are you okay talking about all of this?" Jamie asked gently.
"Yeah, I am with you," she replied with a little shy smile as she looked up at Jamie through her hooded eyes. "I don't talk about her much with people outside of the family, but it feels good to talk about it with someone who isn't as invested as we all are."
Jamie smiled at this admission and realized that she still gripped Ryan's hand. She blushed a little as her hand released, only to have Ryan reclaim it with both of hers. "Thanks for caring, Jamie," she said as they locked eyes.
Their server interrupted the moment as he appeared carrying plates of pan fried noodles, Szechwan green beans, and stir fried broccoli with mushrooms.
Ryan rubbed her hands together with a big smile as she waited for the plates to land. By the time the server had departed her chopsticks were ready for action. She dug in enthusiastically as Jamie watched with amazement. Ryan didn't eat particularly quickly. But once she started, she did not slow down for a moment. She kept up a steady cadence that was not interrupted by unnecessary speech. She paid attention to Jamie, but mostly nodded and shook her head as required. Jamie understood that Ryan needed her mouth to eat rather than talk so she kept up a running monologue, mostly about school and her classes.
After Ryan had finished every bite she leaned back in her chair in a pleasant post-prandial haze. Jamie regarded her with a smirk. "Do your brothers each as much as you do?" she asked.
"More, much more. Dinner time at our house is not for the faint hearted," she admitted gravely.
"I would love to witness that," Jamie laughed.
"That can certainly be arranged," Ryan replied with one waggling eyebrow.
* * * * * * * * * * * *
Jamie was pleased with Ryan's appraisal of the gym. "This place is the bomb, Jamie," she said with a big grin on her tanned face.
"I really like it too," Jamie agreed. "Shall we get to work?" Jamie was wearing an emerald and navy blue sports bra over matching thigh length nylon shorts, exposing her completely to Ryan's considered gaze. Those blue eyes wandered up and down her lithe form for another minute or two. She began to shift nervously as she finally said, "I feel like a deer in the headlights, Ryan."
"Oh, sorry," Ryan said with a grin. "I was just trying to get an impression of your current musculature."
"It's that bad?" Jamie asked tentatively.
"No, of course not," Ryan assured her. "In fact you really have a great body. But you can definitely use some more muscle here," she ran her long cool fingers down both of Jamie's shoulders, stopping at her elbows, "and here," another pair of gentle tracings down the front of her thighs. "Now we haven't talked about this much, but have you thought about whether you really want to change your body?"
"What do you mean?" Jamie inquired warily.
"Nothing bad," Ryan giggled a little at her expression. "It's just that some women don't think it's womanly to show muscle. And some men don't like it either. I just wondered how your fiancé felt about you looking buff."
Jamie realized that this was the first time they had ever discussed Jack and his proprietary interest in her body. But she was quite sure she did not like the implication. "He doesn't get a vote," she replied firmly. "My body...my choice. Besides, I think women look great with muscles. I think they enhance femininity so long as they're natural looking." Jamie had a sudden interest in seeing Ryan exposed much as she was. It occurred to her that she had never really seen her muscles. Ryan was usually pretty well covered up--much as she was today. Jamie looked at her navy blue warm ups and wondered what was underneath them. You'd better not go there, Jamie. What was that about being glad she doesn't flirt with you any more?
"That's great. I'm glad you're comfortable with this. But is there anything you would like to change? I mean if we can," Ryan added.
"I'm not sure what you mean. Are you saying I get to choose how I change?"
"To some extent, yes," Ryan agreed. There are certain areas on any body that respond more quickly to weight training. But there is some genetic predisposition that affects the final outcome," she added knowledgeably.
"So are you saying that you can project those areas on me?" Jamie quizzed.
"Kind of," Ryan said. "Do you mind me staring at you again?"
"Be my guest," she replied as a warm flush crawled up her cheeks and she tried to adopt a casual pose.
Ryan stood back a step or two and crossed her arms across her chest. Once again she stared at Jamie's body; starting at the shoulders and working her way down. "Because of your height I would guess that large leg muscles would not really look great," she observed. "And I would also guess that your legs and butt tend to get big easily." She gently squeezed the muscles at the middle of Jamie's thighs and nodded her head. "I think your quads could really get big if you liked that look. But if you didn't want that we would want to work on elongating your muscles there, rather than just making them big."
Next she placed her hands on Jamie's shoulders. "You have a nice deltoid just waiting to come out here." She placed her fingertips loosely on the tops of Jamie's shoulders again and slowly traced her thumbs over the muscles just above her breasts, "And you could develop really nice pecs. And if I'm not mistaken," she said as she ran the flat of her hand slowly down Jamie's bare abdomen, starting just under her bra and stopping just above her pubic bone, "you could have killer abs." This she said with a real twinkle in her eyes.
"How can you tell that?" Jamie asked thinly as she struggled to replace the saliva in her mouth.
"You don't have hardly any adipose tissue there. Those muscles are just dying to pop out. Me, on the other hand," she lifted her jacket and her white nylon shirt to expose her tanned abdomen, "I've got a pretty thick layer of fat here. No matter how much I work on my abs they can't pop out like yours will." As she spoke she grasped Jamie's hand and placed it on the warm body part in question. "Here, feel the difference." Now she placed the hand on Jamie's stomach. "See what I mean?"
Jamie was now fully involved in the exercise. "I do, I really do. Mine feels like just skin covering muscle but yours is softer." She gave Ryan's stomach a little pat, "but there's some pretty hard muscle right under that...what do you call that tissue again?"
"Adipose tissue. That's trainer talk for fat." She whispered this last word right into Jamie's ear.
This received a chortle from Jamie. "I think your fat is in all the right places, Ryan."
She received a smile and a small laugh in return. "Part of the occupational requirements. Can't have an out of shape trainer."
* * * * * * * * * * * *
After the preliminaries they worked their way from machine to machine. Ryan had a little notebook which she used to mark every machine. She carefully adjusted each machine to perfectly fit Jamie; then indicated each of these positions in her book. She then made an estimate of the weight she thought Jamie could handle, while she explained how to perform the exercise. Ryan explained that each correct movement through the exercise was called a repetition, or a rep. Ideally, Jamie would perform somewhere between 12 and 15 reps. Ryan said that Jamie should begin to feel fatigue by the 12th or 13th rep, but no sooner. If she was tired before that, the weight was too heavy. If she felt like she could do another 5 or 6 reps without a break, then it was too light.
Ryan explained that there was no easy way to figure out the perfect weight to start with. It was all trial and error. She also said that eventually Jamie would perform 3 sets of each 15 rep exercise, with a minute rest in between sets. As for now, her goal was to get Jamie comfortable with the exercise and get a feel for her capacity.
"An important thing to remember is that you need to acclimate your body slowly to this new level of stress. Don't force yourself to do things that don't feel comfortable. I want this to be pleasurable for you," she reminded Jamie.
"So what's this I hear about 'no pain, no gain?' " Jamie asked.
"That is true to a certain extent," Ryan admitted. "Your muscles enlarge from stress. The stress of tearing small fibers and allowing them to heal is what causes them to grow. But a slight discomfort is all you really need to feel. If you are really sore, I haven't done my job well. But you need to remember that this work is stressful. You should drink more fluid than you normally do to flush the lactic acid from your system. And eating well is pretty critical also."
As Jamie performed each of the exercises Ryan paid close attention to her form. She carefully watched her face for signs of stress or too much exertion. Ryan placed one hand at the highest point that she wanted Jamie to extend, and her other hand at the lowest. On the machines where she was forced to move a lot of weight, like the reclining leg press, Ryan gripped the foot plate in her strong hands and pulled it back to reduce the stress on Jamie's legs.
After an hour, they had covered all of the exercises for her legs. Ryan suggested they stop so that Jamie was not overwhelmed with information. Jamie agreed and shook her tired legs out. "Let me help with that," Ryan offered.
"Okay," Jamie agreed, a bit tentatively.
Ryan grabbed a floor mat and instructed her to lie down on her tummy. She grasped Jamie's foot and slowly pushed her leg toward her butt. She held that position for a few moments, and then repeated the stretch with the other foot. After instructing Jamie to turn over she gripped her foot with both hands and pushed until Jamie's knee was near her chest. Again, she held the position before she switched to the other foot. Now she gripped behind her ankle with one hand and placed a restraining hand on her knee. She pushed her leg toward her body until Jamie's butt started to lift off the floor. "Keep your butt down," she instructed. "This will give you a nice stretch in your hamstrings," she said as she indicated the back of Jamie's thigh. After she had completed the stretch, she picked Jamie's foot up and braced it against her chest. She then began to massage her thigh with strong, knowing hands. Jamie closed her eyes in pleasure as Ryan's hands kneaded her tired muscles deeply.
"Do you do this to everybody?" she asked as she slowly lifted her torso up and rested her weight on her forearms.
"Yeah, pretty much," Ryan replied.
"Then you don't charge nearly enough," she said weakly as she felt herself collapse into a boneless heap on the mat.
Ryan laughed as she offered a hand down to her, "C'mon jellyfish. They frown on sleeping on the floor." As she was pulled to her feet Ryan said, "The only bad thing about this place is that there are no showers." She looked at Jamie's sweat drenched head and clothing. "You really should not drive all the way to Palo Alto in those clothes. I'm afraid you'll stiffen up."
"It's only 4:30, we could go by my house so I could take a quick shower," she suggested.
"I think you should do that," Ryan agreed. "I could just take BART home if you don't want me to come with you," she offered hesitantly.
"Why would I..." then Jamie realized what Ryan was getting to. "Are you worried about my roommates?"
"No, I'm not worried about them. I just don't want them to hassle you about hanging out with me," Ryan stated quietly.
"Ryan, I am honored to be your friend. Anyone who doesn't like you is not worth my time," she said firmly.
Her face broke into an adorable grin as she blushed just a tiny bit. "Thanks, Jamie. That means a lot to me," she said sincerely.
* * * * * * * * * * * *
Despite her protestations, Ryan was relieved when they entered the house and found it empty. "I'll just sit down here and read, if that's okay," Ryan said.
"Sure. Make yourself at home, I'll only be a minute." Jamie started to walk up the stairs when she winced a little bit. "I think you were right about these babies tightening up," she agreed.
"C'mere for a second," Ryan said. "I can loosen them up again. It's just because you let them get cold too quickly." She directed Jamie to the area rug in the middle of the parlor. Jamie removed her sweats and lay down on the rug. Ryan once again began her strong massage. "After I get these loose, you should stay in a hot shower for a few minutes. Then they should be fine." As Ryan continued to work on her legs, the front door opened and Cassie stared at them in surprise. Ryan dropped the leg as if it burned her and immediately adopted a guilty look. Jamie looked from Ryan's face to Cassie's shocked expression and rolled her eyes.
"Hi Cassie," she said as casually as the atmosphere allowed.
"Uh, hi Jamie. Um, what's going on," she asked tentatively.
"Ryan and I were at the gym and my legs stiffened up. She was just loosening them up for me."
"Um, you were at the gym?" she asked quizzically.
"Yes, I was at the gym. Ryan is a personal trainer and she is helping me get in shape for a bike ride," Jamie replied.
"You need a trainer to ride a bike?" Cassie said uncertainly.
Jamie shot a quick glance at Ryan who seemed to have recovered her cool. "This is not just any bike ride, Cassie. Ryan and I are going to do the AIDS ride together. It's from here to L.A."
Cassie laughed hard at the mere thought. "Jamie you have got to be kidding. You don't even have a bike."
"I will as of Monday," Jamie replied firmly. "And I'm not kidding. I think it will be a great learning experience for me. Plus it will give me a chance to really get in shape."
"Why on earth do you need to get in shape? You're very thin as it is," Cassie said.
"I'm not trying to lose weight, Cassie. I'm trying to get fit. There is a difference, you know."
"Okay, why do you need to get fit?" she patiently inquired.
"Well, so I can do this ride," she fumbled.
"Doesn't that logic seem just a teeny bit circular to you, Jamie?"
"No, it doesn't. I really want to do the ride and I want to be in better shape," she said a bit defensively.
"Whatever," Cassie finally said with a shake of her long blonde hair. As she began to ascend the stairs she turned and asked, "Aren't you going to see Jack this weekend?"
"Yes, I am," Jamie relied evenly. "As soon as I take a shower, we're leaving."
"Oh, is your friend going?" she inquired sweetly. "I'm sure the three of you will have fun. Or is Jack bringing a friend too?"
Jamie laughed a little as Ryan casually picked up her leg and placed it once again on her chest. She continued the massage as if Cassie did not exist, "No, sadly not," she replied just as sweetly.
Without further comment, Cassie turned and quietly took the stairs two at a time. When she was out of earshot Jamie mumbled, "I wish I lived alone."
* * * * * * * * * * * *
When they were back in the car Jamie summoned the courage to finally ask, "Why did you act so funny around Cassie?"
"What do you mean, funny?" Ryan inquired with just a touch of nervousness.
"I don't know, kind of like you were caught doing something wrong," Jamie finally admitted.
After a few minutes of silence Jamie thought that Ryan was just going to ignore the question. She was almost startled when her deep voice responded, "Do you remember our class discussion on homophobia?"
Jamie wondered how this was the answer to her question, but she knew that Ryan's scientific mind sometimes worked in strange ways. "Yes, I do," she answered.
"We did not talk about this, but homophobia is not always about straight people being afraid of gay people. There is something called internalized homophobia that you just saw a demonstration of."
"What do you mean, Ryan?"
"I know that Cassie doesn't like me. I assume it is primarily or exclusively because I'm gay, right?"
"Um, yeah, I guess so," Jamie admitted, "since that's the only thing she knows about you."
"So I internalized her dislike of me and when she came in I felt guilty about being gay. I was holding your leg and rubbing it in a way that probably looked awfully friendly," she blushed a little, "and I felt like I was caught doing something I shouldn't have done."
Jamie somehow found the courage to ask the next question, "Do you have sexual feelings for me Ryan? Please be honest," she begged.
"No, I don't Jamie," she said forcefully. "I don't think of you in that way. Although, if you want me to be perfectly honest I admit that I did when we first met," here she blushed furiously. "I think of you as a friend. And I don't tend to feel sexual desire toward my friends."
"I'm really glad you admitted to that, Ryan. I'm glad to know my instincts work with women as well as men," she teased.
"Oh no, could you really tell?" Ryan was taken aback.
"Um, yeah, at first I could," Jamie admitted.
"And that didn't bother you?" she asked, genuinely intrigued.
"No. It didn't seem aggressive, or anything. Just like you were kind of interested."
"Oh, I was definitely interested, but when I started to get to know you, I just liked you too much to put you in the potential dating category," Ryan admitted.
"You don't date people you like?" Jamie asked, quite confused.
"It's ahh...complicated," Ryan sighed. "I'll tell you all about my scarred psyche someday, but not today."
"It's a deal," Jamie grinned in agreement.
* * * * * * * * * * * *
As they crossed the Bay Bridge Jamie asked thoughtfully, "Do you like working at your current gym?"
"Not really, no."
"Why do it then?" she inquired.
"I'd prefer to just work with my individual clients. During my evenings at the gym I only get $15.00 an hour. Of course, if I train someone I get my normal $40. But much of the time I'm just standing around answering questions. But I really need the money and I don't have time to try to build my client base right now. So I'm kind of stuck," she said with regret. "When I was working as a trainer full time I had a really good client list, but when I started at school full time I just couldn't make the time to be available and I had to give up some of my best clients."
"Would it work better for you to train people in the East Bay?" Jamie asked slyly, hatching a plan in her fertile mind.
"Yeah, I guess it would. I've got some pretty good breaks between classes and I don't mind starting to work at 5 or 6 a.m. Maybe I should check out some of the gyms over there and see what I can scare up," she agreed. "I really hate losing all of my evenings."
"Maybe something will turn up," Jamie said confidently.
* * * * * * * * * * * *
The 'Lesbian Experience' was now in its 5th week. Jamie was truly enjoying the class and she felt she was learning a lot about lesbian life. However, she felt that she was learning as much about lesbianism from hanging out with Ryan as she learned from the class.
Since she was chronically early Ryan was usually sitting in her seat when Jamie arrived at class. However, one day Jamie was standing in the back of the room chatting with a young woman named Yvonne when Ryan entered. She made eye contact with Jamie as soon as she came in the door, flashing those incredibly white teeth in a warm grin. Jamie observed her slowly make her way to the front of the room as Yvonne kept up the conversation. She observed that Ryan looked particularly good today. Her hair was shining and bounced against the middle of her back as she walked. She wore an electric blue crew necked sweater of a very soft looking wool that clung to all of her generous curves. The sweater covered a white turtleneck that contrasted sharply with her black hair. Well-worn button fly jeans and shiny black leather loafers completed the outfit. Her cheeks were rosy from the chill in the air, and she radiated good health and confidence.
Jamie watched as heads turned to regard Ryan. It was obvious from the longing glances that some of the women openly desired her. It was equally obvious that some of them had fulfilled that desire. Ryan stopped for a moment to chat with 3 women who looked to be in the latter category. She spoke to each of them in a casual, familiar way. She would grace them with a gentle touch or a small pat on the shoulder. She gave the impression that she was very much interested in talking with each of them, but that pressing business was calling her away. Jamie watched in fascination as each of the women looked pleased that they had received even this small token of her affection. God, is she going to plow through the whole class? There are only 9 lesbians besides her. If she has gone through 3 already that only leaves 6. Since this is the 5th week of class she has to make the other 6 last for 11 weeks. She might have to have a repeat...or I suppose she could also date the women who don't like to label themselves lesbians...
Jamie was startled from her reverie by Yvonne gently poking her in the ribs. "Oh no, not you too!" she laughed.
"What?" Jamie inquired, truly puzzled.
"You don't have O'Flaherty Fever too, do you?"
"What??? Oh, no, no, NO!" Jamie finally got out. "Ryan and I are friends, just friends. I've just never seen her walk into class. Does that happen every day?"
"Yep," Yvonne replied. "That's why I sit in the back. It's the most entertainment I get all day," she laughed. "She really is a player," she said with admiration in her voice.
"Yeah, I guess she is," Jamie replied with a good bit of disapproval. As she spoke she turned toward Ryan and saw one of the 'no labels' women approach cautiously. She saw Ryan's eyes light up and watched her whole body language change. Ryan drew the woman in by leaning back against the desk. She was obviously speaking softly because the woman had to move in closer and closer to hear her. Once she had her where she wanted her she sat on the edge of her desk and leaned dangerously close to the woman. Her smile turned a bit feral as she then leaned back and regarded her prey. She smiled broadly and removed a business card from her back pocket. Wasn't that handy! She must have them printed by the 1000's. She scribbled something on the back, probably her pager number, and handed it to the beaming woman as she gave her hand a gentle squeeze.
Is no woman safe? Jamie screamed in frustration to herself.
After class they made their way to Stanley Hall, as was their habit. Ryan noticed that Jamie was not her usual talkative self, but she passed it off to a bad mood. After Ryan purchased a few bottles of juice she returned to the table to find Jamie looking at her with an expression that could only be described as a glare. "What'd I do?" she asked with a plaintive tone.
"Oh, I'm sorry, Ryan," she said quickly, while shaking her head. "You didn't do anything. I'm sorry if I look as though you did," she apologized.
"Are you sure there's nothing wrong?" she asked, genuinely concerned. She searched Jamie's eyes and found that her friend was having a hard time making eye contact. "C'mon, Jamie, you can tell me," she urged.
"No. It's really stupid and I feel like an idiot," she sulked.
"I've never seen you do anything stupid or idiotic," Ryan said seriously. "If something is bothering you I really would like to help if I can."
"Okay, okay, you win," Jamie finally gave her a small smile. "Last week you told me that you didn't date people you liked. Why?" she asked plainly.
"That's certainly not where I thought we were going," Ryan admitted. She paused for a moment as she looked at Jamie carefully. Finally she tilted her head and locked her gaze onto Jamie's eyes. "If that's your question, why do you look angry with me?"
Jamie hated the way Ryan's mind worked. She could always see through ancillary issues and hone right in on the crux of the matter. "All right, I'll confess," she finally admitted with a large measure of frustration in her voice. "It bothered me to watch you come into class today." Ryan looked at her blankly, clearly at a loss. "You were talking to some of the women and flirting with others, well, you were flirting with all of them. It made me think about what you said the other day and it just pissed me off. I think you're really depriving yourself of something by dating so many people." Even to her own ears this sounded incredibly lame.
"So you're angry with me because I don't have a steady girlfriend?" Ryan asked slowly, clearly trying to understand but not having an easy time of it.
"I told you it was stupid," Jamie said, clearly flustered. "I don't know why it bothered me, but it really did. I'm sorry, Ryan. I know it's none of my business. You seem perfectly happy and it's stupid for me to want something for you that you don't seem to want."
"Would you like me to explain why I don't have a girlfriend?" Ryan asked quietly, her eyes never leaving Jamie's.
"If you want to," Jamie said with just a hint of a pout showing.
"I'm happy to, Jamie. It's like this. I have been focused on earning money and going to school for over 4 years now. My time is very valuable to me and I don't like giving too much of it to anyone. I have to work really hard to get all of my schoolwork in during my limited free time. I can't afford the distraction that a relationship would cause. Plus, since I live at home, I can't comfortably bring women home. And I get a ton of shit from my brothers when I stay out all night," she smiled a bit at this. "Sometimes it's like living with three maiden aunts."
"But is it fair to the women that you date?" Jamie asked as she got to the question that was really bothering her.
Ryan leaned back in her chair and considered the question for a moment. Jamie detected a momentary flash of hurt pass across her face. She pursed her lips together and blew out a breath as she softly replied, "I get it now. You think I lead them on, don't you?"
She truly did not want to hurt her friends feelings, but she was in too deep to stop now. "Ryan, you should have seen their faces. They all looked so hopeful," she finally blurted out.
"Jamie, I swear I have never led anyone on. I always, and I do mean always, tell women that I am not in the market for a relationship. I'm obnoxiously up front with them."
"Maybe so," Jamie said thoughtfully. "But they all looked like they hoped they would be the one to change your mind. Like the woman who was talking to you at your desk," she added as she looked down at the ground.
Ryan waited until Jamie raised her eyes and met hers again. While she waited she wondered, Why does this bother her? I could see that she'd want me to be happy and I can understand that she doesn't want me to use people. But why be angry about it? "Today was a perfect example. Blair came over and asked me if I wanted to have lunch. I know she hangs out with Lisa and Amy so I knew she would know quite a bit about me."
"Who are Lisa and Amy? And why would that tell her anything about you?"
"They're in our class," she explained patiently.
"Do you know everyone's name?"
"Well, yeah," she admitted with a slight flush. "I make it a habit to observe people and learn their names. Then I figure out who knows who. It makes things easier for me."
"Okay," Jamie replied as she took a breath. "I assume you've 'dated' Lisa or Amy?" She pronounced 'dated' about the same way she would have said 'molested'.
Ryan shot her a look that was far from happy. Her voice took on an edge as she replied, "I tried to 'date' Amy. We went out for coffee during the first week of class. I told her that I would love to take her out but that I did not have room in my life for a girlfriend. She asked me a few questions to make sure I was serious and when she was satisfied that I was she didn't want to go out with me. I did not have sex with her, Jamie. I didn't touch her," she added with a bit of a scowl.
"Oh, I get it," Jamie said. "You assume that Blair would know that you don't want a girlfriend since she knows Amy."
"Yeah, that seemed like a good bet. But just to make sure I'll tell her at lunch." She stared at Jamie for a long moment before she said, "You know, sometimes I come across as a real jerk. I mean, someone might just want to have lunch and talk about school, but I make it a point to tell them that I don't want to be in a relationship. It really makes me sound like I'm full of myself," she admitted with an embarrassed shrug.
"Ryan," Jamie said softly. "I'm sorry that I hurt your feelings. I don't know why today set me off, but I never should have spoken to you about it. It's really none of my business. But since we did talk about it, I'm really impressed with how honest you've been with women. That's really honorable."
A small smile finally graced Ryan's features. "You know, even if I wasn't honest, word does travel fast in the community. And there is not one woman in the Bay Area who can honestly say that she was my girlfriend."
"Not one?!" Jamie was shocked at this revelation.
"Nope. Not one."
"I find that nearly impossible to believe!" Jamie struggled with this information. "Have you never met anyone that you would like to build something with? Are you that picky?" she asked incredulously.
"I guess I am incredibly picky," Ryan admitted, a little sheepishly. "But I do occasionally find someone that I do really like. When that happens, I try to make them into a friend."
"Like me?" Jamie asked tentatively.
"Exactly," Ryan agreed.
"So do you just have um...one night stands?" she asked hesitantly.
"No, Jamie," she smiled. "I sometimes even have a meal or go to a movie with a woman. I like the companionship of women even when they're vertical. I'm a homophile as well as a homosexual," she said pointedly.
"Yes. That's a person whose primary attraction is to persons of their same sex. The attraction is distinct from the sexual aspect. You, on the other hand, are a heterophile."
"That doesn't sound very elegant," she admitted. "So you do see the same person more than once?"
"Sure," she said with a little shake of her head. "I'll continue to see someone until I think they're getting too serious. Then I back off."
"Have you ever met anyone that you liked who didn't want to get serious?"
"Yeah, I have a few um...buddies," she said with a deep blush.
Jamie noticed the blush and decided she had to find out what was behind it. "What do you mean by 'buddies'?" she asked with a sly grin.
"Umm, there's kind of a term for people who just sleep together."
"What's the term?" Jamie persisted.
"Ahh...fuck buddies?" Ryan finally revealed.
"Fuck buddies, huh? I must admit I've never heard that one. Do you have a fuck buddy, Ryan?" she asked with a twinkle in her eyes completely enjoying the discomfort in her friend's posture.
"Yeeeah, I have a couple of people that I see occasionally for um..."
"Sex?" Jamie helpfully supplied.
"More or less," she admitted.
"So these are women who feel like you do about relationships?"
"Exactly. They want the same thing that I do, occasional sex and nothing more."
"Do you see these people very often?"
"It depends. I guess I usually see each of them 3 or 4 times a year. But I see my friend Ally more than that. We might see each other 3 or 4 times in a two week period, then we might not see each other for 3 or 4 months. I really like her and we get along great in bed, but we're both really clear that we couldn't ever have a real emotional connection. I think we're too much alike," she admitted.
"But you're missing so much, by never letting anyone get close Ryan," she continued to argue.
"Like what?" she replied, sounding truly curious.
"Like intimacy, and caring, and a depth of feeling that you can't get from casual dating." Jamie was beginning to get frustrated again.
"There's nothing casual about the way I date," Ryan said with a little leer.
"Do you really not understand what I'm getting at?" Jamie moaned as she dropped her head into her hands.
"No, I think I do Jamie," she reassured her. "I want all those things, too. Just not now. And given that I don't feel that I can commit to one woman, what would you have me do?"
"I don't know, Ryan. It just seems unfair to the women who want more of you and to yourself."
"On one level you may be right, " she replied thoughtfully. "But I don't feel that I'm going to be ready for another couple of years. Are you really suggesting that I should be celibate for that long?"
"How long have you gone?" Jamie teased.
"Does it count when I had broken ribs?" she asked hopefully.
"No. I want the able bodied record."
"Hmmm, I guess about 2 weeks or so during finals," she finally replied.
"Two weeks! Do you mean to tell me you have not gone without female companionship for more than two weeks in your adult life?" Jamie was truly floored.
"I love women, Jamie. I really love women. I love meeting them. I love talking to them. I love the chase. I love it when they want to play the game as much as I do. I love pleasing them. I love having someone new all the time. I am never, ever bored," she confessed. "How many women can say that?" she asked in a plaintive challenge.
"I agree that your sex life is exciting Ryan. But who do you confide in? Who do you feel completely comfortable with? Who do you know will always be there for you?"
"Um, well, ahh, you, Jamie," she said with a completely open and trusting expression on her face. "I feel comfortable with you. I confide in you. I know you'll be there for me. I don't have to have sex with you to feel that, do I?" she asked innocently.
"Oh Ryan, that is so sweet," she said as she threw her arms around her neck and gave her a firm hug. "You never cease to surprise me."
"That's just one of my many skills," she replied with a grin as she reached out and affectionately tousled Jamie's hair.
* * * * * * * * * * * *
After her last class Jamie walked home and grabbed a salad. She spent an hour preparing for Tuesday's classes then she hopped in her car and drove to the bike shop.
Bill was glad to see her and greeted her warmly. "You are going to love your new wheels," he enthused. As he spoke he weaved his way through the maze of bikes, finally stopping to grasp one and lift it over his head. "Here she is," he said proudly.
Jamie was very pleased. Her new bike was a sleek, shocking day-glo orange. "It even looks fast," she said with delight. The components were top quality, but not the most expensive available. She felt very satisfied about her choices. Bill spent a good ‡ hour going over all of the components and handing her the little instruction booklets for each. He finally had her sit on the bike while it was on a trainer. He adjusted the seat carefully as well as the pedals. He showed her how to clip her new racing shoes into the pedals and had her practice unlocking them a few times.
Next she had to decide on what type of bike rack to buy. They discussed all of the available options before choosing a light, collapsible model that rested on the trunk and rear bumper of her car.
"How can I protect my new beauty from theft?" she inquired.
"Only one way I know of," he replied sagely. "Keep your butt on the seat!" he barked out a laugh as he said this.
"Don't any of those locks work?" she pointed at the array of cumbersome locks on the wall.
"They work very well if you are protecting your bike from someone who doesn't really want it," he flatly stated.
"I really want to be able to take it to campus. I think the only way I'll get all my training in is to ride everywhere," she lamented.
"I might have a solution for you," he said. "I got a nice light mountain bike in as a trade the other day. It's a good bike and I think it would fit you perfectly. It cost about $1800 when new but I can let you have it for $200. It's about 5 years old and the paint is a little scratched up, but I put new tires and brake pads on it. And," he added knowledgeably, "one good thing about doing some of your training on a heavier bike is that your road bike will feel like air. You could also tag along on some of Ryan's night time rides up on Mt. Tam."
"I didn't know she rode up there," she admitted.
"Oh, it's quite a scene," he laughed, "you've got to get her to take you, but bring some band aids. It's a tough group," he said with a wink.
Jamie and Bill loaded both bikes onto the new carrier. She drove home and immediately hopped on her road bike and took it for a spin. She loved the freedom she felt from being able to speed along the streets of Berkeley. I really think I'm going to like this, she thought to herself with a contented smile.
* * * * * * * * * * * *
After a pleasant hour riding her road bike Jamie went home to change into her workout clothes. She tossed sweats over her Lycra and headed to the gym.
As she was checking in, she spotted the manager that she had spoken with when she first visited the gym. "Hi," she said in her usual friendly manner. "Remember me?"
"Yes, I sure do," the woman responded. "Did you decide to join?"
"Yeah I did. I really like it here. My trainer was also very impressed."
"I didn't know you had your own trainer," she replied.
"Yeah, she's working at a gym in the City now, but she's looking for a change. She's getting more women clients in the East Bay and I think she'd prefer to work over here now," she embellished.
"Have her look me up the next time she's in," the woman responded. "Maybe we could make her an offer to join us."
"Actually, I'm her business manager," she said confidently as the embellishment switched to outright lies. "What kind of a deal would you cut her," she demanded, getting right down to business.
They moved into the manager's office, where Jamie casually took a chair. "Our standard deal is that independent trainers pay us $200 a month to be able to use the facilities. There is no additional charge when they work with a member but when they have an outside client they or the client pay us $10 per hour."
"Hmm, how many hours a week do most of your trainers book?" she asked.
"Not a lot, probably 5 or so. Some book up to 10."
"So if my trainer booked 15-20 hours a week, what could you do for her?"
"I could reduce the monthly fee," she offered.
"By how much?" Jamie inquired.
"Half?" she replied a bit tentatively.
"That's fair," Jamie agreed. "But I'd like her to get some benefit from the new members she will bring in to the club. The monthly fee for a member is $85 a month right?"
"And Ryan would pay you $100 to use the facilities if she worked 15 hours a week, right?"
"Would you agree to waive her fee altogether if she brought in 5 new members?"
The manager thought about that for a moment before she said, "Yes, I would. We make most of our money off the monthly fee anyway, so that would help both of us," she admitted.
"Do you need any more trainers on staff right now?" Jamie decided she might as well go for broke.
"Only the really unattractive hours, like 6 a.m.," she offered tentatively.
"How much per hour?" Jamie sensed a weakness.
"$15?" she replied hopefully.
"Nope," Jamie was unmoved. "I couldn't let her work those hours for less than $25 per hour."
"How many hours is she available?" the woman asked.
Jamie looked at her appointment book thoughtfully. Absolutely nothing about Ryan's schedule was written there, but she thought she remembered that she was free until 8 a.m. "She's available from 5:30-7:30 Monday through Friday," she stated confidently.
"You have a deal," the woman replied as she extended her hand, breathing a sigh of relief that Jamie was not selling life insurance, or swamp land for that matter.
* * * * * * * * * * * *
After she left the office Jamie rubbed her hands together as she scouted the gym. "Ahh, potential patsies," she enthused. She watched each of the women carefully from her position on a treadmill. Finally she spotted one woman who looked both well off and clueless. Jamie hopped off the treadmill and positioned herself next to the confused woman. "Do you need help?" she asked gently.
"Oh, yeah, I guess I do," the woman agreed. "I had someone explain this machine to me last week, but now I've forgotten how to adjust it."
"I get confused too," Jamie admitted. "That's why I've started to work with a trainer," she said conspiratorially.
"A trainer, huh? They tried to get me to sign up with one when I first came here, but I didn't really like the woman who works here at this time of day," she said regretfully.
"Why don't you try mine?" Jamie inquired casually. "I'm certain you would like her. Everyone does. She's normally down on the Peninsula, but she's devoting a few days a week to her clients in the East Bay now. She is simply fabulous." She uttered this last statement as she produced Ryan's business card, which she had stolen when Ryan wasn't looking.
"Is she really expensive? I don't want to spend a lot," she replied.
"Oh she's terribly expensive!" Jamie moaned. "It's absolutely highway robbery! But she's so wonderful that she can get away with it." If there was one thing Jamie was sure of it was that rich people loved to moan about how much things cost. But they also loved to overpay for everything that was trendy. "She charges me $125 but I heard that her rates are going up again! I'm going to have to hock my Porsche if she charges me much more. I see her 3 times a week, now, and it really adds up."
"Wow, that really is a lot. Do you really think it's worth it?"
Jamie leaned in and whispered conspiratorially, "I went to a benefit last week in a sleek little Dolce and Gabana sheath. I got more attention in that dress than I knew how to handle. My entire body has changed since I started to work with Ryan. I think she's worth 3 times what I pay her," she confided. "But don't tell her that!" she said with a hearty laugh.
"I have my 15 year college reunion coming up this spring. If she could get me in shape for that I'd be eternally grateful."
"That's the attitude!" Jamie enthused. "Your classmates will think you've found the fountain of youth! Why don't you give me your number and I'll have Ryan call you," she said with a wink.
* * * * * * * * * * * *
After two more visits to the club Jamie had filled all of Ryan's afternoon time slots. Now all that was left was to tell Ryan that she had a new job.
After class on Friday they sat at their usual spot and sipped their juice. "Um Ryan," she started nervously, "I've been interfering in your personal life." She glanced down at the ground, seemingly in shame.
"You didn't find me a steady girlfriend, did you?" she asked with a mock scowl.
"No, nothing like that. Remember when you said you would rather work on this side of the Bay?" she asked with a hopeful little smile.
"Yeaaah," Ryan slowly drawled.
"Did you mean that?" another little smile.
"Well, I kind of got you a job," she finally admitted.
"You got me a what?!" Ryan asked in shock.
"I got you a job?" she restated hesitantly.
Ryan's face broke into an indulgent smile. "Do I get to learn the details, or do I just show up and get my uniform? I don't mind flipping burgers but I hate to cook French fries. It's too hard to get the oil out of my hair."
"No silly," she laughed as she slapped her lightly on the shoulder. "I got you a job at 'Women Power' and I think you're really going to like it."
Ryan continued to look at her with a quizzical little smile on her face so Jamie launched into her sales pitch. "They want you to work every morning before school. I know you like to get up early and I thought that you could work the early shift to avoid traffic. So that's from 5:30-7:30. They wanted to pay you $15 per hour, but I held out for $25," she said proudly." She paused a millisecond for a breath. "Then they agreed to let you train people there without having to pay a monthly fee as long as you bring in 5 new members," another tiny pause. "They will charge you $10 per hour to train your private clients, but if it's a client that you bring in or that's already a member you don't have to pay at all," longer pause for a bigger breath. "Oh, and I got you 7 new private clients who each agree to pay you $125 per hour. And that fills up all your free afternoon time slots. How'd I do?" she let out all of her most recent breath and looked at Ryan's stunned face.
The silence went on for quite a while as Ryan continued to stare at her with a slightly opened mouth. "Well, gosh. I was working at a place I didn't like, making no money, working bad hours when I was tired, having no social life, and it forced me to drive my bike through rush hour traffic every afternoon. You found me a job where I work half the hours for about the same money, during the hours I like, and I get my evenings back. You also save me $250 a month in fees, and have found me new clients worth $875 a week," here she paused for effect. "I guess you did okay," she stated casually. After a moment her eyes grew playful. She rose from her chair and stood towering over Jamie. "You know what I have to do, don't you?" she inquired sternly.
"N..n..no," replied Jamie, a little afraid of her reaction to her meddling.
"This," she said as she placed her large hands around Jamie's small waist and effortlessly lifted her to her feet. Those deep blue eyes gazed at her in wonder, as Ryan leaned close and gave her chaste kisses on each cheek, which was followed by a very large, very expressive full body hug. "That is the nicest thing anyone has ever done for me, Jamie," she whispered in her ear as tears formed in her eyes. "I don't know how to thank you," she said hoarsely.
Jamie's eyes drifted shut as she relaxed completely into the tender hug. She would have been content to stay just that way for the rest of the day but Ryan finally released her. "I have to admit I had selfish reasons," Jamie said, a bit choked up herself. "I wanted you to be available to go on some evening bike rides with me. I actually heard about some hot ones on Mt. Tam," she winked.
"We'd better get to work if you want to do those, kiddo. That's where the big girls go," she said wisely.
"You're a big girl, can't I go with you?" she inquired saucily.
"I'll take you anywhere you want to go, Jamie, anywhere at all," she replied seriously as she locked her clear blue eyes onto Jamie's smiling face.
Now that Jamie felt comfortable with both of her bikes and Ryan had her new work schedule all sorted out they sat down to devise their training strategy. Ryan agreed that Jamie needed to be on one of her bikes as much as possible. So Jamie decided to ride everywhere in Berkeley and Oakland, rather than take her car. These short rides would give her some saddle time and get her used to being on the bike. They also agreed that she needed at least two days of long slow distance rides per week. Ryan suggested that she start off at 15 miles twice a week. She would then increase the distance week by week. She also recommended that Jamie do a very strenuous hill climb every week. Jamie decided that she would start climbing the Berkeley hills behind campus.
They agreed to meet at the gym 3 afternoons a week after Ryan's last class. Since there were 6 main muscle groups Ryan suggested that they work on two groups per visit. She also suggested that they work on Jamie's legs on a day that she did not ride her bike.
On the following Monday, Jamie met Ryan at the gym at precisely 4:00 p.m. Jamie was dressed in a navy blue tank top which covered a gray sports bra. Her thigh length shorts were also gray Lycra and her slouchy white socks peeked out from her high top cross trainers. Ryan wore her new 'Women Power' polo shirt. The black shirt was cut generously, allowing her plenty of room to move but hiding her curves. 'Women Power' was written in lavender scrip across her left breast. 'Personal Trainer' was printed across the back in 2 inch block letters, also in lavender. The sleeves ended just above her elbows, effectively hiding her biceps. I can't believe I go to the gym with her and I still don't get to see her muscles! Black nylon warm up pants also blocked Jamie's enjoyment of Ryan's leg muscles.
Jamie was pleased to see that Ryan looked right at home even though it was her first day as an employee. She greeted Jamie warmly when she entered the work out area. "Hi there, boss," she grinned. "Have you gotten me a raise yet? This is my third hour here, you know."
Jamie just gave her a winning smile as an answer. "So today we're doing trunk and shoulders, huh, Coach?"
"Yep. Did you get your ride in this afternoon? I was kind of jealous when I was in my Chem lab, thinking about you out there pedaling away," Ryan said wistfully.
"I sure did. That trip computer you talked me into is really great. It let me keep a good cadence, just like you told me. I practiced trying to pedal in a smooth circle and trying to pull on the upstroke as well as push on the downstroke. And I've got to tell you, that bike is a dream. I would have kept riding years ago if I had a bike like that. It just feels so effortless."
"I'm really glad that you're happy with it," Ryan said. "I knew that Bill wouldn't steer you wrong, but I was a little worried that you would be unhappy with having spent that much," she admitted.
"No, not at all. I tend to think about financial decisions rather carefully, as you can attest," she said with a grin. "But once I make up my mind, I don't second guess myself," she said confidently.
"Well, I know you're going to love riding and I think you will really enjoy working out, too. You're very goal oriented and I think this challenge will hold your interest."
Jamie was delighted that Ryan knew these details about her personality without explicitly being told. "So where do we start today?"
Ryan led her to a weight bench and sat her down. "Okay, we're going to start with your shoulders. Your shoulder muscles start here," she tapped the top of her shoulders, "and end here," she tapped the center of her upper arms. They are called deltoids or delts. There is another group of muscles here," she touched Jamie's back just above her scapula, "called the rotator cuff. There are 4 muscles there that keep your arm from slipping out of the socket. They are just under your delts. We're going to work on both sets of muscles. I usually use free weights for shoulders. I find they're a little easier to control. And control is very important with your shoulders. It's very important to do these exercises correctly because your rotator cuffs are easily injured."
Jamie loved the verbal instruction that Ryan gave when showing her the exercises. The explanations really helped her because she processed things by understanding them fully before she tried them physically. Ryan seemed to understand this and was very careful to make sure that Jamie understood the underlying issues.
"It's very important to do these exercises in the order that I show you. We're going to do a press, a lateral raise, a front raise and a back fly. You can lift the heaviest weight with the press and the lightest weight with the fly." She looked at Jamie with a serious expression, "Have you ever injured your lower back, your neck or your elbows?"
"No, I have never had any significant injuries," Jamie replied.
"Boy, would my father like to trade for you," she laughed. "He was in the ER with me every other week."
"I bet you were a wild one," Jamie agreed.
"You don't know the half of it," she admitted.
They worked their way through the exercises. Ryan was very attentive to Jamie's posture and positioning. She encouraged her, but did not push her on, like she had seen some of the trainers do. Ryan knew that Jamie would push herself, and she made it a point to reign Jamie in a bit, so she did not injure herself.
When they had finished with the shoulder exercises they moved on to the lower back. Ryan again launched into her explanation of the how's and why's of the exercises. Ryan told her that these exercises did not need weights at all. After she showed Jamie how to perform a back extension and a pelvic tilt Jamie recalled that these were exercises she had learned when she played golf in high school.
"You were on the golf team?" Ryan asked with interest. "That's pretty cool. You know, I have never hit a golf ball."
"Well, we're just gonna have to remedy that, Missy," Jamie replied. "I'd love to do something that I can beat you at," she laughed.
Next they moved to the abdominal muscles. Jamie knew some of these from her golf conditioning also. Ryan showed her 6 different exercises and reminded her that she had a lot of potential in this area.
At the end of the hour Jamie's mind was swimming. As she sat down on a bench to dry off she watched Ryan making notes in a little booklet. "Here, Jamie, I made this for you," she said as she thrust the book in Jamie's direction.
Inside the little leather loose-leaf book Jamie saw each of the exercises they had covered neatly named and described. On the leg exercises the position of the seat and the adjustment of the bars were also annotated. Under each description was a series of columns which indicated the date, time, number of reps, sets and one column where Jamie was supposed to indicated how she felt when she began to exercise, on a scale of 1-10. Jamie was absolutely charmed and her face reflected this. "Ryan, this is so thoughtful," she enthused.
"Jamie, that is the very, very least I can do for you after all you've done for me," she said sincerely.
"I like to take care of my friends, Ryan."
"Then I am very lucky to be counted among that number," Ryan replied. As she said this she slid behind Jamie on the bench and began to knead her shoulder muscles. She worked on her for about 5 minutes until Jamie was dropping her head forward in a relaxed bliss.
"God, you're good at that. Those hands should be registered with the government," she sighed.
"Well, they are, kind of. I do have a license to do this," she stated.
"You are a masseuse too?" she asked incredulously.
"Yep, these babies are trained and licensed," she held up her hands with a proud smile. "When I was taking classes to be a personal trainer I just figured I might as well be as fully trained as possible. I'm glad I did it. I really learned a lot about relaxing people after a tough workout. And it's a skill that comes in handy in my private life, too," she grinned as she waggled her eyebrows.
"Well, you've certainly relaxed me, I don't think I can move, much less ride my bike home," she moaned.
"I've got my bike here, let me give you a ride home," Ryan offered. "After you take a shower we could get a bite to eat and then you could drive back to get your bike."
"That sounds mighty appealing," Jamie agreed. "But are you sure you're willing to risk the wrath of Cassie if she's at home?"
"Yeah, I am. She just caught me off guard last time. I'm ready for her now." She rubbed her hands together in a menacing fashion as she narrowed her eyes.
They sped back to Jamie's house and were both relieved to find only Mia at home. She spoke pleasantly to Ryan for a few moments before she headed upstairs to her room. Jamie followed her upstairs to shower and change. Ryan offered to amuse herself and Jamie left her to do so.
Jamie stood in the shower for a good long soak. She dried her hair quickly and was just finishing getting dressed when Mia came in.
"What did you do to Ryan?" she inquired with a glint in her eye.
"What do you mean?" Jamie gave her a puzzled look.
"Do you want to see something kind of cute?" Mia mysteriously replied. At Jamie's nod, she beckoned her out to the hallway. They both looked over the railing to where Ryan had been left, sitting on the couch. Only now her shoes were off and she was sound asleep, her lean form stretched out on the short couch, long legs hanging over the arm. Her hands were folded peacefully across her chest and she wore a sweet, perfectly contented expression on her face. Jamie marveled at how very young and innocent her friend looked as she slept.
The roommates walked back into Jamie's room and both burst out laughing. "I'm glad to see she feels so comfortable around here," Jamie continued to laugh.
"She seems like a nice person," Mia admitted.
"I can't even express how nice she is," Jamie replied simply. "She is just an extraordinary woman."
"Does she still flirt with you?" Mia asked a little hesitantly, knowing this could be touchy.
"No. Not at all," Jamie said without hesitation. "We actually talked about it, even though it was hard for me to bring up. She admitted that she had been flirting but that she was really over it now that we're friends."
"God, weren't you embarrassed?" Mia cried. "I can't imagine asking her that!"
"That's what is so cool about Ryan. I can say anything to her. She never judges me or acts hurt by what I say. I really felt amazingly comfortable talking about it with her. I wish you could get to know her a little better," Jamie said. "I know you would like her."
"I absolutely trust your judgment about people, James. I'm sure I would like her. Maybe we could all have dinner some night."
"Thanks for trying, Mia. I want you to be comfortable with her. Your friendship means a lot to me." Jamie hesitated for a moment before she broached the next subject. "You know, I was really angry that you told Cassie about Ryan flirting with me," she said simply.
Mia started to defend herself, but Jamie cut her off. "I'm not angry any more, really. I'm sure you didn't do it to be malicious. But Cassie really dislikes her. She got Jack all worked up about the whole situation and we had a major fight. So please don't talk to her about Ryan. It will just make matters worse."
"Okay, Jamie. I won't ever bring it up with her again. I'm really sorry that I hurt you. It was stupid of me to tell Cassie anything about you. I know she tries to get in the middle of stuff. Sometimes I wish she would just move in with her boyfriend," she said disdainfully.
"Yeah, I know, but we've been together this long, I think we can hang on," she said hopefully.
After Mia returned to her room Jamie took her time finishing her preparations. She combed her hair carefully and put on a little blush then chose an emerald green rough wool sweater and a soft yellow turtleneck. Then she picked out a pair of khakis and a pair of black loafers. She checked out her image in the full-length mirror, but she chided herself briefly as she did so. It's just Ryan, you know. This isn't a date. When she walked back down the stairs she was a little surprised to find that Ryan was still asleep.
She sat down in the upholstered chair next to the couch and just watched her for a few moments. Ryan was remarkably still as she slept. Jamie was struck by the thought that she had never seen her when she wasn't in motion. Ryan was usually very active, sometimes a little hyperactive. Even when her body wasn't moving Jamie could almost see her quick mind processing something. She again marveled at how peaceful and open her face was in repose. Ryan rarely looked severe but she often had a cool, composed expression on her face. She watched her chest raise and lower and observed her lips slightly parted in sleep. Suddenly she felt an overwhelming urge to place a kiss on those soft looking lips. She resisted the urge with a violent shake of her head. Get a grip for god's sake, Jamie! Where in the hell did that urge come from?? She sat in the chair for several more minutes mulling over the conflicting thoughts in her head. Maybe I just feel protective over her. She has such a confident exterior, but now that I've seen her vulnerability it just makes me feel so tender towards her. When she sleeps she just looks like the little girl who lost her mom. And that's the part that makes me want to kiss her. She looks so sweet, just like a child, she thought fondly. Yeah, and how many little girls have you ever wanted to kiss? Finally deciding that she would not resolve this jumble of thoughts tonight, she quietly moved over to the couch. She leaned over and gently placed her hand on Ryan's shoulder and gave her a tiny shake.
Ryan was awake immediately and amazingly seemed fully alert. Jamie was surprised as this response, and her face must have shown it. Ryan detected the startled look and asked, "What's wrong? Was I asleep too long?"
"No, no, I was just amazed at how quickly you woke up," she explained.
"Oh, that's from years of practice," she said easily. "I need about 8 hours of sleep but I only get around 6. I've trained myself to sleep almost anywhere whenever I have a few minutes down time."
"That's truly amazing," Jamie marveled.
"Not really. You can train your body to do a lot of things if you really need to."
"I'm just glad you felt comfortable enough here to be able to sleep."
"Well, I do feel very comfortable around you, but truthfully, I can sleep almost anywhere. I can even sleep pretty well sitting up in a chair. And once I got a good 15 minute nap while leaning against a wall," she stated proudly.
"You certainly do have many skills, Ryan," she admitted as she leaned over and ruffled her bangs.
"And you haven't seen half of 'em," she grinned in response.
After they finished their dinner of falafel and Greek salads they discussed the workout schedule for the week. Jamie decided that she would take her bike to Jack's and do her long ride on Saturday afternoon while he studied.
"Ooooh, Saturday," Ryan said with pleasure. "I haven't had a Saturday free in years. This new level of freedom is going to take some getting used to," she said with a happy expression on her face. She had decided that she really didn't need to work on the weekends any longer. Jamie had 10 hours of private training per week lined up for her. Since $1250 a week was more than enough to live on Ryan decided to take weekends off to study and relax. But she truly didn't know what to do with the spare time. She'd had one job or another since she was 16 years old and all of them had consumed her weekends. "This is the happiest quandary I've had in years," she allowed.
"Why don't you come down and ride with me on Saturday," Jamie offered. "You could see the peninsula and maybe help me pick out some good rides."
"Is that really a good idea, Jamie?" she asked slowly. "I mean, wouldn't Jack mind?"
"Why would he mind?" she asked, a little confused. "He'll be studying and he doesn't ride a bike anyway."
"No, um, I mean," she stammered, "I thought he wasn't very happy about having me around...at all."
"No, Ryan, that's not true. He was mad at me for not telling him things that he thought were important. I don't think it had anything to do with you, personally," she lied.
"If you're sure," she said slowly, "I would enjoy coming down. It might be nice to see a different part of the bay. And I have heard about some really great rides down there."
"Then it's settled," Jamie agreed. "Oh, but how will you get your bike down there? Should I pick it up from you on Friday?"
"No, I can get it down there. I can borrow my father's truck if I need to. When do you want to meet?" she asked as she grabbed her ever-present organizer.
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