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It was the hottest day of the year and with high humidity too. Everyone was moving slow, and still leaving trails of sweat behind them. But I had been to the gym for 60 days straight and I wasn’t about to slack off. Thank goodness for air conditioning. A sledgehammer of sticky heat hit me full-on as I left the cool of the car to enter the gym. Given the extraordinary weather the sign on the door felt like someone’s bad joke.
Air conditioner down.
Back in-service Tuesday.
Please use caution
“Free sauna today,” joked the woman at the front desk with a sheepish but sympathetic- smile as I entered hot-box of a gym. It was sweltering so I wasn’t surprised that the usually crowded gym was nearly empty.
The treadmill at fifteen percent incline was my core routine. Several times in the last decade an hour-a-day regimen had brought me back to fitness. An hour wasn’t so bad. I would use the time to watch a movie on my phone. My usual treadmill was out-of-order so I took the middle one in the bank of three. Pushing the familiar buttons, I began my routine.
Usually I don’t sweat at all until 20 minutes or so into my work-out, but after only a minute I was sweating profusely. I stopped the machine and walked over to the desk and purchased two bottles of water. Then I started again. Five minutes into it and my shirt was soaked and droplets were forming everywhere. I looked to my right as a very tall red-haired woman I had never seen before stepped onto the treadmill next to me. She stared looking down puzzled at the controls and, remembering my own confusion the first time I used these particular machines, I quickly explained to her the easiest way to get started.
“Better get some water first,” I said smiling, “it’s not every day you do your work-out in a sauna”
“She called it a sauna too,” she replied laughing, as she gestured to the woman at the front desk.
“Is it often like this? It’s my first time here,”
“It’s usually cool and fresh and crowded in here, nothing like this.”
She smiled at me, glanced at my two waters, and left her machine. In a moment she was back, placed her two bottles in the two cupholders, and began her workout. After a minute or so she increased her speed from three to four miles an hour which was exactly my speed. Glancing at my sharply angled machine she asked about incline. I explained that at fifteen percent incline I would have a vertical climb of sixty percent of a mile, or more than three thousand feet, in the course of an hour. That made for a much higher caloric burn and was the best way I had ever found of staying fit.
“I’m going to try it,” she said with a determined look on her face, and I smiled at her.
As the front of her treadmill slowly rose, I glanced over and saw beads of perspiration starting to form on her forehead and arms. Strikingly tall, and with a large frame, she was going to have quite a work out
“I am so glad you had me get water,” she halkalı escort said.
Within minutes droplets were falling from both of us onto the tread below. It was conspicuous and, glancing back-and-forth at each other, we couldn’t help but laugh.
“I never, ever sweat this much,” she said, almost giggling.
“Me neither,” I replied.
A few minutes more went by. Usually I preferred to have no one next to me, but for some reason I was enjoying having her at my side. Glancing over, her shirt was already hanging heavy with moisture and her face and arms were soaked.
“You should take it easy today,” I said.
“How long do you go for,” she asked.
“Usually an hour,” I replied.
She smiled widely while shaking her head, then gave me a determined never-back-down look that made me know she would go as long as I did. I found her determination immensely appealing. I glanced down at her pale long legs. You could tell they were extremely soft on the outside, but strong underneath. Glancing up at the droplets on her chin and the determination on her face I felt that sudden familiar wave of desire flood through me like a wave. Down boy, I thought.
“Oh, by the way, my name’s Jill” she said, meeting my eyes, and I knew I was in trouble.
Green eyes. She had green eyes. Sea-green. And they were intelligent, and discerning, eyes too. I felt an inward heat starting to slowly pulse through me, quite different from the hot sticky heat enveloping both of us.
“I’m Michael” I replied, “I figure we have about fifty minutes to go.”
“What do you do, Michael, when you’re not mountain climbing in a sauna?”
“I’m a wind engineer” and I explained to her what I did.
“Sound’s interesting” and our eyes met again.
“I teach High School English”
“Yeah,” I said, thinking of the shelf after shelf of well-read Milton, Shakespeare, Donne, Dickens, George Eliot, Anne Sexton and a couple hundred other authors filling an entire wall of floor-to-ceiling bookshelves in my home.
“Books are great” I said, and she smiled.
“I was teaching in Pasadena, I start here this fall”
“Pasadena, hmmm. I love that town. I go to there for the Huntington and the Norton Simon. I assume you’ve seen the rare book collection at the Huntington. They rotate what’s on display. I like Wordsworth’s heavily annotated copy of Paradise Lost. They change what page is on display so that’s always a thrill.”
I was panting a bit with exertion, so as I spoke these words I was facing ahead. As our dripping faces turned toward each other I knew from her expression we already shared an unspoken common language between us. Her eyes were searching mine and were lively with surprise and the joy of recognition.
“I’ve looked at the Wordsworth Milton a dozen times. I always wish I could take it out of its glass case and carefully pour over each page. I think Wordsworth’s wrestle taksim escort with Milton is behind a lot of what is best about Romantic Literature. And that, in turn, spills into a lot of the best books written, even today.”
Have you ever experienced a delight so utterly unexpected and unlikely you check yourself to make sure you aren’t asleep and that it isn’t a dream? I had to check that I wasn’t dreaming as her words echoed pleasantly through my head and I looked at her pale sweat-drenched face and passionate sea-green eyes.
“We should drink some water,” she said.
“Yes,” I replied as we both drank deeply.
As she tilted her head back to drink I was struck by the sculptural beauty of her elongated throat and the moving swell along its length as she swallowed. The beaded sweat on her throat looked like glistening jewels.
“I read ‘TIntern Abbey’ so many times in my late teens I wound up memorizing it.”
“Oh,” she replied, now breathing heavily from her labors.
Jill’s “Oh” pierced me like a hot knife plunged into butter. It wasn’t just an “Oh” of interest, or of recognition. It was an “Oh” of deep and raw emotion.
“Let’s move to 4.2 miles an hour” Jill said breathing fast.
“I’m game” I replied.
That slight increase in speed was a game-changer. The steady trickle of sweat down foreheads and necks and forearms became little streams. We gulped at our waters and breathed hard staring ahead.
Our shirts were drenched except for the island of dry mapping the shape of Jill’s sports-bra. And fine tentacles of sweat were even encroaching on that lovely area.
“Of course, I showered before I came to the gym but I didn’t expect this. I really should have put on deodorant” Jill panted through her exertions.
“Scent of those armpits, aroma finer than prayer” I said in a voice scarcely louder than a whisper. I wasn’t even sure Jill heard me.
“Whitman, Song of Myself” Jill replied in a clear voice correctly identifying the source of the quote. Then she added “Let’s kick it up to 4.3.”
For the next five minutes we faced ahead in silence. It was a bit of a struggle for each of us to keep up the pace and incline in the heat and humidity. We were both breathing heavily. The moving treads beneath each of us had thick black bands of moisture where droplets of sweat were falling faster than they could evaporate.
We were now the last two patrons in the gym. The woman at the front desk carried a high velocity fan that had been in the free weight area over to a spot perhaps fifteen feet to the right of Jill. The moment she switched the fan on I was flooded with the scent of Jill’s sweat. I Involuntarily breathed in deeply through my nose. Jill’s scent filled me, utterly. It was as if every single cell of my body now ached for more of her scent.
I don’t know what Jill had figured out but she damn well knew something was up. In a flash, her strides were longer and her head was held şişli escort high.
“Truth or Dare?” Jill asked with a smile, and meeting her gaze I saw her eyes were blazing.
Jill smiled as sweat poured from her face. Then with slow, deliberate words she asked:
“What exactly were you thinking about after she moved the fan?”
I gulped. I thought about the words there’s something odious and death-like about a lie. I had no idea who had first said them but they rang true. I looked at Jill about to say she couldn’t possibly want to know what I was thinking at that instant, but her look cut right through me. Jill already knew in a general way. And she was daring me to put it into words.
“I was wondering, Jill, what it would be like to bury my mouth and nose in your underarm, drawing your wet and your scent into me.”
Jill stared at me, hard and unblinking, with warm intense eyes. At that moment she had the smile of a sphinx.
“Truth or dare?” I asked.
“Dare,” Jill replied, her eyes flashing.
I looked at her drenched-face and sea-green eyes thinking how she had spoken of Wordsworth’s Milton. I looked at the rivulets of sweat running down her arms. I Looked at the now nearly empty bottles in the water holder. I glanced at her shirt fascinated by the way even the outline of her bra had disappeared under an ocean of sweat with the only dry spots now at the tips of her small breasts.
I breathed inward, smelling Jill.
“Let me do what I was thinking about when you asked me to speak truth.”
Wordlessly, Jill switched off her treadmill. I did the same to mine.
There were bathrooms and a shower-room at the far end of the Gym. The attendant was hunched over homework at the front desk.
I took Jill’s hand in mine and she said “Let’s go” as she looked toward the shower room.
We walked together hand-in-hand as comfortable as if we had been a couple for years.
“You’re going to have to help me with this” Jill said as she struggled with her soaked shirt.
Even with both of us working together it was so wet it was comically difficult to remove. But, after a minute, it was off. Jill tossed it onto the wooden bench. Her soft belly was so pale it seemed almost to glow. Jill and I stood face-to-face. Her sea-green eyes had the depth of oceans. Slowly Jill raised her arms above her head. To my delight her underarms hadn’t been shaved for a week or more and a drenched fine red fuzz revealed itself.
Jill was so wet she looked like she had just stepped out of the shower. I leaned toward her opening my mouth wide to her underarm. Her taste and scent mingling together into a wet and fragrant flooding of a beauty was so deliciously raw and earthy and sensual I believed I had found paradise.
I lingered with my mouth and nose buried in Jill’s soaked and fragrant under-arm for a long. long time. Then we heard the attendant close by. I quickly and softly, but with mouth still open wide, kissed the place where her neck and shoulder met. Then we smiled at each other, and not wanting to cause the attendant worry, hastened back into the gym.
“We should date” I said.
“Yes, she replied, “Yes.”
And so, standing face-to-face with Jill on the hottest day of the year, both drenched in sweat, our worlds changed utterly.
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