Jamie began to wake just as the dawn was beginning to break. Her first sensation was of a tender, languid touch roaming up and down her bare legs. Hands slowly moved to the front and began a slow, teasing dance on her twitching thighs. Slowly she began to gain some semblance of consciousness. She began to respond to the touch by gently sliding into it. It was clear that she was not fully awake, but also clear that she was not asleep.
The touch moved up her body to tenderly rub her stomach, sides, breasts and arms. Her t-shirt disappeared and the touch now encompassed her whole bare body. Jack was still lying on his side behind her. She began to move her hips in time with his touch. As she arched her back into him sensually he turned her so they lay face to face. He began to slowly, teasingly kiss every part of her that he could reach. After a seeming eternity she was softly moaning and grinding her hips, needing his immediate attention. He responded quickly at this point, slipping into her as she let out a small gasp. They moved together smoothly and she was happily surprised to find herself once more groaning out her release, minutes later.
Jack cuddled her and spoke nonsense words of love into her ear for a few tender moments. The feeling of warmth and contentment overtook her again and she fell back into a sated sleep.
At 10 a.m. Jamie pried her eyes open and forced herself to look at the bedside clock. Wow, I had the strangest dream, she thought. After a quick physical inspection however, she realized that she had not been dreaming. God, two times in two days! Whats gotten into him? For that matter, whats gotten into me? Whatever it is I hope it stays around, she laughed to herself.
* * * * * * * * * * * *
Jamie felt much better about her relationship with Jack when she returned to Berkeley. By Monday morning she was still in high spirits during her psychology class and she received a good bit of teasing from Ryan after the class was over. "May I assume that things got resolved between you and your boyfriend?" she asked with a twinkle in her clear blue eyes.
Jamie gave her a smirk and replied, "We definitely made up. Im not sure that we resolved anything, though. That behavior was so out of character for Jack that Im just going to assume that he was momentarily possessed."
"Hey, Ive got my usual hour free, can I interest you in another bottle of juice or three?"
"Yeah," Jamie replied, "that would be nice." As they walked through the campus Ryan was pleased to notice that Jamie chattered away non-stop in her usual style. Jamie was first to reach into her book bag and offered to pay for the drinks so Ryan agreed and picked out a table, watching Jamie struggle to carry the four bottles back.
"Im not even going to pretend that two of these are for me," she teased.
"Actually, I could drink all four, so youd better be careful," Ryan replied with a little eyebrow wiggle.
"How do you consume all of the calories you do and stay so thin?" Jamie inquired as she shook her head.
"Well," Ryan said thoughtfully, "I am really active, and then with all of the sweating I do at my job, I find I can eat whatever I want."
"What in the hell do you DO for a living?" Jamie finally blurted out.
Ryan looked slightly confused as she answered, "Im a personal trainer. I told you that." Jamie began to laugh so hard that tears began to roll down her face. She clutched at her sides as she began to rock back and forth in her chair.
"Gee Jamie, Ive had a lot of reactions but never that," Ryan said confusedly.
"No, Ryan, Im not laughing at your job," she explained. You had not told me what you do, and I let my fertile imagination run wild. I imagined you as some high paid lesbian prostitute." At this Ryan threw back her head and roared.
After a few moments she wiped the tears from her eyes and gave Jamie a little half scowl. "Hey, it just dawned on me that might have been an insult," she said slowly. "Are you saying I look like a prostitute?"
"No! Of course not!" Jamie cried. "But I couldnt figure out why else you would have to time your clients for an hour, potentially have two at a time, and be able to take naps in between. And, lets be honest Ryan, you are great looking and I could see women paying for the pleasure of your company."
"Hmm," she said as if contemplating switching jobs. "I wonder how many women share that view. Nah, Id hate to mix business with pleasure," she finally decided with a good natured grin.
* * * * * * * * * * * *
They fell into a routine of spending an hour after class chatting before Ryans Biology Lab. Within a few weeks the habit was so ingrained that they didnt even ask each other before they automatically began the short walk to Bancroft Hall.
Jamie had inquired once or twice about Ryans participation in the AIDS Ride, asking how her training was going. On a crisp, clear, September morning after another such question Ryan looked at her seriously and said, "You know Jamie, if you are at all interested I could get you ready to do the ride." Jamie was nonplussed at the mere suggestion that she could accomplish such a monumental undertaking and quickly demurred.
"Ryan, I dont even own a bike. I havent ridden at all since high school and I wasnt very serious about it even then. The most energetic thing I do is play golf, and as I always say, if you can smoke while doing it, it isnt a sport."
"Everybody who rides has doubts about their ability Jamie. There were people on the first ride who had every type of physical and emotional disability you can think of. The group has gotten more diverse every year since then. There are 300 pounders. There are people with missing limbs. There are people with AIDS. There were two people last year that had never been on a bike before they started training. From the looks of you," she eyed her carefully up and down, "you have none of the above mentioned excuses."
"Well, I guess you are right. I dont have a really good excuse. Do you really think you could get me ready to do it? It just seems like such a gargantuan task. Im really out of shape, Ryan. I dont know if its possible."
"Gee, could you come up with any more excuses?" Ryan teased as her eyes twinkled playfully. "Im quite confident I could get you ready if you want to try. Ive trained people for ultramarathons and Ive trained people for triathlons and the principles are the same. Start out slowly and build. Im not saying its easy, because its not. But for me it is one of the most rewarding things I do," Ryan stated firmly. "I lost my dear cousin Michael 10 years ago to AIDS. He was one of the sweetest men I ever knew and he was only 27 when he died. Any small thing that I can do to stop another family from going through that pain is worth any amount of sacrifice to me," she said soberly.
Jamie sat in pensive silence for a few moments. "Well, if you are willing to take on a hopeless case like me, Im willing to give it a try. Where do we start?"
Ryan beamed a smile that Jamie was forced to return. "I suppose the first order of business is to get you a bike, assuming you dont have one. Can you afford to spend some money on a bike now?"
"Yeah, I can manage," she said easily.
"When are you free to go shopping?"
"How about tomorrow?" Jamie suggested. "Wed better do it before I lose my nerve."
"Its a deal. Im free from 10-1 p.m. tomorrow. I normally study during that break but I am amazingly caught up for a change. Is that good for you?"
"Perfect" Jamie agreed.
* * * * * * * * * * * *
As agreed Jamie picked Ryan up at 10 a.m. and they drove to her favorite bike shop in Oakland.
"Ive been coming here for a long time," Ryan told her. "These guys really know their stuff and they dont try to sell you things you dont need."
They entered the shop to a boisterous welcome from the gray haired man behind the counter. "Hi ya Ryan, long time no see," he said with good humor.
"Thats only because you do such a good job on my bikes that I never have to come back. Its your own fault, Bill," she teased.
As he made his way around the counter Ryan made introductions. "Bill, this is my friend Jamie. Ive convinced her to ride with me this year in the AIDS ride. But she doesnt have a bike, so you need to fix her up."
"Excellent, Jamie," he said enthusiastically. "With Ryan as your guide youll do well. She has gotten some pretty hopeless characters through that experience successfully. So what do you have in mind?"
"I know nothing about bikes. You two are the experts. What do you suggest?" she said as she looked at Ryan.
"A road bike would be the best for the ride," Ryan said thoughtfully. "The only downside is that you cant take it off road at all. But it will let you climb hills easier and it goes a lot faster than a mountain bike."
"Price is a big factor, Jamie," Bill explained. "I can get you a road bike for $1000 but you will feel every pound on that long ride. At the other end of the spectrum, I can make you a bike that will feel like youre riding on airbut that will cost some serious money."
"I think Im gonna need all the help I can get. Id rather spend a little more to insure that I can do this," she reasoned. "What would you suggest if money wasnt a factor?"
Ryans eyes nearly flew from her head but Bill replied enthusiastically, "Not a factor at all?"
Ryan gathered her wits and interrupted, "Jamie are you sure that you mean that? Bikes can really get up there in a hurry. I mean, Bill wont take advantage of you, but he can work with whatever budget you have."
"Well," Jamie reasoned, "what is the difference between a moderately priced bike and the top of the line?"
"There are a lot of factors that are influenced by price," he admitted. "The higher quality components are a lot smoother and more responsive. But the biggest factor is weight. You could easily save about 7 pounds of weight by going with top quality," Bill responded. "The higher priced bike would have much lighter components. You would save 3 pounds just on wheels alone if I made you top quality rims. Now, 7 pounds doesnt sound like a lot, but believe me, you would notice it-- especially on a 500 mile ride."
"500 MILES!" Jamie shouted. "Ive driven to L.A. and its only 380 miles. What gives, Ryan?"
"Oh, didnt I mention that the route is not real direct?" Ryan replied casually as her attention was seemingly focused on a new bike seat.
Jamie had her hands on her hips and was glaring at Ryan with narrowed eyes.
Slowly she raised her head and looked at her friend with a slightly chagrined expression. "Come on, Jamie. Do you really think 380 miles would be easy? The difference between the two is pretty minor over 7 days."
"Well, I guess thats true," she agreed, somewhat placated. "What do you think I should do, Ryan?"
"If I could afford to drop 7 pounds off my bike, I would be first in line to do so," Ryan stated without hesitation. "But its not something you need to do if you cant comfortably afford it."
"I can afford it, and I really do want to make this as enjoyable an experience as possible," Jamie replied.
"Looks like this is your lucky day Bill; show us some frames."
"Cute ones," Jamie demanded with a twinkle in her eyes as she grinned up at Ryan.
"Cute ones," Ryan somberly agreed.
* * * * * * * * * * * *
They left the bike shop a little before noon. "Im famished," groaned Ryan, theatrically clutching at her stomach. "Ive never seen anyone take longer to make a decision on anything."
"I wanted to make sure I got what I wanted," Jamie defended herself. "Youre the one who convinced me to have Bill make the bike rather than buy a stock model."
"I would have taken you to Target if I knew it was going to take so long," she said with a teasing grin.
"Okay, you big baby, Ill buy you lunch. And I know just the place," she said with a wink as they climbed into the Porsche and drove a short distance to Luca Deli in Oakland.
"Oh wow," Ryan enthused. "I did not know there was one of these in the East Bay. I go to the main store in the Marina all the time. I absolutely love this place." Her clear blue eyes lit up as she licked her lips in anticipation of her meal.
"You really are easy to please," Jamie marveled. While they waited in line at the counter she reflected that one of Ryans most appealing qualities was the joy she experienced at the little things life offered. She had an unguarded, childlike exuberance that was truly infectious, and Jamie marveled that she never felt more alive than when she was with her new friend. As she watched Ryan carefully peruse the menu she laughed to herself. Ryan read every word and changed her mind at least 6 times while they waited to order. "Its almost our turn, Ryan. Are you able to stick with your decision?"
"You are referring to the highlight of my day, Jamie," she explained patiently. "Lunch is my favorite meal. And since eating is my favorite activity, lunch is no laughing matter."
As Ryan spoke Jamie began looking though her wallet. "Ive only got $47 on me. Do you think that will cover it?" she asked innocently.
"Ill go easy on you since youre new at this," Ryan drawled. "But next time dont be so unprepared. A trip to the ATM is always a good idea before you offer to buy me lunch."
After ordering their food they found a little table outside. The weather was starting to turn, but the table was in the bright noonday sun so they were quite comfortable even without jackets.
"So," Ryan said after they got comfortable. "That was some exhibition of buying power. I dont think Ive ever seen Bill look so happy. He hasnt made that much off me in 7 years."
Jamie blushed a little at having the spotlight on her financial status. "It just made sense to buy the better bike for a ride like this," she explained.
Ryan gazed at her for a moment as if deciding whether to ask a question. Finally she curled the corners of her mouth up in a small grin and asked, "I dont mean to ask an indelicate question, but are you loaded?"
"Gee, Im glad that wasnt indelicate," Jamie retorted as she playfully slapped her arm.
Ryan quickly backpedaled when it looked as if her friend was offended. "Im sorry if Im prying," she quickly added. "You really dont have to answer that question."
"Its not that, Ryan, I dont mind talking about private things with you. But I get kind of embarrassed by it. I mean, oh, its hard to explain," she fumbled.
"So loaded is not a strong enough word?" Ryan offered helpfully with a crooked little grin.
"Not really," Jamie said with a tinge of shame. "More like filthy rich."
"How filthy?" Ryan asked with a leer.
"Obscenely," Jamie flatly stated.
"Wow! Ive never been friends with anyone obscenely rich. Thats really kind of cool," she admitted with a pleased smile. "Will you pay me to like you? For the right price I could even be your best friend," she teased.
"Very, very funny."
"I feel like I can tease you because you so do not seem like a rich kid. If it wasnt for the Porsche and the bike you seem just like me," Ryan observed. "But if youre really sensitive about it I promise Ill never tease you about it again."
Jamie considered the question for a moment. Ryan was looking at her with that open, guileless expression that just made Jamie feel like she could trust her with any of her secrets. "Its okay when you tease me, Ryan. I dont know why but your teasing never seems mean spirited. I hate to be so sensitive about this but it has been a problem for me throughout my life."
"Do you feel like talking about it?" Ryan asked with such a friendly, accepting expression that Jamie found herself telling her the whole family story.
"My mother comes from very old money," she explained. "Her maternal grandfather owned most of the coal mines in the country at the turn of the century. And her fathers family was pretty well off, too. Theyre 6th generation Californians and theyre into the whole social scene. My dad was pretty middle class, though. His father is an Episcopal priest and his mother was a homemaker. We live mostly off his money nowand he works his tail off. My mother uses her money for trips and she bought most of our houses and the like. But my father has always stressed the value of money and I was given a very modest allowance when I was growing up. I try not to flaunt my wealth, because it really puts people off, but it is a part of my life, and I want my close friends to know about it."
"Im glad you told me, Jamie," she said sincerely as she fixed her with a mesmerizing stare. "It means a lot to me that you trust me to know about your financial status."
"I do trust you, Ryan. I cant imagine that youll let this get in the way of our friendship."
"No way," she said emphatically. "After all, you havent let my lesbianism get in the way of our relationship," she reminded her with a dazzling grin. "Tell me more about your father. It sounds like this would be a hard thing for most men to deal with. He must be really secure to have his wife be a lot wealthier than he is."
"Yeah, I respect him for it. Although now he makes a load as a partner in a big law firm. So were rich even without mothers money now. But it must have been hard for him when they were first together," she agreed.
"Do you spend much time with your extended family?"
"No, we really dont. My mother goes to her mothers family home in Rhode Island for at least a month in the summer. When I was little I would go with her. The whole extended family would be there, but I never felt like I fit in. They lived like the truly wealthy: servants everywhere, elegant dinners, spending the day sailing on huge yachts. But I just felt like I didnt belong there. Its hard to explain but I dont like to classify myself by my money," she said earnestly.
"I can see that would be kind of hard," Ryan agreed. "What about your mothers paternal side of the family. Arent they local?"
"Yeah, theres tons of them around but its not a warm and fuzzy kind of group. Theyre not into spending holidays together or anything like that; so Id say my mother sees them at occasional social functions and the odd wedding and funeral. Theres no animosity or anything but theres some definite emotional distance."
"The difficult part is that my money has nothing to do with me. I got it as an accident of birth. I didnt earn it or deserve it in any way. Sometimes it really is a burden," Jamie said with a touch of sadness in her eyes.
"I can understand that," Ryan said softly. "And I bet it doesnt make it any easier since so many people erroneously believe they would be happy if only they had more money," she sympathized.
"Exactly!" Jamie said with relief. "You really do understand, Ryan!"
"I really do, Jamie. The hard parts of my life would not change one bit because of money. I mean, I could work less if I earned more, but I would probably just buy more junk!" she laughed. "People are always talking about how much better their lives would be if they had more money. Ive never understood that. If youre happy youll be happy no matter how much or how little you have. And if youre miserable all the money in the world wont make you happy."
"I think Im going to consider your offer to be your best friend," Jamie said thoughtfully after a moment. "How much will it cost me?"
Ryans eyes grew wide as a server delivered their heaping plates. "Consider yourself paid in full!" she said with a happy grin.
* * * * * * * * * * * *
After plowing through her sizeable lunch and picking over the remnants of Jamies, Ryan said, "Now we need to work out how we will train you for this ride."
"What are our options?"
"Saddle time is critical. There is not much you can do to duplicate the feeling of actually riding. So were going to have to log a lot of miles. But to get the most out of your riding you have to be in pretty good shape. I dont mean to be rude, but I dont see a lot of muscle lurking under your skin," she said as she reached for an absent bicep.
"Just cause Im not rock hard like you doesnt mean I dont have any muscle," Jamie replied defensively as she snatched her arm away before Ryan could get a good grip.
"I am just teasing, you know," she said with twinkling eyes. "But the more muscle you have the more you can demand of your body. So we need to increase your cardiovascular capacity, tone your muscles and ride like crazy. The easiest way to work on your lungs and your muscles is at a gym. Do you belong to a club?"
"No, I was going to join one, but I never got around to it," Jamie sighed.
"Well, nows a good time to join. I assume you would like to work out in the East Bay. Obviously we could use my club, but that is too much traveling for you. My place has a branch in Oakland. Ive never been there but Im willing to check it out for you. Is there any place you have heard about that you would like to try?" Ryan inquired.
"Some of my friends go to a club they really like. Why dont we both do some research and compare notes?"
"Sounds good. Ill check mine out on the way home tonight. Let me know when youve checked out a few and then you can decide," Ryan said.
"Great," she happily agreed. "Now comes the hard part," Jamie said gravely. "Obviously, Im going to pay you for your time, Ryan. How can we work that out?"
Ryans eyes grew wide as she shook her head firmly. "I cant charge you, Jamie. I want to do this because youre my friend. It will be fun for me."
"Ryan, I appreciate that and I would agree except for one thing. I know how busy you are. Ive seen that little black book of yours, you know," she said fondly. "This is how you make your living. If you were not working with me you would be working with a regular client, would you not?"
"Well yeah, sometimes, I guess so." she said hesitantly. "But I can work you in without too much trouble. Ive got 3 or 4 hours a week that are unscheduled, and I can work out with you sometimes, and I never do that with a client."
"What are your arrangements with your club, if you dont mind me asking?"
"I pay them a flat monthly fee, and I can work out whenever I want and train anyone who is a member. They hook me up with clients and I can bring people in myself. The member pays me directly, usually $40 per hour."
"Do you train people who arent members?"
"Yeah, I have some private clients. There are some workout facilities that let trainers come in and pay an hourly fee. That allows me to train people who dont belong to my gym. And I have one woman who has a gym at her house, but I didnt see any iron laying around your place when I was there for dinner," she teased.
"How much do you charge private clients?" Jamie inquired.
"$125 per hour if I like you," she said with a waggling eyebrow. "The price goes up as your likeability goes down," she said with a big grin.
"Is that really true?" Jamie asked.
"Yeah, the woman with the gym in her home pays me $175 per hour. And if she complains about the price one more time its going up to $200," she laughed. "She started out at $125 like everyone else, but she kept bitching about how expensive it was. That made me mad so I raised her. She kept bitching, so I kept raising. Pretty soon I wont have to take any other clients. She can support me," she said smugly.
"How about this. If I join your gym Ill pay you the standard $40. But if I choose to join somewhere else where you are not affiliated, Ill pay you $125. Unless, I make you mad, of course," she chuckled. "I know you dont want to take my money but if I dont pay you I wont feel comfortable using you as often as I want. I want you to think of me as a client for this and give me your undivided attention, okay?"
"I dont really like charging friends, Jamie. But I do want you to feel comfortable using me when you need to. So Ill agree with one proviso. If I work out at the same time, you dont pay at all, unless there is a daily gym fee. In that case you can pay to get us in, but thats all. Okay?"
"That is an excellent deal, Ryan. Youre hired," she agreed as they clasped hands and share a smile.
* * * * * * * * * * * *
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 Mias 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 thatlockers. 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 havent had any other breaks today. Why? Is my stomach grumbling?"
"Why didnt you say something?" Jamie asked with an exasperated tone.
"I know you wanted to check this place out and I didnt want to slow you down. I can get something before work. Its 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."
"Its 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. "Its only 2:35 now. If youre due at work by 6 we dont have to leave the East Bay until 5:30. If youre 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. Thats 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 thankfulits 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," Ryans 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 Ryans face and had to smother a laugh. She could almost see the panoply of international dishes floating through her imagination.
Finally, Ryans 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 cant be open for more than a week before my mother hits it."
"That could not be more different from my experience. My family doesnt go to a restaurant more than once or twice a year and that is only under duress," she added.
"You know, Ryan, I really dont know much about your family. Whos at home with you?"
"Well, theres my father, Martin, my oldest brother Brendan who doesnt officially live with us, but hes always there for meals, my brothers Conor and Rory and me, Im the baby. Oops, I almost forgot my dog, Duffy, I guess hes 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.
"Im sorry to hear that," Jamie stated sincerely. She wasnt sure if Ryan wanted to discuss it but she asked, "Has she been dead long?"
Jamie continued to look at the top of Ryans 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 dont think devastating covers it, to tell you the truth. Losing your mother changes everything. I dont 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, its 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 wasnt able to say a word. She just reached over and tightly gripped Ryans 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 friends eyes. A solitary tear leaked out of Jamies eyes and Ryan reached over somewhat tentatively to wipe it away with a finger.
"Wow, I dont know where that came from," Ryan sighed as she leaned back in her chair. "I guess Im 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 dont know how she did it." She smiled sadly as she shook her head briefly. Im really lucky in that my family talks about her a lot. Although sometimes I dont know if I really have all these memories or if I remember her through their eyes. I guess it doesnt matter in the end though," she said simply.
"Your father never remarried?" Jamie inquired.
"Remarried!" Ryan laughed. Hes never had a date that I know of. I guess he wasnt much of a catch when we were young. Who wants a man with 4 wild kids whos away from home for 3 days at a time?"
"You were left alone that much?" Jamie asked with alarm.
"No, we werent 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. Im sure it was hard on him, but he never complained," she said reflectively.
"How old are your brothers?"
"Rorys 25, Conors two years older than him and Brendans 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 dont talk about her much with people outside of the family, but it feels good to talk about it with someone who isnt as invested as we all are."
Jamie smiled at this admission and realized that she still gripped Ryans 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 didnt 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 eat 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 Ryans 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 Ryans 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."
"Its 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 Jamies shoulders, stopping at her elbows, "and here," another pair of gentle tracings down the front of her thighs. "Now we havent 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. "Its just that some women dont think its womanly to show muscle. And some men dont 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 doesnt get a vote," she replied firmly. "My bodymy choice. Besides, I think women look great with muscles. I think they enhance femininity so long as theyre 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. Youd better not go there, Jamie. What was that about being glad she doesnt flirt with you any more?
"Thats great. Im glad youre comfortable with this. But is there anything you would like to change? I mean if we can," Ryan added.
"Im 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 Jamies 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 Jamies thighs and nodded her head. "I think your quads could really get big if you liked that look. But if you didnt want that we would want to work on elongating your muscles there, rather than just making them big."
Next she placed her hands on Jamies shoulders. "You have a nice deltoid just waiting to come out here." She placed her fingertips loosely on the tops of Jamies shoulders again and slowly traced her thumbs over the muscles just above her breasts, "And you could develop really nice pecs. And if Im not mistaken," she said as she ran the flat of her hand slowly down Jamies 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 dont 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, "Ive got a pretty thick layer of fat here. No matter how much I work on my abs they cant pop out like yours will." As she spoke she grasped Jamies hand and placed it on the warm body part in question. "Here, feel the difference." Now she placed the hand on Jamies 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 Ryans stomach a little pat, "but theres some pretty hard muscle right under that what do you call that tissue again?"
"Adipose tissue. Thats trainer talk for fat." she whispered this last word right into Jamies 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. Cant 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. Dont force yourself to do things that dont feel comfortable. I want this to be pleasurable for you," she reminded Jamie.
"So whats 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 havent 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 Jamies 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 Jamies 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 Jamies 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 Jamies 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 Jamies thigh. After she had completed the stretch, she picked Jamies 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 Ryans 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 dont 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, "Cmon 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 Jamies sweat drenched head and clothing. "You really should not drive all the way to Palo Alto in those clothes. Im afraid youll stiffen up."
"Its 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 dont 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, Im not worried about them. I just dont want them to hassle you about hanging out with me," Ryan stated quietly.
"Ryan, I am honored to be your friend. Anyone who doesnt 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. "Ill just sit down here and read, if thats okay," Ryan said.
"Sure. Make yourself at home, Ill 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.
"Cmere for a second," Ryan said. "I can loosen them up again. Its 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 Ryans face to Cassies shocked expression and rolled her eyes.
"Hi Cassie," she said as casually as the atmosphere allowed.
"Uh, hi Jamie. Um, whats 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. Its from here to L.A."
Cassie laughed hard at the mere thought. "Jamie you have got to be kidding. You dont even have a bike."
"I will as of Monday," Jamie replied firmly. "And Im 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? Youre very thin as it is," Cassie said.
"Im not trying to lose weight, Cassie. Im 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.
"Doesnt that logic seem just a teeny bit circular to you, Jamie?"
"No, it doesnt. 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, "Arent you going to see Jack this weekend?"
"Yes, I am," Jamie relied evenly. "As soon as I take a shower, were leaving."
"Oh, is your friend going?" she inquired sweetly. "Im 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 dont 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 Ryans 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 doesnt like me. I assume it is primarily or exclusively because Im gay, right?"
"Um, yeah, I guess so," Jamie admitted, "since thats 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 shouldnt 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 dont Jamie," she said forcefully. "I dont 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 dont tend to feel sexual desire toward my friends."
"Im really glad you admitted to that, Ryan. Im 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 didnt bother you?" she asked, genuinely intrigued.
"No. It didnt 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 dont date people you like?" Jamie asked, quite confused.
"Its ahh complicated," Ryan sighed. "Ill tell you all about my scarred psyche someday, but not today."
"Its 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.
"Id 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 Im just standing around answering questions. But I really need the money and I dont have time to try to build my client base right now. So Im 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 couldnt 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. Ive got some pretty good breaks between classes and I dont 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 dont 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 dont have OFlaherty Fever too, do you?"
"What??? Oh, no, no, NO!" Jamie finally got out. "Ryan and I are friends, just friends. Ive just never seen her walk into class. Does that happen every day?"
"Yep," Yvonne replied. "Thats why I sit in the back. Its 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 Ryans 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. Wasnt that handy! She must have them printed by the 1000s. 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 Bancroft 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. "Whatd I do?" she asked with a plaintive tone.
"Oh, Im sorry, Ryan," she said quickly, while shaking her head. "You didnt do anything. Im sorry if I look as though you did," she apologized.
"Are you sure theres nothing wrong?" she asked, genuinely concerned. She searched Jamies eyes and found that her friend was having a hard time making eye contact. "Cmon, Jamie, you can tell me," she urged.
"No. Its really stupid and I feel like an idiot," she sulked.
"Ive 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 didnt date people you liked. Why?" she asked plainly.
"Thats 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 Jamies eyes. "If thats your question, why do you look angry with me?"
Jamie hated the way Ryans mind worked. She could always see through ancillary issues and hone right in on the crux of the matter. "All right, Ill 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 youre really depriving yourself of something by dating so many people." Even to her own ears this sounded incredibly lame.
"So youre angry with me because I dont 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 dont know why it bothered me, but it really did. Im sorry, Ryan. I know its none of my business. You seem perfectly happy and its stupid for me to want something for you that you dont seem to want."
"Would you like me to explain why I dont have a girlfriend?" Ryan asked quietly, her eyes never leaving Jamies.
"If you want to," Jamie said with just a hint of a pout showing.
"Im happy to, Jamie. Its 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 dont 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 cant afford the distraction that a relationship would cause. Plus, since I live at home, I cant 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 its 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, dont 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. Im 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 floor.
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 shed want me to be happy and I can understand that she doesnt 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?"
"Theyre in our class," she explained patiently.
"Do you know everyones 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 youve 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 didnt want to go out with me. I did not have sex with her, Jamie. I didnt touch her," she added with a bit of a scowl.
"Oh, I get it," Jamie said. "You assume that Blair would know that you dont want a girlfriend since she knows Amy."
"Yeah, that seemed like a good bet. But just to make sure Ill 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 dont want to be in a relationship. It really makes me sound like Im full of myself," she admitted with an embarrassed shrug.
"Ryan," Jamie said softly. "Im sorry that I hurt your feelings. I dont know why today set me off, but I never should have spoken to you about it. Its really none of my business. But since we did talk about it, Im really impressed with how honest youve been with women. Thats really honorable."
A small smile finally graced Ryans features. "You know, even if I wasnt 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 theyre vertical. Im a homophile as well as a homosexual," she said pointedly.
"Yes. Thats 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 doesnt 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. "Ill continue to see someone until I think theyre getting too serious. Then I back off."
"Have you ever met anyone that you liked who didnt 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, theres kind of a term for people who just sleep together."
"Whats the term?" Jamie persisted.
"Ahh fuck buddies?" Ryan finally revealed.
"Fuck buddies, huh? I must admit Ive 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 friends 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 were both really clear that we couldnt ever have a real emotional connection. I think were too much alike," she admitted.
"But youre 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 cant get from casual dating." Jamie was beginning to get frustrated again.
"Theres nothing casual about the way I date," Ryan said with a little leer.
"Do you really not understand what Im 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 dont feel that I can commit to one woman, what would you have me do?"
"I dont 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 dont feel that Im 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 youll be there for me. I dont 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."
"Thats just one of my many skills," she replied with a grin as she reached out and affectionately tousled Jamies hair.
* * * * * * * * * * * *
After her last class Jamie walked home and grabbed a salad. She spent an hour preparing for Tuesdays 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.
"Dont 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 doesnt really want it," he flatly stated.
"I really want to be able to take it to campus. I think the only way Ill 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. Its 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. Its 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 Ryans night time rides up on Mt. Tam."
"I didnt know she rode up there," she admitted.
"Oh, its quite a scene," he laughed, "youve got to get her to take you, but bring some band aids. Its 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 Im 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 didnt know you had your own trainer," she replied.
"Yeah, shes working at a gym in the City now, but shes looking for a change. Shes getting more women clients in the East Bay and I think shed prefer to work over here now," she embellished.
"Have her look me up the next time shes in," the woman responded. "Maybe we could make her an offer to join us."
"Actually, Im 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 managers 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.
"Thats fair," Jamie agreed. "But Id 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 couldnt 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 Ryans schedule was written there, but she thought she remembered that she was free until 8 a.m. "Shes 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 Ive forgotten how to adjust it."
"I get confused too," Jamie admitted. "Thats why Ive 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 didnt really like the woman who works here at this time of day," she said regretfully.
"Why dont you try mine?" Jamie inquired casually. "Im certain you would like her. Everyone does. Shes normally down on the Peninsula, but shes 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 Ryans business card, which she had stolen when Ryan wasnt looking.
"Is she really expensive? I dont want to spend a lot," she replied.
"Oh shes terribly expensive!" Jamie moaned. "Its absolutely highway robbery! But shes 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! Im 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 its 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 shes worth 3 times what I pay her," she confided. "But dont 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 Id be eternally grateful."
"Thats the attitude!" Jamie enthused. "Your classmates will think youve found the fountain of youth! Why dont you give me your number and Ill have Ryan call you," she said with a wink.
* * * * * * * * * * * *
After two more visits to the club Jamie had filled all of Ryans 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, "Ive been interfering in your personal life." She glanced down at the ground, seemingly in shame.
"You didnt 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.
Ryans face broke into an indulgent smile. "Do I get to learn the details, or do I just show up and get my uniform? I dont mind flipping burgers but I hate to cook French fries. Its 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 youre 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 thats 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 its a client that you bring in or thats already a member you dont 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. Howd I do?" she let out all of her most recent breath and looked at Ryans 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 didnt 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, dont 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 Jamies 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 dont know how to thank you," she said hoarsely.
Jamies 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.
"Wed better get to work if you want to do those, kiddo. Thats where the big girls go," she said wisely.
"Youre a big girl, cant I go with you?" she inquired saucily.
"Ill take you anywhere you want to go, Jamie, anywhere at all," she replied seriously as she locked her clear blue eyes onto Jamies 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 Ryans 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 Jamies 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 cant believe I go to the gym with her and I still dont get to see her muscles! Black nylon warm up pants also blocked Jamies enjoyment of Ryans 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 were 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 Ive 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."
"Im really glad that youre happy with it," Ryan said. "I knew that Bill wouldnt 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 dont second guess myself," she said confidently.
"Well, I know youre going to love riding and I think you will really enjoy working out, too. Youre 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, were 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 Jamies 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. Were going to work on both sets of muscles. I usually use free weights for shoulders. I find theyre a little easier to control. And control is very important with your shoulders. Its 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.
"Its very important to do these exercises in the order that I show you. Were 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 dont know the half of it," she admitted.
* * * * * * * * * * * *
They worked their way through the exercises. Ryan was very attentive to Jamies 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 hows and whys 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. "Thats pretty cool. You know, I have never hit a golf ball."
"Well, were just gonna have to remedy that, Missy," Jamie replied. "Id 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 Jamies 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 Jamies 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 youve 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, youre 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. Im glad I did it. I really learned a lot about relaxing people after a tough workout. And its a skill that comes in handy in my private life, too," she grinned as she waggled her eyebrows.
"Well, youve certainly relaxed me, I dont think I can move, much less ride my bike home," she moaned.
"Ive 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 youre willing to risk the wrath of Cassie if shes at home?"
"Yeah, I am. She just caught me off guard last time. Im ready for her now." She rubbed her hands together in a menacing fashion as she narrowed her eyes.
* * * * * * * * * * * *
Continued - Part 3
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