"I think I'm dead."
I threw my arm over my eyes willing the dizziness and pain to subside.
"You aren't dead. You're a drama queen."
Noel, my best friend, and master of torture stood over me with her hands on her hips.
"No really, it looks a lot like earth though. I'm kind of disappointed."
Noel reached her hand down to help me up. I reluctantly grasped it. I knew I was out of shape, but that was torture. If I had to feel like death was upon me every time I went to the gym, I'd rather keep my size eighteen.
"How long and how often do I have to do this?"
"The simple answer is forever. You’ll have to make it a habit to maintain any progress you make. I'd say three or four times a week for about an hour is a good start."
I let out a long sigh. I needed to get my health in check. With all the health problems that ran in my family, getting healthy was important. I just hated that it had to be so hard.
We made our way to the locker room. My legs hurt so bad I wasn't sure how I made it there. It had to look like a stick was firmly planted in my round behind. When I got home, I fully intended on taking a long hot bath. I'd earned it after the master of torture tried her best to kill me in a sixty minute time period. I always knew she was evil.
"What are you up to the rest of the day," Noel asked me.
"Not sure really. I'll probably just relax and go over some stuff for work tomorrow."
"Girl, all you do is work. You need to get out more, live a little."
"I'm out right now. Albeit for cruel and unusual punishment."
"You know what I mean. Go out and meet some people... men to be specific. You haven't dated anyone since Alec and it's pastime you got that jerk out of your system."
I shuddered at the sound of his name. Alec had been my first real long-term boyfriend, and my last. We met during our senior year of college and dated for a few years after. He’d been controlling and less than faithful. He berated me for my looks, size, style. Pretty much anything he could think of.
Noel was who helped me get out of that relationship. I had no idea of how much he’d beat my spirit down. I was a yes man. Saying yes to whatever he said while he was sticking his pickle in anything he saw fit. Yes, I said pickle. Despite his dominating personality, he was lacking in the bedroom.
After that I focused on my career. Never again would I let a man or anyone else dictate my life. I still carried some baggage when it came to my body image, but no one could ever question my mind. I was bright and innovative. That was something he nor anyone else could take from me.
"So you've said only a thousand times. When I'm ready to meet some people, as you say, I'll do it. Right now I'm fine focusing on my career."
"Suit yourself, but just know I will intervene before you become a crazy cat lady."
I rolled my eyes at her and shoved my things into my bag.
"Before we leave, let's stop at the front desk and see their class schedules. Maybe we can try a few and find one that you don't hate so much."
"I'm not sure if it's possible to find something I won't hate, but I know you won't take no for an answer so, yeah."
We made our way to the front desk. There were a couple of people speaking to the employees so we waited patiently while they finished up. We were in mid conversation when a man appeared from a door behind the desk. Noel stopped talking mid-sentence.
"Earth to Noel." I snapped my fingers in front of her face.
"Hello ladies, anything I can help you with?"
I turned my head towards the voice and I knew what had Noel in a trance. I rubbed my hand over my face to make sure my mouth was closed and there was no drool running down my chin. We had to look like two shell-shocked fools.
The man before us was gorgeous. It was clear he spent plenty of time in the gym. Muscular arms were showcased in a makeshift tank top. I imagined there was at least a six pack under said shirt that we couldn’t see. His skin was tan as if he spent a lot of time in the sun. I suspected that was his natural skin tone. His dark hair was cropped short at the sides and slightly longer at the top with a bit of a curl. His eyes were the color of emeralds and I was entranced in them.
His smile never faltered despite our gawking. He was used to it. Being that sexy had to come with its share of lingering stares. Noel finally broke from her trance and spoke up.
"Um, yes, my friend and I were hoping to get a list of classes that you offer," she croaked out.
Her voice literally cracked. I’d never seen Noel nervous around a man. She oozed confidence all the time. It was funny to watch.
Mr. gorgeous, as I had mentally named him, smiled even broader.
"We have lots of classes you ladies could take." He reached under the counter and pulled out two pamphlets. "What kind of classes are you looking for?"
"We aren't really sure. We’re looking for something that we’ll enjoy while trying to get in shape," Noel said.
Her voice was more steady now, and she was giving him what I referred to as her bedroom eyes. Noel had a way with men. She loved them and they loved her. She was curvy, not as curvy as me, but she owned her curves. She was not lacking in the confidence area in the least.
"We have anything from Zumba to kickboxing to strength and toning classes. I would suggest trying each and see what you enjoy the most."
"Where would you suggest we start?" Noel’s voice was a low pur.
"Well, you could start with my strength and toning class this Tuesday evening."
Until that moment, I’d been looking anywhere, but at the sexy man in front of me. When I chanced a glance up he was looking right at me. Our eyes locked and I couldn't look away. I was thankful for my mocha skin tone that could cover any blush.
"That sounds like a great class to start with," Noel said.
I wanted to argue or make some excuse, but I knew it was no use. The time of the class was after work so I couldn't use my go to. I was going to be stuck in a room with Mr. Gorgeous for an hour. Lord help me from making a complete fool of myself.
"Perfect. I didn't catch your names ladies."
"I'm Noel and this is my friend Penelope."
"Beautiful names for beautiful ladies. I'm Reed."
He offered his hand to Noel to shake, and she took it giving him her dainty shake in return. He turned his hand and panty dropping smile on me. I raised my shaking hand to his. When his big hand enveloped my smaller one I felt a jolt. I jerked my hand back. When I looked up at him, he winked. He freaking winked.
"I look forward to seeing you ladies on Tuesday."
FML, I was so screwed.