7 AM Treadmill GirlBy: Stephanie Collins
“I hope you don't mind that I took a shower," said a distracted, vaguely familiar, feminine voice from the doorway.
Carrie turned around to face the voice, box of cereal in hand, in the midst of pouring a bowl. She promptly dropped the box to the kitchen floor with a dull thud. Half a bowl of Fruit Loops escaped the box and skittered across the yellowed linoleum as if fleeing for their lives. Not that Carrie cared at all about fugitive Fruit Loops - she was far too concerned with the sight in front of her.
Standing in the kitchen doorway, obviously fresh from the shower, stood the most gorgeous woman Carrie had ever met in her life. She was wearing what must have been a pair of Brad’s basketball shorts and an oversized tank top. She was working her long brown hair with a towel, the movements allowing Carrie to see that she wasn’t wearing a bra. Carrie could still see the glistening dampness on her skin and envied the drop of water currently making its way down Paige’s neck, down her collarbone, and toward her chest.
Carrie swallowed thickly. Carrie knew this girl. Well, not knew. They weren't, like, friends or anything. But this was 7:00 AM, Berry Bomb Speed Stack, and 5-mile run on the treadmill, which was obviously paying off, girl. This was the gym member she had fallen in lust at first sight with on her third day on the job five months ago. Carrie even knew her name, since she'd swiped her membership card so many times. This was Paige.
Carrie shook her head to snap herself out of her drooling, staring stance in the middle of the spilled cereal. Paige was looking at her in confusion, hands quickly using the towel to cover up her chest. "You. You're not- you're, um, wait." Paige blinked her stunning green eyes and took a step into the kitchen, recognition dawning on her face. "No fucking way," she whispered as if talking to herself. "What are you doing here?"
"You know me?" Carrie squeaked, before clearing her throat and trying again with a more even voice. "I mean, yeah, right, I think I've seen you at the club before. A time or two, maybe."
Perfectly trimmed and shaped eyebrows furrowing, Paige took yet another step into the kitchen. "I go there every day. You get my drink out of the cooler before I can even get in the door."
Carrie gave a nervous little laugh and made a big deal out of discovering spilled cereal on the floor. She went to the pantry to pull out a broom. "Ah, yeah. Yeah, I think I remember now. You, um, look different, um, dry."
It was Paige's turn to clear her throat. Carrie, busy sweeping up the cereal, heard her shuffle back out of the kitchen. "Speaking of, maybe I should finish, yeah. Okay."
Carrie bit her lip, then looked up and called out to Paige before she could disappear back into Brad's bedroom, where she undoubtedly had stayed the night. She certainly hadn't stayed in Carrie's bed, that's for damn sure, which was a pity. "I'm going to make some breakfast. You, uh, want some?"
Paige popped her head back into the doorway, looking startled again. “What about your cereal?”
“Screw it. They’re in timeout for escaping like that,” Carrie smiled.
“Doesn’t seem like a punishment for them,” Paige quipped back. “More like a temporary pardon from being homicide victims.”
“True. I’ll spare them until another day though. Seriously, you want some breakfast?” Carrie asked again.
"I– um, yeah. Sounds good."
"Good. You like French toast?"
"Yeah. Love it."
"Yeah." Paige stood leaning against the doorway to Brad’s room staring at Carrie, silence filling the room.
"So, um, you should probably go get ready now?" Carrie asked teasingly.
"Oh! Oh, right, yes. Be right back," Paige said as she turned and fumbled at the door before making her way into the bedroom.
Once Paige had vanished again, Carrie sagged back against the counter and let out a shaky breath. What a fucking weird morning.
"You know, this doesn’t seem fair. I mean, here I am cooking a ‘morning after’ breakfast and I didn't even get to experience the fun part." Belatedly realizing how her words could be taken, Carrie turned with a bright blush toward the small kitchen table where Paige was sitting. Paige was biting her lip as if trying not to laugh, so Carrie cleared her throat and returned her attention to the fried bread in the pan.