Stan Ryan's new neighbor, Rachel, is beautiful. The attraction between them immediate and intense. She's a runner like Stan, and just as competitive. When Stan offers a high stakes wager on their daily run she accepts. She wants him badly, but she's a woman of her word. If he can catch her, he can have her. But not before. No matter how long it takes. More
Stan Ryan's new neighbor, Rachel, is beautiful. The attraction between them immediate and intense. She's a runner like Stan, and just as competitive. When Stan offers a high stakes wager on their daily run she accepts. She wants him badly, but she's a woman of her word. If he can catch her, he can have her. But not before. No matter how long it takes.
Stan met Rachel outside her house the next morning. They stretched a little to warm up. When Rachel asked if he was ready to run, Stan said, "That's all? We're just running?"
"Why? Did you have another idea?"
"How about a race?" The words were hardly out of his mouth when he saw that Rachel looked uncomfortable with the idea. "No?"
"I…don't think that's a good idea."
"The stakes don't have to be large."
"That's not the issue."
Rachel looked distinctly uncomfortable. She glanced over Stan's shoulder, but whatever she was seeing was in her mind's eye. She met his eyes again and said, "You can't win. It wouldn't be fair to bet on the outcome."
Stan smirked. "Confident, aren't you?" The smirk faded as Rachel held his eyes, her expression serene. "You're that fast?"
"Fine," Stan said. "Then you have nothing to lose. Let's make the stakes something really valuable."
Stan just wagged his eyebrows. Rachel gave him an arch look. "Really?"
Stan nodded. Rachel looked at him pityingly. "This is a bad idea," she said. The warning tone in her voice was unmistakable.
"It'll motivate me," Stan said.
Rachel's shook her head sadly, then smiled. "Fine. But let's be clear about this. I mean what I say. If you can catch me, you can have me. But not before."
"Right then and there?"
"Sure, if you catch me. You won't."
"So certain are you?" Stan asked in a credible imitation of Yoda.
Rachel laughed, as intended. He reached out to grab her arm and missed. She'd danced away out of reach. She shook an admonishing finger at him, though she smiled. "Naughty, naughty!"
Stan shrugged. "It was worth a shot."
Rachel sobered. "You're sure about this? You don't want to let things take their natural course?"
Rachel gave him a long, pitying look. She sighed. "We're both going to regret this," she said. "But, okay."
* * *
Stan staggered up the street holding one hand to his side. The stitch had mostly run its course, but he was still gasping for breath. He'd unzipped his track suit and pushed the sleeves up above his elbows to try to cool off. He was still overheated but simultaneously feeling a little chilled as his sweat evaporated.
Rachel was walking back and forth on the sidewalk in front of her house. She smiled and approached him. She had a healthy glow and tiny strands of her red hair were plastered to her skin along her hairline. She looked appallingly good for having run five miles so fast. "Nice try."
"There are no second place winners," Stan groused.
"So you don't want your consolation prize?"
Stan perked up. "Hell yes!"
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