Thursday, June 9, 2016

A Thousand Word Thursday Ficlet from Kate Pavelle

Swim, Bike, Run, Love  by Kate Pavelle

Blake didn’t know it at the time, but Josh knew how to cook. He’d never considered culinary expertise to be the one, critical component that sealed the deal. I mean, look at them. Blake’s tall and muscled body next to Josh’s totally average physique. Blake’s crazy training schedule against Josh’s total disinterest in exercise. Blake’s Olympic ambitions, which so many guys had considered sexy, versus the easy smile that lit up Josh’s face whenever something funny had happened in the office.
A top-level triathlete and an insurance salesman.
No way.
They told him it could never work.
Even his parents, for fuck’s sake, turned their noses when he had brought Josh to a family dinner for the first time.
“I don’t want to say anything,” his mom said delicately much later, when Blake took a stroll in the backyard with her to admire her stunning flower garden. “But he seems like kind of... I don’t know. Nice enough, but so ordinary. All those strapping young men you’ve brought before had so much more in common with you!”
Back then, Blake had been concerned, but now he only smiled as the tire of his bike hissed against the hot pavement. Their differences were precisely what made them tick.
Other athletes, regardless of their sizzling chemistry and visual appeal, just couldn’t keep up with him. Blake was just that fast, that good. He resented having to slow down for them during his training runs and rides, and their competitive streak had never let them live it down.
Aaron, Bob, and Clay. Damon, Ethan, Frank, and Garry. The list went on, a parade of hopefuls with bright-eyed dreams who could never quite catch up in the pool, who didn’t climb the hills fast enough, who had to cut their slower runs just a bit short.
They tried – and he had, too. They all suffered the same jock itch, the black toes of runners and the dry and itchy skin of chlorine-pickled swimmers. They were all saddle-sore, and they all scheduled sex around their bike rides.
They all ate the same synthetic, high-protein crap made palatable by adding berries, kale, and soy milk. Ugh.
“I thought nutrition was the fourth discipline of triathlon,” Josh had said incredulously after he’d studied the ingredients on the big protein isolate canister. “This stuff, don’t they feed it to pigs and chickens and stuff? It... it doesn’t even remember where it came from!”
Blake shrugged. “Cooking takes time. Shopping takes time. Between training and work, well...” he trailed off, scratching the hair at the base of his neck. It did taste awful, and so did those little on-the-run gel packs. He couldn’t abide the cloying sweetness of sports drinks, not unless he really needed them, and even though bananas were nature’s prepackaged post-recovery snack, the thought of their squished mushiness after a five-hour ride made him want to hurl.
“I can cook, and I will.” Josh had started out making good on his declaration five months ago with grilled salmon and quinoa-cucumber salad. They survived the holidays and the waves of cookies and booze.
They moved in together after New Year, and Josh was a good sport about the chlorinated pool towels and bathing suits all over the bathroom and the bike trainer that stood in the living room, facing the television.
And, Josh could cook. It was spring now, and pasta with foraged morel mushrooms or chicken done up in an improvised smoker was close to a religious experience, a revelation of how life could be.
But only with Josh. Only with his quirky jokes and ready smile, with his way of drawing Blake toward something new and interesting on his off-days. His non-training days, when they could eat horrid, non-organic crap in an amusement park, or see a jazz concert, or visit friends who didn’t go nuts over their times and splits and personal best in the latest race.
Only with Josh, who curled next to him at night, who nurtured both his body and his soul.
If Josh lasted the year, Blake would drop on one knee and say the words. One year, just so Josh knew full-well what he was getting into.
Blake already knew. 
He wanted forever.
 AW! Kate Pavelle's given us a triathlete's romance in such a small package! She has a bigger triathlete's romance too. Part's one and two are on my Kindle, and part three will be along later this summer. I foresee a Kate Pavelle binge in my future, which just might include a reread of Lucky Starflowers (review soon!).

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