Tristan stopped me. “Let me change this. It shouldn’t be this hard for you to lift.”
He changed the weight, and I tried it again.
“There. That’s better. Do twenty of those, and then I’ll help you figure out the next machine.” He smiled at me and went to the bench to resume flies.
I indulged my unhealthy desire and watched him. Tristan sat on the bench, picked up his weights, and lay back with one foot on the floor on either side. He held his arms straight out to the side, holding free weights in each hand. His chest flexed. I could see a slight mound in his shorts and looked away. Lusting over someone I’d never have would only serve to kill the friendship.
I sighed and concentrated on my own issues. I had a terribly underdeveloped body. My abs weren’t used to exercise. I should have been glad he hadn’t laughed when he changed the weight I was using. It was pathetically little.
The more I thought about it, the more I was actually glad Tristan was only a friend. If he were gay and we got along this well, I would never have been able to work out in the same gym with him. I’d have been too embarrassed. It would have murdered my pride to allow him to see how little weight I used and how stupid I was in my inability to figure out the diagram for the machine. It was sad. I was sad.
Tristan, on the other hand, was nice and patient. He didn’t have to be. I’d been really rude. He had every right to go to this gym. I finished and walked over to another machine. It was easier to figure out, so Tristan didn’t need to help. He glanced over at me and winked as I counted reps. After I finished and moved to a different one, Tristan walked over.
“I’m all done here, so I guess I’ll see you around.”
He nodded but hesitated to leave. “Just to warn you, since you kind of freaked about seeing me here, next week I have my daughter. We normally come here together every other Saturday morning. She likes the elliptical and some of the classes.”
Daughter? “Oh, yeah, sure.” The idea of a kid laughing at my efforts scared me.
“We normally come at nine for a couple of hours. If you show up around then, we’ll be here. I just thought I should warn you.”
“Okay. See you later. Have fun painting your kitchen.”
He walked away, and I watched him go. He was so nice.
DURING THE week, Tristan came in on Monday, but I’d missed him on Friday. I wasn’t sure how, assuming he’d come in as he had the other Fridays, but I’d been talking to the manager about selling IRAs and two hours of the afternoon had disappeared before I knew it.
Saturday morning, I had a choice to make. Did I go to the gym when I knew Tristan would be there with his daughter, or go after they’d left? I showed up at 8:45 a.m.
I was hiding on the treadmill in the back when I spotted them entering: Tristan, looking as sexy as ever in shorts and a loose blue tank top, and his daughter, a short, thin, blonde teenage girl with similar features and a bright smile. She was laughing as he poked her side. They seemed so happy. I looked away. Their family time didn’t need prying eyes.
I moved to the leg press. I thought I’d start with a hundred pounds. That was a lot, right? I glanced over at Tristan before lying back. He smiled softly before turning his attention back to his daughter, who’d come up and was pointing at something on the other side of the room. I sighed. He was a dad, and I was just a guy who worked at his bank.
After using two other machines in my rotation around the gym, I assessed my decision to come this morning when I knew Tristan would be here. Why had I come? I wanted to see him. I enjoyed seeing him. We’d made small talk at the bank, and his smile surely did things to me that weren’t healthy in a friendship like ours, but being around him in a nonprofessional way also conflicted with my sensibilities. Avoiding him until I could move past my attraction was