While We Were Watching Downton Abbey

While We Were Watching Downton Abbey by Wendy Wax Read Free Book Online

Book: While We Were Watching Downton Abbey by Wendy Wax Read Free Book Online
Authors: Wendy Wax
Tags: Fiction, General, Romance, Contemporary, Adult, Contemporary Women
machine really need to know how much she weighed? Irritated she punched in her weight—or at least a close approximation. Then it asked for her age.
    “Good grief!” She spent a long moment picturing the skinny little geek who’d come up with the mathematical equations that required such personal information. If she could have figured out how, she would have told the machine to go screw itself, but there didn’t seem to be a place to input that.
    Would it make a significant difference if she put in forty-six, which she’d only recently said good-bye to? She’d just decided that a year couldn’t possibly make a significant difference in the number of calories burned, when she heard what sounded like a sob from the next machine.
    Samantha got her legs moving in that odd walking/climbing motion then turned toward the red-haired woman. “Are you all right?”
    “I can’t figure out how to make it start.” The woman’s voice was heavy with choked-back tears.
    “Are you sure you want to?” Samantha asked gently.
    The woman looked up and met Samantha’s eyes. Her whole face looked tight from the effort of holding in the tears that shimmered in her eyes. “No. But as you can see I clearly need to.”
    Samantha kept her legs moving. “Whether you work out is definitely not my business,” Samantha said carefully. “I mean, I’m not the Jehovah’s Witness of exercise or anything. I’m not even sure
I
want to be here.”
    “Sorry.” The woman averted her eyes. “It’s probably better if I go so that you can exercise in peace.” She aimed her gaze somewhere over Samantha’s left shoulder as she spoke. “I just thought it might make me feel better. You know, if I could dredge up a few endorphins or something.” There was another half sob. A look of horror spread over the woman’s broad freckled face. “Oh, God. I’m sorry. I can’t believe I’m crying in front of someone like you.”
    Samantha blinked.
    “Oh, shit. That’s not what I meant to say.”
    Samantha braced, hoping the woman wasn’t going to keep at it until she said whatever other insulting thing she’d actually meant. She hadn’t even done five minutes yet and she didn’t see how she could just leave the woman here alone when she was so upset. She’d never read of a suicide by elliptical, but that didn’t mean there’d never been one.
    “Don’t worry about it,” she said as casually as she could, turning her gaze to the television. Pedaling, she tried to focus on the screen, but the feminine hygiene commercials were no match for the crying woman still standing immobile on the next machine.
    “People like you are one of the main reasons people like me don’t exercise,” the woman said.
    “I beg your pardon?” Samantha said.
    “Oh, God. I didn’t mean to say that, either.”
    Samantha had no idea how to respond so she just kept moving. She completed five minutes before she snuck another look at the woman who was focused on the control panel. Mercifully, she had stopped crying. She was short, probably no more than five-four, and looked to be somewhere in her midthirties. Her face wasn’t bad. Or it wouldn’t have been if she’d done something to camouflage the freckles. An eyebrow shaping and the right makeup would have been a good start. Briefly Samantha considered offering her the name of her favorite aesthetician, but it seemed clear that the last thing this woman needed today was anything that resembled criticism.
    The other woman blew a heavy red curl off her damp forehead. She seemed to be sweating kind of heavily given her lack of movement.
    “I’m . . .” the woman began. “I’m really sorry.” She looked up and met Samantha’s eyes. “But the thing is. I’m not having a good day.”
    No shit
, Samantha thought.
    “But I’ve made it this far.” The woman hesitated. “If you could, um, just tell me how to start this thing, I’ll do what I came here to do and I . . . I promise I’ll leave you

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