Here’s the continuation of Holiday Spirits. Enjoy the free read!
Don had my notes. As a colleague, he had offered to review them for accuracy and double check my research, and when I’d handed them over, I hadn’t thought twice about it. But now I didn’t trust him worth a damn. The retrieval of my notes would be the first item on my agenda when I returned home. I didn’t want that ass to have any part of my life, colleague or not.
A cheer rang out from the crowd who had gathered on a street corner. Their calls of encouragement lifted my emotions and stopped my negative line of thinking. I waved to them and received a round of applause.
I finally understood how and why people became hooked on racing. There was the adrenaline rush, the inspiration and support from the volunteers and the crowds, and the pride from accomplishing such a lofty goal. I felt a smile brighten my face, but the moment I came upon the next aid booth the excitement drained from me like someone had pulled the plug on a tub full of water.
Mile seventeen? I’m only at mile seventeen?
I snatched a pack of goo from my race belt and consumed the warm, sticky content. I couldn’t be hitting The Wall, not yet. It was too soon to burn out. Two of my training runs had taken me over twenty miles, so why was I hit with fatigue and unsteadiness at this mile? I took a deep breath and realized I had let myself worry about a situation that wasn’t in my control. Damn. Why did I let thoughts about Don take over? I needed to relax.
If only my friend, or Artim, were here to take my mind off the miles and my psychological hitch.
Artim. He was someone I could definitely relax with in more ways than one, even though being near him conjured up the craziest sensual images I’ve ever had. And why not hook up with him? He’d be an early Christmas present to me, from me.
Artim joined me a few paces after mile eighteen.
“Are you faring well?”
His wonderfully sexy voice was like a soothing balm on my tired muscles. A supply of energy welled within me.
“I am now.” Hearing the flirtatious twinge in my voice, I cringed. Still I was happy Santa had heard my wish and granted me an early gift.
“I am glad to hear it.” He matched my slower stride with ease.
“You didn’t have to wait for me you know. I’m sure you have your own goal you want to meet. How’s Ned by the way?” I glanced in his direction. The man looked fresh and vibrant. I made a mental note to ask him what his secret was after the race when I wouldn’t be so focused on putting one foot in front of the other.
“Sì, I have a goal, but not to worry. Ned is fine. I keep you company for now.”
“Thanks.” I grazed his arm with the palm of my hand in a friendly, playful way and another image from the past flashed on my mind’s screen.
It was still market day. He and I had snuck away from the confines of the town’s center, the eyes of the marketers and patrons, and had walked out toward the hills and his uncle’s vineyard. We sat on a grassy slope before the edge of the road in front of the yard. The young man put his arm around me and brought me close, drawing me into the folds of his arms. I laid my head upon his chest, listened to the strong, slow thumps of his heart and breathed in the scent of his leather and musk.
“I love you, Quintus.”
“And I, you, Vespasia.”
My soul warmed in joy as I sat in his embrace and, when he cupped my chin and tilted my face up toward his, warmth spread and blanketed my body. His spirit seemed to envelope my own. He lowered his head and touched his lips to mine. A tremor rippled through me.
My senses became heightened by his slow, thoughtful kiss and the light breeze drifting by brought on another brief shiver. His kiss became more persuasive and, although I felt what we were doing should stop before our loving went further, I couldn’t draw away. I met his command and parted my mouth, letting him taste me more fully. His teeth nicked my lips, his tongue caressed mine. When his hand moved from my chin to cup my head and his other arm stayed wrapped around me, I was grateful for the support. I felt like a stream of free flowing liquid as he brought my desires and passion out.
Light, mobile, loose. That’s how good I felt running beside Artim during the last stretch of the race. It seemed we connected on a metaphysical plane and he fed his exuberant amount of energy to me. The last few miles went by in a blur and, when I saw the finish line and realized I had broken my goal of five hours by twenty minutes, I wanted to do cartwheels.
Close to the end, I grabbed his hand and we ran hand in hand through the gate. Volunteers placed finishers’ medals around our necks and took the timing chips from our shoes. Once we were far enough down the chute to be out of peoples’ ways, I threw my arms around him and gave him a huge kiss, square on his sexy lips.
A fling with Artim to get over Don was exactly the holiday gift I needed.
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