i thought i was going to die.

I spent all day Saturday preparing for the 5k. I woke up and ran two miles on the treadmill in my apartment’s fitness center then collapsed on my bed and napped for three hours. When I woke up, I decided to take a jog along the lake like I had seen so many people do. Then I got distracted and started taking pictures for Instagram instead. I needed all of my followers to know that I was running at the lake after all. I went home and stretched/watched tv until Preston came over with a pizza and a bottle of wine.

I woke up on Sunday morning at 8:00 with a text from Brady saying that he would see me at 9:00 at the park for the race. 

I replied, “Can’t wait! :-)”

Then I climbed out of bed and discovered that my entire body was sore – especially my legs. I couldn’t figure out why I would possibly be sore until I realized that I had run the day before. How was I supposed to run an entire 5k when my body was aching from the little bit of running I did do? I got up and popped four ibuprofen, washed them down with Red Bull then got ready.

I decided on a pair of black yoga shorts, a gray half-zip, and the pair of Nike Frees I got last year when I went through my weeklong (day and a half) workout phase. Kendra and John dropped me off at the park on their way to church and there were hundreds of people waiting to run. For a moment I panicked, not knowing how Brady and I were going to find each other but after a short walk around the crowd, he appeared.

“Hey,” he said, looking me up and down. “You look cute.”

I beamed. “Thanks. So do you.”

Brady somehow made his shorts and t-shirt look totally sexy. He had sunglasses on and two days of beard growth. I wanted to skip the race and just go back to his immaculate bedroom.

“Have you warmed up or stretched?” he asked.

“Um, no. I just got here,” I answered.

“You might want to. Just for joint and muscle mobility. But if you don’t normally warmup before running then don’t worry about it,” he explained.

I wanted to tell him that I don’t normally run but instead bent over at the waist to stretch. I did what stretches I could remember from high school for about two minutes then told Brady I was finished. We had to go get our numbered race bibs then decide if we wanted to go with the first, second or third heat.

“I usually go with the fastest group but we can with a slower one if you want,” he said. 

I gave him a playful punch in the bicep. “Hey! Who says I’m slow?” 

Brady smiled. “Not saying you’re slow, but I figure it might be nice to take it easy today.”

We agreed to go with the middle group and waited at the start line with the other runners. That’s when I started to get nervous. I told myself if I could run two miles on the treadmill, I could do it again plus one more mile. 

I started off fine. We were at a good pace and even talking and laughing a little bit. Then once we got to the mile and half mark, my side began cramping up. It was so much different than running on a treadmill. There were rocks and potholes to avoid and hills. Once we got to the two mile mark I thought I was going to die. Brady kept talking and all I could do was grunt back because I was so out of breath. I could feel sweat accumulating on my forehead and dripping down my temples. Because I knew I might sweat a little bit, I only wore Laura Mercier tinted moisturizer, concealer and mascara but I knew all of that was long gone.

Finally after twenty five minutes of pure hell, the finish line came into view. I was so fucking happy. We crossed the finish line and even though I wanted to collapse to the ground, I didn’t because Brady didn’t.

“Great job, Reese. I’m surprised you kept up,” he said. 

“What’s…that…supposed…to mean?” I gasped. I put my hands on my hips and tried to catch my breath. 

“Carly was over last night and told me you’re not very athletic,” he explained. 

Bitch.

“She has no idea what she’s talking about.”

We went and grabbed complimentary bottles of water then Brady asked where I parked. I told him that I actually don’t have a car and he asked if I wanted a ride home. I obviously said yes. 

He let us into his car and he asked for my address to put into his GPS. 

“You know, I worked up quite an appetite during that run,” Brady said. 

I didn’t realize it, but I did too. I hadn’t eaten beforehand and I really wanted a bacon cheeseburger with chili cheese fries. And a shot of tequila.

“Me too,” I agreed.

“There’s a really good breakfast spot by my place. Do you want to go?” 

“Looking like this? I look disgusting,” I said. 

Brady smiled at me. “You look good.”

I knew that this was a lie and I looked like a melted Barbie but I appreciated his effort so I told him fine. 

The place was on a relatively busy corner, but surprisingly not busy for a Sunday morning. We secured a table on the outdoor patio and opened the menus. I really wanted to order two short stacks of pancakes and sixteen slices of bacon, but ordered an egg white omelette and a Bloody Mary instead.

“You don’t mess around, do you?” Brady asked after I placed my order. 

“I deserve this,” I told him. 

I excused myself to go to the bathroom so I could try to fix the disaster that I knew my face was. But surprisingly, I didn’t look bad. My cheeks were ruddy, but not in a bad way. It looked like I was glowing. I blotted my face with a paper towel, retwisted my topknot and met Brady back at our table. 

I was happy to see that my Bloody Mary had arrived. I took a long gulp. Between this and the fact that I didn’t look like a carcas, I felt good. 

“So what did you, Carly and Chris do last night?” I asked.

“The two of them ordered a pizza and I hung around like a scrounger until they offered me a slice,” he said. 

I giggled (me, giggling? Who had I become?).

“They went into Chris’s room after that and I thought it might be a bit intrusive if I joined them in there,” he went on.

Ew. Why would he want to go into Chris’s bedroom with them? They were obviously hooking up. I sat there judging him for a moment until he peeked up from his glass of water and half-smiled at me. Oh! So he was kidding. He did it with such a straight face and even voice that I couldn’t even tell. He did have a sense of humor after all.

We continued talking while we ate and then for a while after. He told me about how he had gone on a medical mission trip to Guatemala which made me feel super uncultured because the only time I travel abroad is to party.

Brady insisted on treating me to breakfast since I had done so well (which turned out to be good because I left my wallet at home) then drove me to my apartment. He promised to let me know when the next race is. 

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july 4.

I needed an outfit that said conservative pharmacist’s wife, but also fun-loving twenty four year old so I decided on a pair of white J. Crew shorts, an Alice + Olivia tank and a statement necklace. Carly came to pick me up at 4:30 on Friday and Preston was already in the car. She told me that I looked adorable and that today was the perfect day to redeem myself with Brady. I informed her that I didn’t care about Brady and I was just going for the food and booze. 

She smirked at me through the rearview mirror. “Oh please. If that was the case you would’ve just worn jeans and a topknot. I know you, Reesie.” 

She was totally right and I couldn’t even deny it. 

When we got to their place, Chris greeted us with hugs and cans of beer. He was obviously already completely drunk. 

“So glad you guys made it! Everyone’s out back,” he told us. We followed him into the dining room and out to the attached back patio. I immediately noticed Brady standing at the grill with his back to us. He was wearing shorts and I could see that he has amazing calves. How can one person be so perfect? 

Chris took us around and introduced us as his “friend” Carly and “her friends” Reese and Preston. I met a girl who works for a company that designs high end knobs, hinges, and drawer pulls so we talked for a while. I didn’t know in what way, but I thought she might come in handy one day so we exchanged business cards.

Afterwards, I found Carly, Chris and Preston huddled in a corner. We stood there talking for a while until Carly and I finished our beers. I offered to go get us more, but really I just wanted to “accidentally” run into Brady who I hadn’t seen since we first got there. I grabbed two beers and headed back and was happy to see that Brady had joined our group while I was gone.

“Hey,” I said, appearing next to him. I handed Carly her beer.

“Hey. I didn’t even know you were here,” he said.

I smiled. “Yep. I’m here.” 

“Enjoying yourself?”

“I am. You guys are great hosts,” I said. 

“Well, thank you. You’re welcome here anytime.” 

I didn’t know if that was an actual invitation or if he was just being nice, but either way my tummy did a flip. His tattoo was peeking out of his shirt again and I pointed at it, deliberately touching him when it wasn’t necessary.

“What’s this?”

He pushed his sleeve back revealing a huge intricate eagle with it’s wings spread and what looked like a date under it. But it wasn’t a regular eagle – it was kind of cartoonish and colorful. It was quirky. To me it showed that he doesn’t take himself too seriously and I liked that. I could only see half it and the rest snaked onto his shoulder. “In honor of my grandfather. He served twenty three years in the United States Navy. He passed away recently.”

“I’m so sorry to hear that,” I said genuinely. 

“No need to be sorry. He lived a fulfilling life. He left a legacy. He wouldn’t want anyone to be sorry.”

I nodded. 

“What about you? Are your grandparents around?” he asked.

I am fortunate because all four of my grandparents are still alive. I’ve definitely taken this for granted and I feel awful that I haven’t seen them in almost a year especially after hearing about Brady’s grandfather.

“They are actually all still around.” 

“Do they live in the city?”

I shook my head. “All of my family lives in Texas. That’s where I grew up.” 

“What brought you to Chicago?”

“I love this city. This is where I want to be.” 

“I love it here as well. I’m toying with the idea of moving back east though. That’s where home is for me.”

My heart sank. How are we going to get married if he moves hundreds of miles away? 

A girl across the patio shouted to Chris that all the beer was gone. This was a problem considering it was not even 6:00 PM.

“I’ll go get more booze,” Chris announced, pulled his keys out of his pocket and dropped them on the ground.

“You’re not in any position to drive anywhere. I will go,” Brady said.

Chris shrugged and shoved his keys back in his pocket. 

Brady turned to me. “Do you want to come with me?” 

“Yeah, go with him, Reese. Get some stuff we will like!” Carly enthused.

“Okay,” I said.

Carly winked at me before we walked off. Brady led us around the complex and into a garage. He unlocked a dark Audi sedan for us to get into. It looked nice and new, but not too flashy. It was sexy and kind of edgy, but conservative and understated like him. 

He drove us to a small liquor store on a corner and grabbed a shopping cart. 

“I’m going to grab the beer if you want to go pick out what you guys want,” he said.

I didn’t know what Carly wanted and I knew tequila was probably not a good idea so I finally just grabbed a bottle of moscato and met him at the cash register. I pulled out my credit card to pay for our wine, but Brady insisted on paying.

“A good host wouldn’t let you pay for your own wine,” he smiled.

I melted. 

Everyone cheered when we arrived back with the booze. I immediately poured Carly, Preston and me wine into red party cups and joined them at the patio table.

“The pharmacist is gorgeous, Reese,” Preston said. “And I think he likes you.” 

“Do you really think so?” I squealed.

“Well, he didn’t invite any of us on his beer run, did he?” Preston asked, matter-of-factly. 
 
We spent the next two hours sipping wine and people watching. Finally it got dark and a fireworks show began off in the distance. People began trickling out including Preston, whose billionaire boyfriend came to pick him up. Eventually it dwindled down to just Carly, Chris, Brady and me and two of their friends who helped Brady clean up. 

Carly and Chris started making out at the table and then got up. 

“Reesie Cup, we will be right back,” Carly said.

“Um okay. I’ll guess I’ll just stay out here by myself,” I said. 

“We won’t be long. Hang out with Brady!” she exclaimed. 

“Yeah, I’m sure he won’t mind,” Chris said. 

I rolled my eyes. I was getting tired and the alcohol was wearing off so I was just ready to go home. I sat out there for a moment then decided to go inside to find a phone charger. Brady was coming out as I was going in and we nearly collided into each other.

“Hi,” I said. “Do you have an iPhone 5 charger?” 

“I do.” He gestured for me to follow him and he led me down the hall to his plain, but very clean bedroom. My apartment may be a disaster most of the time but it’s important for my guy to be clean (gotta balance us out) so he won points with me here. 

“It’s right here.” Brady showed me the white cord dangling out of an outlet under the window.

“Thank you!” I said and walked past him to the window. I plugged my phone in while Brady stood in front of his dresser. It occurred to me that he brought me all the way to his bedroom when could have just grabbed the charger and brought it out to me.

We started talking about Carly and Chris and how she had been hanging out at their place the past few days. I told him that I was very excited that they were hitting it off since I was the one who kind of introduced them. He said that Chris recently got out of a serious relationship so he’s glad Chris is dating again.

“I’m guessing you’re single,” I said. I knew this not only from Facebook, but a guy in a relationship wasn’t going to accept a lapdance from a drunk girl like he did last weekend. 

“I am. You are as well?”

I nodded. 

“You’re beautiful and smart. I’m sure any guy would be lucky to have you,” Brady said.

I was so excited/flattered/turned on that I thought I would vomit. The fact that he called me beautiful and not hot or sexy cemented my adoration for him. I wanted to shout that he could be that lucky guy, but I just smiled instead. 

“What do you have planned for the rest of the weekend?” he asked me. 

I knew this was his chance to ask me out so I had to be available, but not too available. “I have a few things I may do, but nothing set in stone. What about you?”

“I’m actually running a 5k Sunday morning. I try to complete one every month or so.”

“That sounds fun. I want to run a 5k one day,” I lied. 

“There’s still time to enroll. Do you want to come?” 

Anyone who knows me that I’m not an athletic person. Working out for me includes doing 100-500 squats, as many crunches as I can (usually 25) and girl-on-top sex. I hate sweating in general. But the fact that Brady thought I could complete a 5k was pretty flattering.

“Okay, sure,” I said before I could stop myself. It couldn’t be that hard right? How far is a 5k anyway?

Brady told me where the race was then suggested we exchange numbers so we could stay in contact beforehand. We talked for a while longer until Carly came and found me and told me she was ready to go.

I turned to say goodbye to Brady and he patted my shoulder platonically. “See you Sunday.” 

Carly wanted to know what that was all about on the way to my apartment.

“We’re running a 5k together on Sunday,” I explained. 

Carly burst into laughter. “Reese, you’re running a 5k?” 

“What’s funny about that?” I asked, offended.

“Well, you don’t run is all. Do you even know how far a 5k is?” 

I shook my head. “No.”

“Like three miles! When’s the last time you even ran a mile? Or even half a mile?”

I considered this. It probably isn’t a good sign that I couldn’t even remember. Probably in college sometime? I don’t think I’ve ever run three miles straight. But I’m sure with the adrenaline of being with Brady will help a lot. 

Now I must prepare.

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in your dreams, blow job.

I probably checked Brady’s Facebook sixty times between Monday and Wednesday to see if there were any changes, but either he didn’t log on or his privacy settings prevented me from seeing them. Stupid Facebook.

On Wednesday, Dave decided to let the entire office out at 3:00 PM so we could start enjoying the holiday early. It was super generous of him. As everyone started clearing out, I stayed in my office wrapping things up. The guy, Rob, from Monday sent me an email saying that he enjoyed meeting me and to contact him if I was ever in New York City so we could grab drinks. Then he left his personal cell phone number. It was kind of unprofessional, but I want this deal to work out so I replied that I would do so.

I began shutting down my computer and packing up my things when BJ walked in.

“Ready for the long weekend, boss lady?” he asked, leaning on the edge of my desk.

“Of course. I love any holiday that gives me an excuse to get shitfaced,” I replied.

BJ smirked. “Me too. What are you doing? Come out to the bars with me and my friends.”

This was the third time in the past two weeks he had asked me to hang out with him outside of work and each time I told him absolutely not. The kid is persistent.

“In your dreams, Blow Job,” I said, rolling my eyes.

“No, really. That’s my dream,” he said.

I raised an eyebrow. “What is?”

“You. Blow job,” he said in a low voice.

Suddenly it felt like the room got 100 degrees hotter.

“And that’s exactly where that will stay – in your dreams,” I said.

“I know, but that is within my rights as an American.”

I rolled my eyes and began toward the door.

“What?” BJ called after me. “I can’t help that you’re hot.”

I was almost out of the office when I turned and ran right into him. He was following me out too closely. We were chest to chest (or face to chest rather) and I had accidentally touched him in places I shouldn’t have in the scuffle. I quickly jumped away.

“What the fuck? Can I have some space?” I snapped.

BJ stared down at me – eyes blazing. “You can have whatever you want.”

I felt like I could hear my heart beating loudly in my ears. I hated that this little twenty one year old brat could have an affect on me.

“Bye, Brandon,” I said, gesturing toward the open door.

He didn’t take his eyes off me as he sidled out, way closer to me than necessary.

I wasn’t even to the L stop when I got a text from him: “Have an awesome weekend, Reese.” Just seeing his name on my screen did something to my body. Ugh.

I met Kendra and John for martinis and couldn’t wait to tell them about my fiancé.

“He sounds legit,” John said after I recapped Friday night. “That pharmacy school is very competitive. Awesome that he got in.”

“Isn’t it? He’s really smart,” I said.

“When are you guys hanging out again?” Kendra asked.

I failed to mention that Brady and I hadn’t exchanged numbers or made any plans of seeing each other again. I shrugged and took a sip of my martini. “Soon.”

“I’m really happy for Carly though. She deserves a good guy like Chris,” Kendra said.

I was a little annoyed that she changed the subject from me so abruptly, but I took that moment to check and make sure Brady hadn’t updated his Facebook. He hadn’t. But Carly sent me a text message that said, “Fourth of July BBQ at Chris and Brady’s. :-)”

I was already mentally picking out my outfit.

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need to make him fall in love with me.

I had a lunch meeting with some bigwigs from a flash sale website on Monday and we were going to discuss selling some of our previous lines on their website. It would be an amazing collaboration because not only would we be able to get rid of all the stuff that was just collecting dust but we would also gain a ton of publicity and new customers. They flew in from New York City just to meet me so I knew the meeting had to go well and I had to show them a good time.

I met the Vice President of sales, Martin, the senior marketing manager, Rob, and their executive assistant, Lena, at a steakery two blocks from the office. It was a little bit intimidating and I thought about taking someone along with me, but I wanted to do this on my own.

“So Reese, tell me more about your company. Tell me things I may not know,” Martin said, after we’d make our introductions, got seated and ordered a bottle of wine. He was a heavyset older gentleman who was already drenched in sweat. 

I swallowed, set my wine glass down and gathered my thoughts. 

“Our products are sold in over one hundred and seventy different retailers in twelve countries and we collaborate with artists and designers all over the world. Our latest is with a batiker from Indonesia who I discovered on Pinterest. We make it a point to only source materials from socially and environmentally responsible manufacturers, which is something our consumers love. Last quarter, our net sales were up twenty eight percent,” I said.

“If you guys are doing so well then why do you have a bunch of extra product to sell on our website?” Martin challenged. 

I smiled sweetly. “We don’t have a logistics team. We put all of our effort into product development so yes, we’re definitely lacking in that area.”

“So basically, you have a warehouse full of unsold product and you need to get rid of it,” Martin countered. 

I took another sip of wine. “That too. But mainly I just wanted to increase our online presence. Our websales aren’t where we would like them to be so I want us to explore other virtual avenues. Your company is so reputable that I thought it would be a fantastic place to start.”

“I like you,” Martin said, grinning. “You’re honest.”

I smiled. 

“Let me ask you this,” Rob said, leaning close to me from across the table. He was a thirty something DILF type who looked like he used a ton of high end hair products. “If we come to an agreement and go forward with this, how do you see our professional relationship continuing?” 

“I would love to work out something long term. Maybe quarterly. I know that our products are going to do very well with your client base.”

Two hours later, Martin and I were playfully arguing over who was going to pay the $650 bill. I thought my company should cover it since they’d traveled all the way from NYC but Martin insisted on paying it. Finally, we decided to split it. The meeting had gone really, really well and since their flight didn’t take off for another three hours, they decided to stop by the office and meet Dave and Diana. Nothing was official yet but Martin said that he would love to sit down and look at some numbers and see if we couldn’t get a deal figured out. 

After they left, Diana called me into her office.

“Reese, how did you pull this one off?” she asked. 

I shrugged. “A friend from college works in their sales department and put me in contact with Rob, who then put me in contact with Martin,” I explained. 

Diana nodded. “They seemed to love you. And if this works out, it could be really good for us. It would be a great partnership to have.”

I beamed. “It will definitely work out.”

After I left Diana’s office, I ran into BJ in the hallway.

“Where have you been all day? I missed you,” he said. 

“I had an important lunch meeting,” I told him as I walked into my office. 

He followed me in. “So that’s why those people were here. The girl was hot. She had a nice ass.” 

I shot him a dirty look. 

“Almost as nice as yours,” he added with a smirk.

I ignored him, but silently celebrated the fact that the squat challenge was obviously working. 

On my way home from work, I logged onto Facebook Mobile and saw that Carly and Chris had become friends. I immediately clicked on Chris’s profile. Brady doesn’t seem like the type of guy who uses Facebook, but it was worth a look. I clicked through a few of Chris’s profile pictures and found a group photo with Brady, who was looking just as ravishing as I remember. And alas, Brady was actually tagged. I couldn’t believe my luck. Not only could I go through his entire Facebook page, but I also had a full name for Google research purposes. 

First I went through all sixteen of his profile pictures. They were mostly group shots, but there was also one of him at what appeared to be his white coat ceremony and one of him with a German shepherd. So he’s social and into animals. Precious. I found out that he graduated from high school in 2006 and pharmacy school in 2012 so if my calculations are correct that means he’s only two years older than me. His relationship status said single and there were no random girls commenting on his photos (except a girl named Angelina who said “Looking good buddy!”). So it looks like I don’t have any competition.

When I got home, I opened up his profile on my laptop so I could stalk on a larger platform. I mostly just went through his profile pictures over and over because they were the only ones I could see with his privacy settings.

Next, I Googled his name and found his LinkedIn profile and numerous newspaper articles from sports in high school and his PharmD. graduation announcements. I also read about his parents who are like a power couple in Massachusetts. There was an article about a dinner party they had on a yacht in the Hamptons which is seriously P. Diddy level cool. The conclusion I’ve come to is that Brady and I are getting married, I just need to make him fall in love with me.

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