Becky laced up her sneakers and pulled her long brown hair into a ponytail. She really needed a trim, but that would mean she had to get off work on time, and it would cost money. Every spare penny Becky had went toward her savings. Savings she would one day use to get out from under the thumb of her ultra-controlling boss, Megan.
That savings would help Becky survive for a year without a job, just in case it took that long. She was close, but not there just yet. And a haircut and new wardrobe, another thing she needed desperately since losing over 50 pounds, would set her back further than she was willing to go.
Instead, Becky sucked it up and prayed the people she interviewed with weren’t as worried about her appearance as Megan was about hers. The perfect little witch always wore shirts with a few too many buttons left open, with push-up bras that left nothing to the imagination, and pencil skirts that boasted not one panty line, which could only mean there weren’t any panties there.
It disgusted Becky to go in there every day and see a woman like Megan. A woman who took women back 50 years. In a world where women strived for equality and balance, Megan’s overt display of assets reminded men where women ‘belonged’ – and it wasn’t the boardroom.
Becky locked her apartment, started up her iPod, and jogged down the two flights of stairs to the ground. She’d been jogging every morning for the last few months, a way to center herself before being subjected to too many breasts in her face all day. Becky found it was a good way to start her morning, and meant after a too long day she could go home, soak in her bathtub, and crash without feeling guilty.
A right turn and Becky took off. She circled the edge of her neighborhood, a large complex that housed almost 200 residents, and headed off into the nearby neighborhood of single family homes and luxury cars. Neither of which Becky had any fantasies about, mostly because no one looked twice at the smart girl in the baggy clothes.
Lost in her reverie about all the things she wanted to change in her life, Becky didn’t notice the man running toward her. With each step he watched as her new workout clothes molded over her new figure, one that rivaled any woman he’d ever met. A figure that he ached to explore further. A figure that was completely oblivious to him, in spite of his tall stature and broad shoulders, dark hair and piercing blue eyes, and very obvious interest in her.
But more importantly than all that, she was oblivious to the puppy that eagerly pulled his new owner toward the person he wanted to be his new best friend.
The puppy crossed in front of Becky just as she approached, his leash taut between his owner’s hand and his collar, a perfect tripping hazard for Becky. “Watch out!” he called less than a second before her stride hit the leash and she toppled, free-falling toward the ground and screaming as she went.
Becky’s hands went out to brace herself and just barely brushed the ground, pain searing her palms, before she hovered in mid-air.
Strong hands held her, awkwardly, one low on her waist, nearly brushing between her legs, and the other cupping one breast. The hands held her tight, pulling her close and lifting her away from the concrete that surely would have done more damage than a stranger copping a feel.
He held her, whispering, “I’ve got you,” as she righted her feet beneath her. Becky had no idea how she’d tripped so miraculously, and despite her embarrassment, she was grateful for the stranger’s help.
She finally looked up at him, blue eyes meeting her own brown ones in a look that said more than Becky would ever admit aloud. Heat and desire reflected in his gaze, a shock to Becky as much as to the sexy stranger.
“I… I’m sorry. I don’t know what happened. Thank you for saving me,” Becky stammered, unable to break away from his brilliant eyes.
Equally stunned, he simply stared at her. Only when the dog started barking did either of them look away.
“Oh, he’s cute,” Becky said, crouching down to scratch the dog behind his ears. “What’s his name?”
“Zach,” came out in a whisper. He cleared his throat and tried again, this time stronger, “Zach. His name is Zach. I’m sorry. He’s the reason you tripped. He cut across your path before I could stop him. Are you okay?”
Becky brushed her hands together and felt the sting of her scrapes. She looked down and saw no blood, just raw skin. “I’ll be fine. Thanks for your help. It was nice meeting you, Zach,” she said with one more scratch behind the dog’s ears.
Then she took off running. Away from him.
He just watched her in wonder, trying to figure out if she was playing him or if she really didn’t know how badly she’d affected him in the brief minutes they stood together.
Then he realized he never even got her name, and she never asked for his.
Back home Becky got dressed for work. With feelers out, she checked her messages constantly hoping for an interview. She’d been on plenty, but none seemed to stick. She was hoping for one last call before starting to process all over again.
When she pulled into work a beep alerted Becky to a new message waiting for her. She checked her phone and saw the interview she’d been hoping for was scheduled for the next afternoon. A quick reply to confirm she’d be there and went into work with a little bit of happiness.
Until she spotted Megan. Her good mood deflated like a popped balloon, especially when Megan said, “I’ll need you to work overtime tomorrow. I’ve got an appointment and need to leave early so you’ll have to stay and cover me.”
So much for her interview.