#Chapter 48: Running with the Wolf — Part I
The next day, I headed to work with Tiffany.
She was evaluating a sick student when I arrived.
“Good morning!” Tiffany called over her shoulder when I entered. I started to take off my jacket, but she stopped me. “Don’t get too comfy,” she said. ” We’ll be heading out right after this. Did you wear athletic clothes like I asked?”
“I did,” I replied, keeping my jacket on. Tiffany had texted me early before my shift to tell me to dress appropriately in athletic clothes and sneakers today — she didn’t explain why, but I complied and put on my only real athletic clothes, which was a pair of leggings
and a tight zin-un ton with long sleeves. I had purchased them the semester before when I thought I was going to be one of those girls who was into yoga, but one yoga class with Jessica changed my mind. Jessica was graceful and flexible with excellent balance and I… fell on my face. A lot.
Tiffany finished evaluating the student. “Looks like you’ve got a nasty case of strep throat.” She walked over to her desk and scribbled on a notepad, then ripped the page out and handed it to the student. “Take this to the pharmacy for some antibiotics. Avoid overusing your throat and try to drink lots of tea with honey. Can you come back in a week for a checkup?” The sick
student nodded miserably and left,
coughing into her elbow.
“Alright,” Tiffany said, grabbing her
coat and medical bag. “Let’s go.”
We headed out the door. Tiffany turned
the sign to ‘closed’ and then headed offtoward the athletic fields with me on her heels.
“Where are we headed?” I asked, almost jogging to keep up with Tiffany’s quick stride.
“We’re gonna be making the rounds for all of the sports teams today,” she replied, her breath making little clouds in the chilly morning air as she spoke. ” Football, soccer, rugby, and hockey.”
I almost groaned when she mentioned that we’d be visiting the hockey team, but kept it to myself.
“By the way,” she said as we walked, ” you don’t have to tell me if it’s too personal, but I’m just curious; what’s going on between you and Enzo now? And James, too?”
I sighed and shrugged. “I don’t know, honestly.”
“Can I give you a bit of advice, from onewoman to another?” she asked.
“Please,” I replied. “I need it.”
Tiffany stopped and turned toward me, taking me by both shoulders. She was shorter than me, but still had a protective and comforting air with the way she held herself.
“Don’t ever try to force a spark. Even if you’re heartbroken and lonely and you think you won’t be able to ever find the right person, it’s not worth it if you have to force it. I made that mistake with my ex husband… When you meet the right person, you’ll just know.”
I paused for a moment as I considered Tiffany’s words. Was I forcing a spark with James or Enzo? At this point, I didn’t know the difference between real feelings or just infatuation.
“Have you ever been with someone who just feels right?” I asked. “How do you know?” Tiffany sighed and started walking again. “I have,” she replied quietly, her usually-bubbly voice now low and somber. “It was a lot like you and Enzo, actually. We met here, in college. It was a confusing back-and-forth that went on for far too long, all because of me. He pissed me off. I argued with him. When he finally got sick of my games, he got together with a girl just a few days later; they got engaged by the time we graduated… I couldn’t accept his love when I had the chance, and I
still regret it.”
“Where is he now?” I asked, my curiosity getting the best of me.
“He’s a professor here, actually,” she responded. “Still married to her, with two kids now. Needless to say, I avoid him like the plague.”
I didn’t have a chance to ask Tiffany anything else before we got to the football field, and even if I had, I
probably wouldn’t have pried anymore
We spent the morning visitingwarious sports teams that were training. We would take notes on their performance, attend to any injuries or concerns that the players had, and I watched Tiffany teach them new stretches to help with their performance. It was fun to see how each team trained differently, but I dreaded visiting the hockey team. I just hoped that I could get it over with without having to interact with Enzo too much.
At the same time, however, Tiffany’s words struck a chord with me.
What if, in twenty years, Enzo was married to Lisa with two kids and I was still pining away for him? Would I regret letting him be the one that got away, just like how Tiffany regretted pushing her love away years ago? By late afternoon, after taking a funer break, Tiffany and I made our way to visit the hockey team. My heart pounded as we got closer to the arena and I just wanted to run away, but I willed myself to be strong and just focus on my work.
When we reached the arena, the team was already outside on the athletic field behind it. I didn’t know that the hockey team ever trained outside.
Tiffany waved to Enzo, and he came jogging over. My face turned red as I took in what he looked like; he was wearing athletic shorts that showed off his muscular legs, and had on a tight- fitting shirt that looked as though his biceps would burst out at any moment. As he jogged toward us, he looked both graceful and powerful at the same time. My mind flashed back to the day he ran shirtless on the treadmill, and suddenly I felt as though I wanted him badly.
“Afternoon, ladies,” Enzo said with a smile, stopping in front of us. He was acting incredibly polite, which was a surprise considering how I yelled at him the day before. However, when his brown eyes flickered over to me, I saw the briefest flash of red in them. Was it attraction or resentment?
“Training outside today?” Tiffany asked.
Enzo nodded. “Figured we could all use some fresh air since it’s so nice outside. We were planning on running along the forest trails, if you’d both like to join. us.”
“My poor old knee is acting up today, otherwise I would,” Tiffany said, then turned to me. There was a hint of playfulness in her eyes; I knew where this was going. “Why don’t you go, Nina? Do you like to run?”
My face turned even more red. “U-Um,I’m not the best runner,” I said. “I’d probably just hold all of you back.”
Truthfully, I hadn’t attempted funning since high school.
“Nonsense,” Enzo said, placing his hands on his hips. “Half of these guys have the stamina of a tortoise. C’mon, it’ll be fun.”
I looked over at Tiffany, who was only grinning back at me with that same glint in her eyes. She knew exactly what she was doing, and I knew that there was no way I could get out of this.
“Alright,” I replied, my heart
practically pounding out of my chest. ” I’ll run with you.”
Enzo smiled and jogged back toward the team. I shot Tiffany a look, to which she only punched my arm playfully and gestured with her head for me to go. With a deep sigh, I set down the medical bag and started to jog over to meet up with the team.
Why did it seem as though the universe wanted Enzo and I to be together so badly?