Note from Author: If you have not read Chapters Nine-Eleven, please read them before reading Chapter Twelve. -Julie L. Spencer
“Get up. It’s time to go running. You’re late.” I yanked the comforter off Sammy, hoping she was fully dressed but not really considering it ahead of time.
“I’m not going today,” she mumbled, pulling her pillow over her head.
“Oh, yes, you are, sweetheart. Get up.”
“Did you just call me sweetheart?” She lifted her head from under the pillow then moaned and dropped it back down. “My head hurts.”
“I’ll bet it does.” I was completely unsympathetic. “The best cure for a hangover is to go running. Now get up.”
“One, you’re absolutely lying, and two, you wouldn’t know.”
“You’re right, and you’re right. Now get up.”
“No, give me back my comforter and go away.”
“Heck no. Get your shoes on.”
“Yes!” I swung her legs over the side of the bed and shoved a foot into her running shoe, pulling the laces a little too tight on purpose.
“Stop, you’re gonna make me hurl. My head is spinning.” She placed her hands on my shoulders as I laced up her shoes. I looked up at her and raised my eyebrows.
“Good, better to do it now than on the side of the road. Shall I grab your trash can? Or would you like to make a run for the bathroom?”
“I’m not actually going to hurl. I was being facetious.”
“Ooh, quite a big word for such a little girl. Now gimme your other foot.”
“What if I don’t?” Sammy tucked her foot up underneath her in a contorted position that would make a master yogi jealous.
“I’ll tickle-torture you until you do.”
“Then I’ll pee my pants, and puke on you.” She relented and pulled her foot out from under her rear end, keeping her hands on my shoulders.
“This day is just getting better and better.” I shoved her other shoe on and laced it tight again. “Go use the toilet before we run. I don’t want to carry you back to the house with puke in your hair and pee running down your legs.”
“Okay, I’m gonna hurl just from that visual.” She used my shoulders as a means of hoisting herself to a standing position and teetered for a few seconds. I sat back on my heels, so she could slip past me and head into her Pepto-Bismol colored bathroom. A fitting color for the condition she was in.
I wondered which end things would come out first. One way or the other, this morning wasn’t going to end well. I was a glutton for punishment torturing her like this, but she had it coming.
“And don’t try to sneak out the window to get away from me,” I called through the closed door. “We’re on the third floor, you know.”
“I am very aware we’re on the third floor,” she mumbled through the door. “I’ve lived here all my life.”
I stood and started stretching my hamstrings while waiting for her. It didn’t take long and I didn’t hear any loud noises, so I assumed the hurling wasn’t going to happen until we reached the beach at the end of the peninsula. I was grateful when she came out of the bathroom with a ponytail in her hair. Perfect. One fewer thing to clean. I could throw her in the lake afterward… tempting thought.
“Let’s go, sweetheart.” I held out my hand, only half expecting her to take it. I was surprised when she did, and even more surprised when I realized how good it felt to hold her hand. It was almost a turn on, but then I considered that I’d be holding her head in a few minutes and there ended that fantasy. Best not to get my emotions involved anyway.
Today was Operation Torture Sammy. Paybacks were a nightmare. Or in this case, a hangover. I chuckled as I pulled her down the stairs. She stumbled and moaned behind me and used my back as a means of keeping herself from falling down the stairs.
When we were halfway down the main staircase, the smell of bacon wafted up to us. I was hungry, but Sammy groaned and held her hand to her stomach. I got her to the front door quickly, wondering if we’d make it all the way to the beach.
We started our run at a leisurely pace. I didn’t want to torture her too much, just enough to make her wish she’d never heard of Jim Beam and to be sure she never drank alcohol again.
With every stumbling foot that hit the pavement, Sammy moaned, eyes closed, allowing her muscle memory to pull her forward. She was funny to watch, and I wanted to laugh out loud but didn’t want to break her concentration. I really hoped she wouldn’t embarrass herself in front of her neighbors. It was only a half mile more to the beach and I could guide her right over to the tall weeds, far away from any patrons who might want to sunbathe in a few hours.
One hundred yards, fifty yards, almost there, shoes hit the soft sand, and there she goes. Perfect timing. Far enough away from everyone else yet close enough for me if I had to carry her home. I doubled over trying hard not to laugh but failing miserably.
“I hate you,” Sammy said after a few minutes of hanging her head over the tall grasses. “You’re the most despicable human being on the planet.” She spit again and cleared her throat, standing up halfway.
“Maybe next time you’ll think of this when you consider messing up my date.”
“There’s going to be another date?” She moaned again, and I wasn’t sure if it was because she was going to be sick again or because she didn’t want me to go on another date with Alicia. Either way, I needed to get her away from that spot or the smell was going to make me sick.
“Come on, let’s go sit on the beach for a little while so you can rest. You’ve had a tough morning.”
“You’re a jerk and I hate you.”
“I’ll take that as a compliment, sweetheart. Now come on.” I grabbed her hand and tugged her toward the beach.
“I wanna go home,” she said, dragging her feet reluctantly.
“Do you think you can run back?”
“That’s what I thought. Now come on.”
“My mouth tastes like cotton balls soaked in puke.”
“I’ll bet. Come on, there’s a drinking fountain up here. You can rinse your mouth.”
When we got to the fountain she drank several long gulps then doused her face and then her neck and head, then she ran back over to another clump of grasses and threw up again.
“I should have warned you not to drink the water too fast,” I called over to her. After another minute or two she grumbled at me again.
“I hate you.”
“Yes, I think we’ve established that. Now come rinse your mouth again so we can go sit by the lake. I’m tired.”
“You’re tired? I’m the one who’s hungover!”
“And who’s fault is that, sweetheart?”
“Stop calling me that.” She leaned back over the drinking fountain.
“Hey Sammy…” I pulled her arm gently. “Just take a sip this time, eh?
“Shut up, Brandon.” She took just a little water and spit most of it back out to rinse her mouth.
“Better?” I asked.
“I’m not speaking to you.” She trudged ahead of me, her feet sinking into the soft sand. “I hate you and you’re a jerk.”
“You can thank me for this later,” I said, hurrying to catch up. We sat for a while, mostly not speaking, just enjoying the early-morning summer air and watching the waves crash onto the shore. When we’d rested long enough, we walked casually back down the peninsula toward her bed & breakfast. I wondered how long it would be before she forgave me. I chuckled. Chalk one up to Brandon.
Running To You
Click here to read the next chapter in my work-in-progress!