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“Do we really need to run 20 miles today? Why can’t we do 18 again?”

“Look, Phil. If you’re serious about running your first marathon, then we stick to the schedule. Today is 20, not 18. You’ve got to get these longer runs in because the difference between 18 and 26 is huge. Trust me.”

“How many have you run? Five, right?”

“This’ll be number six. So it’s not like I’ve run dozens of marathons, but I have run enough of them to know how to get ready. Besides, this is the same schedule most first-timers use. It’s one of those ‘pay me now or pay me later things.’ So let’s pay upfront, shall we?”

“Okay. You’re the boss,” the much older-man told him.

He wasn’t actually Phil Norton’s boss. His wife, Marissa, worked for the young, handsome dentist name Doctor Trevor Richardson. She’d worked for him for roughly a year, but he and Phil had only recently gotten acquainted. In spite of the nearly 18-year difference in their ages, the two men got along quite well.

Phil had recently gotten interested in distance running, and when he learned from Marissa that the dentist she worked for was a fairly accomplished runner himself, he asked her to mention it to Dr. Richardson the next day. That resulted in a meeting, and the two men running three miles together a few days later. In the four months since, Phil had set his sights on completing his first-ever marathon, but was having a hard time pushing himself to increase his distance.

Getting beyond the 18-mile mark had proved a very tough challenge for Phil, and he was now looking for excuses to avoid trying. He knew enough to know that Trevor Richardson knew a lot more about running than he did so he gave up complaining and agreed to give his first-ever 20-mile run a go.

“I better so say goodbye to Marissa. You know, in case I don’t come back,” Phil joked.

Trevor laughed then said, “You two are like kids in college. Do you ever give it a rest?”

“Um…nope!” the older man said. “Be right back. Oh. Feel free to start without me while I’m inside!”

“Nice try, old man,” Trevor told him. “I’ll give you two minutes.”

“Two minutes? I can’t even get it up in two minutes anymore. How am I supposed to satisfy my beautiful wife in that amount of time?” Phil teased.

“You’re on your own there, my friend, but you are a very lucky guy, that’s for sure.”

“Well, that’s why I married her. Younger women are, you know….”

Trevor laughed knowing Marissa was five years younger than her husband. At 40, she still looked incredible, and Trevor always enjoyed seeing her at work where she dressed very fashionably and in a way that always caught his eye. He’d never tell Phil that let alone act on his feelings, but yeah, she was a very attractive woman.

As Phil walked back inside, Trevor couldn’t help but wonder if perhaps Marissa was the reason for all this newfound love of fitness. It made a lot of sense, as Phil said he’d put on nearly 40 pounds since they got married 12 years ago, while Marissa weighed ‘a couple of pounds less’ than she did on their wedding day. Or so Phil had said.

Were he in a similar situation, Trevor could see himself doing the same sort of thing to stay attractive to a still very hot woman like her, although he hoped he’d never let himself go in the first place and get to where he needed to lose the weight.

“That was fast,” Trevor said when Phil came back just seconds later.

“Yeah, let’s go,” he said, his tone clearly indicating something was wrong.

They talked off and on about this and that throughout the run, which for Trevor, was at a very slow pace, but Phil didn’t say a word about what happened at the house. The pace wasn’t as important as getting Phil ready for his first big run, so Trevor plodded along at at about 8:30 a mile. That was excellent for someone like Phil, but tortuously slow for a decent runner like Trevor.

Somewhere around the 15-mile point, Trevor finally said in a very casual way, “Everything okay on the home front?”

Phil was already physically hurting, and Trevor wasn’t sure he could say much even if he wanted to.

“We’re…goin’ through a…a kind of…rough patch,” Phil said in spurts.

“I’m sorry to hear that. You guys seem like the perfect couple.”

“Yeah, not so much these days,” Phil managed to say in reply. “She’s really unhappy with me lately or maybe I should say with…what makes me happy.”

Trevor thought about asking what his older friend was talking about but realized it was none of his business. Yes, they were friends, but they weren’t close friends and probably never would be. Other than Marissa and running they really had nothing else in common, so if Phil wanted to share this problem with him he would. If not, Trevor wasn’t about to ask.

“You doin’ okay, old man?” he asked at the start of mile 18, surprised Phil was still hanging in there.

“Yeah. I’m okay,” he said sounding slightly better. “And I…will run this…this fucking marathon…even if it kills me!”

Trevor chuckled as he’d never heard Phil say anything worse than ‘damn it’ bets10 before.

“Good. Just keep puttin’ one foot in front of the other. We’ve got about a mile and three quarters to go.”

“Ha! Easy for you to say…kid!” Phil said before trying to be funny with, “Just…kid-ding.”

Even though it wasn’t really funny, Trevor laughed again then settled in for the rest of the run.

“You wanna come in and get something to drink?” Phil asked as he walked off the longest run of his life some 15 minutes later.

“Um…sure. But I won’t stay. Marissa sees more than enough of me at work so maybe just a quick drink of water.”

Trevor had water and G2, a lighter form of Gatorade, and some snacks in his car, but he felt obligated to at least go in and say ‘hello’. And seeing Marissa Norton was never a bad thing in his book so he agreed to pop in and have a glass of water.

Phil let him in first, and Marissa saw him immediately and smiled.

“Hey, there!” she said cheerfully. “Did you kill my husband today?”

“No. Not today. He did really well, though, for his first-ever double decade.”

“Ah, okay. Ten miles times two equals twenty or two decades. You see, I’m not as slow as you think,” she said in her always-happy voice.

She saw her husband walk in a few seconds later and stopped smiling just as quickly as she started. Marissa just glared at him for a second then turned back toward her young boss and smiled again.

“Well, thank you for taking so much of your time to help him get…thin,” she said in a way that sounded very snarky, something Marissa just didn’t do.

Marissa’s comment caused Phil to shake his head and that reaction, in turn, caused Marissa to say, “Well, that is the goal, right? It’s not about getting healthy, it’s about getting thin. Thin enough to….”

“My pleasure,” Trevor said cutting in once there was an opening to speak in the frosty room. “I can’t imagine my life without running or cycling. If I enjoyed swimming, I’d run triathlons.”

“Doing two events is pretty amazing in my book,” she told him.

Trevor had competed in two biathlons and finished a respectable sixth in his second attempt, something he’d shared only when asked as he wasn’t the type to ever ‘blow his own horn’.

Sensing the growing tension, Trevor held up the glass, drained it, then said, “Thanks for the water, Marissa. And Phil—thanks for the run.”

Marissa politely said, “You’re most welcome!” while Phil told him, “No, thank you, buddy. I really appreciate it.”

He was rubbing his knee then said, “Or at least I think I appreciate it.”

Trevor reminded him to ice it the way they’d discussed then told Marissa, “I’ll see you tomorrow morning then, I guess.”

“Yes, you will! Bright and early!” she said smiling happily at him.

Dr. Trevor Richardson was a new dentist a little over a year out of school and had opened his first practice some nine months ago after kind of interning with an experienced dentist in his hometown for several months after returning there following graduation from dental school. He’d known the older dentist most of his life as the man had not only been Trevor’s dentist but his parents’, as well, for much of their lives.

The newly-minted doctor of dentistry was very grateful for the older man’s willingness to not only let him assist with patients but teach him the business side of things, too. They would be competitors, but not for long, as the dentist he interned with was retiring in another year or so and had no real concerns with losing ‘customers’.

Marissa was the first person Trevor had hired and he was grateful he had every single day. She’d had nearly ten years of experience with another dentist before taking a couple of years off and, not having children or anything to fill her days, had quickly learned she hated being home all the time. She was thrilled to be back and work and ran the front office for Dr. Richardson.

She did a superb job taking and making appointments, doing the filing, and coordinating the schedules of the hygienist and the two assistants he had working for him, as well as payroll. Without her, he’d have had to pay one of the several payroll companies in the greater Seattle area, and that was money he could ill afford to spend.

Marissa was unfailingly sunny, optimistic, and helpful, and had undoubtedly been a huge reason for drawing in and keeping so many new patients. He had several friends from dental school who’d struck out on their own who were either struggling or on the verge of going under in their own new practices. Trevor, on the other hand, was doing quite well for someone in his position. It would be several more years before he was debt free, but he was already able to take a monthly draw from the practice, and that was a very good thing.

And although he’d never say it, he found himself looking forward to seeing her every day as she was always not only dressed attractively, but was downright attractive herself.

As Trevor drove home, he said to himself, “Wow. So much for the Norton home bets10 giriş being Camelot.”

He had no idea what was going on, but something clearly was, and his hope was it was nothing more than a spat. He didn’t know them well enough to say whether or not this was something normal or unusual, but his sense had always been that they were a very happy couple that was always doing things together. Phil tended to talk about his beautiful wife quite often, and regularly told him how much he loved her and how much she meant to him, while Marissa made similar comments at work making this ‘spat’ all the more troubling to Trevor.

In the past, Marissa had always saved up her vacation time so she and her husband could go somewhere together. They’d both really enjoyed taking a cruise or flying somewhere exotic like China where they saw The Great Wall one year or to the United Kingdom were they visited Stonehenge and other historic places.

Again, it was none of his business, but he still felt bad to think they were arguing. Sure, he knew all couples had disagreements, but his own biggest fear about getting married was having a wife who began nagging constantly or one who lost interest in him physically somewhere down the line. The thought of her cheating on him was even worse, and one he couldn’t even stand to think about.

No one could predict the future, but one could at least try and minimize future problems by ensuring one had as much in common with one’s spouse as possible. Knowing that did nothing to change what might or might not be going on with Phil and Marissa, it yet is was somehow comforting to him to know he’d never settle for just any woman.

As he drove along, Trevor wondered why he was spending so much time thinking about it when it wasn’t his problem. Yes, Marissa worked for him, but her personal life was her business. As long as her performance was fine he had no reason to get involved or care so much.

The only answer he could come up with was that Marissa was quite possibly the nicest woman he’d ever met, and it didn’t hurt that she was also extremely attractive. Had he had not hired her personally, he’d have never guessed her age. He had so he knew, but he was still surprised when she received flowers with a big card on her 40th birthday a couple of months ago. It was obvious the other girls who worked there had no idea as Trevor heard them talking about it off on for the next day or two.

“Did you see the card with Marissa’s flowers?” one girl said.

“I know, right?” the other answered. “Happy 40th Birthday! I thought that had to be for someone else, you know?”

“Me, too! I was so surprised! I thought was closer to 30. And who would do that, anyway? I mean, I wouldn’t want my husband telling the world I was 40 years old!”

“Yeah, but it was still very sweet, right?”

And so it went.

As he pulled into his driveway he let the issue go and headed inside to shower and get something healthy and nutritious to eat before taking a look at the next day’s schedule at work just in case he needed to review a procedure if something complex was on the docket.

That killed a couple of hours, and as he sat there at the desk in his home office, he found himself thinking about Marissa again.

She looked, dressed, and acted like a much-younger woman, but she was also very intelligent. Trevor thought of her as being classy and sophisticated while not at all pretentious. In a word, she was the kind of woman he was looking for and at 27, he was finally at a point in his life where he was beginning to seriously think about settling down and starting a family.

But he’d rather stay single forever than end up with someone for the wrong reasons. He’d dated a ton of women since high school, and so far only a couple of them had been the kind of women he’d ever consider marrying. Well, there was Marissa, too, but she was very much a married woman and considerably older than him. However, if she had a sister who was say…30-ish…and as desirable as she was, who knew?

Trevor took the next day off from running as a 20-miler, even at a relatively slow pace, definitely required giving the body a chance to recover. He knew Phil would probably need at least two and possibly three days, but after that they’d be back on track and that meant getting in at least one run close to the 26-mile total involved in running a marathon.

He laughed when he thought about the extra 385 yards that went with the 26 miles. For those who’d never run one, what amounted to a little less then one extra lap around a quarter-mile track seemed trivial. But to anyone who had run a marathon and who’d hit the proverbial ‘wall’ at around the 20-mile mark, every yard after that was somewhere between difficult and agonizing with those last 385 feeling like sharp stabs of pain inflicted with a hot knife.

The following morning, he showed up at the office at 7:15, and knew the place would be up and running and that Marissa would have a pot of coffee going by the time he walked in. Most places shied away from making coffee anymore, bets10 güvenilir mi but both he and Marissa loved the dark brew. He only drank two cups a day, but he thoroughly enjoyed and looked forward to both of them.

“Good morning!” Marissa said cheerfully when she saw him.

“Good morning to you!” he said back. “The coffee smells so good!”

“It’s fresh and a blend of dark and medium blends. Better grab yourself a cup,” she said with a smile.

On her very first day she’d gotten up and got a cup for him. Trevor thanked her then let her know that while he was grateful, he didn’t consider her to be a personal assistant and let her know as politely as possible he could get his own.

That one, small detail had meant a lot to her as she felt the same way. She’d just gotten so used to doing personal things for the dentists she’d worked for in the past that it was second nature for her.

“Your time is every bit as valuable as mine,” he’d assured her. “So every minute you spend doing something for me is a minute something else more important doesn’t get done.”

It had been such a big deal that Marissa had surprised him with the one and only hug she’d ever given him, and he could still recall not only how she’d felt in his arms, but the way her soft, silky, shoulder-length, blonde hair had felt and smelled. He also remembered the way his body had responded by causing a particular area to swell almost immediately, and he was very relieved when she pulled away a few seconds later before a kind of ‘big reveal’ took place.

Once Trevor had his coffee, Marissa quickly gave him the known changes in the schedule and let him know that meant he’d be doing a root canal first thing. Dental specialists called endodontists handled all but routine root canals, and this one would be very routine and straightforward. Other than that, the day was filled with the standard fare of exams, fillings, and one extraction.

Trevor thanked her then went to his office to drink his coffee and take care of a couple of things only he could do as the owner.

‘His’ girls showed up at 7:30 and by 8am the first patients were sitting in chairs waiting to either be seen by Dr. Richardson or to have their teeth cleaned by his hygienist. All in all, it was another day in paradise as Trevor loved his job and saw every patient as both a challenge and the opportunity to either get to know someone or know them better.

As did every day, this one flew by and before he knew it, it was time to go home.

“Why are you still here?” he said cheerfully to Marissa at 6pm. “You should have been gone an hour ago.”

Her ever-present smile was missing and she looked away when she responded.

“I uh, I just had a few things to take care of. That’s all,” she told him as she sifted through the paperwork laying on her desk.

Trevor knew better. Marissa was on top of everything and was always ahead of the ‘power curve’, not behind it.

He’d let her know early on he couldn’t pay overtime unless he asked someone to stay late so it wasn’t as though she’d hung around to make a few extra dollars. He wanted to ask her what was going on at home but didn’t.

“Okay. Well, as much as I enjoy spending time with you, I think I’ll head home,” he told her just as cheerfully.

She smiled then said, “I’ll be sure to lock up and set the alarm. Have a nice night, Trevor.”

He’d also told her early on he preferred being called by his given name whenever there weren’t any patients around, something else no other dentist had ever allowed. Yes, he needed the authority the word ‘doctor’ provided around his patients, especially since he was so young, but it seemed pretentious when it was just the two of them.

He wore his lab coat as often as possible during the day just because it had his name embroidered on it. Perhaps when he was well enough established he’d no longer feel the need, but for now, being called ‘Doctor Richardson’ was very important, and Marissa unfailing did so even if it was when just the other girls were present. But tonight it was just her and Trevor.

As the days passed and the runs with Phil continued, Trevor was certain something was very wrong at home. Curiosity wasn’t an excuse for butting in, but it was getting to the point where things were becoming very strained between the formerly-happy husband and wife team, and Trevor began looking for excuses not to come inside after a run.

The day of the race itself, he did agree to go inside before they left ,and something Marissa said seemed very out of place.

As they got ready to leave, Phil said to his wife, “I guess I’ll see you later then.”

As odd as it struck Trevor that his wife wasn’t coming to watch, it was what she said in response that really caught him off guard.

“I’m surprised you’re not wearing pantyhose over your smoothly-shaved legs. I mean, it’s cold enough to let you get away with it. In public.”

That, plus the way she seemed to almost sneer at him, caused Trevor to excuse himself and go outside while Phil finished getting ready. It was fairly chilly, but that comment made absolutely no sense to Trevor. He’d seen plenty of guys shave their legs thinking it would give them some kind of edge. He just thought it was a waste of time. But if it mattered to Phil what difference did it make?

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