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Red Hot Christmas by Mara White, K. Larsen (13)

 

Frankie

 

He woke up to a text from Lou. He’d slept past noon and Peebo was still under the covers probably holding his tiny bladder. When Frankie stirred, he poked his head out and started licking his chin stubble.

“Peebs, Christ! Brush your damn teeth!”

Lou’s text was totally out of character and Frankie could tell he felt guilty.

 

Sorry for my reaction yesterday. I don’t think you know, kid, how many women ogle you on bad day. You do what you want. Not sure if you even heard my comment about the modeling agency.

I did. I know. And I do do me. You old bastard!

 

He immediately replied. You still in bed, milquetoast?

 

What a dick. He thought.   

Been up for HOURS. At brunch right now with a hottie. He typed out.

 

Nope, you ain’t. Cause I’m standing out front your door and I could hear you sawing logs. You had a 5 K to run today for Lymphoma. I dropped out when you were MIA ‘cause I worry about you like I do my own kids, ya dumb shit.

 

“Fuck!” Frankie exclaimed jumping out of the bed and taking half the sheets with him. Peebo barked out his warning song as they both raced to the front door. Frankie skidded on the wood floor and leaned down momentarily to remove his socks. Peebo jumped in the air like an insane circus dog. He wiggled his back at the peak trying to jump high enough to bite the doorknob.

“Sorry, boss,” Frankie said letting his loving and grizzled coach into his apartment.  “I fucked up. Can’t believe I missed the race,” he said running his hands through his disheveled bed hair. “I’ll still match the donations.” He went to the refrigerator, grabbed a bottle of water and downed the contents quickly.

“I know you will. I got worried you were angry at me about your internet girlfriend. I can see why you’re into it, but I would, you know, encourage you to try some real life dating as well.”

“Coffee?”

“No, I’m green tea only.”

“I’ve got it. I’ll make some.” Frankie took down a box of tea from the cupboard above the sink. Filled the tea kettle and pulled a carton of eggs out of the refrigerator. “I was on the late shift. That’s why I knocked out so hard.”

“Speaking of that shitty job. Did you see the copy of the Wilhelmina contract I emailed you? Six figure offer with that brand you always wear.”

“What? Seriously?” He stood slack jawed at Lou’s statement.

“What, you think I’m gonna joke about it? You got the chops kid. They want you and, mark my words, this won’t be the only contract you’ll get offered.”

“Holy crap, Lou. Can’t even process.”

“You worked hard for it, Frank. You can quit the job. Dedicate your time to training and fitness modeling exclusively.”

Frankie dropped six eggs into a hot frying pan scrambling them as they hit the surface.

“I’ll try to go on more dates. It can be my New Year’s resolution.”

They sat at Frankie’s kitchen island and ate scrambled eggs and toast. Frankie grated cheese onto his while they were still steaming. Lou got up and made a protein shake while Frankie went over the contract. It was a big deal, the biggest thing to ever happen to him. All thanks to Lou too. Sure Frankie worked hard, but Lou had coached and guided him every step of the way. From the physical side to cultivating his inner strength. Hell, Lou even taught him how to use Instagram, advised on posts and took half the damn pictures that gained him his huge following.

“You’re coming with me, right? Be my agent or whatever it is you do?”

“I’ll always be there for you, kid. But at this stage in the game, you need someone who knows what they’re doing.”

“You get a cut of this, man. That’s for sure. I wouldn’t be at this stage without you.”

“I won’t take shit, so you better stop talking about it.” Lou waved a hand through the air.

Frankie wanted to punch the wall or maybe even shed a tear. It felt like Lou was breaking up with him and he was about the most important person in his life.

“You gonna go find your next prodigy?”

“Something like that.”

Frankie fed Peebo bits of egg and cheese, leaning off the stool and dropping his hand to the floor.

“No wonder you don’t have a girlfriend. Married to that damn dog!”

“Peebs is a boy,” Frankie retorted. Lou shook his head at Frankie like he was an amateur.

They both sat silently scrolling through their phones. Frankie was responding to comments on Instagram, Lou was reading the news. He couldn’t wait to tell his followers about the new gig. They would flip. Even he was flipping the fuck out. Like Lou said, he’d been a life-long fan of the brand. Begged for his first track suit from his dad at thirteen. Now his life had come full circle and they were offering to pay him to wear it.

He checked his favorite pages to follow which led him to Red_Jimmy_Shoes. There she was in all her splendor, upside-fucking-down. Ass to the camera, and what an ass it was. Breasts exposed to the wall, what a tease, and filtered in black and white again. She blew him away with her subtle and sexy homages; they turned him on like crazy.

“Check it out,” he passed the phone to Lou.

“Same girl?” Lou asked. He reached in his front pocket and pulled out his glasses. He held the phone away from him and squinted, then pulled it in close and let out a chortle.

“Sexy, right?” Frankie said. “I put up a handstand one last night too, that’s what it’s in response to.”

“That’s Amber. One of my clients. The hair would have tipped me off if it were in color, but I’d recognize that ass any day.”

“Why, you were involved?” Frankie’s eyes bugged out.

Lou removed his glasses.

“No, you dumb shit. Involved in a client—trainer relationship, thank you. I been training that girl for nearly five years. One hell of a squatter.”

“So she found me because she’s also a client of yours? Wait a second—Amber? That’s the woman from work!” Frankie jumped to his feet and grabbed the phone back from Lou. “Amber and I have the same trainer?”

“Guess so,” Lou said going back to his news.

Peebo was racing around the kitchen island and barking. He’d jump once every lap when he got close to Frankie.

“How come you never told me?”

“What? I don’t talk about my other clients.”

“We work in the same building!”

“Great! Ask her on a date,” Lou yawned.

“Is she single?”

“Divorced. I actually starting training her ex-husband first. Paying client, but the guy always rubbed me the wrong way.”

“Should I let her know I know?” Frankie asked him. He felt flattered and excited and nervous as hell.

“I don’t care what you do. Listen, thanks for the eggs. I got to make it over to my next client,” he glanced at his watch. “Post about the run for Lymphoma. An apology and let them know you’re still going to match the donations. Don’t tell them you slept through, make up something about the dog or your mother.”

Frankie saluted Lou and opened the door for him.

“Thanks, boss. Sorry about the screw up.”

“Meet me at the gym at seven. I want you right out of a five mile warm up. No excuses, Frank. Just got a contract and you’re already slipping. Don’t let the money go to your head.”

“Dude, I didn’t even know about the money yet!” Frankie defended.

“Spirit over matter. Always. Never forget that,” Lou told him pointing a finger to his temple.

 

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