Multi-Level

“Well, um, hello,” Ramon stammered.

“Well, hello yourself. Aren’t you the handsomest thing?” Evie said. “And you’re blushing? Priceless.”

“I’m not used to compliments. I- I-“ Ramon coughed to hide his stutter.

“I don’t believe that. A big strong man like you, you must beat the girls away with a stick. When Amelia told me you work out I had no idea. These muscles are golden.”

Ramon chuckles nervously and curled his biceps to be squeezed.

“Well, um, you are handsome too—I mean beautiful. You have a beautiful everything. I mean face you have a beautiful face.” Ramon closed his eyes and took a deep breath.

Evie flipped her jet black hair over her silky shoulder, laid a skillful hand over Ramon’s arm, leaned closer, and purred, “A smooth talker and a hot body, I’ve hit the lottery. Tell me a story.”

“I was the fat kid, teased a lot. Some stuff happened in my life and well I just had to get strong. I started as a personal trainer right after high school. The flexible schedule allowed me to go to community college and take care of my grandma. She’s my heart. When she took in my sister and me that saved us. Her sugar diabetes got bad and—“

“I’ll have a Ketel One dirty martini with extra olives,” Evie shouted to the waitress taking orders at a neighboring table. “This is why I never tip. No one wants to work hard, am I right. Now what were you saying about training.”

“Well, um you know I’m an accountant right. I still train as a side hustle and I am preparing for a weight lifting competition in the spring, but mostly I—“

“I knew you and I were the same. We are willing to hustle, make that money, be winners. We don’t sit on our fat asses waiting for opportunities. Winners make opportunities,” Evie said as her fingers slithered down Ramon’s forearm and rested on his knee. “Wouldn’t you like to be your own boss? Have a network of friends and family working under you while you make money without lifting a finger. You could use your before and after photos, show off some bodybuilder poses and my company’s supplements and weight loss shakes will sell themselves.”

“I don’t-don’t—“ With each syllable his body melted towards Evie.

“Shhh, don’t think,” Evie said her right inching up Ramon’s thigh and her left index finger to his lips. “Everyone is afraid. Everyone hates something about themselves. Everyone wants to change and they are willing to pay all they have and more for a magic elixir to make their problems disappear. There just happens to be a meeting tonight. No pressure just informational. Then back to my place to talk—“

“Dirty,”the waitress broke in, with an acid smile. She placed the martini in front of Evie. “So nice to see you again. What is it the third time this week? Business must be booming. And aren’t you Coach Osborn? I’m Kiki my little nephew Malcom is on your team. He talks about you nonstop. I got you a bowl of pretzels and another Evian for you, Coach Osborn.” The waitress set down the basket, the water, a stack of napkins in front of Ramon. The top napkin read: RUN. Evie drained her martini. Ramon stared at the message, shook his head as if to clear it, look at Evie, and slipped the napkin in his pocket.

“This is the end of my shift but I will send your waitress Melody over to take real good care of you.”

“Thank you Kiki I mean good night, I mean say hi to Malcolm for me.”

Kiki and Ramon gave each other lingering smiles as Evie slurped olives off her cocktail toothpick.

“Take care, Coach. I know what you mean.”

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