My mom. Yeah right. It wasn’t hard to pretend to be her.
It only takes me a couple minutes to finish everything. When I do, the supermodel says, “Okay, let me just get—oh, here he is. Tegan, you have a new client.”
Tegan? I didn’t even realize he came in. I twist around to see him approaching us. No. This won’t work. “Um, I specifically asked for a girl,” I tell her, trying to keep my voice low so he doesn’t hear me. It was a hard choice when I called because it’s not like I really want a girl to know my body fat percentage either. They’re even worse than guys, but I hoped there might be someone…a little like me?
“Sorry. No female trainers.” Hello bionic hearing. Gym Boy steps up beside me.
“Why didn’t they tell me on the phone?” I hope supermodel doesn’t think I’m checking her out because I’m not letting my gaze veer from her, hoping we can somehow cut Mr. I-like-to-call-clients-on their’s-fears out of this.
“Because we had one.”
I turn to face him since he’s obviously going to answer all my questions. “And you don’t now? It’s been less than twenty-four hours.”
“Only takes thirty seconds to quit.”
“Do you have an answer for everything?”
“Yep. It’s called the truth.”
This boy is going to drive me crazy! How am I supposed to go through with this if he’s my trainer? “I never lied.”
“Guilty conscious? I only said I told the truth, not that you didn’t.”
“Umm, Teag.” Crap. I almost forgot supermodel was there.
“Listen; is there anyone else I can have?”
“No,” Gym Boy interrupts. He nods toward some chairs and for some complete freak of a reason, I follow him. Maybe it’s because he’s not looking at me like Jerk McJerkerson right now. We sit down. This should be interesting. “I could have handled the chair, you know.”
“Umm, good for you? I’ll try and remember not to be a normal, polite human being next time I see you.”
At first my words seem to shock him, but then his smile threatens to appear again. “As long as we’re clear on that.” That quickly, his voice isn’t clipped the way it was when we first started talking.
“Okay, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to find a trainer who doesn’t have split personalities…”
“Wait, I know we didn’t get off on the right foot, but like it or not, you need me, Annabel.”
“…or who isn’t a jerk.” I try to stand, but he touches my leg and I hurry to sit down, hoping he’ll move it before he realizes how jiggly it is. He’s shaking his head, but the way he looks, makes me think it’s not at me.
“Hear me out. Since I’m such a jerk with mental issues, it’s obvious you don’t like me. Working out can be kind of an embarrassing thing. Since you don’t like me, you won’t care what I think. It’ll be easier to focus on what you’re doing and it’ll help you reach your goals.” He settles into the seat, looking all smug like he just came up with some Ghandi-like quote.
“Yes, but aren’t you supposed to actually trust your trainer as well?” There. Take that.
“Hey!” He sits up straighter. “What did I do to make you feel like you can’t trust me? As I’ve showed you, I’ve got the honesty thing down pat.”
I roll my eyes and make sure he sees me. “Are you even old enough to be a trainer? How do I know you know what you’re doing?”
I can tell by the gleam in his chocolatey eyes that he knows he’s got me. But in a way, he does have a point. There are plenty of pretty boys at my school for me to worry about, why do I need to care what this one thinks of me?
“I’m eighteen. It’s June, my birthday is in August. Graduated this year, but took the course, and got certified last summer. Been doing it ever since. Though I’m really not sure why I’m trying to sell myself to you.”
“Ah, so this is an undercover massage parlor.” It takes a minute for me to realize I made a joke with him. “Get it? Sell yourself? Sorry. It’s the sign. I’m sure the answer to your question is the money, though.” Or he thinks it would be funny to see the fat girl fail. Ugh. Why do I always do that?
Tegan’s mouth tightens so slightly I can hardly tell. “I don’t need your money. You can find someone else if you want. I just need to know if we’re doing this or not. Do we have a deal?”
I think about Billy Mason. About all the looks I get in the school halls. About Mom and how I want to be a daughter she’s proud of. How I don’t fit into her perfect world. He’s kind of right about the fact that I don’t care what he thinks. Does it help? I think so. Then I think about my other option, which is driving into the city or the Hillcrest Gym Rats and the choice is made. “Ugh, I guess. But do we have to start today?”
165.8 STILL. UGH.
Okay, so it’s only been about forty-five seconds since I agreed to this, but I’m already having second thoughts. “A scale? No one said anything about telling you what I weigh.”
Tegan stands beside the scale of death, looking at me like it’s no big deal. “Well, what did you expect? We have to know what you’re starting at so we can keep track of your progress.”
“We”—I signal back and forth between us—“don’t need to know. I need to know, which I do. I can keep track just fine.”
Tegan sighs. I can’t tell if it’s an annoyed sigh or not. “If you really want to do this, we have to do it right. I swear, I’m not going to judge you.”
“Pfft.” Oops, did I say that? Why yes, yes I did. “Please. People always judge me.” Is she lazy? Doesn’t she care about herself? I’ve heard them all.
“And what did you think of me when we first met? I’d love to know that one.”
How does he continually turn this around on me? The worst part is, he’s right. I hate it, too. I don’t want to be like the people who look down on me. Maybe I didn’t look down on him, but I decided who he was the very second I saw him. Though, I did also think he’s cute. I should get points for that.
This time it’s me who sighs. I cross my arms, knowing he’s right, but not liking to admit it. “Who are they? The boy and the woman?” I ask, partially because I want to stall, but also because I want to know.
The corners of his eyes crinkle like he’s in deep thought. Who knew it was such a difficult question?
“Who do you think?” he asks, a slight edge to his voice. Obviously this isn’t something he likes to talk about.
“Your mom and brother?”
A small nod is his only reply. Tegan crosses his arms. “We’re not here to talk about them, though. You ready to do this?”
The way he stands suddenly tense tells me I’m not going to get any more out of him. He’s my trainer so I’m not sure why I want the answers anyway. Maybe because it sucks? I feel bad for him. I can’t imagine having a brother who’s paralyzed, or is it just because I really, really don’t want to do this? “Do we have to?” My voice comes out more vulnerable than I’d like. Stupid insecurities.
“My middle name is Edgar.”
“And mine is Marie. Nice to meet you.” Did this guy take one too many protein shots? Juicing it up in the locker room or something?
Tegan laughs, some of his tenseness falling away.
“No, that’s not what I meant. It’s a lame name, right? My mom gave me a kickass first name and then my middle name is Edgar. It’s not a family name either. It’s embarrassing, so…”
“Wow…” Not sure why I say that. It’s cool of him to try and offer something embarrassing in exchange for something that stresses me out. He might not have wanted to give me any information on his family, but he gave me this. It’s definitely not something I expected. As cool and totally unexpected as it is, it’s still not the same as getting on this scale. In fact, I’m feeling a little dizzy at the thought.
“You can do this. You’re here, you came back three times and then you walked in the door. Don’t give up on me now.”
Did he have to mention he saw me? But he has a point. I’m here and I’m doing this. I nod and take a step forward. Tegan messes with scale until it lands on 165.9. Great, it’s even worse than I thought. My eyes squeeze shut, waiting for the snicker, the wise crack, but I’m greeted with silence. Pretty soon I’m begging for something. If he’ll just say it and get it over with we can move on.
“You coming, Annabel?”
I open my eyes and he’s standing a good ten feet away from me. He’s got his clipboard in his hand. There’s no grin on his face. No mocking, just a little tilt of his head again as he starts walking. This time, I follow. Maybe this won’t be as bad as I thought.
Tegan leads me to this little cubical before handing me a small machine with handles. “How tall are you?”
“Five foot two.”
He punches some buttons. “Okay, I need you to grip this. It’s going to tell us your percentage of body fat.”
I am dead.
“Nope. I draw the line there. One look at me is all it takes to know my percentage of body fat. It’s like, a lot.”
Tegan groans like I’m the one being unreasonable in this situation. “What? Like you would want to just offer that information to anyone?” I look at him. “Okay, well maybe you wouldn’t mind, but the average people, we mind.”
“I’m not just anyone, I’m your trainer—kind of like your doctor. I need this information to do my job. I can easily look it up, but this is more accurate.”
The urge to stomp my feet again strikes, but instead, I rip the fat counter thing out of his hand, and hold it. Big red numbers flash on the screen, brighter than the sign out front. “29.3? That’s like, a lot, right?”
It takes him a minute to reply. “Does it matter? The facts don’t change. You’re here to lose and we’re going to make sure that happens. Let’s look at the positive and not go into it picturing this big mountain to climb. We’re going to take it one step at a time.”
One step at a time. Okay. Though I’m sure that’s pretty easy for him to say since he looks like he just stepped out of High School Elite magazine and probably has Supermodel for a girlfriend.
“One step at a time,” I confirm, trying to sound like I believe it. Luckily, we wasted most of our time together with my being late and then almost walking out on the whole getting physical thing, so by the time we’re finished setting up our workout days and getting a plan together, there’s no time to actually do the exercising part.
“Alright, I’m headed to get my brother and I a smoothie. So, I’ll see you tomorrow?” Tegan says as he walks me to the door.
That must mean his brother is here. I can’t help but wonder why. I don’t ask. Instead, I say, “Smoothie?” Like the biggest idiot on the planet.