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“You look good.” A deep, accented voice said behind Amara. Squaring her shoulders she turned, preparing for war. She had grown tired of men, pushing up on her in the gym.
The man who uttered the words was staring at her from deep-set, penetrating eyes and a face with high cheekbones, full lips and skin, the color of polished teakwood. He was also tall and muscular but not overtly large like many who were always in the gym and he was dressed in baggy shorts and a black t-shirt.
“Excuse me!” Amara snapped. She was not in the mood for being picked up. That was the one thing about gyms she didn’t care for.
“You look good, your form is on point, you have the right kind of weights for strength and fitness and you stretch it out to avoid injury.” He said, his eyes never wavering from hers.
Color suffused her brown face because she had misjudged his intent. Her mom often told her she was known for that.
“Thanks. I just want to be healthy and fit. I will never be a vegan or the woman who doesn’t eat bread or sweets, so I work on it here.” He nodded, offering his hand.
“I’m Matheo Leroy; around here they call me Mat.” He offered. Amara shook his hand but quickly removed it as human electricity surged through her. What the hell?
“What’s your preference, Matheo or Mat?” Amara surprised herself by asking as if she intended calling him what he wanted.
“I prefer people refer to me as Matheo until they get to know me and decide. Since this is a gym, I guess they feel Mat works. You are?”
“I’m Amara, Amara Mathis.”
“Ah… that is a beautiful name Amara.”
“Are you from France?” Amara asked.
“I am, originally. I moved here when I was twenty six to work and I’m still here fourteen years later. It has become my home.” Amara did the calculation in her head, realizing Matheo was two years younger than she at forty.
“I know this is trite but what do you do?” Amara asked.
“I’m an engineer, I came to this country because I’m fascinated by infrastructure and how one can travel days and still be in the same country. I actually design bridges. I’m also a personal trainer here. What is it you do, Amara?”
“I’m self-employed these days, I was a pharmacist but seven years ago I started working on body care and healing products for women, specifically women of color. I have a small boutique downtown that specializes in aromatics, soap and fragrances from plants. I also have other health aids.”
“That’s fascinating. I shall come see what you offer, what is it called?” Matheo asked.
“AM-Heals. AM is for Amara Mathis, of course.”
“Mat, isn’t it time for our class?” A bubbly voice asked and Amara turned to see a woman in a swimsuit, come up behind her. Her body was perfectly proportioned and there wasn’t a mark on her skin. Her hair was also perfectly coiffed and her face was fully made up. Her eyes were fastened on Matheo as if Amara didn’t stand there next to him.
“The class is in 3C.” Matheo said, his eyes never leaving Amara who had picked up her bag preparing to leave. Nodding, Amara walked around him and out the building. She could feel his eyes on her but she didn’t look back.
That was why she didn’t engage much with men anymore. The Matheo types always seemed to have babes who were at their beck and call and she was simply not interested. She had been there and done that.