This week’s words were: exchange, first-hand, friendly, jump, trick.
So, a bit of explanation. In case you’re new here, I have a Peloton bike. Honestly, I love it. Matt’s my favorite, even though they call him the Baby-Faced Assassin (because he looks harmless and then hands you your rear halfway through the ride). But Cody is my go-to when I’m down and out. Which is why I chose him for my Thursday morning ride. Halfway through, Cody said something that made me think, “Zayne would like this guy. Andy would be scandalized and somewhat traumatized, but Zayne would love him. And… this is the result. Marianne, this is 110% all for you.
“Okay,” Zayne said, walking into what had been Andrej’s spare bedroom a day ago. “What the heck is that thing?”
Andrej turned towards his partner, giving him a confused look. “It is a bicycle, Zayne. Have you never owned one?”
Zayne snorted. “Of course, I’ve owned one, Zek, but they went outside. This… this only has one wheel.” He was well aware of the fact that what he was looking at was a stationary exercise bike, although he took any opportunity he could to tease Andrej. If he couldn’t give his boyfriend some friendly harassment, then what was the point in being together, right?
“You are making fun of me,” Andrej said, catching on much more quickly than Zayne had expected.
“Not really, but I do love pushing your buttons,” he said with a wink. “But I am curious, why did you buy this? Don’t you go to the gym?”
Sighing, Andrej finished wiping down the touchscreen monitor on the bike. “I do not like going to the gym. It is much too public for my tastes. I wanted something I could do here, in private.” He looked at Zayne and huffed out a laugh. “Or, at least, more privately.”
“I’ve seen you in your workout clothes,” Zayne said with a mock leer. “Can’t say I’m opposed to you staying home dressed like that.”
Blushing, Andrej glared at him.
“Sorry,” Zayne said, not sounding it. “Why a bike though and not a treadmill or Stairmaster or something?”
“I can run outside,” Andrej said. “And while I can ride outside as well, it is not always safe for a bicyclist on the roads here.”
“True,” Zayne agreed. They’d had a case just last year that involved a high-profile lawyer who’d been hit by a car while out for an early morning ride. It had been assumed that it was an accident but had turned out to be homicide in the end.
“Anyway, I have first-hand experience with these bikes because they have a couple at the gym. I have used all the stationary bikes at on offer – and they have three different types – but this was my favorite.”
Zayne put a hand on the handlebars and looked it over. “It’s a nice piece of equipment,” he said. “Solid. What’s the monitor for?”
Andrej looked at the floor for a second before making eye contact with his boyfriend. “There are classes, both live and pre-recorded, that you can take if you want more than to just pedal.”
Grinning, Zayne raised his eyebrows. “And would any of these instructors happen to be cute?”
He didn’t like where this friendly exchange was going, but then, it was Zayne he was talking to here. It certainly wasn’t surprising that that was his first thought. And if there was one thing Zayne loved above all else, it was embarrassing him. “Many of them are handsome,” Andrej said, daring Zayne to make a comment. “The ladies are all quite attractive as well. But it is not why I chose one over the other.”
“Mm-hmm,” Zayne said, a little too knowingly.
“I like a calm and steady instructor,” Andrej said. He tapped on the monitor, bringing it to life. Tapping on his profile picture, he pulled up a selection of rides he’d recently taken via the bike at the gym. With a hand, he motioned to an unassuming, baby-faced instructor. “He is a most excellent example. Happy, informative, and I never have to worry what is going to come out of his mouth.” He gave Zayne a pointed look.
“Don’t even,” he said. “You knew what you were getting when we got together.”
Zayne wasn’t wrong there.
“So, what’s the trick with this thing? How does it work?” He glanced at the pedals and the tiny seat. “And is this thing going to make my butt hurt?”
Andrej couldn’t help but laugh, remembering his first few weeks after he’d discovered the bikes at the gym. “Maybe for a few days, but if you ride often enough, your cheeks will toughen up.”
“That sounds like a come-on, honey,” he joked. “Okay. You’ve got this thing, are you going to let me use it?”
“If you want to, yes,” Andrej said. Staying healthy was important to him so seeing Zayne interested in his new bike made him happy.
“Okay, let me go change. Find something – someone – you think I’ll like. And no boring instructors either.”
Andrej smiled. There were no boring instructors on this platform. Some might not be your personal cup of tea, but none of them were even close to boring. “I can do that.”
He left the spare room turned gym and Andrej chuckled. After quickly creating an account for Zayne, he scrolled through the featured rides, contemplating who would be best suited to hold Zayne’s attention. Eyes landing on a big, bright smile, he knew he’d found the perfect instructor for Zayne. Whether Zayne agreed or not remained to be seen.
“Okay,” Zayne said, returning to the makeshift gym in a pair of biking shorts and a tank top. “I’m ready to jump in feet first. Let’s go.”
Letting his eyes roam over his boyfriend’s body for a moment, Andrej sighed. He gave Zayne a quick rundown of how everything worked. He placed a full water bottle into the rack and motioned Zayne towards the bike. The Texan climbed onto the bike and, after a couple adjustments, was ready to go.
“I hope you and Boo have a good time,” Andrej said, grinning.
“Boo?” Zayne looked at him like he was insane. “You set me up to ride with someone named Boo?”
“it is not his real name,” Andrej laughed. “However, you will understand soon enough. When you are ready, touch the red button on the monitor there.” He pointed to the ‘start ride’ button. “I will see you when you’re done.”
Andrej was sitting at the kitchen table, eating toast and peanut butter when Zayne emerged. His thick, unruly hair was plastered to his forehead and his cheeks as red as if he’d been out running under the desert sun. “Are you okay?”
“I thought I was going to be fine,” Zayne said, dropping into the chair across from Andrej. “He started out easy. He was funny, kinda cute, full of sass. He told me to put my booty back and keep my chest up. I thought I could do this.”
He tried to hide his smile. Andrej knew exactly how deceiving Cody could be. Getting up, he took his plate into the kitchen, set it in the sink, and grabbed a bottle of water for Zayne. He held out the bottle which was gratefully snatched out of his hand. “And?”
“And then he told me to get my life together,” Zayne said. “I apparently do not have my life together, boo.”
Shoulders shaking with the effort to hold his laughter back, Andrej reclaimed his seat. “But were you able to find your light?”
Zayne looked at him, mute, for a full thirty seconds before he burst into laughter. “I’d say I hate you, but I think I love you too much.”
“I am perfectly happy with that,” Andrej said.
“Good. Cody says we don’t settle because settling gets you an ugly boyfriend,” Zayne quoted. “And I have to say, I ain’t got no time for an ugly boyfriend, baby.”
Andrej kicked him lightly under the table. “How about a shower? Do you have time for one of those? You are sweating all over my chair.”
With an exaggerated eye roll, Zayne got up and marched off to clean up. Snickering, Andrej knew he’d gotten Zayne hooked. He had to, otherwise all those donuts and burgers were going to give Zayne’s heart a run for its money. Despite how much Zayne aggravated him at times, Andrej was in no hurry to lose his mouthy cowboy.