Runaway Train
Chapter 1

Caution: This Romantic Sex Story contains strong sexual content, including Ma/Fa, Consensual, Romantic, Heterosexual, Fiction, Celebrity, Slow,

Desc: Romantic Sex Story: Chapter 1 - Travis Blakely had a comfortable existence. He had a decent job and good friends. He was comfortable with what the future held for him. Then he ran into a girl he remembered from high school. His life got a lot more interesting - and infinitely more complicated

"You're full of shit! I'm calling your bluff on this one."

I saw the rest of the table – and half the cafeteria – turn to look at me as I pondered just why The Smirking Bastard was sitting with us. I knew none of us who usually lunched together liked James Thompson, aka The Smirking Bastard.

The conversation had started benignly enough. I'm not even sure what the topic was. In fact, everything was going smoothly – despite having Thompson sitting across from me – until Susan Weathers mentioned a song that had run through her head all day.

"I heard Liz Larimer's song 'Tuesday' on the way to work and I can't get the lyrics out of my mind," she had said. I'm not sure what look had crossed my face but whatever it was, it caused her to turn to me.

"What?" she had asked. "Have you heard it? Of course you haven't. You don't listen to country music."

She had been right. I didn't listen to country music. I preferred jazz or oldies rock.

"I went to school with her," I had answered. I couldn't have imagined my statement would create the amount of excitement it did. But, of course, I had forgotten that The Smirking Bastard was sitting with us.

Every office has a James Thompson. You know him: the person who knows everything and is an expert on every subject under the sun. All the employees know instantly the person is full of shit but the bosses never quite figure it out.

For almost four years, I had ignored him and his cronies. I'm not sure my response had anything to do with Liz Larimer. I think a part of it did, but most of it was the fact that I was sick to death of the guy.

"Fuck you, Thompson," I said, standing up quickly. "You know I don't give a shit about your opinion on a single fucking thing. But if I hear you call me a liar again, I'm going to stomp a mud hole in your dumb ass."

I stood almost half a foot taller than Thompson and I was far more physically fit. It was a bit heartening to see his eyes widen in terror. He had long known I could throttle him. But he just figured out that I was willing to do it, too.

"Problem, Mr. Blakely?" a voice said from beside me. I glanced down at the woman who ran our section of the office.

"He threatened me!" Thompson answered before I could.

"You never know when to shut up," I said. My voice was about three times my normal quiet volume. "I told you and now I'll tell your protector here."

I turned to Jennifer Clement, the head of the marketing department of St. Joseph's Hospital.

"If your boy there runs his mouth one more time, he's going to be real happy he works for you," I said, "because the intensive care unit is on the same floor as our office. Forget it. I'm taking a personal day."

I spun on my heel and departed before Clement could get the shocked look off her face.

It was probably for the best.

Instead of heading to my house, I drove westward to the beach. It was March but the sun still felt good.

I couldn't place my finger on exactly why I had snapped on James Thompson and Jennifer Clement. I knew part of it was his comment about a woman I hadn't seen or even thought of much in 15 years. But there was more.

I liked my job. I really did. But I didn't like that the majority of the work was done by four people. Jennifer Clement was a walking anachronism. She was hired as the advertising director for the hospital back when the job consisted of taping together pretty ads for the newspaper.

The industry had changed and so had marketing. Jennifer had not. She still focused her attention – and the attention of two-thirds of her staff – on the dying (if not dead) print media market.

The hospital no longer needed to bring customers to the door. A series of buyouts and mergers, along with a sweet deal from the area's major health-insurance provider, had accomplished that feat. She was lost when it came time to recruit and retain quality physicians and nurses. She continued to send Thompson and his cronies to job fairs to find people looking for work.

I had argued that doctors and nurses are not exactly the types to be heading out to the local YMCA to seek employment opportunities. She countered by showing me the stack of resumes Thompson always managed to return with. She had no answer when I asked if any of them were real or if any of his "recruits" had actually accepted a job with us.

I knew Thompson used the job fairs as his personal travel agency. But Clement seemed content to turn a blind eye. We stayed within our budget so no one breathed down her neck. That was all she worried about.

So while Thompson and his cohorts traveled in the vain hope of landing professionals, the four of us who didn't have that perk got to do the work of actually making sure the personnel department had qualified applicants for openings. That often meant long evenings and early mornings at the office.

The frustration of watching idiots and assholes running amok finally got the better of me.

I am not known for my temper. Oh sure, I have one. However, I learned long ago to channel my anger into something more positive. But I was still angry when I got to work the next morning – and was promptly summoned to a meeting with the personnel director, another dinosaur who hadn't learned that the world was different than it was in the 1990s.

There was a woman with whom I dealt frequently in the outer office and she offered a rueful smile when I entered. Then she rolled her eyes and shook her head.

For a reason I don't understand, I gave her a wink and entered Everett James's office without knocking. He was less impressed with me than even a few minutes prior.

Oh well.

"You asked to see me," I offered.

"Sit down," he ordered. "We need to discuss yesterday's incident."

"Why?" I asked, remaining on my feet. "There is nothing to discuss. I think the 'incident, ' as you term it, is pretty straightforward. Thompson is a douche bag and I'm not going to put up with him any longer."

"Mr. Blakely, I do not tolerate language like that in my office!" the man yelled.

I chuckled.

"What?" I asked. "Douche bag? That was tame compared to what I could have called him. Look, it's like this. I have had all I'm going to take from Thompson and his ass-kissing cronies. If you don't like it or Clement doesn't like it, fire me. It won't be for cause, so I'll sit back and collect unemployment for awhile as I look for work.

"I'm good at my job. If you don't believe it, ask your staff who finds you all your new doctors and nurses. I'll find work with or without a reference from this place. So if you're not going to fire me, I have things to do. God knows Little Jimmy and his crew were probably too upset to bother with actually doing their jobs after I went home yesterday."

I looked at him with raised eyebrows.

"Go back to work," he said. "But there will be a notice in your personnel file."

"So what?" I shot back. "It's not like you give raises in this place."

The rest of the crew was in the marketing department when I got back. Jennifer Clement walked straight toward me.

"I hope you plan to apologize to me and Mr. Thompson for your outburst," she said.

I rolled my eyes.

"And I hope you plan to kiss my rosy red backside during the May Day parade," I replied. "Because that is what it will take before I consider apologizing to either of you. Anything else?"

She spun on her heel and headed back to her small office while I plopped down at my desk. I'm sure she was wishing for the thousandth time that she had the authority to fire someone. But she didn't.

The three people I considered friends were looking at me wide-eyed. I smiled at them.

"So, what needs done?" I asked.

I was greeted by silence.

"OK, tell me what an asshole I am first," I said. "Then tell me what needs done. I'm sorry I embarrassed you guys yesterday."

"Embarrassed?" Rick Weller asked, a hint of incredulousness in his voice. "Jesus, Trav, that was awesome. I don't think there is anyone who has met that jerk who hasn't wanted to say that to him. The same for her. But I never expected it from you."

I offered a shrug. I hadn't expected it from me either.

"I believe you," Susan Weathers said quietly. "I mean, that you went to school with her."

"I did," I said simply, assuming that would be the end of the discussion.

For about three weeks, it was.

The world returned to normal and life went on. Thompson went on another of his "recruiting" trips that was certain to put a dent in the budget but do nothing about the gaping hole in our nursing department.

I had a dentist appointment on Monday so I took the day off. I had personal days and comp days coming out of my ass and I'd already decided that I was going to take every last one of them.

Jennifer Clement and the human resources department seemed content to pretend I no longer existed. I didn't give a shit – so long as my paycheck was deposited every other Friday morning.

I saw a group of people huddled around Sarah Costello's desk as I exited the elevator but all conversation stopped and every eye turned in my direction when I walked into the room. I immediately checked my fly.

The people scattered from around Sarah's desk as I approached and she looked up at me with a sad smile.

Then she slid a piece of paper across the desk to me. It was a printout from Liz Larimer's web site. It said she graduated from a school outside of Nashville.

"James passed those around yesterday afternoon," she said.

I looked at it and shrugged.

"So what?" I wondered.

"You said you went to school with her," Sarah prompted. "We all know you're from Ohio."

"So is she," I answered. "Look, she got a record deal when she was 16. I knew her from the time we were kids until she moved to Nashville after 10th grade."

"Prove it," a voice said from behind me. I closed my eyes and Sarah reached out to grab my wrists to keep me from turning around and throwing a punch.

"Sure, Asswipe," I said instead. "Let me see, maybe I can just pull out my phone and call someone I haven't seen in a decade and a half. Maybe I should just book a flight to Nashville and show up on her doorstep. How in the fuck do you want me to prove it? I guess I can call my mother and have her confirm it or maybe even send me an old yearbook if there are any in the attic."

Thompson had backed out of range of a punch – not that I wasn't willing to hurdle a desk if I needed to – but he still wore his smirk.

"She's signing autographs at the Convention Center this morning," Thompson said. "I think we should go. I'll bet you 200 bucks that she won't have any idea who you are."

"She might not," I admitted. "Like I said, it was 15 years ago. I'm sure her life at my high school dims in her memory after the life she's had since she left there. Keep your money."

"Just as I thought," Thompson said.

"Oh, no, I'll go," I said. "I don't give a shit if she remembers me or not. I'll ask her if she went to high school in Ohio before she moved to Nashville. When she says yes, I get to punch you right in the face – no charges, no recriminations, no retaliation. Oh, and no flinching from you. I get one free shot to punch you in the mouth. I'll bet you a week's pay. So, put your mouth where your money was."

Thompson was wide-eyed with his mouth hanging open.

"What?" I asked hotly. "You're so sure I'm lying to you. What do you have to lose – except a few teeth?"

"Fine," Thompson answered. He was pressed into a corner and he knew it. "I'm going with you."

"You're damned right," I replied. "Because I am going to drop you like a hot rock right there in front of everyone."

The line seeking an autograph stretched a lot farther than I expected it would. I knew Liz Larimer was popular but San Diego didn't really seem like a hotspot for country music. It seemed like about half of the hospital was there. I honestly didn't know if they came to see me proven as a liar or to see James Thompson land on his ass.

"This is ridiculous," I muttered as the line slowly made its way forward.

"You can always save yourself some embarrassment and just admit she doesn't know you," Thompson said in a snide voice.

"Why do you think I'd be embarrassed if she doesn't remember me?" I asked him. "I didn't say we were friends. I didn't say that she was a girlfriend. I said I went to school with her."

"Yeah, like you get could a date with Liz Larimer," Thompson said, rolling his eyes.

"Let's just say the record label did a pretty thorough make-over on Elizabeth Larimer," I said. "She wore these hippie dresses all the time – tie-dyed shirts and stuff like that. She had braces and eyeglasses. Her first job was at Cedar Point. That's an amusement park over there. She played in some retro-60s band. She wasn't exactly a catch. That's where she was working when she was discovered."

"I read that she worked at Cedar Point!" Susan offered. "Is that near where you grew up?"

"About 10 miles," I replied. "I worked there one summer, too."

"In a band?" Sarah wondered.

"Cleaning up after the asshole tourists," I grumbled. "I have been sweeping up other people's messes since I was 16."

I gave Thompson a pointed glare that he didn't seem to notice. At least everyone else laughed.

"I bet you were a geek in high school," Thompson put in.

"How do you think Trav got to San Diego from Ohio?" Rick asked incredulously.

"I can honestly say I have never cared how he got here," Thompson said with a smirk.

"Fuck him," I said. "We're almost there. I'll shut him up for a little while because I plan to break his fucking jaw."

It took another 20 minutes to get to the front of the line. Sarah had purchased a CD to be autographed. The rest of us just had a picture they handed out at the door. I couldn't give a shit if I got Liz's autograph – unless it was on one of her royalty checks signed over to me.

"Uh, hi," Sarah said. "My husband and I are big fans. Could you make it out to both of us?"

"Sure," Liz said with a smile. "What are your names?"

The singer looked down at the CD case and started to sign her name for the millionth time that day.

"I'm Sarah and my husband is..."

Liz immediately stopped and looked back up – smiling even wider than she did earlier.

"Travis?" she asked in a bright voice. "Travis Blakely, I know that's you! Come around here and give me a hug."

"Oh, shit," Thompson said.

"You don't mind if I give your husband a hug, do you?" Liz asked Sarah. "I don't know if he's told you but I've known him since I was five years old!"

"Well, I don't mind if you hug my husband – and I'm sure he wouldn't either," Sarah replied. "But Travis isn't my husband."

"Even better!" Liz said. She scooted out from behind the table and security cleared everyone out of the way. Liz Larimer had changed a lot since the last time I'd seen her. The braces had produced sparkling white teeth. The thick glasses had given way to contact lenses. The formless dresses she used to wear had been replaced by a pair of tight jeans and a black T-shirt. She seemed a lot taller than I remembered. I guessed she was probably 5-feet-10 or 5-feet-11. I didn't recall that she was almost always as tall as me.

"God, it's really good to see you!" Liz said when she wrapped her arms around me. "You're in San Diego now?"

"Close," I replied. "You're doing really well for yourself – based on the thousands of people who showed up just for your name on a slip of paper."

"Shit," Liz muttered. "Can you hang around for a while? I'd love to visit but I can't just leave them standing there."

"Uh," I answered in my usual suave manner.

"He can stay," Susan cut in.

"That means you have to stay, too," I pointed out. "I drove."

"That's great!" Liz said. "I'll have one of my staff take you back to a conference room. I'll be another hour or so. Is that OK?"

"It's great!" Sarah said. "I wasn't kidding about my husband and me loving your music."

"I have something I need to take care of first," I said. I turned to look for Thompson but he was nowhere to be seen.

"He beat feet as soon as she recognized you," Rick said.

"That's all right," I said. "I'll find him some other time. Unless he quits his job, he can't hide from me."

"One of our coworkers called Travis a liar when he said he went to school with you," Sarah dished as if the woman in front of her was her best friend. "He bet the guy a week's pay against a punch in the mouth that you went to the same school for a while."

"I did," Liz confirmed. "I left when I was 16."

"Exactly what Travis told us," Susan said. "Not that his friends doubted him. It's a good thing the marketing department is so close to the emergency room at the hospital where we work."

Liz's manager motioned for her to resume her signing duties and someone ushered our small group back to a private room where a buffet was laid out.

"Help yourself," the woman told them with a smile. "So you knew Liz back when, huh?"

"Sort of," I replied. "I mean, we weren't really friends. She was really into music – as you'd imagine. She was really talented, even back then. She won the high school talent show when she was a freshman. I'd slip in to see her perform when we both worked at an amusement park."

"I'll bet you're a huge fan," the woman said. "I'm Jill Clay. I'm Liz's assistant."

"It's nice to meet you," I answered. "This is Susan, Sarah and Rick. We work together."

The woman left and everyone filled a plate of cold cuts and grabbed a soda.

"That was pretty cool," Rick said when they sat down at a table.

"I got a picture of her hugging him," Susan confided. "I'm going to print that thing out as big as I can get it and plaster it all over the office."

"Let it go," I recommended.

"Like you're not going to hit him," Sarah said, rolling her eyes. "I need to call Matt. He is going to shit himself when I tell him I'm in a conference room waiting for Liz Larimer. He tried and tried to get tickets but they sold out in minutes."

She walked to a corner of the room and called her husband while the rest of them ate.

"So, you're bigger friends than you let on," Susan said with a wink.

"Why do you think that?" I wondered.

"You'd go see her when she was performing," she said.

"Oh, Christ," I answered. "No, that's not why I went to where she was performing. The concert halls were air conditioned and the amphitheatre was shaded. You try walking around on asphalt 10 hours a day when it's 100 degrees with 100 percent humidity."

"She seems, I don't know, normal," Susan said.

"She is anything but normal," I replied. "I wasn't kidding about how she used to dress. Her family was really weird – and so was she. They were like new-age hippies or some shit like that. They made her shave her armpits when she started at Cedar Point because the costume she wore was sleeveless. I mean, she was nice and all that. I talked to her but we ran in way different circles."

"It just seems odd that she would remember you after all this time if you weren't friends," Susan said with a shrug.

"That girl was crazy smart," I said. "She probably remembers every single person she's ever met."

"That hug she laid on you wasn't one you'd expect from a casual acquaintance," Sarah said, joining the conversation after letting her husband go back to work. "He said he hates you, by the way. He thinks it's entirely unfair that you don't even like her music and she molested you in public."

"You tell him that I think it's entirely unfair that he gets to spend every night with you and I only get to see you at the office," I said with a wink.

"You are so good for my ego!" Sarah said, laughing. Sarah was decidedly average looking. She was cute but few would say she had a beautiful face. What made her beautiful – at least to me – was her personality. She was fun and friendly. I had truly enjoyed getting to know her.

"I know you might not believe this but I figured Liz Larimer had quite the crush on our boy there when they were in high school," Rick said.

"Probably not," I cut in.

"How did you get to San Diego?" Sarah wondered. Rick knew of my past because he'd helped me move to a new apartment a year or so earlier. The others in the office probably didn't.

"Airplane," I replied.

"That's not what I meant," Sarah said.

"I know," I admitted. "Look, it's sort of awkward. Do you remember last year at the beach? You asked me about the scar on my shoulder."

"Yeah," Sarah said.

"When I was in high school, I was a pretty good athlete," I said.

"He's lying!" Liz said as she came through the door. "He was a star! Three years all-state, a full scholarship to the University of Texas, second round draft pick of the Angels a few years back. He could have played football at Ohio State or baseball at Texas. He chose baseball. You should have seen him! I was in the band, of course. I used to love watching him play. He was awesome."

"Looks like you're pretty awesome yourself," I said with a blush.

"Not like you," Liz said. "This guy, he could have been a total dick and people would have loved him anyway. But he was so cool. He didn't treat people like shit. He didn't walk all over them. I was a total dork. You should have seen me! I was this pseudo-hippie or something. I was a prime target for every bully within a hundred miles. Travis never put up with things like that. He treated everyone like they were special – even me."

"So do you," I pointed out. "I mean, I don't think many people would spend hours signing autographs before a concert – a few minutes maybe but not three or four hours."

"That's my image," Liz said. "Honestly, these people piss me off half the time. Women who haven't bathed in a week want me to put my arm around their shoulder for a picture; guys who spit their chew out right in front of me want me to kiss them on the cheek."

I'm not sure why I broke out in laughter but I did. I could picture what she told us and I thought it was funny.

"Laugh it up, jerk," Liz said, rolling her eyes. "That could have been you, you know. I saw you play in the College World Series when you were a junior at UT. That was cool. When I saw you'd been drafted I knew it would only be a matter of time before you made the majors."

"What happened?" Susan asked, leaning forward on her elbows.

"I've wondered that, too," Liz added.

"I tore my shoulder up when I was in Double-A," I said. "I was a third baseman and couldn't throw anymore. I tried to come back but there was too much damage. I didn't have enough range of motion to even swing a bat anymore let alone throw a ball. I was done at 23. I was in San Bernardino the season before and I sort of liked California. I had most of my signing bonus left so I went back to college until I finished my degree in public relations. I got the job here and that was that."

"Damn," Sarah said. "You know, Matt is going to hate you even more now."

"You can always point out that someday he'll be able to teach your kids how to throw a curveball," I told her. "I might be able throw one once but I'm pretty sure my arm will fall off before I got to try it a second time."

Edited by BlackIrish & Pixel the Cat; Proofread by Zom.

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Story tagged with:
Ma/Fa / Consensual / Romantic / Heterosexual / Fiction / Celebrity / Slow /