Jeffrey entered the boxing ring with his usual strut. His boxing workout days were a time to get exercise and relax, and of course, to impress whatever women were around. Today Barbara was along to spar. She had much on her mind, unlike Jeffrey who typically had not much of anything in his mind. They put in their mouth guards and began. Jeffrey wasn't usually much of a chatterbox, but for some reason sparring brought every idle thought out of his mouth. He began by giving her the update on his favorite hockey team. Barbara was less than thrilled to hear the details of last night's power play, but used the opportunity to get a few good hits to his head. Jeffrey didn't mind. There was no way his little sister could really hurt him, right? He moved on to baseball. He recounted every RBI. She got him with a great uppercut. He changed his subject matter to the real source of his concern.
Shaking his head a little, he began again. "Barbie, how much longer are you going to be doing this pig male thing with Heathcliff? He's getting even creepier." She began to answer, but he kept going. "It seems like every day he is asking me all kinds of weird things...your favorite flowers, your favorite books, what kind of seafood you like...as if I know. Then he gives me this stupid 'I don't approve of you' look!". He trailed off, trying to get a hit to her body, but she avoided him. Then he remembered more, "You will not believe what he has been doing during lunch. The last few weeks, every day, when he finishes the same old sandwich and pickle, just when I'm used to hearing him click away on his computer again and settle down for another afternoon of quiet work, I hear this latin music through the cubicle wall. I peeked over the other day, and I swear he had a rose in his mouth and he was shimmying around like I don't know what."
"Ah, yes, he's really been working hard on his salsa form. We're starting tango soon, too. He's going to be quite the dancer for some girl soon." she panted. It was not the vision of Heathcliff's shimmy, but the constant hoppy footwork which got her going. She began to laugh through her exhaustion. "Do you know how ridiculous he looked the first time we went there? With his oil-slick hair and buffed shoes...I didn't think he had a rhythmic bone in his body! Look at him now, though! Did you know he wants to audition for the Latin Dance-Off in the fall?".
Jeffrey did not know. Jeffrey did not care. He was tired of hearing Barbara speak of his geeky coworker with admiration. There was a sneaking suspicion that she was actually starting to enjoy herself, and that unforgiveable. It didn't matter that he was the cause of this new fascination. What if she were to fall for this guy? The thought of him watching football with his family at Thanksgiving was unbearable. He didn't even know what a quarterback was! What had he done? Who could have predicted that Heathcliff of all people would transform himself into exactly what any woman wanted? Maybe he would have to start taking lessons from Heath! He snorted a little at the idea. Barbara took it as over-confidence and jabbed him with fervor. If there was anything she hated, it was cockiness. Her emotional hitting did no damage, but laid her open to a solid hit to the left temple. She stumbled and fell to the ring floor. Jeffrey wasn't alarmed, he knew how tough she really was. He sat next to her and gave her his hand to pull up to a sitting position.
"That was a good one, Jeff. I better be done for today. I'm spent." Barbara removed her protective helmet. She imagined what Heathcliff would look like as a boxer. No, that was too bizarre. The floors here were too dirty for his taste. He'd probably fight for his life just to avoid having to touch them. She looked up to see Jeffrey watching her. He usually reserved that intense stare only for playoffs and steaks.
"What's wrong?" she asked.
He didn't think, just blurted, "Are you falling for Heathcliff?".
"Me?" as if the idea had never occured to her.
"Yes. You spend all your time with him and all you talk about are the wonderful things he does. Are you still seeing the same guy I'm seeing?" Jeffrey was becoming impassioned.
"No. He is changed." Her tenderness was frightening to him. She noticed his discomfort and tried one of his own moves, "I've done an awesome job, haven't I? Any girl would be lucky to get him now that I'm done remodeling."
Still worried, "So you are done, then?".
"Well, almost. I have just one more thing in mind. Besides, his marriage timeline date is coming up. I guess I'll have to let loose of him sooner or later." She looked away. She was entering treacherous waters. How could she let him loose? What would she do with her time? She thought of her old life watching romances and reading Jane Austen novels without enthusiasm.
Jeffrey had seen a tough brunette saunter in. He was suddenly too diverted even to wonder what the last thing was that she would change about him. Barbara sighed and walked away as Jeffrey agreed to spar with the brunette. She showered and changed. As she was leaving she glanced back just in time to see the tough girl knock the collywobbles out of Jeffrey.