Chapter Thirteen

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Michelle had already gone through the morning's paperwork; she'd managed a slow, gentle walk around the warehouse; she'd done the cleaning but that didn't take long, since one of the many advantages to not having equipment was ease of tidying.

The morning stretched ahead of her and she couldn't shake her unsettled jitters.

As the routine wrapped, with Dolores teaching everyone how to say "thank you!" in Portuguese, Michelle resigned herself to surfing on her phone at the reception desk, her bad ankle resting on a second chair. People rarely dropped by while the walking club was in progress, but it was always a good idea to keep someone on the desk, just in case. Especially—and Michelle really hoped that she was over-reacting—that kid ever came back to finish his ad hoc bathroom renovation, or whatever gangsters following Leo around decided to show themselves.

People waved or greeted her as they followed Dolores out, and she tried to keep up, quizzing herself on names. The initial surge in attendance that followed the review in Street63 had a steep drop-off, but even still, there were more newcomers trying daily passes than all July.

Michelle had tried to make a game of predicting who would come back for a second session but it grew too easy to tell. If they showed up with specialized workout clothing or shoes, they tended not to be repeat clients. She guessed that they were already working out regularly somewhere else, just shopping around for something new and interesting, like the language lessons that Chrissy had hyped in her article.

But for every handful who disappeared, looking bored after a single class, someone stayed, thrilled to find a workout gentle enough for them.

Eventually, she supposed, leaning over to scratch around the edge of her removable cast, if business picked up, they'd have to add more classes. But then she realized, scowling, that it meant she'd be doing walking club, rain or shine, six days a week, until they had enough revenue for Bryan to leave Douchebag Derek's.

As though her thoughts directly influenced the weather, the grayness of the morning congealed and collapsed into a sheet of rain, filling the warehouse with the smell of wet, dusty asphalt. The rain fell in heavy drops that bounced before shattering, leading to splatters on the warehouse floor. If it went on too long she'd have to close the bay door but for now she found the coolness refreshing. She could always mop—the small door opened, startling her, and two people darted in.

"Ooh, now that's timing, as soon as we park the car." Her mother scowled, flapping her loose flowing top, as if to dry it. Michelle's father waved a newspaper that he'd used as a makeshift umbrella.

"Mom, Dad," she said, trying to disentangle herself from her pair of chairs. "I had no idea you were coming by!"

"Oh, I know, we were just in the area." Her mother came forward to give Michelle a hug around the shoulders. "Don't get up, rest your ankle."

Michelle outwardly settled back into place, but inside her stomach knotted. "Uh, you just missed the class. They've gone for the walk."

"Oh, yes, the walk," her father replied, drawing the sentence out, while looking for somewhere to put the semi-soggy daily; he placed it on a corner of the card table, giving his full attention to the interior of the warehouse. "I read all about it in the review you sent. They must be happy to be out in this rain."

"Some of them might have umbrellas." The grass in the railway would be soaking, and slippery. It hadn't been a concern in overly dry June and July, but what would they do come October, when it would rain every other day? Or when it snowed? Maybe they'd have to do laps inside—



Her mother had stood with her hands on her hips, her head tilted in exasperation. "I said, shouldn't you close that big door?"

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