Sawyer wasn’t looking for love at the St. Patrick’s Day race, but it caught him anyway.
Sawyer Brady plans on running in the annual Bay City St. Patrick’s Day 5k. He’s not looking for anything other than maybe a personal best time. What he finds instead is Finn Aheran. The chemistry between them is something Sawyer would love to explore more in depth. Finn Aheran is running his first St. Patrick’s Day race, but it definitely won’t be his last if it means he can run with a man like Sawyer Brady. Going out on a date with the man is the perfect way to figure out if Sawyer was as attracted to him as he was to Sawyer. Will Finn and Sawyer discover whether they have what it takes to go the distance or will they reach the finish line too soon?
“Is there ever going to be a race where we have good weather?” Jackie muttered when she walked up next to Sawyer. “I swear, this is the third year we’ve done this race and it’s been freezing each time.”
“Actually, it’s warmer this time. It’s around twenty degrees now.” Sawyer stretched, trying to loosen his hamstrings and quads. He hated running in cold weather, but this was the first big race of the season and he wanted to see if all his training during the winter had helped his speed.
“Oh boy. A whole six degrees warmer. It’s practically a heat wave,” Jackie grumbled while she tied her shoes before stretching next to him.
He glanced over at her and laughed. It was the St. Patrick’s Day race in Bay City and Jackie had decided to dress up. She wore a green felt leprechaun hat, several bead necklaces in green and gold, and a green tulle tutu. With her bright red hair, she looked like a true lady of Ireland.
“How are you going to run in that getup?” He shook his head. He wore a long-sleeved shirt and a pair of running tights. It wasn’t the most attractive outfit he’d ever worn, but he wasn’t looking to pick someone up. He was there to run and, hopefully, get a personal record.
“I’m not looking for a personal record or anything like that, Sawyer. This is just for fun and I want to keep warm. Figured the more layers I wore, the less likely I’ll freeze while I’m standing around waiting.” She flashed him a quick smile.
He shook his head, but smiled back at her. “You’re a wimp. Why do you still live in Michigan if you don’t like the cold?”
“Don’t have a choice. You know that.” She frowned.
He shrugged. “Not my fault that your husband’s not willing to relocate his business some place warm.”
Jackie poked him in the ribs. “Why can’t you convince him? He’s your brother after all.”
“If his own wife can’t make moving to Arizona or California sound good, what makes you think his older brother can?” Sawyer snorted.
Her dramatic sigh caused him to laugh. They continued to warm up.
“What time are you hoping for?” Jackie asked.
He thought for a second, chewing on his bottom lip. “I’m hoping to get twenty-seven minutes for the 5K. Make it about nine minute miles, which is the fastest I’ve run so far. But only in training. I haven’t run it in a race yet.”
“Wow. Do you think you can do that after already running 8k? You are doing the Irish Double, right?”
Sawyer nodded. “I did the 8k in fifty-one minutes, so almost ten minutes a mile. Now that I’m warmed up, I shouldn’t have a problem keeping to nine.
Jackie laughed. “Don’t expect me to keep up with you. I haven’t been out running much this winter. The kids kept me busy.”
He understood that. While he loved his nieces and nephew, he wouldn’t be their parent for all the money in the world. All four kids were good children, but they were a lot of work to corral and deal with. Bill and Jackie were always carting them from one activity to another. Sawyer didn’t know how they managed to have any kind of life beyond their children.
Someone bumped into him and he almost lost his balance, but a pair of hands grabbed a hold of his arms to keep him upright.
“Sorry, man. It’s getting a little crowded around here.”
Now, it had been a while since Sawyer reacted to a voice. Hell, it hadn’t been since he was still a teenager and getting an erection every time he listened to Sean Connery in the old James Bond movies. Yet there was something about the voice speaking to him that was making him hard. Not a good thing when he was wearing form-fitting, lycra running tights.
“Are you all right?”
Jackie was staring at him like she couldn’t figure out what the hell was wrong with him. He couldn’t get his thoughts organized, especially when a rough chuckle puffed a burst of warm air over his ear.
“Maybe the cold is affecting your brain.”
Closing his eyes, Sawyer took a deep breath and stepped away from the solid body behind him. He exhaled before turning to look at the man who’d bumped into him. Holy shit! Built like a brick shithouse had always been a saying Sawyer never really got until right that instant.
The man was probably about two inches taller than Sawyer’s 5’11” and far more muscular than Sawyer could ever dream of being. He looked like a guy who carried giant logs around on his shoulder or flipped huge tractor tires for fun. Sawyer saw a hint of auburn hair peeking out from under the man’s wool beanie.
“I’m fine. Thanks for catching me,” he said, managing to get his thoughts organized enough to actually say something.
“No problem, man. Like I said it’s getting crowded around here. First time I’ve run this race. Didn’t realize how big it is.” The man held out his hand. “I’m Finn Aheran.”
“I’m Sawyer Brady. This is my sister-in-law, Jackie Brady.” He shook Finn’s hand and tried not to think about how the firm grip would feel on his cock. Christ! Can’t run with a hard-on.
“Nice to meet you both. Have you run this before?” Finn bounced on the balls of his feet as though he couldn’t contain his excitement.
“Had too much caffeine today?” Jackie eyed Finn.
“What?” Finn looked puzzled for a moment. “Oh no. Caffeine doesn’t enter this body anymore.”
Sawyer followed the path of Finn’s hand as it passed from his chest down by his flat stomach to his groin. He blinked as he licked his lips, trying not to think about how Finn would look completely naked. This isn’t the place or time to have those kinds of images in my head.
“Health nut,” Jackie said with a slight curl of her lip.
“Ah…come on, Jackie. Just because you love stuffing your face with cheeseburgers and Twinkies doesn’t mean other people eat like you.” Sawyer bumped her with his hip and laughed when she stuck out her tongue at him.
“When you have four kids, you don’t necessarily always have time for a home-cooked meal.” She huffed her annoyance.
“I know and, thank God, you all keep moving enough to be able to justify those Twinkies and burgers.” Sawyer patted his stomach. “I can’t do that anymore. No matter how much I run and work out, I can’t eat like that.”
“Getting old’s a bitch, isn’t it?” Finn spoke up.
Sawyer glanced at him. “You don’t look old enough to be saying that.”
“I’m thirty-five, man, and some days I feel older than that.” Finn hooked his finger in the collar of his T-shirt, tugging it down to show the top of a scar down the middle of his chest. “Had a heart attack when I was thirty. I might be in the best shape of my life right now, but there are moments when I feel like I did the day I had it.”
“Wow. Sorry. That had to be rough.” Sawyer wanted to reach out and squeeze Finn’s shoulder in sympathy, but he didn’t know if Finn would welcome it or not.
Finn smiled. “Thanks. It was kind of a shock. I was living my life, having fun and stuff, then all of a sudden…bam! I had a heart attack.”
Sawyer noticed Jackie easing away from them, but didn’t stop her. She had other friends running in the race. It wasn’t like Sawyer didn’t have friends either. He just found it hard to keep them once they’d known him for a while. Being friends with people took a lot of time and effort, and Sawyer was lazy in that respect.
Yet something about Finn piqued his interest and it wasn’t just how good-looking the man was. Now that he’d hit his forties, Sawyer found he wanted more than looks. He wanted life experience, and not just the kind that came from sleeping around. Hell, he’d done a lot of that in his twenties and thirties. It was time to start taking relationships seriously.
“That had to have been a shock,” he commiserated.
“You aren’t shitting about that,” Finn said and shook his head. “Had to rearrange my whole life. Think about my future, you know. I cleaned up my eating habits, though I’m not crazy fanatical about it or anything. I stopped drinking so much and staying out so late on the weekends.”
Sawyer chuckled. “My story is when I hit my mid-thirties, I was becoming pre-diabetic. It runs in my family and I knew it was a possibility. But I was invincible and it wasn’t going to happen to me.”
He shrugged. Finn laughed, drawing a smile from Sawyer at the loud joyous sound.
“Being stupid is kind of rite of passage for young people, huh?” Finn bumped him with his shoulder.
The announcement of ‘runners find your spots’ came over the murmurs of the crowd. Sawyer glanced at Finn who studied him for a minute.
“Would you like to join me for a drink and something to eat after the race?” He wasn’t sure why he asked, but he figured that even if Finn wasn’t gay, he’d like to talk to him some more.
Finn grimaced. “I can’t. I’m going out with my family afterward, but I’d like to do drinks and dinner with you. Maybe we could meet at Gatsby’s around six tonight?”
Sawyer’s heart seemed to skip a beat when Finn flashed an eager smile. So he hadn’t misread Finn’s interest.
“I’d like that.” He stuck out his hand. “Good luck, and if I don’t see you at the end, I’ll see you tonight.”
“Great.” Finn’s touch lingered a little longer than necessary before he drifted away toward the back of the group of runners.
Sawyer did a full body shudder, trying to return his focus on the race and not Finn.
“Are you going to see him again?”
He jumped when Jackie popped up next to him. Her knowing grin caused him to blush slightly.
“None of your business,” he replied primly, going back to stretching.
She snorted before doing her thing. He put his earbuds in and got his playlist cued up. He glanced over to see where the others were in relation to him. He liked to start slow, so he tried to stay to the edges of the crowd. As he sped up, he’d weave his way through the people until he hit his pace.
The signal rang through the air and the mass moved slowly at first as they each crossed the start line to get their timer going. As the runners got through the bottleneck, they spread out, taking up the entire street they ran down.
Sawyer hit play and the running app to track. He took a deep breath, relaxing his shoulders as he found his slower stride. It had taken him a year or two to learn how to pace himself and at times he still went out too fast. Luckily, he was experienced enough now to realize it before he burned too much energy for the rest of the race.
He began to work his way through the runners, passing slower ones as he went along. It was going to be a good race. He could feel it and it had nothing to do with him meeting Finn at the finish line.