Tucker knew he had to get Ann to talk. He needed to know what was going on, and he much preferred to hear it from her than snoop around behind her back.
When she showed up at the gym the following evening, he was determined to find out more. He gladly brought her downstairs and intended to teach her a few more moves as he had promised before pushing the subject. However, she seemed slightly more nostalgic tonight, and he thought this would be just perfect. Maybe she would open up without him pressing her.
Instead of heading for the wrestling mat, she lazily meandered the room, much as she had the first night. He watched her carefully, watching her body language, trailing her line of vision to see what was catching her attention.
“I’ve always wanted to try on boxing gloves” she mentioned to no one in particular. “And punch a punching bag. I’ve never done either” she said as she turned back to see if he had heard.
“Your wish is my command” he smiled and headed to a shelf of newer gloves, speculating at this new, more vulnerable attitude, wondering what had brought it on, adjusting his plan from teaching her defense techniques to trying to understand what brought her to needing them in the first place.
He pulled out a pair of practice gloves, and helped her put them on. He showed her over to a large bag hanging from the ceiling, and gave her a few pointers on correct form. She gave the bag a few tentative swings, he corrected her swing, and then she took after it. Good. She kept going, and she seemed determined to give this particular activity her all.
He broke her fevered pace accidentally with his voice, “You got it.” She seemed startled, like she forgot that he was even there. She had gotten in her head again, and it broke his heart that she so easily forgot he was standing next to her. She took a few steps back, breathing heavily, wiping the sweat from her brow, and refused to make eye contact with him. It’s difficult to read someone’s reaction without the eyes.
When she wiped her face again, this time it wasn’t the sweat. She brushed back a few tears, fighting hard to not let them spill.
Shit. There is so much more to this girl than he knows. “Hey,” he said calmly, “It’s ok. You’re ok.” He walked up to her, and when she turned her head, refusing to give him her face, he wrapped her in his arms and held her. He knew the release boxing could have, how sweating out the pain and frustration of the day could free the spirit and cleanse the soul.
She let him hold her, and they stood there until she was ready. “You ok?” he asked.
“Yeah” she mumbled hoarsely. “Just a bad day.”
“You want to talk about it?”
She just stood there, silently contemplating his offer. She finally just shrugged her shoulders.
That was better than a straight up no.
“I need a shower” she mumbled, “I think I should just go home.”
No! He needed to hear her talk. He needed to get inside her head a little and figure out what was going on. “I happen to have a few showers here” he said hopefully.
She shook her head no, her eyes radiating pain. As she turned to leave she said, “I have to go. Like, really go soon. It’s maybe best I don’t take a shower here, with you.”
His heart shattered into a million pieces.