Chapter 3: Katrina

Don easily got the job as a trainer at the Burners and Builders Gym. The Don Lothario he knew and loved was back on his feet and rrrrraring to go. He didn’t let the steely look of the owner deter him, and he was hired on the spot, put to work immediately.

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Don’s first client was a very friendly but scrawny guy. The two struck up an immediate friendship and Don learned that even though Johnny was on the outs with the gym owner and her family, he still had a free membership and could get personal training whenever he wanted. Johnny invited Don to crash on his couch until Don found a place, and Don gladly accepted the offer.Life was looking up again. Johnny was a great roommate, happy to get 50 Simoleans a week to help with expenses. Marcus, the lead trainer, was inspiring. Don worked out hard, but, dang that Marcus had a build. What was a guy like that working in a gym like this, Don wondered — but only fleetingly. After his interview with Nancy Landgraab, Don knew better than to wonder too much.

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Nancy called him into her office a few weeks after Don had started. He was nervous at first, but she commended him on increasing the number of clients who wanted to pay extra for a personal trainer. “I’ve only had two people who said they weren’t interested.” Don knew immediately whom Nancy was talking about; it was that emo teenager and her mom. “Here’s a list of my most important clients,” Nancy said and then turned back to her computer.The next evening, Don found himself giving extra attention to one of those clients. She seemed really appreciative of his encouragement. Being a gym trainer wasn’t as exciting as he’d thought it would be, and Katrina brought a little sparkle to his day. “I’m working the entertainment circuit and am the opening act,” she said, “If you’re not busy after work, stop by the Solar Flare,” she paused seeing the look on Don’s face, “I know, but it will do for now. Nancy’s a good friend and she says the lounge needs some fresh faces. Anyway, stop by and catch my act and maybe we can catch up afterwards.” Katrina smiled and went off to take a shower.

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Don began finding himself at the Solar Flare Lounge more often than not. He sipped his Zebra Fizz (if Katrina bought) or a glass of water (if she didn’t buy) and applauded loudly at the end of every set. At first it was a bit painful to listen to her husky off-key voice but she improved every week. Don could tell she was determined to make it in the entertainer business.One evening, Nina sat down next to Don. He was unpleasantly surprised. “Oh, Don, don’t be so silly. Quit looking like a sad puppy.”

“A sad what?”

“Never mind, let’s watch the show. She’s pretty good, huh.” Don nodded. He realized he was truly over Nina. It had only taken a year. Katrina was getting really good. He was glad he’d brought the long-stem rose to give her. However, after her performance Katrina give Don the usual embrace. Instead she hugged Nina who said, “You were great!”

Katrina thanked Nina, and then introduced Don. “We’ve met. You’re looking good. Tanner and fitter than ever. Well, I’ve got to run. See you around, Don.”

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Katrina embraced Don and gushed over the rose, then she offered to buy Don a drink.They sat at the bar, Don trying to ignore Bob Pancakes at the far end. He knew that Katrina was smitten with him. She was a talented, ambitious, attractive, interesting woman, and when she invited Don back to her place, he immediately agreed. His heart told him he was ready to take things to a new level. Besides, he’d grown tired of sleeping on Johnny’s couch and eating grilled cheese sandwiches.The next morning, Katrina invited Don to move in. “You can have your own room, right there off the kitchen. I know the house is a little crowded, I don’t remember if I told you but my daughters and grandson live with me. Nina, you know her, moved back in a few months ago, and Dina’s rarely ever home. I think you two will get along fine.”

Don stroked Katrina’s cheek, “How can I resist your offer?”

Life flowed smoothly. Katrina was absorbed with her career and grandson Al. He enjoyed being Katrina’s live-in personal trainer. The job came with many benefits, room and board, home gym, Katrina’s party circuit. Don was also happy to help out with the little toddler. Dina was a devoted aunt, but she wasn’t around too much. Katrina played with him when she was home, but Don found himself playing more and more a caretaker.

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Al needed the watchful eye of the three adults. He was always running around, taking off his clothes, pitching fits, playing in the toilet. Just thinking of Al’s antics gave Don a headache. When the family lifestyle grew too much, Don could head to his little room and lock the door.As much as she loved her daughter, Katrina knew that Nina was lazy. Nina spent her days watching TV or napping, often ignoring helpless little Al. Some nights she wouldn’t get home until nearly dawn. Sleeping, Katrina knew, in beds other than her own.

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Don began tucking little Al in almost every night. Katrina was getting used to having Don around, and thoughts of a more permanent relationship began rolling around in her head.Besides, she couldn’t deny the way Don made her feel. Young. Desirable. Envied. When she and Don took Al to the park, people thought he was Katrina’s baby, not grandchild. He was charming and romantic. Maybe it was time for the next step. Life was good. Don appreciated Katrina’s affection.Still, Don being Don, he casually flirted with Dina, enjoying the flushes on her face. His relationship with Nina was stormy, and although he would regret it the next day, he couldn’t say no when she invited him into her room. All was peaceful in the Caliente household. Until . . . .

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