It’s 4AM! Although she hasn’t ever needed to hit the snooze button before, Sophie finds herself having hit it three times this morning before she pulled herself out of bed. Having arrived in the states a few days ago, she isn’t jetlagged, but the time difference between London and America is enough to make her feel a little unsettled.
Sophie, a 20 year old, redheaded British exchange student, with the palest green eyes and the palest white skin, is up now, and after pulling her tights over her long legs, and then over her firm backside she smiles, looking at her reflection in the mirror. The perfection of her derriere catches her by surprise as usual, and after she admires the svelteness of her body perhaps a moment too long, she knows that she must leave.
Pulling a sweater over herself, covering her almost too perfect breasts, she heads out of her MIT apartment, her home for this year. She is one of three exchange students, and one of the perks of being a senior exchange student is that, if they were available, you could get a private apartment on campus. Sophie got the last one.
She exits her apartment building and gets her bearings. After checking and rechecking her online map, she figures out where the track field is, and makes her way there in a light trot. She has only been here two days so it is completely understandable that she doesn’t yet know where everything is. About 10 minutes later she is under the bleachers, having taken an unexpected shortcut not on the map.
But at least she is here, and she can do her standard-clear-your-head morning run, last done five days ago when she was still in London, and very necessary today, with it being her first full day of lectures.
Massachusetts wasn’t her first choice, but MIT offered a great renewable energy program that she wanted to be a part of, for a year at least. And since it had always been her dream to study in the US, when the MIT opportunity presented itself, Sophie grabbed it with both hands. She was an obvious choice for the program too, her intellect surpassed only by her incredible good looks.
Sophie didn’t look like a nerd though, by any standards. She looked more like the centerfold from one of those taboo magazines that most men wouldn’t admit to having under their beds. The good thing about her though is that she really didn’t seem to know it. Or if she did, it really wasn’t her calling card in any of her social interactions. She was very attractive, no doubt. But she never forced her attractiveness down your throat the way you would expect someone with such striking beauty to do.
Humility as well as a certain regal air, without being pretentious, add to the attraction of Sophie. And needless to say, many a male student, and some females, noticed her at orientation, and they must have already made several mental notes to make a move. She knew why she was here though, and it certainly wasn’t to get involved in any sort of relationship that would last only a year and then be done when she had to go back to England. Such complications didn’t appeal in any way to the savvy 20 year old.
She stretched on the bleachers for about ten minutes, looking around her at the vast emptiness of the track. There was one solitary form on the far end, and if Sophie timed it right, she would be able to say good morning to him on her second lap. She was just a nice girl and made a point of making everybody fe
el more than a little special. She really didn’t care whether you were a janitor or a lunch lady, grounds maintenance worker or a plumber. Her philosophy was simple: everyone was somebody to somebody!
As she approached the man in the grey coveralls, his figure illuminated by the bright floodlights that still lit the track, she noticed that he was very tall. He was almost too tall, and she was suddenly nervous about greeting him and taking his attention away from sweeping the track, something she would later look back on, and it still not make sense. He seemed out of place.
"Why would a statuesque man like him be sweeping a track?
When she gets close to him though he looks up suddenly and she doesn’t know what to do. Should she greet him and just keep on running, or should she stop and strike up a real conversation. Both of these would be easy for her to do, but she cannot really read his face so she isn’t sure which scenario would make him uncomfortable. She knew from her school back in London that maintenance staff tended to keep to themselves, and they only spoke to students when said student had locked themselves out of their dorm and needed help.
“Good morning,” the dark waterfall of a man says suddenly and Sophie stops dead in her tracks.
“Good morning to you sir,” she says, not really breathless because she hasn’t even started to work up a sweat.
“Sir? You are definitely not from around these parts Miss…” he says, looking away. Sophie thinks that she might have embarrassed him by calling him sir, but he was obviously older than her so this seemed more than a little appropriate, regardless of his vocation.
“London, England,” she says, walking up to him now just because she is really curious as to just how tall he really is.
“Kingston, Jamaica,” he says, reaching out a hand to her as she suddenly places the accent. She and a couple of girlfriends had gone to Jamaica last summer, a girls retreat, and the one thing she walked away from that trip with was how thick and heavy the Jamaican accent was. It was instantly recognizable, whether you were in Kingston, London, or Cambridge Massachusetts.
“I’m Sophie,” she says, smiling as her tiny hand is enveloped in his gigantic one.
“Jamal,” comes the response, his voice deep and rounded, like a river of melted dark chocolate. Actually, Sophie thought as he shook her hand gently, he looked like a towering dark chocolate river, smooth skin and a perfectly matte complexion. She needed to get back to her run, and shake her head of the thoughts that crept into her head suddenly and without invitation. She could have no such thoughts, not of Jamal, or of anybody. She was just here for a year, and the last thing she needed was the complexity of a one-night-stand, especially since she was still a virgin…
Jamal watched her as she disappeared around the track. He couldn’t take his eyes off her ass, thinking that it was just too perfect to belong to a white girl. Another place, another time, he thought, he might have stood a chance with the almost-too-sexy Sophie. Perhaps if they had met on the island and he was 20 years younger! He returns to his sweeping, and tries to shake the thoughts he knows he should not be having about her. When he doesn’t succeed he disappears into the storeroom near the track before she comes around again, parading her perfection in front of him almost as though she were daring him to reach out and touch it.
For the next couple of days they see each other every day, at 4AM, exchanging lingering looks that both hopes the other doesn’t notice. Jamal knows what his attraction to Sophie is, even though she is still unsure about her own. A week later Sophie tries to find another place to run.
Accustomed to this new found anticipation of watching her run each morning, Jamal waits and extra 15 or 20 minutes each day, just to make sure she isn’t coming. Resisting each other is futile though. With the unabated intrigue of 'the idea' of one another, neither can imagine staying away from each other. At least, until the burning curiosity is satisfied one way or another. Try as they might, both of them are once again like moths to a flame, meeting on the track at 4AM again.
Neither can even explain to themselves what the visceral attraction is!
Pondering her growing obsession, Sophie thinks it's probably the fact that he is a nonthreatening man who seems to be interested in nothing but casual greetings and the occasional lingering glance, but Sophie knows that there is more to it. At least she hopes that there is, although she will not admit it to herself. She doesn’t even know why, because not only has she never slept with a black man, she in fact has not slept with any man before. You wouldn’t think it by looking at her though, but Sophie is a virgin.
Perhaps Jamal knows this, because he seems to ask her things that make her feel like he wants nothing but to protect her, for the duration of her stay at least. About two weeks into her daily runs, he asks her something in fact, that both takes her by surprise and sends her into a bit of a tailspin.
“Would I be forward if I said that you came running at 4 every morning just to see me?” he asks her casually, almost joking, almost serious. She doesn’t know how to respond to this so she just laughs, loudly. Surely Jamal can’t be serious. He must be joking, making his usual early morning conversation although this morning it has a rather flirty slant. She cannot believe that he would go there though, because he has always acted more like a big brother. Now it seemed that he was going somewhere else with his thoughts and now his words.