SEASON 3, EPISODE 29

I hadn’t seen my friend Mads for a while, so she suggested we meet for a StarCycle class. She had a guest pass for me, which was requisite since I was above paying a lot of money for something I could do for free at my own gym. “Oh, but it’s nothing like a spin class,” she promised. It was exactly like a spin class, only the lights were dim, and the instructor told us 50 times that we were all “beautiful, inspiring people,” and everyone spent ten minutes doing this weird head-banging thing which was supposed to be transformative but made me worried that I might slip a disc. Afterwards, Mads hurried away to a brunch, so I moseyed toward the subway. Then, a tap on my shoulder: “Hey, was that your first class?” I turned to find a very handsome and sweaty man. “You looked a little out of place,” he said. “I felt the same way. Like, how silly is it that people can’t get the same high from a run in the park?” His face, beautiful. His rationale, inspiring. My heart, racing.

His name was Omar. We routed ourselves to a bagel joint—likely the only StarCycle riders who followed their class in such a way. The girl in front of us ordered a scooped bagel with cream cheese, and I knew I adored Omar when he turned to me and rolled his eyes: “Yeah, because there’s no guilt-free meal like a gutted-out bagel filled with fat.” We sat to eat and I watched him inhale the largest chicken sandwich I had ever seen (which I weirdly found sexy). “I can’t believe I didn’t notice you in class,” I said. “It would have been so nice to not feel alone, like the only one who understood the joke.” “I was behind you, which meant I had the best seat in the house,” he said. It’s like he couldn’t say or do anything wrong. “Tell me where you live,” I commanded. “Prospect Heights,” he replied. I choked on my bagel; as a single Brooklyner, proximity was my fantasy. “Me too,” I said. His eyes widened, as did his smile.

Omar and I took the 2 train back to Brooklyn. I wanted to take him home, but I also felt like this could be something bigger than a hookup. “Let’s see each other this week,” I said. “I was going to suggest the same,” he responded. “How’s Thursday?” Joanie had a concert that night, but I had a few extra tickets, so I proposed that he come see her show. “Wait, you manage Saturant?” he said. “She’s like, the hottest thing right now. My company is trying to sign her.” “No kidding. Which label?” “Republic. Wait, have we spoken on the phone? We totally have. Eric Condor, right? I’m Omar Hasani.” I laughed, and couldn’t believe the coincidence. Then, I immediately realized the conflict at hand: Republic was one of two labels we were considering. The other was Glassnote, where Joanie’s new lover Dixon worked.

In a flash, Omar felt off limits since he worked for Republic. “If we’re in business talks, we should probably, you know, keep things professional for a while, since we’re both so rational. I wouldn’t want this to influence any of our decisions.” Omar understood, but asked if he could still attend the show with some other execs from his office. “Please, yes, please come. I’ll introduce your crew to Joanie after the show, and we’ll all meet next week to discuss your offer. And…you’re OK if I play down my connection to you, right? I don’t want Joanie being suspicious.” “Suspicious of what?” Omar said. “We haven’t done anything but eat bagels together.” That’s when I realized I had followed him up to his apartment. He pulled off my jacket, then his. He walked me to the bathroom and turned on the shower.

The Saturant concert was the place to be that Thursday night, and Joanie delivered another terrific performance. She debuted new music off her next EP and gave both Republic and Glassnote even more to fawn over. We were expecting to pick a label in the next couple weeks, so I made sure that Joanie got face time with both teams after the show. Glassnote was easy, since her almost-boyfriend-seriously-they-were-moving-fast Dixon was part of that team. I studied the two of them as everyone mingled, and they played it nice and coy, not making it obvious to anyone that they were practically nesting. I had to play it equally cool around Omar when we chatted with the Republic team, perhaps making it too obvious when I purposefully mispronounced his last name as I introduced him to Joanie. I got an eye roll from him, and later a text that said “You’re cute, but a bad actor. Let’s make this happen.” I thought he meant signing with Republic, but maybe he also meant “let’s make the two of us happen.”

Joanie invited me to dinner at her apartment the following night. It was just four of us: Joanie, Dixon, Mads, and me. I was unfairly trying to dislike Dixon, but it was impossible: he was perfect in every single way. He cooked a roast, refused any help cleaning up, asked Mads and me all kinds of thoughtful questions, and was quite the intellectual conversationalist. On top of all that, he and Joanie seemed crazy about one another, and she didn’t need to ask me aside how much I liked him, because it was obvious: the guy was unparalleled. If I hadn’t been falling for Omar, I’d have asked Dixon to write up a contract for Saturant on the spot.

Omar and I met for a run in Prospect Park that weekend, blessed with mild winter weather and the same kind of newfound affection that Dixon and Joanie were enjoying. We reached the final hill of the 3-mile loop and raced each other to the top. “Loser buys bagels!” he said as he took off. I won by a good distance, turning and slow clapping for him as he rounded the final curve. “I let you win,” he huffed, smiling. “Oh how sweet of you. Hope you brought cash for the bagels.” We devoured our carbs, then each other. Twice. I could feel something—the same thing I felt for Jack—that very elusive feeling that is one’s heart being taken captive. I felt more guarded than I did with Jack, but Omar was special, I knew it. And, in the race between labels trying to sign Joanie—with Dixon and Omar as the respective Glassnote and Republic poster boys—I was pretty certain I would let Omar win.

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