Connie was frantically working behind the large counter at Whit's End trying to fill all the customer orders which at the present moment seemed like an impossible task. It was around eleven o'clock on a Saturday and the place was packed full of kids who were scattered throughout the building. Some in the Bible room, others in the train room, and still more in the soda shop who were impatiently waiting for the delicious treats, drinks, and desserts that they had ordered. In fact, they were so busy with customers that Jason had come over to help Connie as Renee was out of town and Whit was away in Connellsville for the day. Meanwhile, Eugene was busy repairing the imagination station. I can't remember the last time this place was so crowded Connie thought as she finished blending a wod-fam-choc-sod which she then poured into a glass and topped with whipped cream and chocolate syrup. She then placed the large shake on a black tray on which there was also a banana split and a strawberry milkshake.
"Here's some more raspberry ripple," Jason said as he came through the kitchen doors carrying a large container of freshly made ice cream which he then placed inside the freezer.
"Great. Thanks. Just in time too. We ran out on the last order." Connie scooped some of the raspberry ripple ice cream into a glass dish.
"Already?! I know we only had three containers left, but we've only been open a little over two hours."
"Well, it is our most popular flavor after all." Connie placed the bowl of raspberry ripple ice cream on the tray.
"I'll say. Seems like nearly every other day Dad or I have to make a new batch."
Connie cleared her throat and turned toward Jason. "Well, you both would never have to worry about running out again if...a certain employee knew the recipe," Connie replied with puppy dog eyes which caused Jason to chuckle.
Connie continued, "If you only told me it would make running things here so much easier."
"Connie you know I can't. After all the recipe is—"
"A Whittaker family secret. Yeah, I know. You and Whit have both told me that a thousand times. But I'll let you know that I'm not giving up. I'll get the recipe...eventually. You just wait and see."
"Yeah, I'll do that," Jason replied, sarcasm in his voice.
"You Whittakers can be so annoying sometimes." Connie crossed her arms.
"Thank you" Jason replied with a boyish grin as he picked up the tray. "Now if you'll excuse me I need to serve this order." Jason began walking to the booth in the far right corner where Joseph, Cooper, Trey, and Kayla were seated.
"This conversation isn't over Jason!" Connie called after him causing Jason to chuckle to himself.
Eugene entered the room and joined Connie behind the counter. "Imploring Jason to give you the recipe for raspberry ripple again."
"Yeah, and once again no luck. Jason can be so stubborn at times. It's so frustrating." She sighed. "So how's the imagination station? Were you able to fix it?"
"I am beyond pleased to report that the imagination station is, as you say in the vernacular, up and running."
"That's great. Good job Eugene. The kids will be happy to hear that. They kept asking me about how soon it would be fixed all morning."
"Glad I could be of assistance."
"Now that you're finished with the imagination station would you mind giving me a hand with these orders? It's quite a long list."
"I am at your service."
"Thanks, Eugene." Connie quickly scanned the long list of orders to be filled, laid out on the counter beside her. "Next is Bridget and Wyatt's order. Three scoops of raspberry ripple in a dipped cone and a vanilla sundae with all the toppings. I can do the ice cream cone and you can do the sundae. If that's fine with you."
"That is agreeable with me Ms. Kendall."
Connie grabbed a dipped cone and started scooping raspberry ripple into it, while Eugene scooped some vanilla ice cream in a glass bowl and retrieved the bottle of chocolate syrup.
Jason returned to the counter and placed the tray back down on the countertop. "That's taken care of. What order can I fill?"
"Oh, don't try to change the subject, Jason Whittaker." Connie said as she placed the raspberry ripple ice cream cone on the tray, "I still want to know the recipe."
"As I've said before, what if something happened to you and Whit. Then the recipe for raspberry ripple would be lost forever," she said in her most convincing tone of voice.
"It wouldn't Connie."
"Really?" Connie said hopefully, daring to believe that after all these years of asking Jason was finally telling her the recipe. "How so?"
"Jana knows it. And I'm sure she's told Monty and Jenny by now as well."
Eugene silently chuckled to himself as he placed the cherry on top of the sundae, amused by Jason's witty reply.
"If you won't just tell me then how about a bet?"
Jason lightly chuckled. "A bet? You really are serious about this aren't you?"
"I certainly am," Connie said, determination in her eyes.
"All right. I'll play along. I bet that you can't do one of my workouts."
Eugene completely shocked by Connie's agreement to this bet chimed in "Now um, Ms. Kendall I'm not exactly sure that—"
Connie continued, cutting Eugene off. "And if I'm able to keep up with you and finish the workout you have to give me the recipe for raspberry ripple. But if I don't keep up with you then I'll stop pestering you to give me the recipe...at least for a month."
"I'm all for it as long as you're certain about this. I'm not completely sure you know what you're getting yourself into."
"What? Are you saying I can't do it?"
"Well, I just think it would be extremely difficult for you especially since I was an agent."
"So? That doesn't mean I can't do one of your workouts. I'll have you know that I happen to be in the best shape of my life."
"If you say so," Jason said, still completely confident in his abilities to win this bet.
"I do." Connie extended her hand toward Jason.
"I guess we have a bet," Jason said, taking her hand in his. They then released each other's hand. Both completely sure of their success.
"Great. So what day are we doing this?" Connie asked.
"How about five Monday morning?" Jason replied.
"Sure. I'll be there."
"And I will be there as well."
Connie and Jason gave Eugene a puzzled look. "You really don't have to go Eugene," Connie replied, hoping against hope that he wouldn't.
"Actually, I do. For a couple of reasons in fact. Firstly, someone needs to be there to witness and document this important event. And, secondly, the opportunity to watch you and Jason compete against each other in a session of vigorous physical exercise is something, to borrow the colloquialism, I wouldn't miss for the world."
"You ready?" Jason asked as he, Connie, and Eugene made their way into Dynamo Fitness, the best gym in Odyssey, or at least that's what Jason claimed.
"Yes, I certainly am."
"As am I. I have everything that we require. My phone to document this momentous event, two bottles of Gatorade for hydration and replenishment of electrolytes, and smelling salts in the event Ms. Kendall should pass out."
"Ha, ha. Very funny Eugene." Connie replied sarcastically. She then turned to Jason. "So what's first?"
"I usually hit the treadmill to start my workout."
"Sounds good," Connie said as she, Jason, and Eugene made their way to where the treadmills were located in the building. After arriving there Connie and Jason each stepped onto a treadmill while Eugene stayed several feet back, taking his phone out of the backpack which he had brought with him.
"How about we start at a nice warm-up pace."
"Sure. Two or three?"
"Nah, I was thinking more along the lines of six."
"Six..okay then," Connie said somewhat hesitantly. Why should I be surprised? This is Jason after all Connie thought.
"Ready?" Jason said as he finished adjusting the speed and placed his finger on top of the start button.
"Ready," Connie then mumbled to herself. "As I'll ever be."
Jason and Connie started their treadmills and Eugene began to take videos as well as snap photos of the two of them. They had been running for about five minutes and Connie, although definitely feeling the burn, was still managing to keep up. At least it's not the absolute worst..sort of...I guess. Connie thought.
At that moment Jason spoke up, interrupting Connie's thoughts. "Okay, now that we're warmed up let's go to 12."
"You're kidding right!"
"Oh come on, it should be nothing for a fitness guru like yourself." Jason winked.
Connie let out a sigh and pushed 12. Within a few seconds, she felt her legs flying under her. She was moving so fast that she couldn't even feel her feet touch the treadmill's walking belt. As the seconds passed she felt her face getting hotter and her body becoming drenched in sweat. Connie's chest heaved up and down, faster and faster, as she struggled to catch her breath. I must be dying Connie thought as she tried her hardest to keep running even though she was in pure agony. She quickly glanced at Jason. It looked to her as if he hadn't even broken into a sweat let alone was to the point of exhaustion. How is that even humanly possible. She didn't know and right now she didn't exactly care. All she wanted was for this run to be over. I'm really going to die. Meanwhile, Eugene was still busy taking photos and videos though he did notice Connie's face was beginning to turn a bright shade of red and her breathing was becoming heavier and heavier as time passed.
Finally, after what seemed like an eternity to Connie, but, in reality, was a little over an hour, Jason said, "Okay Connie we're done." Jason pressed the stop button, quickly walked off the treadmill, and stood next to Eugene. After stopping the treadmill Connie walked gingerly towards Eugene and Jason. She felt as if her legs were on fire. Every single muscle in her legs felt stained and with every step, it seemed as though her legs would give out underneath her.
"Ms. Kendall, are you all right? You seem to be in some discomfort?" Eugene asked.
"Yeah, are you all right Connie?" Jason asked, echoing Eugene's sentiment.
"Whatever gave you the idea that I wasn't?"
"You're ah...wincing," Eugene responded.
"Well, I'm fine." Connie said as convincingly as she could, "So what's next Jason?"
"Next is weight training. Then core and strength exercises."
"Oh, so like deadlifts and stuff."
"Exactly! My favorite!" An enthusiastic smile spread across Jason's face.
"Yes! Mine too." Connie exclaimed as she feigned excitement. "On another planet" she whispered to herself.
"I say we make our way to the mass times acceleration due to gravity chamber post-haste,"
Jason chuckled. "You mean the weight room?"
"Isn't that what I said?" Eugene replied.
Two hours had passed and Jason and Connie's competition was still going strong. It seemed to Connie as though they had done nearly every exercise under the sun. Deadlifts, overhead presses, leg presses, squats, rear delt raises, jackknives, calf raises, crunches, Russian twists, and push-ups. You name it they'd done it. Jason was very impressed by Connie's stamina and determination though he knew he couldn't admit it to her yet. Not until she conceded which at this rate he wasn't as nearly as confident that she'd do as he was at the beginning. Likewise, Eugene had strongly believed that Connie would not last anywhere near this long yet here she was continuing to keep up with Jason. As for Connie, every muscle in her body felt like it was a blazing inferno, she was in pure agony. She would have quit a long time ago if it wasn't for the fact that the recipe for raspberry ripple was on the line. Something which she was not going to give up without a fight.
"Okay, now let's do a plank."
"Plank. Jason, that's like the worst exercise ever! Besides, we've done like a hundred exercises. Can't we call it a day? "
"One more never hurts," Jason responded as he squatted down to the floor and got in position.
"He's wrong on that one. Every exercise has been torture," she mumbled to herself as she climbed down next to him and got in position as well.
"Eugene, when your watch changes to a new minute can you say go?" Jason asked.
"Certainly," Eugene replied as he looked at his watch. A few seconds passed and Eugene gave them the signal. Connie and Jason lifted their legs off the floor and stretched themselves out. One minute passed. Two minutes. Three minutes. Ten minutes passed and Connie could no longer try to hide the sheer pain she was in. She started groaning and grunting as she struggled to stay up. Every single part of her body hurt and her arms were shaking nearly uncontrollably. Finally, a surging pain shot through Connie's entire body, and she crumpled to the floor. "Ow! You win Jason!... I'm done!... I'm done!" Connie exclaimed, her words broken up as she tried to catch her breath. "The recipe for raspberry ripple will have to wait."
Jason and Eugene each went to Connie's side as she lay on the floor groaning in pain. "Connie are you okay?" Jason asked, worried that she had perhaps suffered a serious injury.
"I'll be fine. I'm just a little tired. I'll be okay as soon as I take some aspirin and have a nice warm bath." She said, trying to convince Jason and Eugene she was all right despite knowing she wasn't.
"Here let's help you up," Jason said.
"Thanks." After much effort, and help from Jason and Eugene, Connie was able to stand. However, as she walked it was apparent that she had strained quite a few muscles not to mention was still in a good deal of pain. After staggering forward for a few moments Connie collapsed on the floor. Eugene and Jason once again rushed to her side, concern etched on their faces.
"Connie I'm carrying you. You're obviously in no condition to walk."
"Now Jason I—"
"Connie I pushed you to your limit today and you're extremely sore and in a lot of pain. Please just let me help you to the car."
"Yes, and besides the automobile is located quite a few meters away from our present position. Most certainly too far for you to walk in your present state." Eugene added.
Reluctantly Connie gave in. "All right, Jason. You can carry me."
"Also I think it would be best if you took today off" Jason suggested.
"Yeah, you're probably right. I'll call Whit right now." Connie tried to pull her phone out of her sweatpants pocket but found that she was too sore, stiff, and in too much pain to move at all, let alone grab her phone.
"Here I've got it," Jason said as he grabbed the phone for Connie.
Jason pressed his dad's number and held the phone to Connie's ear.
Whit picked up. "Hello, Whit. I'm sorry but I won't be able to work today...Yeah, everything's fine it's just that I had a very intense workout session with Jason and it went as well as could be expected." Connie chuckled. "Thanks for understanding Whit...I'll be sure to get some rest. Bye."
"Thanks again, Jason."
"No problem" he responded as he placed the phone back in Connie's pocket. Jason then gently picked up Connie and the three of them made their way to their cars. Jason persuaded Connie to have him drive her home and said he'd drive her car over to her house later that day. After about twenty minutes they arrived at Connie's house and Jason pulled the car into the driveway and parked. He then exited the car, walked around to the other side of the vehicle, and opened the front passenger door where Connie was seated. He then bent down, took Connie in his arms, and carried her to the front door. Jason then rang the doorbell. A few seconds later Jules opened the door. An expression of shock instantly appeared on her face as she was met with the sight of a very weak Connie in Jason's arms.
"Connie, what on earth happened? Oh my gosh, are you all right?" Jules asked, concern evident in her voice.
"I'm fine Jules. Or at least I will be. Let's just say I might have pushed myself a little too hard at the gym this morning."
"Well, that explains it." Jason walked into the house and Jules closed the door behind him. She then followed Jason into the living room where he gently placed Connie on the couch.
"I'll go get you some aspirin," Jules said, knowing Connie definitely could use some right now.
"Thanks, Jules," Connie replied before the teenager headed off to the bathroom.
"Are you sure you'll be all right?" Jason asked, still very much concerned about Connie.
"I'm sure, besides you need to get going if you want to open Triple J's on time." Jules entered the living room.
"Your health is more important to me than opening the shop on time."
"Here you are, Connie," Jules began as she placed two aspirin pills in Connie's hand. "I'll get you some water." Jules started walking toward the kitchen.
"I appreciate your concern but you don't have to worry about me."
"Go! I'll be fine."
"All right," Jason finally relented, realizing there was no way he was going to change Connie's mind. "I'll go, but make sure you take it easy."
"And Jules if she needs anything—"
"Make sure to get it. Go on, I got this. Trust me I have lots of experience with this sort of thing with my dad." Jules replied as she walked back to where Connie was sitting and handed her a glass of water.
"Okay great! See you both later"
"Bye Jason!" Connie and Jules both called after him as he walked toward the door.
"Bye!" Jason said as he opened the front door. He then exited the house and closed the door behind him.
It was around seven o'clock that night and Connie was lying in her bed watching Breakfast at Tiffany's when there was a knock on her door. "Come on in," she called out. Jason entered the bedroom holding a tray.
"Jason?! When did you come over? I didn't even hear you arrive."
Jason chuckled. "I have my ways," Jason responded, causing Connie to laugh as well. "Are you feeling better?"
"Yes, I am feeling better. The aspirin and hot bath helped a lot."
"I'm so glad to hear that. I was very worried about you."
"Thanks, Jason." Connie and Jason both smiled.
"Anyway, I hope you're hungry. I have a steak, medium rare, the way you like it, mashed potatoes, and grilled asparagus. And I also brought you cookie dough since I know it's your favorite." Jason said as he walked toward Connie.
"You know me so well. That all sounds amazing. Thanks, Jason."
"No problem." He placed the tray on Connie's lap.
"Everything looks incredible! What restaurant did you get this from?"
"I made it myself actually."
"You cook? Wow, that's one thing I never knew about you. But then again you are a man of mystery."
Jason laughed, "Thanks." Jason then sat down on the bed beside Connie. "But honestly I felt making you and Jules dinner was the least I could do considering everything that happened today."
"That wasn't your fault Jason. I pushed myself too hard."
"Maybe, but I didn't tell you that today was my I want to die workout day."
"But it was my idea to have this bet in the first place."
"Yeah, but If I hadn't kept on going you wouldn't have either."
"But I knew I was pushing myself too hard during the workout and I still kept on going."
"Yeah, but I should have known you would since you're a very competitive person."
"Neither one of us is going to let this go? Are we?"
"No, I don't think so," Jason replied. They both laughed.
"How about we call it even," Connie suggested.
"Sure." A few seconds passed. "I must say that I was very impressed. You were amazing today." Jason said, sincerity in his eyes.
"Thanks so much. Hearing you say that means a lot."
"Well, you deserve it. You did a lot of things today I wasn't sure you could do."
"Maybe, but if we're being honest you were the truly amazing one. I had no idea you were so fit."
Jason chuckled. "Thanks. Lots of training I suppose...Well, I best get going. Dad will be expecting me." Jason said as he rose from the bed. "I'll check on you tomorrow and remember if you need anything at all just let me know."
"Don't worry I will. Thanks again for everything." Connie smiled.
Jason smiled back at her. "Of course. As I said it's the least I could do." He then began to exit the room.
"And Jason," Connie called out, causing Jason to stop and turn back in her direction. "I will get the recipe for raspberry ripple."
Jason looked down and chuckled. He then looked back up toward Connie. "I have a feeling that someday you will."