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I raced down the trail toward the person I’d spotted, knowing the running might worsen my incipient asthma attack. But I was out of options.

I kept a lid on my panic as I came up on the other hiker.

When she turned, I saw she was a luscious brunette, with an athletic physique made evident by her hiking shorts and sweat-damp T-shirt. Her breasts swelled against the cotton, and her bared thighs and calves were exquisitely toned.

She looked quizzically at me, aware something was wrong.

With as much breath as I could muster, I asked, “Have you… got… asthma inhaler?” It was a lightning-strike sort of chance. What were the odds I would run into someone else in these great outdoors with an inhaler?

Quickly, she flung her pack to the ground and dug in it. She handed me an inhaler with a concerned look on her sculpted face.

I gratefully took it and gave myself a blast. I closed my eyes and felt the attack backing off. The sense of constriction disappeared. I opened my eyes and smiled at her.

“I think you understand how badly I needed that,” I said. “Thanks — a thousand times, thanks.” I made to hand her back her inhaler.

“Keep it. I’ve got another in the pack. Don’t you carry a spare?”

I nodded up toward the ridge trail I’d been hiking. “A strap snapped on my pack, and it rolled off my shoulders and right down into a ravine. My closest spare is now in my car, back at the trail head. I might not have made it.”

She peered closely at me. “You’re better now?”

“Yeah. It’s passed. You don’t have to worry.”

“I understand. People think you can’t do shit if you’ve got asthma.” She waved her hand, like she was dismissing all of them. “Hell, I’m healthier than 95 percent of the people I know.”

I couldn’t help but grin. “I bet you are.”

Something changed in her gaze. “You look pretty fit, too.”

I was. I hiked and biked and swam — and had a tight muscular shape to show for it. “My name’s Josh.”

“I’m Katy. You want some coffee? I’ve got a little campsite down by the lake.”

There seemed to be something more in the invitation. The way her eyes glinted and the hint of promise in her voice told me so. With my breathing restored to normal, I felt new sensations. Interest stirred in me, with desire lurking just behind.

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