Under My Skin (Shady Falls Series Book 2) (7 page)

BOOK: Under My Skin (Shady Falls Series Book 2)
11.89Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

              “I know what I’m doin’, Jake. I don’t need you to take care of me. I’m fine.”

              Pulling away slightly, he stared at me. “Yeah, you’re fine. He talked to every other woman in the gym, but you, when you brought him there. And here he is now already at the bar talkin’ up some blonde, but you’re fine.” My eyes snapped toward the bar to see Grant with his hands on the waitress from earlier.

              Jake sighed and pulled away from me slowly, his hand glided from my back around ribs, then his hand fell to his side. He nodded his head. “See ya around, Mia.”

              He stared at me for just a moment. Then he turned and walked away, disappearing through the crowd.

              I had no idea he paid so much attention.







Chapter Five



“I can’t stand when she comes in here,” I grumbled quietly. Ignoring my client, I watched Mia walk across the gym toward the set of elliptical machines. Seeing her every day but having only passing contact had me on edge. Since our argument at the bar, it took all my willpower to stay away. I’d forgotten what it felt like to hold her in my arms. It had been years, but no woman has ever felt as good in my arms as Mia, and all I’d done was hold her for a dance.

              She used to be so audacious. She would light up the room when she walked into it. She was quiet and reserved around people who made her uncomfortable, but when she was around people she cared for, she was brazen. I loved that about her. There were so many other things which made her special. The girl she used to be was still in there, I saw her. And that’s what made it so hard to sit back and watch her fight off the douche canoe. I’d tried to talk myself out of going to her and helping her, but once I saw her jump away from him, I couldn’t help it. Dancing with her wasn’t the wisest of decisions though. It felt too good to hold her again. And now, I couldn’t get her out of my mind.

Mia’s tight yoga pants hugged her full, round ass perfectly and her tiny tank top showed her pert breasts, tight stomach, and the scrawl of letters below her collarbone. She was even more beautiful than she was in high school. She was still thin and fit, but the gymnast body had given way to a gorgeous figure; one I wanted to consume.

“Who?” my client asked, jarring me out of my thoughts. I’d actually forgotten he was even there for a moment, too caught up in musings to worry about him. He craned his neck so he could see who I was talking about. Probably with the intention of going and talking to her.

“No one. Never mind.” I wasn’t about to point her out to him. This dude was a dog and he had one hell of a shitty reputation around the gym. No doubt he’d go hound her to go out with him and there was no way I could sit back and watch. Since the day she moved to Mooresville, I had to deal with her joining our gym and watch the assholes fall all over themselves to get her attention. But I sure as hell wasn’t gonna watch her actually leave with one of them.

“Come-on man,” he droned.

“You’re kiddin’ me, right? You’re gonna stand here and whine like some little bitch? Now focus,” I snarled. “Fifteen more reps.”

He groaned but didn’t argue. He’d already learned if he screwed around too much, I’d give his training time to someone else. There were lots of people who wanted private training sessions and our staff was limited. It pissed Cade off when I threatened to drop clients, but there were others who wanted my time and were willing to put in the work. Why waste time on assholes who didn’t want to work, especially since I had double the case load because of Cade’s school schedule.
Yet another reason the restaurant was a bad idea for now.

I counted off his reps while my eyes kept straying back to Mia. Earbuds in place and what was probably her e-reader sitting in front of her, she was oblivious to her surroundings. She may not pay attention to them, but men sure as hell paid attention to her. Especially the rhythmic bounce of her full breasts and the sexy sway of her hips as she picked up pace on the machine. She exercised hard, every damn day and she had the body to show for it. She was strong and beautiful. And it pissed me off that she came to
gym. She could work out at any other gym in Mooresville, but she didn’t. I swore she just wanted to torture me with what I couldn’t have.

“A-ha, now I see who you’re lookin’ at. I’m not much into black chicks, but damn, that one’s hot as hell. What? Did you hit on her and she shot you down? Maybe she don’t date white guys.”

I was gonna knock him the hell out if he didn’t shut up. An asshole like him would only see the color of her skin. Who the hell cared anyway, it was just packaging. “Will you shut up already?” I looked at the clock. “Time’s up.”

“See ya next week, Jake. Don’t worry, I won’t hit on her. She looks too high maintenance for me anyway.”

Ignoring the asshole until he left, I tried to busy myself with clean-up. But no matter how hard I tried, I still glanced her way. It was nothing but physical, what guy wouldn’t want to sink into her perfect body?

Deciding enough was enough, I walked through the gym toward our back office, taking one last look her way before disappearing through the door. Outta sight, outta mind.
Well, never completely outta mind.

“Why do you seem pissed off more often than not lately?” Cade asked the moment I walked into the office.

“Why do you feel the need to be a dick more often than not lately?” I shot back causing Cade to glare. Great, I was being an ass to my brother. “Sorry. I’m not pissed off, I’m just sick of the asshole I just finished with. The dickhead doesn’t shut the hell up, he talks more than some chicks I know.”

“You know, our job is to deal with people, assholes and all. But I was thinkin’, with me gone so much, you’re dealin’ with more of the pricks than ever. Maybe we should hire another trainer or two. Get you off the floor and away from some of the assholes, then maybe you’d be able to take a day off too. You’ve been workin’ nonstop for months and I know you haven’t done shit for yourself lately. When’s the last time you tried one of mom’s new recipes?”

Letting out a breath, my body relaxed a little. I knew I couldn’t keep this pace going and Cade knew I was nearing my breaking point. Now if we could just get rid of Mia, my world would be perfect. “You’re probably right, but how do you know I haven’t been cookin’?”

“You’re my brother, I know you.” I narrowed my eyes and stared at him. He’s been wrapped up in his own stuff, no way he just knew. “Okay,” he relented. “Momma said she called you with some new recipes to try and you told her you don’t have time for stupid hobbies anymore. Since when is cooking just some hobby?”

              Of course our mother called him. I sighed. “It’s not just a hobby, but I don’t have time to cook right now.”

              “Well, I think it’s time to have us all over for dinner. I’m dyin’ for some home cookin’.”

              “I don’t have time to feed your scrawny ass,” I said with a smirk. Cade was anything but scrawny. About the same height as me, he was bulkier where I was fifteen pounds lighter. Both of us had well defined muscles. “Maybe I do need to feed you, you’re waistin’ away to nothin’. And Momma was exaggeratin’. I told her none of us have time for other things right now.” We both knew it was a lie. If nothing else, our mother didn’t embellish. She told it how it was and nothing more.

              “I talked to Monique too. Why didn’t you tell me you were lookin’ at storefronts? She said she found the perfect place for you.”

              Unfortunately for me, Cade and Monique were good friends also. Guess I shouldn’t have been surprised she talked to him about this.

              “What the fuck, she called you?” I asked, frustrated. I pulled the band from my hair and pushed my fingers through my hair, pulling on the ends hanging near my shoulders.
Maybe it was time for a haircut.

              “There’s nothin’ wrong with her callin’ me. Look we were talkin’, maybe we could go check out the place together.”

              “I don’t know.” What could I say? The idea of my own café excited me, my brother knew it. “I don’t see how we can pull it off. I’m here all the time.”

              “Hirin’ a couple trainers would be a good first step. The gym’s doin’ great, we can afford to hire some people.”

              “And where’s the money for the restaurant gonna come from? We’re doin’ well, but we ain’t independently wealthy.”

              “We’ll use the gym as collateral. We’ll figure it all out. You know momma will come up and help you get goin’. So long as you don’t mind lettin’ your brother be part of this.”

              For the first time since I walked into the building, I actually felt a glimmer of hope. Could this actually happen? Could we pull this off without destroying the gym and losing everything?

              “Do you think it could work?” I asked, feeling kind of hopeful for the first time in a long time. Maybe I could have this.

“Hell yeah I do. First, let’s get a couple of my buddies in here so you can meet them. There’s one guy in particular that I think would be a good fit, Gage Andrews. He’s a gym teacher but he was takin’ classes to get licensed as a trainer. He called me last week to see if I knew anyone hirin’. He’s relatively new to the area. He moved to here from Pittsburgh a couple years ago.”

“Fine by me.” The idea of owning my own business had me willing to interview and meet any one of the guys Cade met at school.

“I’ll call him and see if he can come in today. You got anything goin’ on?”

“I have one more client, then I’m just gettin’ the hell outta here, and goin’ home.”

Cade made the call and I started to relax even more. I wanted this and knowing my brother was willing to do just about anything to help me achieve my dream was overwhelming. Maybe it was my time to make things happen. I should’ve known Cade would be supportive.

“Okay, Gage’ll be here in about an hour. Don’t forget tonight’s my night class, so the final decision is yours.”

“Fine,” I said, looking at the clock. “I gotta meet my next client. See you later.”

“Yeah, later. Text me and let me know what you decide. Then we’ll talk about a couple more guys we can hire to free you up to get the restaurant going. I’ll stop by your place after my class tonight and we’ll make a plan.”

“Fine,” I said.

“And you better feed me, asshole.”

I chuckled walking out the door into the gym. It never ceased to amaze me how lucky I was. The place was huge. Our building took up almost an entire city block. The main room was an open floorplan, much like most gyms were. Lines of equipment stood at attention, just waiting for someone to come use them. Each type of machine had its own place with large walkways between areas. On one side of the room there were locker rooms, and our office. One the other side of the room were two doors, one leading to a small private gym and the other to a larger room which housed our pit crew training area. It was perfect.

Faith stood behind the counter, greeting patrons as they entered. She was a good manager and already knew how the gym was run. We could probably ask her to take on more responsibility and she could handle the day-to-day business of memberships and scheduling. We’d just have to hire another person for evenings to give her a break.

Suddenly, walking through the gym I started to see new possibilities for some of our employees and our clients. This could be a good thing for the gym as well as the restaurant. Maybe we could even open a health food area and combine the two. Now that I saw possibility, I started seeing possibility everywhere. It was a great feeling.

“Hi, Jake,” Faith said with a huge flirty smile. She batted her chestnut colored eyes, her brown hair was pulled back tightly from her lightly tanned face. A pretty woman, Faith wasn’t shy about what and who she wanted. She was obviously interested, but she didn’t seem to take the hint that I wasn’t. 

“Hey, Faith,” I responded, walking around the counter.

“You wanna get drinks after work tonight?” At least once a week she asked and every single time I told her no. She never seemed to get upset or complain when I refused her advances, but she also never gave up.

“No thanks, Faith.”

“It’s cool. I get it, Jake.” She looked kind of sad for a moment, but then smiled. “No worries, boss.” Without skipping a beat, she turned and greeting the next patron to walk through the door.

Relief washed over me when I realized maybe she did get it, and she probably wouldn’t keep going with her flirting. Maybe she’d finally move on.

The gym seemed to have filled even more since I walked into the office fifteen minutes ago. It was great to see so many people working out and trying to better themselves. The thing I liked about our place compared to others was ours didn’t cater to the already fit. We had a variety of ability levels working out as one. Some of the more experienced even helped the novices with equipment and other questions. It was like a little community.

“Jake,” Toni shouted from the door. “You ready for me?”

Smiling, I happily realized my next client was Toni instead of some douchebag I didn’t want to deal with. “Hey, sweetheart. How’s it goin’? How’s the team lookin’ for the last couple races?” I wrapped her in a hug and kissed the top of her head. Toni rested her head on my chest as she hugged tightly. “You okay?” I asked.

“I’m good. Just worn out. This schedule’s killin’ me. But, the team’s lookin’ good,” she said nodding. “I think we have a shot.”

“Yeah, I get it. But y’all will get some time off soon, right?”

Toni sighed. “Yeah, I don’t know. It seems like we’re gonna need to do somethin’ with the pit crew. Our front tire changer is leavin’ at the end of the season. Axel sent us another guy, but he sucks.”

“What are y’all gonna do?”

“I don’t know. I guess we’ll start him off during the off season and see how it goes, but I was thinkin’ of askin’ Cade to coach the entire team over the break.”

BOOK: Under My Skin (Shady Falls Series Book 2)
11.89Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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