Mondays are for Excerpts

1 Sep

HIDDEN HEART– Excerpt

The next morning, Tessa decided to do something she hadn’t done since Daniel’s attack. She found a gym and went for her first workout. She paid for the membership, checked the class schedule and opted for a step class. She knew she’d be sore afterward, but at least it’d give her a new focal point that would help her forget about Alessandro and his new girlfriend.

By the time the class finished, Tessa was out of breath, soaking wet and totally spent. She left the class and decided to swim as well. She went first to the lockers to exchange her clothes for a swimsuit. It seemed everyone around her had the same interest—Cristian, the step class instructor.

“I’ve never seen a man as well built as Cristian,” one woman said.

“I should take a picture of him and glue it to my ceiling. Each time I’m having sex with my husband I can look at it,” another one said, and several women burst into laughter.

“Oh, God, he is the best trainer ever, and his routine is really designed to make us sweat,” another one said. “I’m taking all his classes from now on.”

“That toned body, those muscles screaming out, yum! And his blue eyes—I swear he’s like looking right through me. And his lips, so kissable, and . . .”

Tessa tuned the chatter out. She didn’t observe any of those things her fellow classmates gossiped about. She left the locker room, and went to the swimming pool.

On her way, she saw Cristian talking outside the pool area with two other girls. He inclined his head toward her and continued his conversation. She went in, swam ten laps and, exhausted but refreshed, went to take a shower. She finished with fifteen minutes in the sauna, then took one last shower, and prepared to leave. Her body ached already, and from past experience she knew she’d pay a hefty price for exercising so much in one day after such a long absence. Tomorrow she’d be lucky to make it out of bed. On her way out, she saw Cristian. She passed by and went out to the parking lot.

“You’re quite a pro,” Tessa heard someone say as she arrived at her car. When she turned, she saw Cristian approaching her quickly. She looked around, unsure if he’d spoken to her or someone else, but there was nobody around.

“Yes, I mean you,” he said, still walking her way. “I don’t very often see women working out so much in one day. An hour is the most they’ll hang out in a gym, including their chit-chat,” Cristian stopped in front of her.

“I guess I’ve more time on my hands than the others,” Tessa said, not sure why he had engaged her in conversation.

“So much time on your hands that you could have lunch with me?” came his blunt question.

Tessa raised a brow. “Do you do this a lot?”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, inviting your students for lunch after you just met them.”

“Not all students. Just you,” he said with a confident smile.

“How many times have you said this before?”

“I don’t usually ask my students out. But throughout my entire career as a trainer I rarely have met hard working people like you, so I’m just curious to know you better.” He shrugged while he pulled his car keys out of his pocket and lifted his gym bag over one shoulder.

“I’m afraid I’ve other plans. But thanks for the invitation.” Tessa turned around, dropped her gym bag on the back seat and drove away.

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