Saturday morning, I wake up bright and early. This is usually where Mark would be groaning and hitting me with his pillow, telling me to go back to sleep.
Seeing as I’m alone and never have to worry about that anymore, I get up and make myself some breakfast. I hum as I move around my kitchen, whipping up a delicious omelette.
No offence to Mark, but I’m the happiest I’ve been in a long time. I’m no longer carrying around the burden of knowing I need to end things, but not knowing how to without hurting him. He literally took all of that stress away from me. I now get to do what I want to do, without worrying about him.
It finally sinks in as I eat my breakfast by the window. An attractive man walks past on the street below.
I could ask him out!
I’m not going to, but the point is, I could. I’m single. I’m free. I’m available. The thought is foreign, but very welcome.
After breakfast, I clean my teeth and tie my hair up. I swap my pyjamas for exercise gear and head downstairs. The gym is empty. It’s 8AM on Saturday morning, no one is exercising. I choose one of the cross-trainers and get started on it. For half an hour, I do interval training, swapping between resistances. I’ve never felt so buzzing and full of energy in a gym session. I’m sure there’s a stupid smile on my face as sweat pours down my forehead.
When the half hour ends, I decide I will move onto the treadmill. I wipe my face with my towel and stretch my arms over my head. I turn off the machine and slow my movements to a stop. I pick up my phone, headphones, water bottle and towel.
As I step off the machine, I make the mistake of looking up as the door opens. My eyes meet Braxton King’s and I lose my footing. My trainer catches on the elliptical’s peddle and I fall to the floor, twisting my ankle in the process.
Everything clatters with me, and I land on the carpet with a thud. I wince as pain shoots up my spine from my coccyx.
He just had to come in the gym at that exact moment. Looking so fucking hot in his training shorts and muscle-fit t-shirt.
“Melia!” Braxton shouts and runs over to me. I groan and sit up, rubbing the sore spot on my lower back. “Shit, are you okay? I’m sorry!”
He drops to his knees on the floor next to me and rests his hands on my elbow and shoulder.
“I’m fine, just clumsy, that’s all,” I reply grumpily.
So much for my perfect morning.
“Come on, let’s get you up,” he says gently.
I grab onto his hands, and he helps me to my feet. I try to put weight on my left ankle, but it gives way underneath me. I wince and put my weight on my right foot.
“I’ve twisted my ankle,” I tell him.
Braxton looks down at my foot. He picks up my things for me and I take them from him.
“Let’s get you back to your apartment,” he says. I try to walk on my foot, but I cry out when I attempt to put any weight on it again. Pain shoots up my leg. “Okay, plan B,” Braxton states.
With my things in my arms, he bends down and scoops me up. I squeak in surprise as he picks me up bridal-style with ease.
“What the hell? Braxton, put me down!” I tell him but he shakes his head.
“No. You’ve hurt yourself and I don’t want you making it worse. You need to rest your ankle, maybe get some ice on it.”
Ignoring my protests, he carries me over to the lifts. After demanding I press the button, the doors open, and he steps inside.
“You can put me down whilst we’re in the lift. I can still stand, you know,” I tell him, but he pretends I haven’t spoken. I huff in his arms and try not to breathe in his delicious smell.
When the elevator finally reaches my floor, Braxton carries me out and over to my flat. I’m surprised he remembers my number from the one time he walked me to the door. Finally, he sets me down on my foot. I unlock my flat and hobble into it, wincing in pain. Braxton goes straight past me, into the kitchen.
“Sure, come on in,” I comment sarcastically.
He comes back with a bag of garden peas from the freezer. “You need to rest your foot. Lie down on the sofa and I’ll put these on your ankle.”
I don’t bother arguing. There’s no point after seeing the look of determination on his face. I settle myself on the sofa and Braxton fetches a towel, after asking where the bathroom is. He covers a cushion with the towel and puts it under my foot, raising it up. Then, he carefully puts the bag of frozen peas on my ankle.
“Do you need me to get you anything? Water?” He asks, but I shake my head.
“I’ve got water and my phone,” I tell him and then hesitate. “Thank you, Braxton. You really didn’t need to do all this, so thank you.”
He smiles at me. “And you think I’m done,” he says smugly. “I’ll be back this afternoon to check on you.”
I roll my eyes at him. “That really isn’t necessary.”
He pins me with dubious look. “With how clumsy you are? It’s definitely necessary,” he retorts. “You’ve got my number, text me if you need anything, and I mean that, Melia, anything at all, I don’t mind. I’m free all day, I’m only two floors above you.”
I give him a grateful smile. “Thank you, you’re the best.”
He grins at me and my heart flutters. “Don’t you forget it, Wynter. See you about four o’clock.”
He lets himself out and I breathe a sigh of relief. I turn on the television and try not to think about how much I enjoyed being in his arms.
I hop about my flat for the rest of the day.
After lunch, I make myself a bath. I didn’t shower like I normally do after my workout, so the sweat has dried on my skin, and I feel gross. I soak in the bath, with my ankle resting on the side, out of the water. It has swelled up and turned pink, but I’m hoping it will be better by the time I walk to work on Monday.
I get dressed, with a little difficulty, but there’s no way I’m asking Braxton King to help me put my clothes on. If anything, I’d like to ask him to take them off.
I potter around my flat, completing all of the little jobs I needed to do this weekend. I move all of the furniture off my rug in the living room and hoover it. It’s difficult with my ankle, but I manage.
At four o’clock on the dot, there’s a knock on the door. I limp over to it and open it. Braxton smiles at me.
“Hey, Melia,” he says warmly. “How are you feeling?”
I’m momentarily stunned by how attractive he looks. He has obviously gone back downstairs and done a workout, because his hair is still wet from recently showering. It’s almost black when it is wet. Strands of it fall over his forehead and graze his eyelashes.
“Uh, I’m okay, thank you,” I reply quickly.
“I got you something,” he tells me as he comes inside.
He kicks off his shoes and pulls a packet from his jeans pocket. It’s one of those sports injury bandages that you can put around ankles or knees.
“You didn’t have to do that,” I answer as he hands it to me.
He shrugs. “It’s no problem, really.”
He wanders into the living room. I sit down on the sofa and put the bandage on. The pressure already makes the pain alleviate slightly.
“Thank you,” I tell him again, gesturing to my foot.
“What have you done this afternoon?” He asks.
I open my mouth, ready to tell him, but there’s another knock on the door. I go to get up, but Braxton gently puts his hand on my shoulder.
“Wait here, I’ll get it,” he says.
He opens the door and I look over my shoulder to see who it is. Mark is at the door, frowning at Braxton.
“Who are you?” Mark asks rudely.
I struggle to get to my feet. Well, foot. Braxton is equally as confused as Mark.
“I’m Braxton King, and you are?” He replies warily.
Realisation dawns on Braxton’s face as I hobble over. Braxton’s jaw clenches but he forces a smile. “Ah, the boyfriend. Nice to meet you,” he says, more pleasantly than he wants to, I think.
Mark’s face drops and he looks at me. “I’m the ex, actually.”
“I’m sorry, Mark,” I cut in quickly. “This is Braxton, he’s the newbie at work.”
Braxton nudges my side playfully and I glare at him. “Newbie?” He mouths, obviously disapproving of the nickname.
“Braxton, this is Mark, obviously,” I say with a sigh. “Braxton has been helping me because I fell off the cross-trainer this morning and hurt my ankle.” I point at my bandage-covered foot.
Mark’s eyes widen in surprise. “God, are you okay?”
“I’m fine, thank you. I guess you’re here for your stuff?” I ask him.
Braxton subtly steps away from us and goes back to the living room. Honestly, I’m not sure why he’s sticking around. Most people would want to get out of here ASAP when there’s two exes around, right?
Mark nods. “Yeah,” he says. He picks up a box from the floor in the hallway and hands it to me. “These are your things.”
I take the box. “Thank you, come on in.”
Braxton is on his phone as Mark, and I go to my bedroom. He picks up the box of his stuff and we walk awkwardly back to the front door.
“I...thanks for my stuff,” Mark says uncomfortably. He eyes Braxton over my shoulder.
“No problem, thank you for returning mine.”
Mark looks down at my foot and then back up at me. “Take care of yourself, Mel. I hope your foot gets better soon.”
I smile at him. “Thanks, Mark. See you around.”
I shut the door and let out a sigh of relief. Turning around, I hobble back into the living room. Braxton quickly puts his phone away and stands up.
“I’m sorry, I can go, if you want? I just didn’t want to leave you alone with all this furniture to move,” he says, gesturing at my mess of a living room. He looks back at me. “I assume you want it moving back, right?”
I collapse onto the armchair. “Ugh, yes. Please, that would be amazing if you could do that,” I tell him gratefully.
Braxton smiles, obviously happy that I’m finally letting him do something. I sit and watch as he moves all of the furniture back into position on the huge rug.
“You’re great, thank you,” I tell him gratefully when he’s done.
He grins. “Not bad for a newbie?”
I roll my eyes. “All new-starters are called that, don’t take it personally.”
He gasps and puts his hand over his heart. “And here I thought you’d made up a term of endearment for me.”
“Oh, I have,” I reply sassily.
Braxton raises an eyebrow at me. “And what’s my nickname, then?”
“Mr Arrogant,” I respond happily.
Braxton frowns. “That’s completely unimaginative, and not to mention, false.”
“Oh, really? You’re not arrogant?” I ask with a laugh.
Braxton smirks. “Don’t mistake confidence for arrogance, Wynter.” He kneels down beside the armchair I’m sitting, so that we’re at eye-level with one another. “I know what I’m good at and what I’m not so good at. And I just so happen to be good at going after what I want.”
My cheeks flush and I wonder where he’s going with this. “And what do you want?”
His smirk deepens. The intensity in his eyes makes me breathless.