A thick layer of sweat covered my skin. My breath remained steady. My heart hammered against my chest as my body went into overdrive. My eyes burned from the heat that surrounded me. The hood of my pullover was flipped forward, the strings pulled tight. My clammy palms gripped the handles of the bike as the sauna’s humidity filled my nostrils. The timer had been set for thirty minutes.
Regardless of what the coaches and other specialists called it, to me it will always remain: To Hell and Back. For it was just that...hell. If it didn’t produce the results it did, I’d have a serious notion to bag it. But no matter how much I hated it, I stuck with what I knew worked.
My legs were beginning to tire.
The timer sounded off.
Grabbing the top of my hood, I pulled it back off my head, climbed off the bike and left the sauna. Lifting my arm, I wiped away the beads of sweat that clung to my face.
“Have you seen Jayden? She has an appointment in an hour that I’ve got to take her to.”
I turned around. The concern in Knox’s voice was clear. Swallowing, I panted as I replied, “I didn’t hear you come in.”
“Is she here?”
“No. She’s still sleeping.” I grabbed one of the water bottles from the refrigerator.
“No, I just checked her room. She isn’t in there.” Knox turned to leave.
“She’s not in her room.” My voice stopped Knox dead in his tracks. I downed sixteen ounces of water in one go.
Knox whipped around. He looked like his gut was telling him one thing and yet his mind was trying to contradict it. His words came slowly when he asked, “Where is she sleeping?”
Knox couldn’t have hid his riled state even if he wanted to. His lips thin, his brows turned down. He clenched his jaw.
“Just so you don’t go all ape shit on me you should know that I didn’t sleep with her. Well I did but, not like you’re thinking.” Not totally, anyway. I wasn’t about to tell him I erased every fucking bad image she had of that particualr bathroom. “We got back here and she asked if she could lay with me because she was too afraid to sleep alone.”
And that was the truth on the matter.
After we climbed in bed Jayden curled into me and laid her head on my chest. Her arm draped across my torso with her leg wedged between mine. A moment later, she was out like a light.
And I loved that she was with me.
Her body molded into mine to perfection.
It was the first time I had ever laid in bed with a girl without having sex. It was untreated territory for me but damn ... It felt good holding her.
Unlike Jayden, it took me a while to fall asleep. It wasn’t that exhaustion hadn’t hit me. I wanted to savor the feeling of her against me as long as I could. I played with her hair that, by damn, was silkier than anything I had ever felt. I couldn’t put my finger on it but it smelt amazing. The last thing I remember before I drifted off was giving her light squeeze as I pulled her closer.
“My sister hasn’t let anyone close to her since her attack. She hates to be touched.” Knox set his hands on his hips. “Why the fuck she lets you I don’t know.”
“Neither does she.” I replied.
“You guys have talked about it?”
If it were under different circumstances I would have laughed at the face Knox was giving me. It was somewhere between curiosity and bewilderment. “Yeah.”
“What’d she say?”
I rubbed my jaw. I didn’t want to talk about it. Not with Knox. It was her brother for fuck sake. “She said I make her feel safe.”
“And I don’t?”
I could see the hurt on Knox’s face. He loved his sister. There was no question that he’d do anything for her. When Knox filled me and my coaches in on what happened to her he was torn up inside. Finding his sister like he had ripped him apart.
“I don’t know, Knox.”
For a moment he was quiet. “Did she say anything else?”
I wasn’t about to tell him that she wanted me to touch her every bit as much as my hands ached to explore her body.
Knox rubbed the back of his head. “I like you, Gage. You’re not a player but you’re not into relationships either. Jayden— She doesn’t sleep around. You and I both know that she’s so fucking fragile—”
“I like her, Knox.” I admitted. It wasn’t an easy thing to say. “More than I’ve ever liked anyone in my entire life. I don’t know what’s going on between the two of us. Neither does she. We’re letting the pieces fall as they may. But I promise you that I won’t hurt her. I’ll be honest...I tried shaking her off back in Vegas and I couldn’t. I only came to train up here because she’s here.”
“Can’t or won’t?”
Again, Knox rubbed the back of his head. “I didn’t want to admit it but I noticed a change in her the moment she ran into you in the kitchen. It was as if the ol’ Jayden was back. And she is when she’s near you.” He looked around the gym with a heavy furrow between his brows. “If you fucking hurt her—”
His eyes locked with mine. “You better not. Because if you do, Spencer and I are going to kick your fucking ass.”
The mention of Spencer made me grin. Because him and I both knew that it’d take them both to kick my ass.
The next five weeks, well, four and a half weeks since my last week I’ll be spent in Vegas, were going to be really interesting.
As if it’s not interesting enough already.
I’d said to hell with distractions, I now discovered that I’d got more than I originally bargained for. I was already treading on thin ice and this was my first week of training. I needed to keep my main focus on the upcoming fight.
Yeah right. That’s a shot in the dark.
With Jayden being stocked by a homicidal maniac, how could I?
Three hours later I dropped the sledgehammer on the ground beside the tractor tire. My arms were lighter than normal and were tired as hell. I went in to this excersize with Jayden’s fucking mystery attacker on my mind which made me work ten times harder. I couldn’t wait to get my hands on him. The damage he’d done to her...
It made my stomach sick just thinking about it.
I caught the towel that Deion tossed me and wiped the sweat from my face.
“You did good today.”
I noted the arch brows cast my way. I snatched the water bottle from the ground behind me and drank up. “I had a lot on my mind.”
“I noticed that.” Dione rested his hands on his hips. “She’s a great girl.”
I knew better than to play off where he was going but I tried it anyway. “Who says it was about her?”
A rich laughter burst from Dione. He shook his head. “How dumb do you think I am, boy?”
A minute grin touched the corner of my lip. “It was worth a shot.”
“If you say so.” He waved his hand toward the house. “Come. I’ll make you a protein shake and something to eat. The rest of the boys are in the house already.”
After lunch Jayden went upstairs to shower because she claimed she was sweaty from working out earlier and the guys went into the livingroom to play Call of Duty. I recalled Jayden mentioning that she used to model and since then I had been meaning to pull her up to see if she had any photos lingering on the internet.
I hit the google app and quickly typed in her name.
A smile crossed my face as her profile popped up. She had stats...Jayden had fucking stats...But instead of reading about her I went straight for the photos.
And fuck me.
There were loads of them.
None were hotter than the last. She was hands down absolutely the hottest woman I had ever seen.
Not that I needed the reminder. She knocked me backwards when I ran into her back in Vegas.
I swiped to the next photo and I froze.
It was a Sports Illustrated issue. She lay on her side and with one hand her fingers laced through her mass of dark hair as she braced her head. Her other, her thumb hooked the spaghetti strap of her white bikini bottom, pulling it down several inches. The several strands of beads that dangled from her neck barely covered her nipples.
The photo screamed of sex.
“Fuck me.” I drawled.
A chuckle tore my eyes from the screen and a grinning Alex stared back at me. “By the look on your face you must be looking at her photos.”
“Fuck.” Was all I could say.
“I know.” Alex laughed. “That girl is— shit man, I don’t know if there’s even a word for it. Fuck she’s hot.”
Perhaps I would normally get irritated on such a comment but right now I was too dumbfounded to comprehend anything other than her near naked pose. I turned back to my phone. Once again I swiped to the next page. Her runway lingerie shots were mind boggling. Her toned legs were skyscrapers in her stilettos.
She was an Angel?
Before I embarrassed myself by messing up my shorts like I was a horney adolescent teenager, I looked away from my phone.
I wiped my hand down my face and ignored Alex who grinned and laughed at me again.
“You haven’t has sex with her have you?”
“Not yet.” I simply stared at him. ‘Yet’ being the key word.
Because to his and my surprise I hadn’t. I did make out with her last night which was hands down the best make out session I had ever had. I had every intention of having sex with Jayden. It just had to be on her time.
I was far past being ready. As for her… I had to wait until she was. Because for once I wanted more than just a short time fling.
Alex sobered and nodded with approval. “I’m proud of you man. Because holding back on one like her isn’t easy. Especially for you.” I couldn’t have agreed more but I was thankful that he exited the kitchen, leaving me alone with my thoughts.
It didn’t last long.
“Hey!” I glanced up to the voice and saw Jayden walking towards me.
“How was therapy?”
I shifted so that my hard on wasn’t so evident.
“You okay?” Her smile was bright but she had a questionable brow.
I turned my phone around.
“What’s that?” She stepped closer and laughed as she looked at the screen. Was that a blush that crept up her cheeks? “Knox was irate when he saw that.”
“I bet he was.” I raised my brow. “Fuck, Jayden, that’s ah— That’s some sexy lingerie.” I stole another look and turned my attention back to her.
“VC always has the sexiest lingerie.” She looked me over from head to toe. “You’re looking a little flush there, Gage Buchanan.”
“I’m a little more than flushed.” I admitted. “If I’m being honest, I’m having a very difficult time keeping my hormones in check. I have about enough self control as an adolescent teenager at the moment.”
She opened her mouth to say something but we were interrupted when a knock came at the door.
Knox was quick to open it.
Jayden gave a sigh. “The Sheriff is here to talk to me.”
That was enough to make my hard-on disappear.
I leaned down and kissed her forehead. “We’ll finish this later. Come on.” Taking her hand, I led her into the living room only to find it empty aside from Spencer. My coaches sure cleared out quickly.
I took a seat on the couch and pulled Jayden down beside me. I liked how quickly she curled into me.