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around,” Nick says. “It’ll help flush out the lactic acid in your
I nod, too
exhausted to reply, and walk back and forth with my fingers linked behind my
head. A breeze washes over my face, cooling me, but still my lungs are
screaming. I can’t seem to suck in enough air.
strides over to me. “You want your breathing to come from deep in your
diaphragm. Right here,” he says, placing one hand on the curve of my back
and the other just below my rib cage, applying pressure. “Can you feel
that?” His gaze rakes over my face, painfully slow, as though he’s afraid
to miss something.
kidding? His palms are burning holes in my shirt, making me dizzy, and he wants
to know if I can feel that? Suddenly I go from barely being able to retain
oxygen in my lungs to a total inability to breathe at all. I should be shocked
that after all this time a simple touch from him has the power to steal my
breath, but after what happened between us at the Tipsy Teakettle, nothing
surprises me anymore.
away, I pick up the water bottle lying on the ground by his feet and gulp some
down, the liquid sloshing around in my stomach.
it slowly. Otherwise you’ll throw up,” he says, tugging on my ponytail. My
heart trips in my chest at the way his voice dips with his playful scolding.
Sticking out my tongue, I squirt some water at him and stretch my aching
muscles. Nick does his own form of post run recovery, which involves some
strange yoga poses mixed with light strength exercises. I squeeze my eyes shut
when I hear him groan, the sound similar to those he once murmured during sex.
done, he uses the hem of his T-shirt to wipe his neck and forehead. His chest
expands and retracts with his breathing, his skin glistening. I swallow
thickly, watching a bead of sweat travel down the length of his torso and
absorb into his mesh shorts. Everything about Nick is corded muscle and hard,
chiseled angles and lines. My eyes drop to his hands resting on his hips, and I
have an overwhelming urge to feel them on me. My whole body clenches as I
remember exactly what those fingers are capable of.
barks, snapping me out of my haze. I focus on the college-age guy playing fetch
with a golden retriever across the park and wait for my heart rate to return to
okay, you know.”
is?” I ask.
check me out,” Nick says, smug and without shame. “Don’t think I
didn’t notice your little eye dance.”
“I wasn’t checking you out. You were doing those weird poses, and I was
deep and sexy, erasing all of my common sense. His soles scuff against the
gravel as he saunters toward me. He stops and stands so close I can feel the
heat radiating off his body and see the faint scar above his left eyebrow—a
casualty from back in my diner days when I accidentally opened the freezer door
into his face.
speaks, his words send a shiver down my spine. “You forget, Lillie, I know
hitches, and his smile grows into that destructive grin that’s always been
deadly to me. I force my eyes away, over to the other side of the parking lot
where a woman is adjusting a set of ankle weights, back to the guy still
tossing a tennis ball with his dog, down at my grungy shoelaces, anywhere other
than at him.
least I used to,” Nick says, low and hoarse. “Before . . .”
a hand on the crook of my neck, his thumb ghosting along my collarbone, and
everything inside me ignites, alive and volatile. I look at him, and the
intensity in his stare causes a fresh wave of heat to rush through me. I lean
toward him, pulled by invisible fingers. His gaze flicks to my mouth, and as if
on their own volition, my lips part. My breath comes in shallow gasps, my body
humming in anticipation, waiting for him to pin me against my truck and kiss me
the way he did at the Tipsy Teakettle. The way he used to.
Releasing June 5