Happy Middle of the Week!
My round of edits are due today. Woo-hoo!
In true just-in-time management style, I’m spending the day putting the finishing touches on my editing pass before returning the MS of Colors of Us to my editor. The release date is pending her comments, but I should be able to announce it soon!
For now, please enjoy today’s tease from Colors of Us. Background to the scene: Hunter realizes something has Michelle spooked and asked her to join him at the gym…
Michelle almost turned around at least three times on her way, but curiosity got the best of her and she found herself stepping down a flight of cement stairs to a metal door in need of a paint job. “Max’s Gym” is all that appeared on the card, along with an address and phone number. She wasn’t sure what she’d expected. Her best guess was a gym filled with weight and cardio machines and maybe some spin classes. What she found when she opened the basement-level door was anything but typical of a city gym. The aroma reminiscent of a high school locker room flooded her nose immediately. Her eyes adjusted to the dim light as she scanned the dusty room. Two boxing rings and an assortment of punching bags dangled from stands, walls, and the ceiling. Stony glances in her direction from the few men in the joint screamed, You’re in the wrong place, sweetheart.
“You lost?” a gruff female voice asked.
Michelle spun around to face the chipped Formica desk. An older woman with gray-streaked hair pulled into a ponytail offered a warm smile.
“Ya look lost,” the woman said, leaning her elbows on the desk.
“I’m meeting someone here.” Michelle passed her the card.
“Yup, you’re in the right place, then. I’m Max.” She extended a calloused hand. “Is that the guy you’re supposed to meet?” Max jerked her head toward the window.
Michelle turned and caught a flash of Hunter rushing down the stairs with a couple bottles of water and what looked to be black boxing gloves under his arm. A whoosh of cool wind bit her cheeks as he swung open the door.
His lips upturned into a smile when he saw Michelle. “Sorry I’m late. I stopped for water.” He jiggled the bottles in his right hand and turned to Max. “Good morning, Maxie. Have you been entertaining my new student?”
Michelle crossed her arms. “Your what?”
“Student. I’m going to show you how to defend yourself.”
Between his words, the noise of gloves hitting punching bags, and the pungent smell, nausea rose in her throat. “I-I don’t think this is a good idea after all.” She rushed past Hunter, pushed open the door, and climbed the stairs to the sidewalk. Stopping, she took a few deep breaths of fresh air. Footsteps sounded behind her.
“Where you going? I thought you wanted to learn to fight?”
She spun around. “Where’d you get that idea? I can’t fight. I don’t have it in me.”
“I think you do. Everybody has the ability to fight. Come back in and give it a shot.”
Michelle shifted her weight from one sneaker to the next. Her gaze moved from the gym door to Hunter.
“Trust me on this. It’s great therapy. I know what I’m talking about.” He held out his hand and raised his brows.
She searched his eyes. The heat of his gaze loosened the knot of anxiety in her belly. She had the feeling he needed to teach her as much as she needed to try. Maybe more.
Michelle nodded and took his hand. “Okay, I’ll try.”
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