Leaving New York after my now ex-fiancé cheated on me was easy.
Moving back home to Miami to run Charly Boudreaux’s Head Over Heels expansion store, even as it scares the hell out of me…also easy.
Finding out that Owen Peters, my ex-best friend and the boy I fell in love with in high school, the one who broke my heart, works next door? Not quite so easy.
Hearing that Morgan Lawson is finally coming home makes me ecstatic. It provides me with a second chance—something I waited ten years to grasp.
Watching her struggle to accept the body she was born with, the one that makes me crazy with desire, allows me to show her exactly how beautiful she is, both inside and out—and how much she means to me.
Letting her go the first time was a huge mistake, and I refuse to go down that road again. Because not realizing how easy she was to lose, or how not having her in my life makes me feel incomplete, is something I never want to experience again.
“It’s about time you showed up,” Matt calls as I close the door, locking it behind me. The guy looks as if he just rolled out of bed, his long, brown hair tied in a topknot as he struts around in his favorite grey sweatpants and a dirty t-shirt with our gym’s name across the chest. I look at my watch and laugh.
“I’m only five minutes late, jackass.” He throws a towel at me as I head behind the desk and turn on the computer. Matt and I opened this gym five years ago. We both graduated with majors in business and knew we wouldn’t ever be a part of the corporate world. So, we took what we learned and applied it to something we both loved: fitness. Was it an overnight success? Hell, no. It took at least three years to get out of the red. But last year was our best year yet, with this year rivaling even those numbers.
“You know if you didn’t own this place, I could fire you, right?” I give him the finger as I check my email, quickly making sure there are no cancelations for today’s schedule.
Just as I’m about to log off, a new email pops up from one of my regulars. I open it and read:
Owen, sorry to do this to you last minute, but I have to cancel my session for this morning. Tommy was throwing up all night, and his fever has yet to go down, so I’m taking him to see the doctor. Sorry again. I’ll still pay for the session, and I’ll see you next week. –Amber
“Well, there goes my morning plans,” I mutter to myself just as Matt comes over and leans against the desk.
“Amber cancel?” I nod, not surprised that Matt memorized my schedule. It’s why I had no issues with going into business with him. He’s organized, loyal, and has a memory that could rival Sheldon Cooper’s. “You really gonna make her pay for the session?” he asks, giving me a look I know well.
“Of course, not. I’m not that big of an ass. Plus, her kid is sick. Ever since Ken left her, she’s had a lot on her plate.” When Amber started training with me, I knew she was motivated by her husband’s infidelity, something she was very vocal about. I believe she said she wanted him to wish he never stuck his dick in another woman. I told her I would be happy to get her that revenge, even though she already looked amazing for a forty-year-old single mom.
“So, what are you gonna do now?” Matt asks, taking one of the mints from the bowl to my right and popping it into his mouth.
“I don’t know. Might work out for a bit.” He nods just as my phone goes off, A second later, it goes off again, then again. I sigh, knowing exactly who’s blowing up my cell.
“You haven’t cut her loose yet?” Matt asks with a knowing smirk that makes me feel like the biggest asshole on the planet. “Calm down, man. If it was me, I would probably keep her around, too. She must be one hell of a lay.”
“Shut the fuck up and mind your own business,” I grunt as he shrugs and goes back to cleaning the equipment. I pick up my mobile and see one missed call and four unread texts.
Bailey: Morning, handsome, what are you up to today?
Bailey: Why aren’t you answering my texts?
Bailey: Call me NOW.
I sigh, pulling up her contact and pressing the phone to my ear. She picks up after the first ring.
“Where have you been?” she accuses as I tilt my head towards the ceiling, praying I can get through this conversation without blowing my top.
“Bails, you know I open the gym every day. I was busy talking to Matt about my schedule.” She sighs, groaning into the phone, and for the millionth time this week, I wonder why I’m with her. In the beginning, it was amazing—she was hot, funny, and we had a great time together. Then, over time, she wanted more. More of my time, more of my attention, and more of my business. Bailey is an Instagram influencer and very proud of it. She should be, she’s worked really hard to get where she is today, but it’s become all-consuming. And she’s using my brand, something that I built from the ground up, to gain more and more of a following for herself. And it’s grating on my nerves.
It’s become clearer as time goes on that she’s with me for the clout and not for me, and I know I need to end it. For both of our sanities.
“You never have time for me anymore,” she whines as I take a deep breath, needing strength to get through this conversation. There’s a huge crash from the store next door, and I jump up from my seat.
“What was that?” Bailey asks as I motion to Matt that I’m going over to take a look. He nods as I head to the front door.
“Bails, I have to go. I’ll talk to you later.” I don’t wait for her reply as I jerk open the front door and jog next door. The sign above the door says Head Over Heels, and the door and windows are covered in brown paper, letting me know that it’s under construction. I try the front door, and when it swings open, I walk inside.
“Hello? Is everyone okay?” I ask, hearing my voice echo through the small space. I don’t see anyone around, but I do see a very large metal rack lying toppled on the floor and dust everywhere. The shop itself is pretty small, but from the looks of it, it’s cute. The walls are plain white with paint chips taped to every available surface. The colors range from grey to bright pink and everything in between. I have no idea what this space will become, but right now, it’s a mess.
“Hello! I just wanted to make sure no one’s hurt after that thing fell,” I call again, making my way farther into the space, stepping over the broken shelf and heading towards the back of the store.
“Sorry, yes, everything’s fine. The stupid thing doesn’t want to stay attached to the wall,” a woman says from behind the counter. Her long, blond hair and curvy figure send a jolt through my body, but the minute she turns around, my whole world stops moving. “Morgan?” I croak as I open my mouth to say something, anything…but nothing comes out. Morgan Lawson, the girl I spent most of my adolescence obsessing over is standing right in front of me. Given the color draining from her face, I would say she remembers exactly who I am, too. And from the fire I see in her eyes, she recalls precisely how much I ruined everything.
S.A. Clayton lives in a small town outside of Toronto, Canada with her husband of five years and her scary large collection of books that seem to take over every room.
She has worked on both sides of the publishing industry, both in a bookstore and for actual publishing companies. Although she loved both for different reasons, she found that writing was her true passion and has spent the last few years breaking into the industry as best she can.
She is a lover of all things romance and began her writing journey in her late twenties. Since then, she has immersed herself in the romance genre and couldn’t be happier.
When she’s not writing or reading, she enjoys binging a great Netflix show (Stranger Things anyone?), baking (because who doesn’t love cookies!), and spending time with her family.