About Grasping Air: We were the seconds after a grip released the bar, body floating through the air with nervous wonder. Would we successfully grab it again, or would we hit the mat, shattered and defeated? Peyton Adams learned a long time ago that selfish and detached is the only way to be in life. What most people call shameless or obnoxious behavior, she considers key to getting where she needs to go. Most disapproving of all? USA Gymnastics’ golden boy with an eight-pack, Jared Hargrove. After being cut from the women’s team right before Rio, Peyton is back on the post-Summer Games tour. Not only is she the only one without a gold medal, but her history with Jared won’t stay buried for long. Control and good manners; the two things drilled into Jared Hargrove’s head from birth. As a four-time gold medalist, he’s always obeyed the rules and reaped the reward. Well, except for the whirlwind week four years ago in London when wild-child Peyton Adams finally got under his skin, and into his bed. She broke his heart, and he hasn’t removed the ice wall around it since. Now she’s back to redeem herself to the world of gymnastics, and it seems, to push his buttons more than ever. After years of resentment and heartache, can they repair a relationship so badly broken that most people wouldn’t even try? Or will they continue to fall, grasping at any last emotion before they finally collapse? Amazon
Do you know what’s worse than listening to Rihanna songs set to techno beats for two hours straight?
Listening to drunk girls screech-sing the lyrics in tone-deaf droves.
“I want you to make me feel, like I’m the only girl in the world!” All of the female gymnasts throw their hands up, grinding their body to the beat in the small, elite dance circle they’ve made.
I want to cut my ears off with a dull knife.
First of all, this music is horrendous. Every person in here must know nothing about Pearl Jam, Radiohead, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Foo Fighters … my list could go on and on. Because if they did, they wouldn’t be listening to this poor excuse they call music. Which is really just the same beat over and over again, with the simplest lyrics to ever hit my eardrums.
Second of all, the entire crowd of this nightclub is in some form of drunken disorderliness. Thrashing about, sloppily humping each other, slamming poison down their throats … or God forbid, up their noses.
I’d been nursing the same beer for two hours, the overly expensive bottle of Heineken way too warm to even drink now. But I’d paid nine dollars for the thing, and I wasn’t one to waste. I gulped down a tepid swallow and grimaced, uncomfortable in my own skin here.
And it looked like I was the only one. All of the gymnasts from the tour were having a grand old time, dancing and laughing as they bought each other drinks or flirted with other club-goers. If Spence were here, he’d be living it up as well. Even Anna and James, the couple who was the definition of white bread and apple pie, looked like they were enjoying themselves.
And in the middle of it all, lighting up the room like she was the sun and the earth revolved around her, was Peyton.
As much as I didn’t want to look at her, I couldn’t resist. It was like trying to peel my eyes away from a miracle, an eighth world wonder. The way her curves swayed to the beat, her black mane loose and thrown back as her hazel eyes went skyward, her arms swinging up above her head. She was in her own world, unaware of the girls trying to suck off her energy or the men trying to grope at her.
Peyton lived in a world others couldn’t see, that no one could penetrate if she didn’t want them to. It was her strength and her weakness.
“You guys fucked, didn’t you?” Duke dances over to me, his moves better than I expected for a Midwestern boy.
I nearly choke on my warm beer. “Who told you that?”
“So you did! I knew it! I had my suspicions, but they way you’re baring your teeth at any guy who comes within twenty feet of her kind of gave it away.”
My fists clench, her hold over me and the need to protect her angering me more. “I’m not. I’m watching out for all of the girls, especially Natalia. I promised Spence before I left that I’d make sure she stayed safe.”
Duke chuckles. “And if you were paying any attention at all, you would have noticed that Natalia went to bed about a half hour ago.”
I swivel my head in a panic looking for the trademark golden blond ponytail of the reigning Olympic champion, my equal at the Rio games. And I don’t see her.
“Yeah, dude, she let me know she was going back, and then texted me a couple of minutes ago to tell me she’d gotten to the hotel. You’re not the only gentleman around here.” Duke holds up the text from Natalia as proof.
My heart slows to a gentle gallop, calming from the sprint it flew into when I couldn’t spot Spence’s girlfriend. He would have had my balls if I’d lost her.
“If you weren’t making fuck-me-eyes at party girl over there, you’d have noticed. Just go bang her, man.” Duke shimmies as a new song comes on, and I can’t help but laugh at my fully-grown male best friend shaking his non-existent tits.
The bass of the song invades my body, making all of my limbs beat like one strong heartbeat. “Been there, done that. Won’t ever go back.”
Duke shouts over the music. “Ah, star crossed lovers. I get it.”
He didn’t get anything, and I didn’t want to explain.
Slowly the group starts peeling off; Anna and James giddily leave the club, Duke escorts a group of the girls back. It’s late, the club emptying a bit with men and women who have paired off, stumbling out arm in arm to head back to one or the other’s place. But Peyton’s still going, jumping along with the beat of a new song, her black dress hugging every inch of creamy skin.
A guy in a suit, too hipster and smooth for her taste, has been flitting around her all night like an annoying gnat. And there he is now, moving his hand too far south, pushing his waist in far too much to be innocent. I instantly want to clock him, watch as he drops to the floor and away from her.
Peyton giggles, her hands coming up to his biceps and her hips thrusting against his. She sucks from the straw in his drink, something that looks suspiciously like whiskey sloshing in the glass. She’s had way too much tonight, I’ve seen her down at least eight drinks and/or shots. And those are only the drinks I know about.
My feet are carrying me before I tell them to move. “I think that’s about enough.”
Peyton’s lithe body is in my arms before I know what I’m doing, my hands cupping the hips and arms that have mesmerized me for the last four hours. Or the last four years.
“Aw, Jared you’re jealous. How cute. But I do what I want.” She pushes at me, her hazel eyes pure fire as she thrashes.
Her speech is slurred, her heels sliding dangerously across the alcohol flooded hardwood. Hipster eyes me, and I know he’s sizing me up. I could break him in half, and that’s the only reason caution fills his eyes, the only reason he doesn’t reach for the wild beauty in my arms.
“Y’all have a good night, now.” I tip my head to him and the buddy who appears at his side to back him up, at the same time turning Peyton away.
She tries to wrench out of my grasp. “You don’t tell me what to do!”
I keep walking, caging the fury threatening to spew out at her. Her muscles move under my fingertips at the places I touch her, my cock ignoring the ban I’ve put on sexual thoughts about Peyton Adams.
Half-dragging her in the state she’s in, we break through the side door of the club and spill into an alley. Cold air hits me in the face, pushing through the cloth of my sport coat and running it’s icy fingers over my skin.
Peyton laughs maniacally, breaking free of my grasp and twirling in the frigid air of the dark alley.
“Are you insane?” I pull my jacket off, stepping towards her and trapping her in the fabric before she can escape.
The chilly air hits my thin shirt, causing me to shiver, but at least I can sling the jacket around her slim shoulders. I don’t need her catching pneumonia the first night of the tour.
Only … the move pulls Peyton to me, sending her footing off balance in the mile-high heels she dons. Then she is falling, stumbling backwards to try and keep her balance. And I’m stumbling with her, my hands still holding either lapel of the jacket that’s now wrapped around her back. Our hands grasp at nothing, no object able to stop our tumble.
Peyton squeals, no control over what’s about to happen.
It feels like we’re spiraling for hours, time slowing to a stop while we try to grab a hold of each other. And then … Peyton’s back connects with something solid, a whoosh of air huffing out of her.
I’m still tilting until my hands come up, landing hard on brick.
“Jesus Christ …” My lungs burn with the tension running through my veins.
Peyton’s hazel eyes glitter wide in the dimly lit alley. “Thought you didn’t curse.”
Even now, when I’ve just saved her from breaking her neck, she has to bust my chops. And though a part of me wants to laugh, I’m too angry to see the humor.
“I’d take a thank you any minute now.” I push off the wall, too close to Peyton to think straight.
“I told you not to touch me anyway. That was your fault. You can go home now, I’m going back in.” She shrugs my sport coat off her shoulders, letting it fall to the dirty concrete.
I’m on her, pinning her against the wall, in a second flat.
My breath comes out in white puffs, mixing with hers, the cold all but forgotten. Our bodies charge the space with insufferable heat, and I feel like a supernova about to explode.
“You’re still as much of an undeserving brat as you were four years ago. I didn’t even want to come on your little ‘bonding’ activity tonight. Not that you bonded with any one of your teammates. You were too busy flashing your cleavage at any loser who would look. I didn’t have to stay to see that you got home okay, and maybe that was my mistake. I’m a good person; I look out for people, even if I don’t care much for them. Next time I guess I’ll just leave. Let you wander home with some stranger who’s as equally as messed up as you.”
About Carrie Aarons: Author of romance novels such as Red Card and the Captive Heart Duet, Carrie Aarons writes sexy, swoony and sarcastic characters who won't get out of her head until she puts them down on a page. Carrie has wanted to be an author since the first time she opened a book. She loves spinning tales that include dapper men, women with attitude, and the occasional hunky athlete. When she isn't in what her husband calls a "writing coma", Carrie is freeing up her jam-packed DVR, starting her latest DIY project, or planning her next travel adventure. She lives in New Jersey with her husband, who is more than happy to watch sports while his wife plots love stories. Facebook: www.facebook.com/carrieaarons
- Twitter: www.twitter.com/authorcarriea
- Website: www.carrieaarons.com
- Amazon: http://amzn.to/1USXnLP
- Goodreads: http://bit.ly/1N7Ye99
- Street Team: on.fb.me/1PGNDPG
a Rafflecopter giveaway