Legend (Page 8)
Riley looks at it next. “Definitely friend-zoned.”
Remy stares at the phone before passing it back to me. He lifts his gaze and looks at me with beautiful blue eyes, just like Racer’s, and shakes his head somberly. “Get a man with balls, Reese.”
I tuck my phone away. “Men with balls scare me.”
“Not a real man. A real man hands them over.” He leans to the side of the table with a dimpled smile, chucks Brooke’s chin, and kisses her on the mouth. My ears grow hot, yet I can’t stop staring at that dry but hard, possessive peck on the lips they give each other.
Once I’ve got Racer’s picnic bag from Diane, we head out to day care in one of the SUVs. I start getting nervous as we drop off Racer and I walk to the gym.
What possessed me to tell Cage I’d spar with him? I can barely trot on the treadmill with my head held high for an hour.
But it’s a boot camp, a physical and spiritual and mental one—a whole lot of new Reese to discover and nurture—so I’m giving myself the boot. Or letting Cage do it.
Disappointment hits me when I don’t see him outside the gym. I scan the block to see if he’s late, but there’s no sign of him.
The doors open halfway and one of the admission ladies calls me inside. “Reese?” She waves me forward. “We let your friend in; we know he’s with you.” She grins at me, sheepishly and knowingly.
I want to explain that it’s not what it seems. That we’re just friends. But I spot Cage through the glass doors of the gym and I feel helplessly tongue-tied.
I keep my eyes on the jet-black hair on the back of his head as I wander into the bustling gym area, the sound of weights slamming down and padding footsteps and background music around me. My eyes trail the suntanned skin on the back of his neck. Add to that sweatpants that hang low on his narrow hips and give new meaning to sexy.
Why is he so damn intriguing?
He’s taller than I am. At eye level, I’m staring at the middle of his chest; his defined pectorals, to be exact. His nipples that are sometimes hugged by his damp-with-sweat shirt. His impressive muscles. His body is lean and corded but muscular, like fighters’ bodies usually are, and a dangerous rebel vibe radiates off him.
He’s jumping rope, with his earbuds in.
I’m about to tap his shoulder when he stops jumping and turns. Eyes that are quiet and remote fix on me. My gaze drops, just a little, admiring his beautiful lips and the angle of his jaw. . . .
I take in his neck, the fit of his shirt on his tapered torso, and by the time I take an impulsive, reckless visual trek down the rest of him and back up to his gorgeous face, his brows quirk up. Those electric steel eyes pierce me, sending a strange buzz through my body.
His entire attention and focus is on me now, not on the gym. His eyes are not moving, and my heart strains as he takes one step forward with predatory grace, closing the distance between us. This guy would be a panther in the fighting ring. . . .
My eyes widen in surprise when I suddenly realize he heard me greet him.
He’s wearing his earbuds, but I said hey and he spun around, and now he continues staring unabashedly at me. He most definitely heard me.
I realize he’s not listening to music.
That he uses the earbuds to keep people away.
I have an odd understanding of that too.
He pulls out the earbuds and shoves them into the pocket of his sweatpants—and yes, he didn’t stop the music at all. Because he wasn’t listening to music. He was, like a predator, paying attention to his surroundings without alerting the prey.
“Hey,” he says, and the muscles rippling under his shirt quicken my pulse when he starts coiling the rope around his wrist.
“You’re not listening to music,” I say. “You’re using those earbuds so people don’t talk to you.”
He shoots me a skeptical look along with an amused twitch of his lips as we both start to glove up. “I’m not here to make friends.” He scans the crowd dismissively. “Way I see it, one day I’m going to face them in the ring. Easier to smash their faces in if I don’t know them.”
Holy god, the look in his eyes.
I’ve read novels with vampires, where the terms “bloodthirsty” and “bloodlust” are used. I have never, ever seen bloodlust in anyone’s eyes. Until this heartbeat, this second, this crowded gymnasium. When this guy’s eyes glow red with it.
“You can’t smash my face in, I’ll have headgear,” I tell him as I reach for the headgear.
He frowns, then there’s an exasperated clench of his jaw. “Look. You said spar, not chat.”
“I don’t like talking or hearing myself speak either, but you make me want to talk.” I frown at him. “I don’t even know why I offered to spar when I don’t know anything about you.”
He sighs and leans on the ropes as we both climb into the ring.
Sending him a wary look, I drop down on the edge of the ring and slide my legs under the ropes to let them hang to the side. I won’t gain much, sparring with this guy. I know for a fact he’ll spar like a pro. I’ll gain more from talking—I’d gain information.
And I’m intensely curious.
He sits beside me reluctantly. He’s tall and strong and wide-shouldered. A person shouldn’t occupy more space than their body actually occupies—but this one person does. I’ve never felt a presence as strongly as I do his.
I’m uncomfortable, too acutely conscious of this male, extremely attractive person sitting warmly next to me, his body so hot from the exercise and exuding such powerful warmth and energy, I feel the strangest urge to edge away.