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About the Book
Wes Clarkson can numb the pain of missing his best friend if he pushes his body hard enough. A personal trainer and Ironman triathlete, Wes can forget his grief at the gym—or between the legs of one of his clients. And this works for him as long as he doesn't think about the promise he made to Michael on his deathbed—to look after Corinne. But who could handle such a woman?!?
The only thing Corinne and Wes had in common before Michael died…was Michael. But when the two find themselves living under the same roof, everything changes.
Is there hope for the man who’s never been in love and for the woman who’s afraid to love again?
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“You are not moving in with me,” she said with more force than conviction.
“Does the front bedroom have a full closet?” Wes asked, craning his neck towards the hallway as though he hadn't heard her.
“Wes. Listen to me. You are not moving in.” But she could already see him drawing up the space in his mind, picturing himself in it. Worse still, she could picture him in it. Leaving sweaty clothes in the bathroom. Air boxing to hip-hop. Talking about carbo-loading and drafting and bonking. In her face. Every day.
Wes got to his feet and headed for the hallway to explore, and Corinne shot off the couch, intercepting him.
“Stop!” she told him, raising her open palm between them. “You are not going any further.” She hated the way her voice wavered, not in fear, but in weakness.
“It's just the one bathroom, right?” Wes asked, peering into the hallway with the hint of a frown. Then he shrugged. “I don't think that'll be too big of a problem. I mean, I'm at work by 5 a.m. three days a week, and I can always shower at the gym...”
Corinne wondered when she had become so powerless. Was it the moment Michael died or in the months since?
“WES CLARKSON, YOU ARE NOT MOVING IN WITH ME!” Corinne shouted in his face. Except for the slightest squinting around his eyes, Wes did not flinch, did not react at all. Then he turned his gaze back on her and smiled that infuriating smile.
“Corinne, how much money do you have?” He spoke softly, too softly following her outburst. It made her by contrast seem out of control. She felt herself scrambling to wrest some of it back. There was no way she'd be out-maneuvered by Wes Clarkson.
“I have enough,” she lied. Without meaning to, she crossed her arms over her chest, realized too late that it made her look defensive, and dropped them again.
“How much, Corinne?” Wes's eyes pinned her in place, keeping her from looking away. She drew a silent breath and braced herself to stare him down. What was he hiding behind that smile? The smile was real, she knew, not a put on, but what did it mean?
Corinne let herself forget about mounting a defense and hiding her weaknesses and tried to see into his instead. His eyes were a dark brown—with absurdly feminine lashes, and up close, Corinne could see the typography of his irises, a craggy landscape of ebony and mocha. If she were painting them, they'd be caramel, purple, and black. With a hint of indigo because now she saw what lived behind the smile: a sadness so inky and deep that it threatened to soak up all of the other colors.
“I have about three thousand,” she muttered, suddenly disoriented and half-forgetting the crux of the argument.
Wes startled her then by clapping his hands onto her shoulders, trapping her before him and forcing her to meet his eyes again.
“That won't even last you through June. Hear me out,” he said. “I'll move in and cover rent and groceries—”
“Wes, I can't—”
He stopped her with a little shake at her shoulders.
“Listen! Rent and groceries for six months. You'll still pay utilities and all your other expenses, but for six months you can afford that.”
She couldn't argue with that. She could afford utilities and other bills for six months and more.
“And in six months, you might be painting again; you might be ready to move. Who knows?” He shook his head at the uncertainty and pressed on. “Whatever you decide, you won't be broke, and you won't be homeless...It'll buy you some time.”
His hands were heavy on her shoulders, almost enough to make her knees give. She felt the tug of inevitability suck at her feet. What would she do if she refused him? She hadn't wanted to think about it, despite Morgan's hounding, but the problem wouldn't just go away.
“What about your apartment?” Her voice shook, and when she heard it, she realized that her whole body was trembling.
“The lease is up at the end of next month.” Wes sounded matter-of-fact. Fully committed.
“What about all your furniture? It can't all fit in here with our things...” It was going to happen if she didn't shut it down right now. Was staying in the house that important? Was holding onto Buck?
“I can put some of it in storage,” Wes said, shrugging, like he'd already considered the possibility.
Could she live with him? Wes? With the partying on Friday nights? The whoring around? The stupid, stupid arm shaving? He drove her crazy! And could she live with knowing that she was in his debt?
“Wes, it's too much. I can't allow you to do it.”
Another little shake.
“Corinne, I owe you $8,000. It's not too much. It's just right.”
His hands became vices on her shoulders, and his voice dropped an octave.
“He was my best friend, Corinne,” Wes grunted. “He. Was. My. Best. Friend.”
Their eyes locked again, and it seemed that everything had become indigo. Any fight Corinne had left seeped right out of her.
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