Amelia does as she’s told, frowning a little as she goes, as if she’s not quite sure why she’s cooperating and doesn’t think she likes it very much.
She’ll grow to like obeying me. She’ll grow to love it.
I watch Amelia clamber onto the stationary bike, which was last used by a much taller person. She doesn’t seem to know she can adjust the seat and her feet struggle to push the pedals around.
“Having fun there, peaches?” I ask dryly.
The nickname just comes to me. Her lips are faintly peach-colored, and so are the freckles that dust her nose and the auburn tints in her ponytail. I bet her nipples are that pretty peach color, too.
“No,” she huffs. “I can’t reach the pedals. Stupid bike.”
“Lift that little ass of yours up a sec.”
Obediently, she stands on the pedals while I reach between her legs and adjust the seat for her. “There you go. Sit yourself back down. Is that better?”
I brace one hand on the handlebars and the other on the seat of the bike, just below her peachy ass. We’re eye to eye as she sits on the seat. “Yes, what?”
Amelia gnaws on her lip for a moment. A few strands of her hair have come loose around her face and her eyes are uncertain. She’s got the look of a brat who’s suddenly found herself way out of her depth.
I harden my expression, and she scrambles to add, “Thank you.”
“You’re welcome. Give me five minutes at a good pace.”
While she pedals, I read through her answers and I have to suppress a wicked smile. She’s exactly what I guessed she’d be, a brat with a praise kink. I’m going to have my hands full with her, but there’s a good little girl hiding somewhere underneath all that sass. I can’t wait to find her.
“Now, tell me your fitness goals.”
“I don’t have any. I’m just here to write a story,” she puffs.
I check the resistance on her bike. Almost nothing, and she’s been cycling for less than two minutes. “Never mind the article, peaches. First, I’ve got to give you something to write about. Now, tell me what you’d like to improve in your life.”
“I guess I could stand to lose a few pounds.”
They all say that, but Amelia is pretty damn hot just as she is. What she needs is some muscle tone and cardio training, and a regimen to give her life some structure and put color in her pretty cheeks. “What would you say to having more energy throughout the day, and being able to walk up two flights of stairs carrying groceries without huffing and puffing?”
She perks up. “That would be great. I wouldn’t mind sculpting my arms a bit, too. And my butt. Ooh, and can we define my waist a bit?”
That’s more like it. I let the grin spread over my face again. “You bet we can, peaches. It would be a pleasure.”
“Why do you keep calling me peaches?” she asks.
“It suits you. Do you like it?”
“Do I have a choice?” she retorts, her sassiness flooding back.
“Yes, you do, if you’re a good girl. If you’re not, I’ll clip a hot pink sign to your shirt that says I AM A BRAT and you’ll wear it all session. Now, would you like to ask daddy that question again?”
Amelia scowls for a moment, and then schools her face into politeness and tries again. “Can I choose what you call me, or do you decide that, like how you decided I would call you daddy?”
I want to laugh. I didn’t decide she’d call me daddy. Her inner bratty little girl decided that for us. “What would you like me to call you?”
She thinks for a moment, still pedaling. “Well, Amelia, I guess? But I suppose peaches is kind of cute.”
She mutters this so quietly that I pretend I haven’t heard her and lean closer. “Sorry, what was that?”
“Peaches is cute,” she tells me with a glower.
I nod decisively. “Damn right she is. Okay, peaches, that’s enough warm-up. Time for your weight training.”
Amelia jumps down from her bike and approaches the free weights. I take her through some standing lunges, and it becomes more and more obvious to me that Amelia has never set foot in a gym before today. She has zero balance, her coordination is sloppy, and I even have to teach her how to hold the weights properly so that she doesn’t hurt herself. I don’t mind, though, because everyone has to start somewhere and it’s a pleasure teaching her.
“That’s twelve,” I tell her when she completes her reps, and she breathes a sigh of relief and puts the weights back on the stand.
“Next?” I ask, my eyebrow raised. “Next you do it all again. And then again. Sets, peaches. This is how we build muscle.”