“How is your piece going for your editor?”
Terribly. I haven’t started. “Great!”
I don’t sound very convincing.
“I wouldn’t want you turning in work that’s not your best. It’s difficult to grasp what we can achieve at Dom Fitness after just one session. It would be ideal if you returned for another.”
I gnaw on my lip, both enticed by and terrified of the idea.
“Is there something you’re not telling me, Amelia? Did you not enjoy your session?”
I don’t know. It was all so strange. I suppose I did enjoy it in a weird sort of way, especially the way he made me feel afterward. Even though I screwed up and was rude to him, he doesn’t seem to be holding that against me. “No, I did enjoy it. It was a really good session.”
I’m surprised to find I mean that, despite how sore it made me.
Dom waits, and the silence is heavy.
I turn to the window, trying to block out my co-workers. “It’s just so weird being in a public space and hearing you talk to me that way. It’s so personal.”
It’s his gym and I expect him to be annoyed that I’ve just rejected the way he runs his business, but to my surprise, he’s sympathetic.
“I understand. You’re new to this and I want you to feel comfortable, and I don’t like giving up on people. I have a fully equipped gym at my home. Why don’t you come around this evening and I’ll train you there so you can get used to my methods in a low-pressure environment? Then we can take it back to the gym when you’re ready.”
His methods. Alone at his house. My heart patters against my ribs. My nether regions are tingling. “I guess I could do that,” I say casually, pretending that there aren’t fireworks going off in my underwear at the thought of being alone with Dom while he tells me what to do.
Not that I like being told what to do. It’s boring and annoying. And stuff.
I hear the warmth in his voice, as if he’s smiled broadly. “Wonderful. Your body will thank you for it. I’ll email you the address. Seven suit you?”
Yeah, my body is what’s getting me into this mess. “Um, all right. See you then, Dom.”
He waits, disapproval permeating his silence. “See you then, what, peaches?”
It takes me a moment to realize what he’s saying. Oh, my god. He wants me to call him daddy. I squeeze my eyes shut and whisper, “But we’re not in the gym now.”
Dom’s voice deepens as he grows sterner. “Being treated as a special case is a privilege. I need you to respect that privilege by following my rules.”
In the lowest voice I can manage, I cup my hand around my phone and whisper, “Yes, daddy.”
Everyone within a six-foot radius of my desk suddenly meerkats up from behind their computers, shock and glee coloring their faces.
Dom chuckles, a warm, rich sound. “Good girl. I’ll see you tonight.”
I put the phone down and turn to face my computer, my face burning as I’m peppered with questions.
“Amelia, who are you calling daddy?”
“Who wants to bet that she wasn’t talking to her father.”
“Is this the trainer from Dom Fitness? Are you calling him daddy now?”
“I didn’t think you had it in you. Suzanna! Amelia is calling that trainer guy daddy!”
Suzanna comes out of her office. She’s delighted when she hears what my co-workers have to tell her—so delighted that she asks me to increase the scope and word count of the piece and make it a feature article.
“Go for the virgin-in-a-sex-club angle. You know, the wide-eyed ingénue out of her depth. This is going to be a click magnet!”
It’s my first feature. I can’t very well say no. I don’t know why it’s easier to be a brat and stand up for myself to Dom, when he’s the one I should be terrified of. Suzanna probably weighs about as much as one of his thighs.
“Yes, of course, Suzanna. Thank you,” I find myself replying meekly.
I leave the office at five-thirty, change into my gym clothes and eat a muesli bar and an apple. Then I’m at the address Dom gave me by seven-fifteen. Oops. I didn’t check to see how long the train would take to get there, so I’m a bit late. Oh, well. It’s not like it matters.
I ring the doorbell, and when Dom opens the door, he’s glaring at me.
“Not a great start, peaches. Inside.”
Apparently, it matters.
I follow Dom through his house. He’s wearing gray sweats and a white T-shirt, and I almost whimper as he turns to me and points at the stationary bike. All the muscles of his chest are clearly delineated beneath the cotton fabric, and the gray sweats hug his… outline his…
My cheeks heat, and I haven’t even started exercising. I’m not the sort of woman who even drools over the outline of men’s junk in underwear ads, and yet here I am itching to caress the real-life bulge in Dom’s highly removable sweatpants. All that’s holding them up is a flimsy bit of elastic. One little tug and off they’d come. So would my leggings, for that matter.