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He’s the owner of this gym. He kicked out all the other men not long after the class started.

But he’s still here.

Oh sure, most of the girls don’t realize it. That’s because the window for his office is tinted.

With anyone else, it would feel creepy. Not with Hale. Maybe because I know without even glancing at the window, that it’s me his eyes are on.

He comes into the dessert shop where I work. He always orders a vanilla ice cream cone and tips me an extra twenty. But the look he gives me when he’s in the shop makes me feel like there should be scorch marks on the ground. It heats my skin to a thousand degrees and leaves me with damp panties. It’s the same way I feel right now.

“I’m good to watch,” I say with my face flaming. Hopefully, the girls just think I’m embarrassed and shy.

Only Gabby knows about my crush on Hale. I’ve never shared it with anyone else because it would be too pathetic to admit out loud.

Hale is this cool entrepreneur who has been featured in all of these business magazines. He’s been known as the man with the Midas touch. When he invests, Wall Street sits up and takes notice. When he speaks, the world pauses to listen.

And me, I’m the girl who serves ice cream and has a million craft projects in her apartment.

“You should at least try,” Mackenzie says giving me a subtle gesture that indicates she wants to make Ginger happy.

The reminder is enough to snap me out of my funk. This isn’t about me protecting my pride in front of the hottest guy I know. This is about showing up to support my friend.

“It’s a lot of fun,” Laura adds quietly enough that the rest of the group can’t hear her.

Her husband is blind, but that won’t stop her from showing him her new moves. That’s what she told us earlier with a saucy wink.

Not for the first time, I wish I had someone to come home to. I wish I had someone to steal my blankets at night and leave his things scattered on the nightstand. I wish I had someone to wrap me in his arms when the thunderstorms are loud at night and whisper that I’m safe. As soon as I think these thoughts, another image of Hale comes to my mind. I’ve never been on a date or had a boyfriend. But if I did, I’d want him to be my first.

I glare at Ginger. “If I break my neck, you’re paying my hospital bills.”

Ginger beams at me. “Deal!”

I pull off my beach cover-up and wonder if Hale has binoculars in his office. A naughty part of me hopes that he does. My nipples pebble at the idea. If he’s going to watch, I’ll give him a show.

I run through Ginger’s routine, slowly relaxing to the rhythm of the song. Every move makes me feel empowered as I celebrate my body. I’ve never done something so erotic, and it turns me on to know that Hale is watching every sensual glide of my hips. I put my hands on my thick thighs and flip my long, blonde hair over my shoulder. Dancing for my crush is the hottest thing I’ve ever done, and I hope he’s enjoying the show.



With a groan,I lift my head from my desk and rub the back of my neck. The gym has been closed for the last two days thanks to the inclement weather and storms.

I could have gone home to my cabin for the week, but my place is deep in the forest. I can’t stand the idea of being so far from my beautiful Ivy. It’s not that she’s likely to call me in an emergency, but I want to be close to her all the same.

I stand from my chair, stretching slowly, and cross the room to my coffee machine. While it brews a cup, I check the emails on my phone. There’s one in particular I’m looking for, and as soon as I see it, I grin.

The jeweler has finished my project.

The custom engagement ring I had him designing since the day I met Ivy is now complete. It’s the last thing I need to fall into place, so I can begin romancing my girl.

I want to pull out all the stops for my woman. I get the sense that Ivy hasn’t been looked after in her life. I can’t change that. But I have taken steps to make sure she’s always protected and cared for. That’s why I bought her apartment building from Old Man Teller.

Everyone in town believes he’s still running the place, but it’s mine now. I even lowered the rent rates in the building. It was a calculated move, another way of helping out my woman so she doesn’t have to work so hard.

Pretty soon, she’ll live with me in my cabin if all goes according to plan. But if she’s determined to live in town, I’ve already accounted for that too.

I purchased two prime pieces of real estate right in the heart of town. Both are in residential zoning areas, and they’d be perfect for a home. It doesn’t matter to me where we live as long as I can bring a smile to my woman’s face every day.

My phone rings with an incoming call. My heart starts pounding as soon as I see my sister’s name. She struggled with a drug addiction in the past.

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