Title: Challenged by You
Series: Love in the City #5
Author: Steph Nuss
Release Date: Sept 1, 2016
Paige Abram never faces a problem she can’t solve until her high school sweetheart comes back into her life, and she’s bombarded with memories of their relationship. His presence is almost suffocating, but he’s still just as beautiful as she remembers.
His heart beat differently after its first love.
The moment Drake Wilkins sees her again, the numbness he’s felt since he walked away disappears. But she’s not the same girl he fell in love with back then. She’s colder, not as easy going; she’s a complete stranger now.
Her heart nearly quit after its first loss.
When a funeral has them returning to their hometown, a secret she’s kept from him all these years is revealed. She expects him to push her away but he doesn’t; he tests her just like when they were kids.
Their hearts resuscitate, but in the city, their love will face its biggest challenge of all: survival.
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The next day after work, I walked into Jones Jym in complete awe of the place. It was an athlete’s dream workout facility—even better than the one I frequented during college ball. It had multiple floors of equipment and machines, and several trainers on staff. The place buzzed with people who were eager to sweat away their workday. Since moving to the city, I’d yet to find a gym to join, and a guy at work named Owen had given me the name of the gym he and several of his athletic clients used.
I signed up and paid the membership fee. The lady at the front desk gave me a keycard and all the necessary information that came with becoming a member, and then she had a young guy give me a tour of the place. It wasn’t until we got to the floor with the pool that I recognized the body swimming toward the other end.
Paige was doing laps in a one-piece black swimsuit. Seeing her in the water reminded me of the times we spent swimming and the bikinis she used to wear, especially the ones I enjoyed taking off of her.
“Dude,” the kid said, shaking his head. “Don’t even bother. That lady is like the ice queen around here. She specifically requests the pool to herself, and the only reason she gets it is because she’s friends with the boss.”
“I see,” I commented, never taking my eyes off her. Ice queen, huh? That was a new nickname for her I hadn’t heard around work yet. “If you don’t mind, I think I can take it from here. I appreciate you showing me around.”
“Just doing my job.” He shrugged and picked up a few towels that had been tossed to the side before heading toward the door. “Have a good day.”
I was alone with her. It was like one of my teenage wet dreams come to life all over again: Paige all wet in a swimsuit. Except this time, she was in a one-piece that covered way too much of her, but I really didn’t mind. The suit molded to her, showing off her excellently toned body and how much she still cared for it.
As she swam toward the end of the pool nearest me, I walked to the edge and squatted down to watch her. She pushed harder and harder through the water, kicking her legs and pumping her arms fast toward me. When she got closer, instead of somersaulting against the wall and pushing back to the other end, she reached for the edge and accidentally grabbed my shoe.
“What the hell?” she sputtered as she removed her goggles and moved into a standing position. She brushed her hair out of her face and peered back at me with a pissed off gleam in her eye. “What are you doing in here, Drake? I requested time in the pool to myself.”
“I know,” I said, smiling. “But I was getting the Jones Jym tour since I’m a new member and when I saw you swimming, I thought I’d say hi.”
She rolled her eyes and ticked a brow up at me. “You joined my gym?”
“I didn’t realize it was your gym. I thought it was open to everybody.”
She sighed. “You know what I mean. How did you know I worked out here?”
“Well, if you must know, I asked Owen his opinion on the gyms around the city, and he suggested this one. Your name was never even brought up.”
“Goddammit, Owen,” she muttered under her breath loud enough for me to hear.
Amused, I stepped back as she lifted herself out of the pool. I admired the body that I missed in an unhealthy manner, feeling suffocated in my three-piece suit as my eyes roamed. She grabbed a towel and started to dry off, and all I could do was stand there and watch. Her suit dipped low in the front, exposing the contours of her breasts, and it was cut high on the thighs to show off her legs and the cheeks of her taut ass peeking out the backside. It wasn’t like the one-piece suits with the ugly floral prints. No, this black beaut was one I imagined myself stripping off of her in a slow, seductive manner until I had her begging me to get her out of it.
“Don’t,” she stated harshly, knocking me back to the present.
“What?” I asked, confused as I refocused my attention to her face, where her eyes were narrowed on me, brows furrowed in annoyance.
She used to love it when I watched her like this.
She wrapped one towel around herself and knotted it, and then proceeded to wring her hair out with another towel. “You don’t get to look at me like that anymore.”
I cocked my head to the side and shot her a mischievous smile. “Do you realize what you’re wearing? How am I supposed to not look at you in a swimsuit? Do you remember all the good times we had with you in—and out—of a bikini? Because I do.”
“I can tell.” She nodded toward the slight bulge in my pants and tossed the towel in the used barrel. Slipping her feet into a pair of sandals, she threw her bag over her shoulder and made her way over to me. She tugged on my loosened tie and pulled me forward with a playful smile lingering on her lips as she ran her fingers over the silky material. “I remember that one night we decided to go skinny dipping,” she stated, her voice taking on a sensual tone that hypnotized me. “You helped me out of my suit, taking your sweet time untying the strings and sliding my bottoms down my legs, and then you took off your shorts.” She laughed softly and then shoved me away from her. “But the water was so cold that your genitals shriveled up to unnoticeable proportions.”
“Hey, it was really fucking cold!” I exclaimed defensively.
Reaching for the door, her laugh turned devious. “Don’t ever interrupt my swim session again, Wilkins.”
“Don’t act like that’s the only swimming memory you have, Abram!” I called back.
Like hell I was going to let her have the last word. One glance at my groin, and I knew the skinny dipping story still had the same damn effect that it had back when we were kids.
Fuck. Getting her back was going to be more of a challenge than I thought, but I’d endure every embarrassing story she recalled about me if it meant hearing her laugh like that again.
Steph Nuss was born and raised in rural Kansas, where she currently resides with her black Labrador son named Gunner. She grew up with a passion for reading and writing. When she’s not immersed into the land of fiction, she enjoys listening to music that came before her time, watching movies and reruns of her favorite shows, and hanging out with her family and friends. She also has a bachelor’s degree in psychology that she’ll never use…unless she’s profiling her characters of course.
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