Determined not to end up like his seventy-year-old diabetic father, Holton knows he needs to make a change. His quest to improve his health drives him to the gym, where he meets Marcus, a trainer with the body of a demigod. For three months Holton works hard, watches what he eats, drops a few pounds—and catches Marcus's eye not only for his slimmer body but for his dedication.
Holton can barely believe it when Marcus asks him out, but he isn’t about to say no. Despite several common interests, though, Marcus and Holton have some roadblocks to overcome. A harrowing event from Holton’s past has made him gun-shy, and Marcus has insecurities of his own. If their relationship is going to work, they’ll have to get past their hang-ups and prove that what really matters is the man inside.
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Marcus watched the door of the club. He knew the guy he’d signed up months ago should be in just about now. He came in at the same time every weekday, and over the past few weeks, Marcus had found himself watching for him. He’d just barely remembered the man mainly because of how shy he’d been when Marcus had signed him up. What had really gotten Marcus’s attention was the man’s transformation. The change was so dramatic, and not just in the way the man looked, that Marcus had actually checked the club records to determine when Holton had joined the club. Holton had become more confident. He actually talked to people now, and Marcus admitted to himself as he looked toward the door once again, the man was damned cute and getting sexier by the day.
Marcus hated that he thought that way. He knew that he should have more depth—that a person’s looks were only on the outside and what counted was who they were on the inside. He knew that, and though the man he’d signed up for a membership three months ago wouldn’t have turned his head, the man who’d just pulled open the door to the club captured his attention like no one he’d ever met before. Marcus remembered how Holton had looked at him during the one workout session they’d shared the day Holton had joined. Marcus knew he was good-looking, but Holton had looked at him like he was the hottest man on earth, and Marcus hadn’t given him a second thought, until a few weeks ago.
Catching Holton’s eyes as he scanned his card, Marcus waved him over, pleased when Holton walked over to his desk. “I noticed that you’ve been doing a lot of cardio,” Marcus began, hoping he wasn’t overstepping. “Have you given any thought to lifting?”
“Yeah, but I don’t know very much about it,” Holton replied, and Marcus saw him fidget nervously as he looked toward the free-weight area with a touch of fear. “The guys over there seem so big.”
“They’re really nice guys. If you want to go change first, I’ll introduce you to some of them, and I can show you some basic exercises so you don’t get injured.” Marcus flashed Holton a smile as he looked the smaller man over. “You’ve lost a lot of weight, and if you want to start building muscle now, you need to cut down on the cardio and start some strength training.”
“You’ll show me how?” Holton asked, and for a second, Marcus saw that look he’d seen a few months ago.
“Sure. Go get changed, and I’ll meet you over there.” Marcus flashed another smile, watching as Holton walked toward the locker room with what looked like a bit of excitement in his step. Standing up, Marcus wandered through the club, greeting members as he waited for Holton to come out of the locker room. When he saw him, Marcus felt a flutter in his stomach. Gone were the long pants and big shirts. Holton wore a simple pair of shorts that showed off his legs, and a white tank top. His legs weren’t long, but they were thick and strong.
“Do I need anything special?”
Marcus shook his head. “Not for today, but you might want to get yourself a pair of lifting gloves. They’ll protect you from the knurling on the bars. We won’t go heavy today, so you’ll be fine.” Marcus began to walk toward the weight area. “The machines in this area use real weight and are built to handle hundreds of pounds. I thought we’d start with a chest exercise.” Marcus pointed toward one of the Hammer Strength machines. “These will help you maintain good form while getting your muscles used to the work.”