by Regina Cole
Pub Date: 5/23/17
In her nine-to-five life, Stacey Hough is a confident young woman whose career is going from strength to strength. But a trip to Hawaii for her cousin’s wedding lays bare her deepest insecurities, and she books the first flight home to Atlanta to avoid exposing her curves on the beach. Tired of being unhappy, she decides to take action and heads to the gym. But her personal trainer’s seductive smile and ridiculous muscles make it hard to focus on lifts and lunges…
Robert Liston lives to help people achieve their goals. When Stacey walks into his gym, he sees a voluptuous woman who doesn’t know how beautiful she really is, and he’s determined to help her learn to accept herself. As soon as she starts warming up on the treadmill, things start warming up between them, and it’s only a matter of time before Rob is putting Stacey through her paces at the gym—and in the bedroom. As the line between work and pleasure blurs, Rob must convince her that sexy has nothing to do with the scale—and that her imperfections inspire the greatest passion of all…
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“Just a few more feet until air-conditioning,” she said to herself, eyeing the resort’s beautiful, air-conditioned tower of hotel rooms that would give her sanctuary. This was less than ideal. Her cousin would pick the hottest November on record to have her destination wedding.
Stacey upped her pace, trying to ignore the beads of moisture tickling her upper lip. That wasn’t exactly fair. Sabrina couldn’t have known how hot it would be. Besides, it wasn’t the bride’s fault that her maid of honor was sweating like a teenage boy who’d gotten caught watching Internet porn. That was all Stacey’s doing.
“I’ll go to the beach,” she’d said to herself after lunch with the bride. It had been years since she’d been on a real vacation, and she had intended to enjoy it. Of course, she couldn’t actually find the guts to put on the new swimsuit she’d bought for the trip. The imaginary confidence she’d been leaning on up until this point went poof in the harsh light of the tropical paradise. No way could she go out in any kind of swimwear. There were way too many witnesses. The trade-off was a nice walk. But what should have been a relaxing hour-long stroll along a beautiful coastline had turned into a hot, sandy trek across what might as well have been the Sahara, and had turned Stacey’s joy at the vacation into a chore. It sucked, but the temporary discomfort would be over soon.
The artificially cooled air caressed Stacey’s cheeks, and she gave a heavy sigh of relief as the glass hotel doors swung shut behind her. Finally. Punching the button for the elevator, she glanced upward.
Crap. Her strawberry-blond hair was frizzing around her fore- head. Turning, she looked in the mirror that was mounted on the opposite wall and promptly blanched.
Good Lord, she looked like a nightmare. Red, sweaty, and fright- ening. If she ran into any small children on the way to her room, they’d probably need therapy for years to come.
This was why she stayed home. Work was safe. Work, she could throw herself into with abandon and not come out looking like a cartoon villain. Oh well. She had planned to shower before tonight’s bachelorette party anyway. There were a couple of hours left for her to make herself look presentable.
The elevator doors glided open, and Stacey’s stomach plummeted through the floor. Shit.
“Good Lord, Stacey, what happened to you? You look terrible!” Aunt Beatrice wasted no time in pointing out the obvious as she exited the elevator.
“I went for a run. I’m training for the Iron Man,” Stacey joked drily as she passed her aunt.
Completely missing the sarcasm, Aunt Beatrice lit up with a smile. “Good! That is fabulous. You do need to exercise, but perhaps next time you should dress a bit differently? You aren’t wearing the right attire, and there are sweat stains on—”
The doors shut then, and Stacey slumped against the back wall of the elevator.
Getting angry was exhausting and pointless. Aunt Beatrice had been dropping comments about her weight and other shortcomings since Stacey was in preschool. Her family had won the genetic lottery, and Stacey was the only exception. Not that she was ugly. She’d gotten the reddish-blond hair and blue eyes, sure, but the height and good metabolism had definitely skipped her. At least her own parents were vacationing in Europe, and unable to join in the fun of pointing out her faults. Fortunately, Bree was nothing like her mother in atti- tude. Bree was Stacey’s favorite relative, and one of her closest friends. There wasn’t much Stacey wouldn’t endure for her, and that included record-high temperatures and snooty Aunt Beatrice.
When she finally arrived on her floor, Stacey dragged an arm across her cheeks and walked determinedly to her room. Tonight would be just what she needed. Bree always did wonders for Stacey’s mood, and the other bridesmaid, Eliza, seemed really nice. They’d go out for pedicures, a fancy dinner, and then a night out dancing and cutting loose.
Stacey forced a smile. It would be a blast. Just the thing to help her shake off these blues.
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