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SWEAT, a sexy new standalone from New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author, Deborah Bladon.
Exercise is supposed to strengthen the body and clear the mind, right?
*Author’s Note: Although a few characters from my past books make appearances in SWEAT, it’s not necessary to read any of my other books to enjoy SWEAT.
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“It wasn’t your virginity that he stole, was it?”
I glance over at my roommate, Sydney Tate, to find her smirking. She’s still working her ass off on the elliptical machine she’s been on for the past thirty minutes. You’d never know it by looking at her. Not one light brown hair on her head is out of place. I wish I could say the same for my shoulder length black hair. It’s twisted up in a messy bun, but it’s not helping to cool me off.
Not only did I just spend the better part of thirty minutes on a treadmill, but Smith Booth, asshole extraordinaire and all around man I love to hate arrived right when I hit my stride.
Seeing him here, in my favorite gym, was enough to break my pace. I almost fell off the treadmill mid-jog. I didn’t though. I slowed to a walk, checked my pulse and resisted the urge to look in his direction.
Sydney gave in and stared at the man doing reps on the bench press. She wasn’t the only one who interrupted their workout to gawk at him.
Smith, in all his black haired, brown eyed, muscular glory, turns heads wherever he goes. A big part of that is the fact that he has one of the most recognizable faces in all of New York City. It’s also one of the best looking. I’d never admit that to another soul, but Smith is gorgeous. The problem is he knows it.
Since landing the job as the newest co-host of the most watched morning show in the country, Smith’s picture has popped up on every digital billboard in this city. He’s quickly become the most sought after single man in Manhattan.
“No one stole my virginity.” I run my fingertips over the back of my neck as I step closer to the elliptical. “I gave it willingly to a man I thought I’d marry.”
“Cue the violins and flying doves.” Sydney presses the palm of her left hand to the middle of her chest. “I think my heart is about to explode.”
“Shut up,” I joke before I crack open the lid of a bottle of chilled water.
“Obviously, the getting married to your first didn’t work out.” She nods at my left hand. “There’s no ring and you haven’t been laid in three months.”
Her words hit harder than intended. She has no clue. She doesn’t know any details about my life before she moved in with me six months ago. “Remind me again why we are friends, Syd. I confide my sexual secrets in you just to have you throw them back in my face.”
“Is Smith Booth one of your sexual secrets?” She exhales deeply as the machine comes to a stop. “Do you hate him so much because he sucks in bed? Did he take and not give? Is that what this is about?”
“I’ve never slept with him,” I answer easily, tugging at the bottom hem of the blue tank I’m wearing. I paired it with an old pair of black yoga pants. It’s one of my go-to outfits when I hit the gym. I’m not here to impress anyone. My too-round ass is the reason I drag myself down here three times a week. “He’s my brother’s friend. Julian and Smith have known each other forever.”
I take a long sip of water as I wait for the inevitable remark about what she wants to do with my brother. She’s only met him once, but that was enough to fuel her dreams for the past four months.
Muting the comments that my friends have made about Julian over the years has become easy. I don’t see what they see when they look at him. I see a supportive, ambitious man who resembles a younger version of our father. We both have black hair and blue eyes, but Julian’s face is all hard lines etched to symmetrical perfection. My nose is softer, my chin rounder and my smile is just like my mom’s, a little lopsided.
Sydney judges Julian by his polished presence. To her, and most of my single friends, he’s my hot older brother. To me, he’s the person who encourages me to follow my dreams, and now, he’s my silent business partner.
When your surname is Bishop and you live on this island, you can expect someone to ask you at least once a day if you know Julian Bishop, CEO of Bishop Hotels or Fulton Bishop, real estate wizard. My dad owns one of the premier real estate brokerage firms in the state. Bishop and Associates sold more residential properties in New York City last year than any other company.
I’m learning how to master the art of flipping the conversation, so the focus is on me whenever anyone brings up my brother or my dad. It’s a constant work in progress.