I cleared my throat and pushed myself up into a seated position. “I didn’t hear a word you just said. If you want me to pay attention to you, then I’m telling you right now you need to put a shirt on.” I was dead serious.
It was his turn to let his eyes rove over my torso and I didn’t miss the way the blue burned through the gray the longer he looked at me. That look made me sweat twice as much as the heat swirling around the room.
He muttered something under his breath and climbed to his feet. “Okay so just follow what I do and try and concentrate on breathing. Don’t work against your body, work with it. I don’t think I can give you the entire spiel again either.”
I went to push myself up from the ground and almost collapsed back when my shoulder hollered in protest. Lando immediately reached out a hand to help me up and it was there again when our palms touched, that spark, that flash of intensity that made every nerve ending I had stand to attention and beg to be pressed up against his slick skin.
I hissed out a breath between my teeth and watched as he shook his head a little, like he needed to clear it.
“Okay, so first bend over and put your hands flat on the floor like this.” I watched him bend over with his legs perfectly straight as he put his hands flat in front of his feet. I tried to mimic the pose but barely got halfway there before I had to bend my knees.
He turned his head to the side and looked at me while he was upside down. “Your flexibility could use some work.”
I grunted at him and tried to straighten up. “Thanks for noticing.”
He chuckled and moved into some pose that looked like he was firing an invisible bow and arrow at the capital. I followed suit and was surprised that the pull in my shoulder ached but didn’t bellow in pain. I was also surprised when Lando asked me quietly, “How many sisters do you have?”
It was the first thing he had ever asked that didn’t have to do with my injury or regular routine. “Uh, two. Ari is a freshman in college and Greer just graduated. She wants to be a teacher.”
He shifted poses again, this time lifting his hands up above his head like he was praying and pulling them down slowly while he balanced on one leg. I decided that if I was going to balance on one leg it wouldn’t be the one I shattered and was pleased as hell that I didn’t topple over.
“I have a little sister who’s a senior in high school and a total nightmare for my parents. My dad can’t keep the boys away. My little brother is a year younger than me and lives overseas so he can play professional soccer.”
“Are you close with your family?” I was breathing harder than I expected to and I could hardly see through the rivers of sweat running down my face. It was a different kind of workout then I was used to, but my muscles were definitely straining and pulling. He dropped into what looked like a stationary push-up and I went to follow but paused. “I don’t know if my shoulder is up to this.”
“You have to bend your elbows and balance your weight. It’s all about finding your center and letting your whole body bear the weight, not just the large muscle groups.” I stretched my legs out behind me and went to push up but stopped before I got off the floor when his hands were on the center of my back and curving over my biceps to get me in the correct position. It felt like flames were dancing along every part of my bare skin where he touched me. “I’m super tight with my family. They’ve always been very supportive of me. How about you?”
When I levered up and balanced on my toes I waited with bated breath for my leg to give out or for my shoulder to flat-out collapse under the strain, but with my elbows bent and his hands holding me where I was supposed to be I kept myself perfectly horizontal to the floor with minimal effort. I blew out a long breath and told him, “My family is just the girls and my mom. My dad was killed on duty when I was ten. My mom never remarried or got serious with anyone until us kids were older, so all we had was each other.” I wheezed a little as my arms finally started to shake so I let him push me back to the ground and followed the guide of his hands as he had me bow my torso back so that I was arched up looking at him upside down as he stood over me.
“You father was a police officer as well?”
“And even though you lost him you wanted to follow in his steps?” He sounded puzzled by my career choice and he wasn’t the only one. My mother cried for a week straight when I was accepted into the academy. Even though all I had ever wanted to do was follow in my dad’s footsteps.
“Being a cop was the only option for me. I never considered anything else. That’s part of the reason why I’m so anxious to get back to it. I don’t have a backup plan, Lando. This is it for me.” It came sounding a little more raw and desperate than I intended it to, but it was the truth. I didn’t know what I was going to do with myself if I couldn’t go back on patrol and that was terrifying.
“Hmm …” He switched things around so that I was sitting upright and had a leg bent in front of me and my entire torso wrapped around it like a pretzel. I narrowed my eyes at him because he made it look effortless and I was breathing heavily and sweating buckets and not just from the temperature in the room. “Why was that it for you? You lost your father; you had to see how it hurt your mother and sisters and I bet they worry about you all the time. Why would you pick that as your only option?”
It was a good question. One I wasn’t sure I had an answer to. “I wanted to make my dad proud. I wanted to help people. I wanted a job where no one would question my authority or my …” I yelped as I bent too far and my thigh protested. I rolled over and ended up back on my back as I looked up at him. He was shiny with sweat from the heat in the room and his eyes were intently focused on me.