“Haven’t you ever heard of playing through the pain? Yeah, it fucking hurts, everything fucking hurts, but I can’t live my life waiting for it not to hurt before I start existing again.”
I inhaled sharply and shifted my gaze back to the clipboard. I’d done my fair share of waiting for things to stop hurting before getting my life back on track and the reminder, even though he didn’t know anything about me, stung, and the fear of living and losing what mattered most nipped at all of my senses.
“If you work the muscles so hard that they never get the chance to fully repair themselves, you’ll never get your natural stride back. If you push yourself too hard, you’ll never recover from your injuries, and where you are now is the best that you’ll ever be.”
He grunted and stepped off the treadmill. “Then tell me what to do and I’ll do it.”
I had to bite my tongue—hard—from spitting out the really inappropriate things I wanted to ask him to do.
Things like step closer.
Things like let me touch him all over.
Things like let me kiss everything that hurts so I could make it better.
I closed my hand around the pen I was using to make notes so tightly the plastic casing snapped.
My assistant and my new patient both looked at me curiously as I cleared my throat and awkwardly took a step away from the heat I could feel coming off of Dom’s half-naked body.
“I can give you the tools to make your body work better, but you have to listen to what it’s telling you. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t push past the pain in order to get results, but you need to be able to tell the difference between something simply hurting and something being irrevocably damaged.”
That was what condition I thought my heart was going to be in after I lost Remy, but now the twinges it was having, the twitches it was displaying at the nearness of this man made me wonder if it, like Dom, had been injured and pushed too hard to heal before it was ready.
Dom’s dark head bent down so that he was looking at the tips of his tennis shoes. He put his hands on his lean hips and I saw his wide shoulders hunch forward. He looked like he was suddenly being weighed down with the truth of how serious his situation was and that his natural-born fight may have been doing more harm than good.
“I just want to get back to how I was.”
I reached out a hand before I could stop myself and put it on his shoulder. His skin was warm, vital and throbbing with so much life under my fingertips. His head jerked up at the contact and our eyes locked. It felt like the most meaningful conversation I had ever had was happening even though no words were exchanged as we looked at each other.
“There is no going back but there is accepting your new normal.” That was one of the hardest lessons I had had to learn along the way.
Those massive shoulders went back, his army-green eyes gleamed at me, and I almost passed out when the full impact of the sexy grin he unleashed hit me.
“I’ll accept that there might not be any going back, but there is going forward and from where I’m standing what’s in front of me is anything but normal.”
He might be a bruiser and far more blunt in his manner and with his words than I was used to, but as we continued to watch each other I had to admit it was a nice change of pace to see the intensity of the things I was feeling reflected right back at me.
There was nothing subtle or hidden about Dominic Voss and that forthrightness was irresistible and a balm to the hidden parts of me that were just as broken as his body was.
I hurt all over.
It was a different hurt than the searing and relentless pain that had taken up residence in my shoulder and leg since the accident, this was more of a constant ache, a heavy throb that lived deep in all of my muscles and reminded me every waking moment that there was still work to do. I always considered myself to be in excellent shape and worked hard to make sure that I could not only keep up with the bad guys but with all the other guys on the force. After spending a week getting my ass handed to me by Lando I understood that just being able to bench-press my own weight didn’t mean shit about being fit.
He had me doing all kinds of things to build my strength back up and all kinds of things I had never done before to stretch the injured parts of my body out and build in new flexibility and elasticity I hadn’t even known I needed. I did everything he told me to do even when it felt like my joints were going to pop out of the sockets and even when it felt like my lungs were going to catch on fire and burn up. I couldn’t remember ever working as hard for anything in my life but the dull ache in my shoulder as I reached for the beer in front of me without a struggle or any kind of awkwardness reminded me that hard work and a little pain was indeed leading to results.
I still had a slight limp but it wasn’t as noticeable and the mobility that I had gained back in my shoulder was mind-blowing considering the short amount of time I had spent with the sexy trainer. He pushed me hard and I in turn grumbled at him about it and flirted with him shamelessly, in part to keep my mind off of how hard the paces were that he was putting me through, but mostly because he was gorgeous and I found the way he ran hot and cold with me fascinating.
He watched me the same way I watched him and occasionally when I tossed out an offhanded quip about our obvious attraction he would look like he was considering taking our relationship to a different level but he always shut it down and kept things coolly professional.
“So why don’t you just ask him out?” Royal was sitting across from me in the bar I had asked her to meet me at for a drink after a particularly grueling round of therapy. She’d just gotten off of patrol and I could tell by the tight pull of her mouth and the shadows in her chocolate-colored eyes that it hadn’t been a great shift. I wanted to ask her what happened, but I honestly wasn’t sure I could handle the jealousy that would claw at me when she talked about doing the only thing I wanted to do.