“So…we meet again.” I toss my towel over my shoulder and lean against the weight machine next to hers.
She’s staring at me, a shocked look on her face. “You belong to this gym?” She doesn’t sound happy about it.
“Yeah. I have for the past five years.”
“Great,” she mumbles to herself. She turns back to her machine. “Well, enjoy your workout.”
I go around the machine and face her. “You trying to get rid of me?”
She looks up at me, a scowl on her face that I find to be more cute than angry. “I don’t like players, so I’d appreciate it if you’d just go away.”
“Player? I’m not a player.”
She puts her hands on her hips. “Then what the hell was last night? Why did you lie to me? You introduce yourself, I ask you about the band, and you don’t even bother to tell me you’re in it?”
Here’s a scene with Austin and his brothers (contains spoilers if you haven’t read books 1-3)
A waitress who isn’t ours comes up to our table, turning to Jake and smiling. “Hey, Jake. How’ve you been?”
He was checking his phone but he glances up and finds himself eye level with her breasts. She’s got her hand on the table and is leaning forward, putting her cleavage on display. The waitresses here wear tight, low-cut white t-shirts and red shorts, and this particular waitress has freaking huge breasts.
“Hey.” Jake forces his eyes up to her face. He may be in love with Ivy but a guy can’t help but look at breasts like that, especially when they’re right in your face.
“It’s Shannon,” she says, twirling her long dark hair between her fingers. “We were together last—”
“Yeah,” he says, cutting her off. “I remember.”
I’m sure he doesn’t. Jake used to be with a different girl almost every night. There’s no way he remembers them all.
“So what have you been up to?” She bites her lip and gives him that look that says she’s ready and willing to have sex with him. She’d probably do it on her break if he wanted to.
Watching her, I get what Nash was saying. I don’t want a girl like this. A girl who just wants sex and nothing else. And I don’t like girls who are this aggressive. Maybe it’s old fashioned, but I like to be the pursuer, not the other way around. I guess that’s why I don’t date as much as I used to. Girls are always asking me out and I’m getting tired of it. For once, I’d like to be the one to ask a girl out.
“I’m with someone,” Jake says. “I have a girlfriend.”
“Yeah, right.” She laughs, but when Jake doesn’t, she says, “You really have a girlfriend? So what’s her name?”
“It’s no one you know. I met her at work.”
She stops twirling her hair, then stands up straight, pouting. “If you don’t want to be with me, just tell me. You don’t have to make up some lame excuse.”
He looks her in the eye. “I’m not lying. I have a girlfriend.”
“It’s true,” Nash says to her. “They live together. They’re practically engaged.”
“Oh.” Shannon’s eyes go to the floor, then dart over to me. “How about you? You single?”
The people in front of me move, allowing me a better look at the girl. Now I can see her body, and damn, she’s hot. This girl works out. I can see the definition in her arms. But it’s not too much. Some of the girls at the gym work out to the point that they have almost no body fat, leaving them with all muscle. No womanly curves, no softness.
This girl has curves, and yet she still has muscle. My eyes linger on her chest, then lower to her lean torso. She’s wearing a tight black t-shirt and jeans that hug her round ass. Shit, she’s got a perfect body.
Boyfriend or not, I gotta go say hello to this girl. I reach her just as she approaches the table she was eyeing. Some guys sit down there and her face falls.
“You want that table?” I ask her, pointing to it.
“What?” She steps back, like I startled her.
“Did you want that table?”
She stares at me and I stare back. I can’t help it. Her face is even prettier up close, and she has these big, deep brown eyes.
“Um, yeah,” she says, “but I’ll just find another one.”
I step up to the table and talk to the guys. “Hey, do you guys mind moving? I was holding this table for a friend.”
They nod at me in that way that says they know who I am and are fans.
“No problem,” the one guy says. They get up and leave.
I hold out a chair for the girl. “It’s all yours.”
“Thank you.” She smiles, and this time it’s a full smile. She has a beautiful smile.
She sits down and I take the seat next to hers. I have a few minutes before I have to go meet up with Van and Dylan.
“So are you waiting for someone?” I ask.
“Yeah. My friend and her boyfriend.”
She didn’t mention having a boyfriend of her own. Maybe she doesn’t.
Her eyes do a quick glance of my body before returning to my face. I’m used to it. I spend hours a day in the gym and it shows, so I’m used to girls checking me out. But I don’t spend all those hours in the gym to get girls. Working out is just something I like to do. I like the way it makes me feel. And I do a job that requires physical labor, so staying in shape makes me less likely to get injured.
“I’m Austin,” I tell her, but I’m sure she already knows that. If she’s here to see the band, she knows who I am.
“I’m Kira.” She smiles again. “I hear this band is pretty good.”
So I guess she doesn’t know who I am. This almost never happens. The band is pretty well known, at least locally. And I’m known because I’m a Wheeler. Girls in Chicago know who the Wheeler brothers are because my brother, Jake, was named Chicago’s most eligible bachelor last year. He was dating Ivy at the time so that title didn’t last, but it boosted girls’ interest in the rest of us. But even before then, people knew who we were because we’d hit the clubs together, and four guys as big and tall as us tend to draw attention.
“You came to hear the band?” I ask. I’m not going to tell her who I am. She’ll find out soon enough.
“Not really. I’ve never heard of them. I just came because my friend asked me to, but I love live bands so I’m glad I came.”
“You’ve never heard of Vandyl?”
She shakes her head. “No. Why? Are they popular?”
I shrug. “They’re pretty popular here in Chicago.”
“So you’ve heard them play before?”
I almost laugh, but stop myself. “Yeah. I go to every one of their concerts.”
“Wow, you’re really a fan.”
“You could say that.” I smile. “Are you new to Chicago?”
“Yeah. I’m from Michigan. I’m starting college next week.”
Shit, she’s a freshman? She must have used a fake ID to get in here.
“I’m starting late,” she says, noticing the questioning look on my face. “I just turned 21, but I took a couple years off before starting college.”
I nod. “Got it.”
I should ask her out. This is my chance to finally be the one to ask instead of it being the other way around. She doesn’t know who I am, and I have a feeling if she did, she wouldn’t care. And for some reason, I like that.
“You need someone to show you around the city?” I ask. “I’ve lived here my whole life. I know all the best places to go.”
“Thanks, but my roommate’s going to show me around. She promised to give me a tour of the city some weekend.”
“Is she from here?”
“No. She’s a friend of mine from back home. We grew up together. She’s just here for college, like me.”
“No offense to your friend, but she won’t be as good a tour guide as me. I know things only the locals know.”
“Oh, really?” She turns toward me more and smiles. “Like what?”
“Best pizza places. Best bars. Best clubs. Best movie theaters.”
“I could probably find that stuff out online.”
Damn, she’s really making me work here. I thought I was feeling some chemistry between us but maybe it’s all one-sided. There’s no doubt I’m attracted to this girl. And although I just met her, I already like her. I like that she showed up in jeans and a t-shirt when every other girl here is dressed up. It shows she’s confident enough to wear what she wants instead of trying to match everyone else. I also like that she smiles a lot. I’m tired of girls that always have a pout on their face. They think it’s sexy but it just makes them look like they’re mad. And what guy wants to look at that all night?
And the other reason I like her? Because she turned me down. I think it’s a Wheeler trait. My brothers and I tend to be attracted to girls who turn us down. Nash spent weeks trying to get Callie to go out with him, and it took Jake months to convince Ivy to go on a date. They were the only two girls who ever turned them down. They had to work hard just to get dates with them, but their efforts paid off and now they’re in love.
I’m not looking to fall in love, but I do want this girl to go out with me.
“You can’t trust what you read online,” I say. “So what do you say? Can I take you out?”
“No, but thanks for offering.”
She still said no? Guess she has no interest in me. I finally find a girl I really like and she won’t even go on a date with me.
I hold up my phone. “Will you at least take my number? That way you can call me if you have any questions.”
“What questions would I have?” She still has a smile on her face. She has this whole time, so does that mean she’s interested? But she turned me down, and she doesn’t seem to want my number.
“Austin!” some girl yells. I don’t know her but she’s got her eye on me as she stumbles through the crowd. She’s drunk, and I try to avoid drunk fans before a concert.
“I need to go,” I say to Kira. “It was nice meeting you.” I offer her my hand.
“You too.” She shakes my hand. Her hands are soft and small but she has a good, firm handshake.
“Enjoy the show,” I tell her, then quickly get up from the table before the drunk girl reaches me.
More to Us releases in a few weeks! Add to Goodreads
The story of Austin and Kira. Last book of The Wheeler Brothers series.
Austin Wheeler always wanted to be a rockstar. But instead, he’s playing guitar in a local band and working construction for his dad. He’s torn between helping the family business and pursuing his music dream.
Kira Jacobs always wanted to be an Olympic gymnast, but a devastating fall during a competition derailed that dream. After a year-long recovery, she’s starting college but she’s not ready to give up gymnastics just yet, even though pursuing it could worsen her injury.
When Austin and Kira meet, their attraction draws them together but their relationship quickly becomes something more. A friendship. Love. But their dreams remain unfulfilled. Knowing she’s putting herself at risk by training again, Kira hasn’t shared her dream with Austin, yet he’s been helping her with it the whole time. When he finally learns the truth, will he still want to be with her?
I wrote this Jade and Garret BONUS scene a while back and forgot to share it! So here it is!
SPOILER ALERT – Don’t read this if you haven’t read Always Us (Jade #8).
“I’m exhausted.” Jade plops down on the couch next to me. I’m watching TV and Abi’s on the floor next to my feet, playing with some blocks.
“Why don’t you go to bed?”
“It’s only 7:30. I can’t go to bed this early.”
“Why not?” I stretch my arm out behind her on the couch. “If you’re tired you should go to bed.”
“At 7:30?” She turns to me. “That’s earlier than Abi goes to bed. I can’t go to bed earlier than her.”
I rub her shoulder. “You have the craziest rules.”
“It’s not a rule. It’s just…” She pauses. “Okay, I guess it kind of is a rule. It just seems weird to go to bed before your baby does.”
I lean over and kiss her. “It’s not weird. You’ve been up since five this morning and you’ve going nonstop all day. I’m not surprised you’re tired.”
Jade had to do a talk for a high school in New York this morning and with the time difference, she had to be up early. Then she had to prepare for a speech she’s giving next week and had conference calls in the afternoon to talk about the workshops she’s going to be doing this summer.
Jade snuggles up to me, her arm wrapped around my chest. “Thanks for watching Abi today.”
“You don’t have to thank me. She’s just as much my responsibility as yours.” I smile as I watch Abi play. “And you know I love spending time with her.”
Jade rests her head on my shoulder. “I know. But you had to miss work.”
“My family comes before work. You know that.” I kiss her head. “And besides, I’m my own boss. I can take a day off.”
I feel tugging on the leg of my jeans and lean forward to see Abi trying to pull herself up.
“Jade, look. Abi’s trying to stand up. Maybe she’ll try to walk again.”
This past week, Abi’s been attempting to walk but she only makes it one step before falling down.
Jade sits up, holding her hands out to Abi. “You want mommy to help you?”
Abi glances at Jade but then focuses back on my jeans, grabbing them with both her hands and trying to pull herself up.
“I guess she doesn’t want my help.”
“I think she’s determined to do it herself.” I laugh. “She’s pulling so hard I think she might rip my jeans.”
Jade smiles at her. “Come on, Abi. You can do it.”
She lifts up slightly but then drops down again.
I lean over her. “Pull straight up, Abi. You almost did it. Try again for Daddy.”
She smiles at me and some drool drips down her chin. She’s so freaking cute. And she does the funniest things but doesn’t know they’re funny. She’s like Jade that way. Jade has no idea how funny she is, even when she’s trying to be serious.
“Almost,” I say to Abi as she drops to the floor again. She got halfway up that time.
She’s still holding onto my jeans, but her shoulders sag and she babbles to herself, like she’s frustrated.
“I think she’s done,” Jade says.
“She’s not done. She’s just reassessing her strategy.”
Jade laughs. “At 10 months old? I don’t think she’s strategizing.”
“She totally is. Look how serious she looks.”
Abi’s pursing her lips, her eyes focused on her hands, which are gripping my jeans even tighter. She rocks back and forth a few times, then all of sudden she yanks on my jeans as hard as she can and lifts herself up to standing.
“You did it!” Jade claps. “Good job, Abi.”
Abi’s smiling, and holding onto my knee. She starts rocking back and forth and I quickly put my arms behind her in case she falls. She lets go of me and claps like Jade just did, but her eyes are on me.
“Dada!” She claps again.
My head whips over to Jade, who looks as stunned as I am. “Did she just say–”
“Dada!” Abi says it again.
“She did!” Jade jumps up from the couch. “She just said her first word!”
Abi senses our excitement and says it again. “Dada!”
I pick her up and kiss her cheek. “That’s right. I’m Dada.”
Jade sits down again and kiddingly hits my shoulder. “Why did she say ‘dada’ first? She’s supposed to say ‘mama’ first.”
“I don’t know. I guess she’s Daddy’s little girl.” I turn her toward Jade. “Abi, can you say ‘mama’?”
“Dada.” She claps her hands.
Jade laughs. “That’s okay. She can try it later.” Jade takes her from me and sets her on her lap and talks to her. “You said your first word. Did your daddy teach you that?”
“Hey.” I laugh. “Are you trying to say I planned this? That I wanted that to be her first word?”
Jade nestles under my arm, setting Abi between us. “She said it because she loves her dad. You’re such a great dad, Garret.”
“And you’re a great mom.” I kiss her head, then Abi’s. My two favorite girls. And one of them just said her first word.