Mile High Series now in Large Print Paperback

4:33 PM Aria Grace

I had a request recently for large print editions of the Mile High Series. And, well, you ask and I deliver. Well, I can't ALWAYS deliver but I try to when possible. And this was a pretty easy request to fulfill. If there is a market for the large print books, I'll create versions of all my other books too. For now, only the Mile High Series is Available. Links to all my paperbacks are at

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When You Were Mine by Aria Grace

12:00 PM Aria Grace

Book 4 of the Mile High Romance series. 

Kyle has stayed in an abusive relationship because he doesn't believe he deserves anything better. He hands over his paycheck and his dignity for the sake of keeping the peace. 

Jonathan lives an orderly life of routine and processes. When Seb asks him to look into a case against his ex, he hesitates. Not because he doesn't want to help, but because he's afraid this gentle and broken man might sully the tidy world he needs to function. 

For mature readers.


The only family I have is my strung out mother and she’s a thousand miles away in some trailer park. I wouldn’t call her for help if my life depended on it. And, right now, it does.
My head is down and my hands are tucked into my pockets when I hear someone call my name. At first, I don’t see anyone but then I realize Seb is waving to me from across the street.
“Hey, Kyle. Wait up.”
Oh god. Of all the people to run into today, this is probably worst-case scenario. Seb is the one who got away. The one I drove away with my stupid comments and nagging about his drinking. I’ve never gotten over him but he left one day without a backward glance. He probably forgot about me the moment he walked away.
We see each other all the time around town but he’s never stopped me to talk.
There’s only one thing he could want to talk about. A few months ago, Bruce and I ran into Seb in a restaurant. He was on a date with some hot blond guy who was clearly important to him. More important to him than I ever was.
Bruce and I had been arguing, and I know Seb overheard some of the hateful things Bruce said. Everyone in that damn restaurant overheard him. He gets loud when he starts drinking and we were several drinks into that evening.
I stand awkwardly on the sidewalk and wait for Seb to make it to me.
“Hey, Kyle. Thanks for waiting.” Seb points to the juice shop behind us. “Do you have a minute to talk?”
“Um, sure.” It’s not like I’ve got anywhere else to be.
Seb opens the door for me and I walk to an open table by the window.
Please let this be about the weather…
Once we’re seated, Seb rolls his shoulders then clasps his hands on the table. “I’ve been meaning to get in touch with you for a while.”
“Why?” Just looking at him brings back all the pain of when he left me. I thought he was it for me. He said as much to me and then he left.
“I owe you an apology and explanation. I left and I assumed you knew why, but I need to know you’re okay.”
“You don’t owe me anything. I’m fine, Seb.” Damn. I can even lie better than I ever have before.
“Are you?” He leans forward and those green eyes pierce right through me. He could always see right into me. “Last time I saw you… Well, that guy you were with was kind of a dick.”
“Well, thanks for your concern, but that’s over.”
“Since when?” He reaches toward me and I flinch at the movement. Seb’s eyes go wide and he pulls his hand back but motions with his fingers for me to turn to the side. “Cuz that cut on your cheek looks pretty fresh.”
I reach up and feel the small scab I didn’t even realize was there. “Oh, I guess that’s from the…”
I catch myself before going into details about last night.
“From what?” Seb has a naturally friendly and open expression but he looks anything but friendly right now. “What happened?”
“It doesn’t matter. What did you want to talk about?” I cross my arms over my chest, hoping to change the subject back to whatever he was so eager to discuss.
“I want to apologize for how I left. I was pissed at myself for losing my temper and hitting you. You didn’t deserve that and it shouldn’t have happened.” He slowly reaches out and puts his hand over mine. “I’m sorry for that. I lost it and I didn’t trust myself to never hurt you again. That’s why I left.”
“You didn’t have to leave,” I whisper. “I didn’t want you to. I never wanted you to leave.”
“I did, Ky.” His hand squeezes mine. “You deserve better than the man I was. That’s why it pissed me off so much when I saw you with that asshole. Please tell me he doesn’t hurt you.”
I turn away, unable to look him in the eye. This is not a conversation I ever expected to have with Seb. Truthfully, I didn’t think he’d ever speak to me again. But here we are, discussing how the best man I ever met left me because he hit me one time when he was drunk.
Now that he’s opened up to me, I can’t hold back the tears. The past day has been one of the most emotional of my life. I’ve managed to hold it all together until now, but I can’t keep everything inside anymore. I might have lasted a few more hours, until I found some privacy at least, if Seb wasn’t so damn sweet.
Now that it’s open, I can’t do anything to close the flood gate of my heart as everything comes gushing out. With a deep sob, I drop my forehead onto our joined hands and have a good cry.
“Fuck, Ky.” Seb slides his chair around the table and holds me against his chest. “What the hell is going on with you?”
It takes several minutes for me to pull myself together enough to even speak. And as much as I want to make up a lie, I can’t. Seb will see right through any story I make up. So I lay it all out, telling him about Bruce and my current situation of being broke and homeless.
“Fuck, Kyle.” Seb slides away from me and runs his hand through his short brown hair. “What happened to you? When you were mine, you weren’t like—”
Seb’s eyes go wide and all color drains from his face. The sudden realization of what he thinks happened to me hits him like a two by four. Gasping, he physically pulls away from me. “I did this to you. It’s my fault you’ve allowed—”
“No, Seb.” I sniffle and wipe my face with a napkin. “Don’t. Don’t blame yourself. This is all me. I just make bad decisions…”
“Starting with me.” His voice is a rough whisper that breaks my heart all over again. He doesn’t deserve any of the blame for my fucked-up choices.
“Seb, listen to me.” I wait for him to finally meet my gaze again. “You were the best thing that ever happened to me. Even though it didn’t last as long as I wanted it to, I wouldn’t give up one minute of the time we had together.”
“Except those last few minutes.” He shakes his head, self-loathing evident in his entire demeanor. “The ones that broke your spirit and made you think you deserved to be treated like shit. Fuck, Kyle, I’m so sorry.”
“Stop it, Seb. Don’t apologize. I wanted to be with Bruce. I guess deep down I knew he wouldn’t ever change but I wanted to try. I wanted him to love me someday. So much so that he’d eventually change who he was. That’s not your doing. I learned that from my mother a long time ago. She brought home loser after loser, letting men smack us around because she thought they loved her. I swore I wouldn’t be like that, but clearly, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.”
“Please don’t say that, Kyle. Don’t accept this as your fate.” He leans forward with both elbows on his thighs. “You’re a good man and you deserve so much better than what you’ve had. Please don’t give up on yourself.”
I fake a smile and try to look confident. “Don’t worry, Seb. I’m not giving up anything.”
I’ve got nothing left to give up on.

The Promises Series Continues with Trust Me Like a Promise - Now Available

9:54 PM Aria Grace

Now Available
Trust Me Like a Promise

If you read the debut collaboration between Aria Grace and Kyan Christopher, Break Me Like a Promise, you've already fallen in love with the guys and girls at Sculpt. Their drama continues in Trust Me Like a Promise.

Still reeling from his recent loss, Tad finds himself depending more and more on the sweet and beautiful Marissa. She is there for him in ways he didn't think he'd ever need again and as the two of them spend more time together, Tad is drawn to this woman who helped him in his time of need. He's just not sure if or when he'll be ready to let go of his past in order to find his future. 

Phil is starting over in Cleveland with a new job and over 1300 miles between him and his ex. But now that he's settled into his new job at Sculpt, it's getting harder for him to ignore the urges he feels toward a certain swim coach. But when his ex gives him some unsettling news, will his hopes of finding happiness again be dashed before they even get a chance to start? 

After his run in with Jarrod, Brent finds himself in an uncomfortable working environment. As he and Luke become closer, Jarrod’s seemingly inappropriate crush leads them down a path that someone may not recover from. 

When I'm Lost by Aria Grace - Book Three of the Mile High Romance Series

11:41 PM Aria Grace

When I'm Lost

by Aria Grace

Book 3 of the Mile High Romance Series (M/M)

Although there are references to When I'm Weak, When I'm Lost can be read as a standalone.

Mike hurt many people in his past. With no other way to make things right, he sets off on a journey to apologize to those he has damaged the most. When he reaches the end of his list and his cash in Denver, he decides to stick around and attempt a new start.

Seb isn't sure he can trust Mike but offers to help the guy out with some projects in his new apartment. They try to deny the chemistry but it's too strong to ignore. Seb wants to find someone who can be his physical match so he can never make the mistake he made with Kyle.

Mike just wants to be found.


I barely have time to inhale my sandwich before Seb’s black Xterra comes barreling up the driveway. He must've been hauling ass to get here so quickly. I unwrap the plastic from the big peanut butter cookie I bought and break off a piece just to keep my hands busy while I wait for him to enter the barn.
The dogs bark at his arrival, but I ignore them. They have plenty of water, so I have some time before I need to take them out individually.
“Hey, this place is pretty cool,” Seb says as he steps inside and checks out Shane’s setup.
“Yeah. Shane did a really good job,” I say, nodding and looking around with pride. I’ve only been here twenty-four hours, but I already feel like I’m making my mark.
“Yeah, he did. So which one is yours?” He points to the pens with a completely straight face. I try to look insulted, but I can't hold it before I grin.
“Mine’s upstairs.” I nod to the open door.
“After you,” he says, gesturing for me to climb the steps first.
I'm about three steps ahead of him before he takes his first step on the staircase, which means his eye level is right at my ass. Good thing I'm wearing clean jeans, I think self-consciously. I just wish they fit a little better. I’ve lost some weight since the last time I went shopping, so everything fits looser than I'd like.
When we step inside the apartment, I turn and point to the sink. “It's right—”
“Oh, you shouldn't have.” Seb breaks off a piece of my cookie and pops it in his mouth. “Mmm, but I'm glad you did. Peanut butter is my favorite.”
My mouth is gaping. I don't even know what to say. He winks and walks toward the sink. The bucket I’ve set out is almost full but not quite. He lifts up a small toolbox and starts digging through it. “Give me five minutes and I'll have this taken care of.”
I stare wordlessly and sit at the little dinette.
After a few minutes of just staring, I feel a little guilty. “Can I help or get you anything?”
“Nope.” Seb has taken the top of the faucet completely off and has little pieces everywhere, but it seems like he knows what he's doing. Within a few minutes, it's all back together without any extra pieces. Pretty impressive, actually.
“That should do it.” He turns the water on and then turns it all the way off. No drip. He turns it on halfway and then off. Still no drip. He does this a few more times before I realize he's actually playing the song Staying Alive with the water flow. I have to laugh.
“Do I need to get the bucket again? You’re wasting water.”
He finally turns off the water and chuckles. “What’s your deal with buckets? What are you gonna do with that? Flush the toilet or something?”
I give him a serious look. “Yeah, I plan to. I'm from Arizona. We have droughts. You don't just waste water like that.”
“Arizona?” He leans back against the counter and crosses his ankles. “What does a guy like you do out in Arizona?”
“Get into trouble,” I say half joking, half not.
“So I’ve heard,” he says quietly then turns to pack up his tools.
It takes me a minute to realize I should offer to pay him. I have some cash, but I spent most of it on groceries and some work gloves like Shane's, which I didn't want to put on his business account. So I don't have much, but maybe he didn't come here for cash.
I bite my lip and wander to the couch, pacing in front of it for a minute and trying to decide what I should do. I've never had to sell my ass before. I don't plan to start now, especially since I have a real job and an actual home, but if Seb came here with the expectation that something was gonna happen…
Fuck! I don't know what to do.
“Okay, well, I'm just about done here. Is there anything else you need help with while I’ve got my tools?” Seb walks over to me with his box in his hand.
“No… Not that I can think of.” I take a look around the room. “It's actually in pretty good shape.”
“Okay, then.” He seems to be stalling. What is he stalling for? Is he waiting for me to make a move?
I have to at least offer him something. Whether or not he accepts is up to him. “So what do I owe you?” I ask, nervous he's going to ask for more than I can give.
His eyes go wide and he shakes his head. “Nothing at all. I'm happy to help.”
“Oh, so do you want to stay for a little while?” I ask. “I don't have much, but I picked up some sodas and chips.”
He smiles and takes a step toward the door. “Thanks, but I should probably get going. I’ve got to work tonight.”
“Right, of course.” Then I do what I always do—the wrong thing. I reach for his shoulder to stop him.
“Hey, Seb, if you wanted something else, like, as payment, I guess I would be open to that.”
Seb squints at me with his nose scrunched up. Then his eyes go wide. “Are you seriously offering up a blow job or something?”
I avert my gaze, focusing on my hand instead of his eyes. “Well… I guess, if that's what you want.”
He pulls his shoulder out from beneath my hand. “No, I was just trying to be nice, kid. That's definitely not what I want. You take care of yourself.” He turns and takes the stairs two at a time until he's out of the barn. I hear his car door slam and tires spinning on the gravel as he drives away.

I’m not sure if I offended him or just disgusted him. Either way, I basically just told him I’m a whore.  

Check out the rest  of the Mile HIgh Romance series 

Mile High Romance Series

by Aria Grace

The More Than Friends Family Tree -- Aria Grace Books

3:22 PM Aria Grace

Books 1-3 are free for a limited time

Book 4: Just Stay
Dylan didn't have a clue that the nerdy entrepreneur watching him was actually trying to take down his employer in a crime family setup. When Spencer first met Dylan, he couldn't take his eyes off the beautiful bodyguard. And when Dylan stepped in front of him, taking a bullet in the shoulder that should have been his, Spencer knew his life would never be the same.

Book 5: Hands On
Caleb is a smart kid that fell on hard times. He's working his way through community college by spending half his nights as a bartender at Rays and the others as the resident prostitute. Patton is new to town and trying to build up his clientele at the luxury spa he works at as a masseur. When Patton offers a comp massage to the guy behind the bar, he has no idea what he's getting himself into.

Book 6: Best Chance
Vinnie is happy as a bartender at Ray's and not looking for anything serious to complicate things. He has great friends and a simple life. When Chance comes into his bar, he brings more than just memories of the summer they spent together in high school.

Book 7: My Name is Luka
Brad spends his days swinging a hammer and his weekend nights pouring drinks just to keep his nose clean. At only twenty-one, he's already had enough trouble to last him a lifetime. But when he realizes the boy upstairs has new injuries that coincide with loud shouting matches from that apartment, he knows he has to do something to help.

Book 8: Finally Found
For the past six years at the University of Oregon, Trey has been completely focused on studying. With no time for relationships, he’s had to rely on the occasional hookup to fulfil his physical need for companionship. Now that he’s almost done with his Masters in Biology, his attention is on his career. Relationships will have to wait. Again.
Chuck is hitching his way down the coast, taking odd jobs to survive while trying to stay off the radar of an abusive ex. He just wants to get to L.A. in one piece so he can start over. His job skills are limited, but even working in porn will be better than what he’s running from. Hiding is hard but Chuck isn’t ready to be found. 

Book 9: Looking For Home
Evan was heartbroken when Nick left him two years ago to live a party life. He focused on his job as a truck driver and put his own needs on the back burner. 
Georgie is a favorite at Paddles, providing personal entertainment to anyone looking for a sexy femme boi. 
When they meet at a party, it doesn't seem like more than a superficial connection. Neither expect to find actual happiness from each other. 
A sweet and heartbreaking story that you won't be able to put down until it's finished. 

Book 10: Choosing Us
Steve and Joey have a perfect life. They're happy with the home they've built together and have no plans to change anything. When Joey runs into Adam, a past coworker from his days at a male brothel, old feelings are stirred up.
Adam has been living on the streets, barely getting by, but not without resorting to a vice he thought he'd long kicked. He's losing hope and afraid to trust anyone when Joey walks back into his life.
While searching for a missing friend, Joey finds Adam in a park. Sick and alone, Joey can't leave him. He takes him home, knowing he and Steve can help him find what he's looking for.
It's awkward at first, but feelings between the three men quickly develop. Promises for a future are made but Adam has no intention of being around long enough to see them fulfilled.

Graphic created by Amy Brantley:

Break Me Like a Promise by Aria Grace and Kyan Christopher -- An M/M and M/F Contemporary Romance

9:30 AM Aria Grace

Ready for a new kind of romance?

An M/M and M/F Contemporary Romance Series. 

Written from the perspectives of both male and female, gay and straight characters.

70% M/M, 30% M/F

For brothers Brent and Tad, opening up their gym, Sculpt, is a dream come true. Struggling to gain recognition in the fitness world, they enlist the help of a well-known advertising agency to help market their full service fitness center. When Brent meets his new account manager, he feels an automatic attraction to Luke. However, another employee in the gym has his eyes set on Brent and will stop at nothing to keep the boss to himself.

Tad is married to his high school sweetheart. With a wife and two adorable children, his life couldn’t get any better. Then his happily ever after is cut short by a tragic accident. Tad gives up on love, expecting to never be happy again, until one of his employees puts her life on the line to protect his business.

The Promises Series is an M/M and M/F romantic collaboration by authors Aria Grace and Kyan Christopher.

For Mature Readers.

Sneak Peek

Chapter One

“That’s it. Keep going. We’re almost there.” Grant’s husky voice is growling over me. I move up and down, keeping up with the pace he’s set. My arms strain as we continue our rhythm. Glancing at his massive thighs and calves, my mind can’t conceive that he’s over me, coaching me through it.
“Come on, you can do it. Ready?”
“Agghh!” I exclaim as tremors flow through my body.
“Fuck,” Grant whispers. “Good job, Brent.” He’s pumps his fist in the air as if I’ve just scored a touchdown. “Okay, let me help you with that.” He places his hand under the bar and helps me lift the weight bar back onto the arms of the bench. Slowly, I sit up and then stand while adjusting my cock, which started growing beneath my shorts. Having Grant spotting me as he walks me through his training routine is proving to be more difficult than I first thought.
Slapping me on the back, Grant’s eyes beam with praise. “Man, I didn’t think you were going to make that last set. Maybe you should start training with me more often. We can get some more muscle on you.”
I look down at my chest, feeling the burn of the last few reps coursing through me. Sweat has drenched my t-shirt, causing the material to cling tightly to my body. While I’m not the biggest guy here, I’m not small by any measure. Definitely not as scrawny as I was when my brother and I opened Sculpt two years ago. Tad and I found a perfect building in downtown Cleveland right on the edge of the business district. Of course, I was biased to the location since it’s so convenient to my house in Richfield.
When our grandfather passed three years ago, Tad and I decided to use some of our inheritance to open the gym. Although I kept in decent shape after high school, having the gym at my disposal every day has helped me bulk up over the last few years.
I brush my hands through my hair, pushing my auburn shag away from my forehead. “Hey, I think I look pretty good.”
Grant smirks as his eyes take on a mischievous gleam. “Yeah, for an old man. Good work, Grandpa.” I burst out laughing and lightly punch his shoulder.
“I’m only three years older than you, you know.”
“I know, I know.” Grant walks over to a butterfly press and begins pulling the arms of the machine together toward his chest. “And you’ll do great with Cameron next week. I really appreciate you filling in for me. You sure you don’t mind?” His breath becomes labored as he works through the repetitions. My eyes glance over his form. His workout shirt leaves little to the imagination, which is fine by me. His massive arms strain against the amount of resistance he has set. Veins are popping from his arms and chest, causing my pulse to quicken and my cock to dance again.
Grant is my type through and through. My eyes follow his arms up to his wide shoulders, bulging with muscles. His thick neck sits above one of the most gorgeously built chests I’ve ever seen. Although his shirt covers his pecs and stomach, I’ve seen his firm body and washboard abs in the locker room before. The only part I haven’t seen is what’s behind the gym shorts he’s sporting, but with the fabric stretched across his broad legs, I can tell that he’s packing serious heat.
“Brent?” He’s waving at me from the press. “You sure you don’t mind?”
“Oh. Yeah, sorry. No, of course I don’t mind. You think I would tell you that you can’t go home to visit your family?”
“Well, I know January and February are our busiest months. Everyone is trying to stick with their new year resolutions.”
“Yeah, we’re going to have to come up with some good promotions. You know everyone is going to try to bail in a month when the end of February comes around.”
Grant ponders my statement, squinting his eyes and looking off into the distance as though trying to think up a good plan. “Well, I’ll only be gone for a week. I’ll keep thinking of things we can do to encourage people to stick with their healthy commitments.”
“Thanks, Grant. I’d appreciate that. Let me know what you come up with, and we can toss ideas around when you get back.” I throw my hand out to help him stand.
Grant grins and grasps my forearm with his hand as I clasp his, letting my leverage pull him from his seated position. Sure, he could stand up on his own, but I try to sneak in any reason to touch him I can. I’ve wondered if he might be gay, but since he’s an employee, I don’t want to ask about his personal life. A pat on the back and occasional hand grasp are about all I can get without creating a weird work environment. And I’ll take them.
“Are you two finished goofing off? We have real work to do around here.”
Tad walks through the gym floor, heading toward the back of the gym where the resident masseuse works. Grant snaps his head around to look at Tad, who claps Grant on the shoulder as he walks past us.
“Sorry, Tad.” Grant’s apology comes out sincere, showing his southern Texas roots haven’t been affected by Cleveland city life.
“Yeah, sorry, Tadpole.” Tad stops dead in his tracks and his eyes cut to me. He gives me a long glare before continuing forward and stepping through the door to the spa.
“You know he hates when you call him that,” Grant whispers under his breath.
“I know. I do it to get a rise out of him.” I turn to Tad with a sneer. “He looks like our mother when he does that. She looked at us the same way when we got caught doing something we weren’t supposed to be doing.”
Grant laughs, grasping my shoulder and giving it a squeeze. “At least he gets it honest.”
His sweet response has me smiling as we walk toward the front to check for clients needing assistance.
“Hey, Claire. How are things today?” I walk behind the reception desk and glance at the computer screen over her short, pixie-style black hair. The open calendar program reveals blue highlights for this week.
“Good. You have a client coming at ten, so you have about thirty minutes to shower and change.”
Lifting my arms one at a time, I smell my armpits. “I don’t stink that bad.”
“Ugh. How is it again that you’re gay? Because you seem to be very much the straight man when it comes to body odor.”
“Geeze, Claire.” I laugh as she gazes over her frames and the corners of her mouth tilt upward. “Sorry to disappoint your stereotyped expectations for straight and gay men.”
“That’s why I stick to women. Less fuss and confusion.”
“Oh, is that why?” I smirk.
“That and the tits and the...” The door chime sounds, cutting her off. “Hi, welcome to Sculpt. Can I help you?”
Leaving her to our new customer, I head through the gym to the men’s locker room. All the employees have large lockers here for extra clothes we need throughout the day. Walking toward the showers, I grab a clean towel from the stack we maintain for guests.
I pull the glass door open and light puffs of steam greet me as I step through the entrance. The outer area of the tiled room consists of benches running along the frame of the fourteen-by-twelve room. An opening at the back leads to the showers, where the sound of water cascading echoes off the walls. Stripping out of my clothes, I lay them on one of the benches, taking only my towel with me.
Making my way down the center of shower stalls, the back left stall is the only one in use. Three stalls are lined up on each side of the aisle. A rod with a curtain on each allows for privacy, but I notice the stall in use has only half the curtain pulled.
Choosing the back right shower, I hang my towel on the hook outside the stall and pull my curtain, leaving enough room for me to glance over to the other side. The water warms quickly and I step under the stream, allowing the pelting flow to relax my muscles after Grant’s strenuous workout.
I sneak a peek from around my curtain, looking into the shower across the way. A strong thigh and one side of a round, bubble butt comes into view and my dick begins to grow. I pump some of the body wash from the dispenser and begin to lather myself up, giving extra care to my stiffened member. My hand glides up and down as I continue to stare at the muscular body in the other stall.
The body begins to turn, so I lean back into the stream of water, not wanting to be caught peeping. I chance a look again and my eyes grow wide. The guy’s hand is moving up and down. Damn, he’s jacking off too. Tingling sensations cover my body as I watch this hunk across from me.
The man’s left hand braces above his head on the shower wall. Fuck. I wish I could see his face and chest, but he hasn’t leaned over far enough for me to see more than his hands. My hand strokes faster as I hear the guy let out a small moan. Watching his hand clench against the wall, he groans and know he’s reached his climax. The excitement from glimpses of him pleasuring himself sends me over the edge as well. I lean back into the flow of water, letting it coat me as trembling sensations within me subside.
Taking one last peek, the shower across from me is empty. I take advantage of the privacy to lather my body and rinse off. Once I’m clean, I grab my towel and head back to the locker room. Twisting my combination lock and releasing the latch, a pair of cotton shorts, a Sculpt t-shirt, fresh socks, and boxers are waiting for me after my shower.

I grab them from the stack of clothes on the middle shelf and throw my dirty set in the bottom before shutting the locker. Changing into my new clothes, I make sure I put on extra deodorant. No need for Claire to be right, and I definitely don’t want to offend my clients.

Chapter Two

Fucking Brent. He thinks that shit is funny, but I’ve told him a hundred times, this is a business. Our business. Our livelihood. Just because we have some cash in the bank doesn’t mean we can be frivolous with this gym. I’ve sacrificed the past two years of my life to make this place successful and we still struggle from month to month.
It’s not that we don’t have a state of the art facility and some of the best trainers in Ohio, but the economy has been down for a while and the upswing we keep hearing about on the news hasn’t made it to our little corner of Cleveland yet.
I hit the first speed dial button on my desk phone and listen to the loud buzzing sound fill my office.
“Hey, Tad. What’s up?” Claire’s perky voice only serves as a reminder that this isn’t just about me and Brent. We’re not running a lemonade stand or painting house numbers on curbs anymore. We’ve got employees that depend on us to pay their rent and feed their families.
My family will always be taken care of, thanks to Grandpa Morrison’s savvy investment portfolio, but the same can’t be said for everyone that works for me. It’s my responsibility to keep them employed. And that’s exactly what I intend to do.
“Did that marketing agency call back yet? I expected a proposal from them to be in my email this morning but still nothing.” I hit the refresh button my email icon for the tenth time in five minutes. Still nothing.
“No, but they set up a meeting here for this afternoon. You saw that on your calendar, right?”
“No, I didn’t.” I push the calendar icon and scroll to the end of the day. “Shit. Okay, take them to the break room. Can you let the trainers know we’ll have guests from four to five today?”
“Sure thing, boss.” Claire squeals in the phone and I know something, or more likely someone, has just walked through the front door. “I’ll talk to you later.”
Moving my mouse to my second monitor, I bring up the camera facing the lobby. Claire’s arms are wrapped around a tall, blonde woman. From the back, I don’t recognize the woman but she and Claire seem to go  way back.
I’m tempted to sit and watch for the woman to turn around so I can see who has Claire so excited but a knock on my door refocuses my attention.
“Come in.”
Marissa pops her head through the crack in the door. “Are you busy?”
“No, come on in.” I scoot my chair to the center of my desk so she has my full attention. “What’s up?”
“Well, if this isn’t a good time, I can come back later.” She’s wringing her hands in her lap as if worried to tell me whatever’s on her mind. Seeing the stress on her face makes me feel like an asshole for always being so unapproachable.
“It’s fine, Marissa.” I fold my hands on my desk and sit forward, looking her straight in the eye. “What’s on your mind?”
“I don’t know if you remember, but I took some training to become a Zumba instructor and now I’m certified to teach Zumba and Zumba Gold.”
Zumba. Right. I do vaguely remember a conversation about this a few months ago. “Yeah, that’s great. Congratulations on completing the training.”
“Thanks!” Her bright smile makes her blue eyes seem even bigger. “So, um, I was wondering…”
Here we go. I try to keep my face neutral, knowing where this conversation is going. “What?”
“Maybe I could add a class or two to the schedule? I can do a Zumba Gold class at nine or ten in the morning, after all the younger clients are at work. Then maybe do a late class for the people that don’t get off until after Amy finishes her classes for the day.”
Without a word, I slide to my computer and pull up the schedule for our fitness classes. Amy has high impact aerobics classes at six-thirty, seven-thirty, and noon, then she’s with private clients for the rest of the time. “Have you talked to Amy about this?”
Marissa nods vigorously. “Yeah, she’s cool with it. She’s the one who told me where to go for my certification.”
“And what about Pulp? Do you have coverage during those times?”
Her smile falls for just a second but she takes a deep breath and squares her shoulders. “I’m working on that. Rylie will be there in the afternoon and evening, so those times are fine. I’m still working out the morning shift.”
As much as I like to play the hardass, I can’t keep her on edge any longer. “Okay, let’s put an evening class on the schedule and see how that goes. And we can post a sign-up sheet for a lower impact, midmorning class. If you get enough takers, I’ll find someone to cover for you at the juice bar.”  I laugh. “Hell, I’ll make Brent do it. He could stand to squeeze a few melons.”
By the time I round up my brother and spit shine my messy hair, the guy from the ad agency has been sitting in the break room for almost fifteen minutes. Not exactly the impression I was going for.
“Luke Baker, right?” I say as I walk into the room with Brent behind me. The man nods and stands up, slightly startled at my abrupt appearance. He was probably about to walk out of the place and never look back.
“Yeah, and you must be Tad Thomas.” He stands up and grasps my extended hand. “Good to meet you.”
“You too. I’m really sorry you had to wait.” I turn and gesture for Brent to step forward. “My brother was with a client. Luke, this is my brother Brent.”
Luke and Brent shake hands and complete their introductions as I sit at the table across from where Luke was sitting. When they don’t immediately sit, I look up and groan.
Dammit. I know that look in Brent’s eyes. He’s into this guy, and by the way they are stupidly staring at each other, I guess the feeling is mutual.
I clear my throat and both men straighten up, shaking off whatever daze they were in. “I’m ready to get started when you are.”
Luke fumbles with his messenger bag before pulling out three presentation folders. “Yeah, of course. Here is a proposal for the campaign we discussed last week.”
Luke hands me and Brent each a folder then opens the third one. We follow his lead and pull out the printed pages inside. “Based on your budget and your goals of attracting new clients while encouraging your current clients to take advantage of more amenities within the facility, we have a few programs that I think you’ll be pleased with.”
As Luke walks us through each idea in his proposal, I feel the boulder of stress lifting off my shoulders. For the first time in a year, I’m optimistic again. He’s proposing radio promotions and incentives for local companies to offer memberships to their employees. He even wants us to put on a fun run through downtown in support of a local charity. I don’t know why we never thought of this stuff on our own but I’m happy Luke’s agency has.
With some creativity and messaging that is unique to Sculpt, I’m confident we can create the luxury facility that Brent and I envisioned when we bought the building two years ago.

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