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