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About the author:
Kristen Strassel writes books about rock stars and vampires. After all, they tell you to write what you know. She is a passionate music fan who also loves football games and diner food. Kristen works as a makeup artist on film and TV shows when she’s not writing, and loves being behind the scenes. A former resident of Las Vegas, Kristen now lives in the Boston area.
What inspired you to write your book?
I was thinking about an older woman who worked with a younger personal trainer and found love…over lunch, of course.
Here is a short sample from the book:
Reinvention looked more like a spa than a gym. Or maybe a multi-level marketing recruitment center. I wasn’t sure I was in the right place.
“You must be Arielle.” I recognized the receptionist from her voice. “We have some paperwork for you to fill out. Don’t fill out the weight or body fat percentage, we’ll take care of that.” She handed me a clipboard. “Ellen will be right with you.”
They wanted to know everything. Workout and eating habits, I expected. Medical history, I could understand. But the questions about my relationship status and my hobbies? Ellen was going to be able to masquerade as my BFF. I hoped she had a sense of humor, or else this was never going to work.
“Arielle Owens?” a deep voice that couldn’t possibly belong to anyone named Ellen called out. The volume level was totally unnecessary, I thought as I finished the last question, since I’d already checked in and I was the only one sitting—
I looked up in open-mouthed shock at the man who leaned in the doorway. One of his bearded cheeks rose in a grin. He’d tied his long, dirty blonde hair up in some sort of knot on top of his head. His shoulders spanned much of the doorway. His T-shirt, slightly damp from whatever he’d been doing before he came out to me, clung to the chiseled muscles on his chest and abdomen. He hooked one arm up over his head, and the shirt rode up. I couldn’t take my eyes off of that strip of exposed skin…the little line of hair that ran from his belly button, disappearing into his shorts…
“What’s the matter?” he asked, frowning.
“They told me I was meeting someone named Ellen.” I stumbled over more than one word in that sentence. My cougar was waking up from her hibernation in a daze.
“Oh! I’m Dylan.” He laughed, walking over and holding out his hand to me. All right, I wasn’t expecting a smoking hot trainer. This was a curveball, but I could still play it cool. At least I knew he could get my heart rate up. He squeezed my hand. “Ready to get to work?”
“Ready as I’ll ever be.” I followed him into his office in the back. His scent, pine and fresh snow, overwhelmed me in the small space. He was a lion, he had to be. I purred, then coughed to cover it up.
He still had a tower of cardboard boxes in the corner of his office. I remembered the receptionist saying he’d just moved here from LA. Dylan had taken the time to pin photos up on his corkboard. I squinted at them, trying to get a feeling for who this guy was, since he was going to know everything about me as soon as he read that paperwork. Pictures of him smiling with a lot of different people, some on a motorcycle, and some of him on a surfboard. Shirtless. Those were my favorite.
“I was almost done filling out the paperwork when you came for me,” I said. “I didn’t get to the part about the prom dates, but in case you really need to know, Jimmy Carroll took me to my senior prom.”
Dylan looked up from the paperwork and smirked. “But what color was his tux?”
“White.” I shook my head. Poor Jimmy. I’d seen him wear that same freaking tux at a bonding ceremony a few years ago. “It was 1993.”
“Tragic.” Dylan pushed the clipboard aside and turned to me. “The reason we ask about spouses and relationships is because we want to know how many peoples’ bad habits we have to break. I see that you live alone, so I’ll be able to lay down the rules pretty easily.” I may have sucked in a sharp breath as Dylan stood up. “Moment of truth time.”
He motioned to the scale. “Really?” I squeaked. The absolute last thing on earth I wanted to do was have this gorgeous man weigh me. “Can’t we just ballpark it? Agree that it’s bad and move on from here?”
“Absolutely not, Arielle.” Dylan raised an eyebrow. I liked the way his eyes sparkled when he was amused. At least he appreciated my sense of humor. This could still work. “And after this, I’m going to check your body fat percentage.”
“You can call me Ari,” I grumbled as I slid out of my sneakers and took off my earrings before I stepped on the scale. Every little bit counted. “And I thought I was going to like you.”
“Some days you’re going to love me, and some days you’ll hate me,” he teased as he adjusted the weights on the scale. “I’m totally prepared for that.”
One hundred and eighty-nine pounds.
I wasn’t prepared for that at all.
I’d never been this heavy.
“Well, that sucked.” I sighed as I jumped off the scale like it was on fire.
“Ari, think of it this way.” He understood. I had to remember he worked with people like me all the time. Not everyone had a perfect body. “It’s never going to be that number again. We all start somewhere.”
Maybe Dylan wasn’t so bad after all. But he still checked my body fat. I held up my shirt so he could use the caliper salad tong looking thing on the side of my stomach. His fingers brushed against my skin, and heat rose in places I’d forgotten existed.
Thirty-seven percent. Something told me he wasn’t as turned on as I was.