Sunday, December 23, 2012

Sample Sunday #2

I'm signing off for a few days to celebrate Christmas with family, but I wanted to leave you with another excerpt from Ain't Too Proud to BegKindle - & Kobo - & Nook -

By the way, if you want to read about Vaughn before the new release, you can get Hollywood Swinging FREE until midnight Sunday here:

Here's Sample Sunday excerpt #2 from my new release, Ain't Too Proud To Beg:

After Vaughn’s antagonistic mood on Monday, I had all intentions of using a tougher approach with him today. But that message from Brad had sapped every ounce of my energy. Normally, I tried to start sessions with patients on as positive a note as possible. Today, I just didn’t have it in me. I hated not being fully present, so I started by sharing some water therapy trivia. At the moment, nothing else came to mind, but when Vaughn took off his robe, the sight of his strong, fit body scrambled the remaining functioning neurons in my brain. I reached out to steady him as he made his way into the tub, and the feel of his hard bicep beneath my hand was such an unexpected pleasure, I quickly released it. Even though I’d tried my best not to have a reaction, his firm, hairless chest, arms, and abs were a sight to behold. Most of my patients weren’t in such admirable physical condition. Judging from the pleased expression on his chiseled face, I guess I failed miserably.

These initial sessions weren’t just about beginning treatment; they had everything to do with getting to know the patient. So far I’d learned that the illustrious Mr. Breland was quite proud of his body, and he definitely wasn’t a churchgoer. Meeting a black person who didn’t have some kind of religious affiliation was strange to me. Growing up in Atlanta, everybody went to church. Even if they showed up in club attire, because they’d just left their favorite nightspot. Basically, everyone down there was something – Christian, Muslim, Jehovah’s Witness. They either went to church on Sunday and Wednesday or handed out The Watchtower in front of local stores or attended the masjid and sold The Final Call in the middle of busy intersection traffic. By no means was I a holy roller, but I never questioned God’s existence or power. Vaughn’s reference to “the man upstairs” gave me a pretty good idea of where he stood spiritually.

I lowered myself into the water, raised his foot, and felt his calf muscles contract beneath my hand. “Today we’re just going to do two sets of fifteen repetitions of each exercise. I don’t want to overtax your muscles.”

“So, what’s on your mind?” he asked in a casual tone, gazing down into my face and waiting for an answer.

“What do you mean?” I brought his foot forward and then back, checking the range of motion on his right leg, the most severely damaged one.

“Why are you so preoccupied today?”

“Excuse me?” I asked. The fact that he seemed to think he knew me after only two visits irritated me, but I guess that’s just what I’d done with him.

I concentrated on his leg rather than his face and continued the motion. “Am I?”

“Well, you’ve lost your train of thought twice in the past five minutes. Something, other than me, must be occupying your mind­.”

“It’s nothing worth mentioning.” There was absolutely no reason for this man to know my personal business. “Are you used to monopolizing a woman’s thoughts?”

His damaged yet still incredibly gorgeous face eased into that smile I had seen countless times on the big and small screens. “When it’s just the two of us, yes.”

Insufferable ego manic. “You forget Edna’s here too.” I nodded in her direction. “Let’s switch legs. I’m here to work, Vaughn, and that’s the only thing on my mind.”

His smile widened. “That’s too bad,” was all he said before he rested his head back on the edge of the tub and closed his eyes.

I suppose he was telling the truth. He had an aura that seemed to fill up every cubic inch of air space around us, and he wasn’t even at his best. Imagining how imposing he might be when he was on his game was a frightening thought.

“This next exercise will help to strengthen your hamstrings.” I straightened his leg as much as it would go without hurting him. “Okay. Keeping your leg as straight as possible, bring your toes back toward you. Try it ten times slowly. If you don’t experience any pain, do another ten.”

Most often, women would merely say, “That hurts,” or a simple, “Ouch,” but I’d learned from working with men, to watch for non-verbal clues. Swallowing, blinking, or tensing other parts of the body were all responses to pain. “You’re going to be stiff, but if it hurts, stop. We don’t want to do more harm than good.”

“I’m all right.” He finished ten reps with no complaints, but I noticed the beads of sweat on his forehead.

“You can rest in between, if you need to.”

“No, TC,” he snapped. “I don’t need to rest.”

“Fine. You know your body better than anyone else. Do another ten.”

Once he had finished, I bent down to reach for his other foot. When I looked up, he was studying me with a critical squint.

“What? Do you want to ask me something?”

“Yeah, what do you do for fun around here besides skiing?”

“Personally, I don’t do much besides go to the gym and maybe meet friends for a drink after work. There isn’t a whole lot to do in Telluride outside of fine dining and outdoor sports. We have a few nightclubs, but that’s not my thing. This isn’t Los Angeles, you know.”

He chuckled. “So what is your thing?”

“I’m a mother. I spend my free time taking care of my daughter and my home. When I get a few minutes, I like to read. In fact, I’m in the middle of a book by your friend Devon’s wife.”

“Your daughter is beautiful,” he said, taking me off guard. I hadn’t expected anything nice to come out of his mouth.

“Thank you. Now let’s try some ankle circles starting with the opposite leg. Move your foot and ankle in a circle as large as possible and comfortable without pain.”

He followed my instruction and continued. “Did you ever consider getting her into modeling? There’s great money in it.”

“You’re not the first to suggest the idea, but I don’t want that kind of life for her. She needs to remain a child for as long as she possibly can. So many child stars started out as models and naturally wanted to branch out into acting. When I hear those stories about how most of them ended up, it breaks my heart. I could never allow those kinds of things to happen to Zahra.”

He studied my face, and his voice softened. “You must love her a lot.”

“She’s my world.” Brad’s call came galloping back into my mind. “And I’ll protect her with my life.”

Vaughn abruptly stopped his exercise. “You say that as if someone’s after her.”

I placed my palm against the sole of his foot and urged him to continue the movement. “Do you have any children?”

“Me? No, no, no. I’m too much of a kid myself. My life is all about having fun. Maybe when I’m finished having fun, I’ll settle down.”

Considering how the media constantly reported stories about Vaughn spreading himself around, it was hard for me to imagine him being childless, especially with so many money-hungry girls out here looking to get paid. He must be extremely careful. Or perhaps he’d had a vasectomy. No need to speculate on that kind of thing. “Okay, Vaughn. One more exercise, and we’ll call it quits for the day. I’m going to sit and rest your leg over my knees then I want you to contract your thigh muscles and hold for a count of ten and relax.”

He did as I asked and continued his information expedition. “You said you’re a single mother. Where’s her daddy, if you don’t mind me asking?”

Edna looked up from her magazine and frowned.

“You certainly ask a lot of questions, but since it’s a matter of public knowledge, I’ll tell you. He’s not involved in her life. Never has been.” He finished the first set of repetitions. “Good. Do another ten on the same leg. Since we’re playing twenty questions, is everything I’ve read about you true?”

“Depends on what you’ve read.” A devilish look came into his eyes.

“That you party hard and don’t stay in relationships for more than five minutes.”

Vaughn grimaced and focused on tightening his leg muscles. “That’s true. I believe in working hard and playing even harder. As far as the relationships go, five minutes is long enough for me. I get bored easily. There’s nothing wrong with a little variety in life, is there?”

“Let me help you switch legs, and you can do the same.” I eased his leg from my lap and reached for the other one.

“How long were you married?” He looked down at his leg rather than at me.

“Never. Why are you asking me all of these personal questions?”

“As I told you at the hospital, I like to know the people I work with.”

“The last thing I heard, you and Reese Diaz were an item. Has she been out here to visit you since the accident?”

“We weren’t that much of an item. Her five minutes were up.”

“Oh. That’s too bad. You two made a cute couple.”

The snort he made told me just how serious he was about her. “Reese is all about getting ahead in Hollywood. Now that I’m off the project, I won’t be hearing from her anymore.”

Judging by his derisive tone, it was time to end this discussion. “I think we’ve done enough for today. We have to wait for the tub to drain before I can open the door.” I set the controls and returned to be bench. “If your muscles are sore tomorrow, you can use an ice pack and take some ibuprofen.”

“You’re joking,” he said with an exaggerated eye roll.

“No, I’m not. It’s been seven weeks since you’ve worked those muscles, and you’ve been through surgery. If you want to do something on our off days, work on your glutes. Simply contracting and squeezing the muscles for ten seconds helps a lot. Do fifteen or twenty reps, and it’s easier if you’re lying on your back or your stomach.”

“So you’ve been checking out my ass?” He asked with a sly grin.

Another grunt and fiercer frown from Edna.

I gritted my teeth and answered in my most serious tone. “No. Vaughn. Anyone who’s been lying in bed for as long as you have needs to work on all muscle groups, particularly those they couldn’t use. If you merely practice what we’ve done today on your own time, you’ll see much faster improvement.” The water had receded now and swirled around my ankles. “It’s time for me to go now. I have some business to take care of. Edna, will you help him get dried off and changed?”

“Of course.” The way she shook her head said she understood why I wanted to get out of there. She stood and approached the tub with two towels over her arm. “I’ll take it from here.”

Edna opened the door, and I escaped as fast as possible without looking crazy. “See you on Friday, Vaughn. If you have any problems, call me.” I grabbed a towel from the stack on a shelf, snatched up my clothes and duffel bag, went into the bathroom, and shut the door. Inside the small Swedish spa-style bath, I leaned against the teak wall, took a deep breath, and inhaled the scent of at least ten lavender aromatherapy candles surrounding the tub. Wasn’t that supposed to be a calming fragrance? It did nothing to relieve my escalated pulse. I hated myself for allowing this mind-numbingly handsome yet narcissistic man to get to me.

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