Andrew knelt before Giselle in the living room of the house he shared with Knox, his wrist bent back to its limit, keeping him there while she lectured him on how to correctly execute the technique.
Her untied canvas gi jacket floated over her tee shirt and around her hips. Her sleeves snapped the air properly when she moved quickly enough. Knox sat at the kitchen table staring through them as he waited for his study group to arrive. She took Andrew’s other hand to emphasize the importance of the ability to do a technique left- or right-handed.
Giselle had put Andrew on his knees again before he knew what hit him and he grimaced in pain.
“See, Andrew, that’s why she has the brown belt and you have the blue one.”
“Oh, ha ha ha. Screw you, Hilliard.”
The front door opened to admit the first of the law students Knox expected. Giselle’s attention was distracted for a second—and her breath caught in her throat.
Six-four. Two hundred-plus pounds of solid muscle poured into tight worn jeans, a black tee shirt, brown leather bomber jacket and black cowboy boots. Black hair cut excruciatingly short. Angular face, olive-tinged skin almost as fair as Sebastian’s. Small black-rimmed eyeglasses.
A romance novel hero.
She continued to talk to Andrew, to explain the finer points, had him recreate the technique on her so she could demonstrate where he needed to change his execution. He did well enough to put her on her knees, but, afraid of hurting her, not well enough to keep her there. Still talking, still teaching … She risked another quick glance.
The man was standing in the doorway staring at her with an expression she recognized immediately, for all she’d never seen a man look at her that way before: Lust.
Blatant, unadulterated, hot.
She determined to cut Andrew’s lesson short to make certain she had an opportunity to let the beautiful stranger know she reciprocated his lust fully, but out of habit, she checked his left hand.
Sixty seconds. It’d taken her sixty seconds, a glance, to fall head over for a married man.
Turning her attention back to Andrew fully then, she tried to breathe normally, to put aside that stabbing pain behind her sternum, to ignore the sick feeling in her belly. She smoothly maneuvered Andrew so that her back was to the door and she could no longer see him.
How could it be—and at BYU yet? Married men didn’t look at women other than their wives that way, or at least, if they did, they successfully kept it to themselves.
More to the point, men didn’t look at Giselle that way at all.
She left as soon as the time came for Andrew to join the study group. Refusing Knox’s offer of a ride home with a wave, she ran the mile from his house on Tenth East to her apartment on First East, hoping to kill some of the pain.
She curled up on her bed, still in her gi, still sweaty. She shoved her fingers through her coarse, frizzy curls with a vicious yank as if the pain would distract her, and let the tears drip silently into her pillow as she confronted the truth of the matter.
Her hand drifted to her pudgy belly, then over her wide hips to explore—not for the first time—the broad expanse of butt that her gi couldn’t hide. Strong, athletic, graceful. And fat. She couldn’t diet it away; she was already starving. She’d even tried making herself throw up, but that was nasty and worked even less effectively than starving. Sebastian would have a fit if he knew and it didn’t matter he lived half a world away. She didn’t dare let Knox find out because he’d feed her himself. She couldn’t exercise it away; she got stronger, but no leaner.
It didn’t matter with Knox; Knox needed her constant presence to mitigate his growing frustration and insecurity because no LDS girl would go out with him once she found out he hadn’t gone on a mission—and he didn’t want to taint any possible relationships with the details of his inheritance. Giselle needed his constant presence to make her feel as if she weren’t, as Aunt Trudy had told her more than once, “the most hideous girl I’ve ever seen.”
Without Knox, she would have no male companionship at all; with Knox, she had an excuse. It had been enough until that man looked at her like that.
It was more than she could bear, that wedding band on his finger. The only man, a gorgeous one to boot, to look at her as if she had some sexual worth—and he was married.
“How could you?” she whispered, her faith shaken. “I’ve done everything you asked me to do. How could you do that to me?”
Heartbroken, she touched herself … there … and, for the first time, did what she knew she should never do.
Nobody else would.