Chapter Fourteen from Gluttony

Chapter Fourteen

He’s late.

I stood at the front desk, every so often checking the time on my phone or the wall clock behind our receptionist, Michelle. I’d rolled my eyes so many times, they were getting irritated.

When Meki called me, letting me know his wife, Cadence, had gone into labor and he needed for me to fill in for him at his friend, Everett’s, session, I said no.

Between running my online fitness business, renegotiating contracts with the companies I endorsed, and trying my best to balance my social life and my career, I didn’t have the time. But then Meki shared with me Everett’s reason for being in New York – to attend a community center opening where he’d be teaching young black children how to swim in the inner city. I thought his decision to be the face of that was honorable. It was a cause I could get behind.

But his being late? I couldn’t get behind that at all.

I flared my nostrils and folded my arms, growing more pissed by the minute.

One thing I hated more than anything was having my time wasted. I usually wrapped up my stay at the gym by 2pm to head back home to start my next leg of work. My work. But here I was, 3:16pm, waiting for this man to show up for a session that was to benefit him…

… and me, if I’m being honest.

Yes, I agreed to assist Everett in getting in shape for his appearance at the community center. According to Meki, Everett had put on a little weight shortly after retirement and required a little tune up. The way I saw it was, if we got him in tiptop shape for his appearance, better than he planned, he could name drop me as his trainer, the person responsible for helping him get ready for the community center opening, and I could finally have another well-known celebrity attached to my name and not Chloe Rae’s. That woman had become the bane of my professional existence, and I needed her name finally removed from all my accomplishments so I could really be free of my past.

“Where the hell is this guy?!”

I noticed the top of his baseball cap and then the tops of his shoulders as he walked up the stairs. I straightened my back and peered his way. Everett took his time climbing the last few steps. He walked into the gym as if they printed his name on the street sign outside. Over his ears were headphones, and he wore a black sweatshirt and matching joggers. A designer gym bag swung from his shoulder and the handle, from a jug of water, hung from his fingertips.

I’d only seen him twice, but it was enough to notice that Everett had this bop in his walk that was so Brooklyn. 

The light bounce on his feet was signature. Every step he took was so subtle and accentuated by the soft sway in his shoulders that was almost rhythmic. He took up space when he walked and it was as if the air parted when he made his way around a room.

Some of the gym members working out paid him a glance as he passed before they returned to focus on what they were doing.

His eyes found mine, and he kept them on me, chucking his chin my way and turning to head toward the private trainer dressing rooms.

“Where is he going?”

“Oh!” Michelle started over my shoulder at her seat behind me at the front desk. “Meki told me to tell you that Everett will use Meki’s private dressing room instead of the locker room before and after his sessions to provide more privacy for Everett.”

I rolled my eyes again and paired it with pinched lips. “Meki can tell Everett where to go to change, but can’t tell him to be on time? Meki knows how much I hate when people are late.”

Besides him arriving sixteen minutes past the hour of his scheduled session, Everett made me wait another ten minutes before he finally emerged from the back.

By that time, anger coursed through my veins.

And I rehearsed in my head the verbal lashing I’d deal him the moment he stood opposite me, but when he turned the corner from the secluded area of the dressing rooms, I nearly swallowed my tongue.

Gone was the sweatsuit. He changed into a pair of shorts that showed off his columnar legs. Covering his torso was a faded muscle tank with more faded words printed on the front and the back.

His eyes locked on mine the moment we were in each other’s sights. Also gone was his cap, allowing me full access to a view of his beautiful face.

Honestly, all professional fighters looked the same to me. I always associated them with having pronounced brow bones and squared jaws. Exaggerated muscular torsos, broad shoulders, all poured into boxing trunks and gloves. With them fully clothed, I couldn’t tell who was who. They could stand next to a gym rat and I wouldn’t be able to tell the difference.

There was no mistaking what Everett did. He wouldn’t be able to work a regular job if he couldn’t fight in a ring.

His arms were enormous, his hands proportionate to his size and big too. He had tattoos, several of them, but they were all inked artfully on his golden-brown skin, causing no clutter to the eyes admiring him. The tattoos were mostly words and names, like Bed-Stuy tatted in block letters down the side of his forearm. The other ink on his body was tribal graphics, extending from his shoulder blades to the thinned skin on his wrists.

Everett kept his eyes locked on me until he was standing inches in front of me.

I could feel my pulse in my neck and the hairs standing up on my arms. He made me nervous. His presence was intimidating. I was 5’6, not too much shorter than him, but the man had a way of towering over people in demeanor. Directly in front of me, I couldn’t maintain the tough veneer, but I sure as hell wouldn’t show it.

“Follow me,” I ordered, moving around him, grabbing the clipboard I placed on the front desk and taking steps toward our open-plan area for HIIT exercises. Everett’s sessions would be private, according to Meki. That meant the area where he’d work out would be closed to the other members in the gym. This part of the gym was for training private clients, often celebrities, to offer the assurance of privacy.

Everett followed as ordered, taking steps a few feet behind me, quietly.

We arrived in the back and I tossed the clipboard onto the seat of the bench press machine, then turned to face him.

“You’re late,” I started. “I don’t like that.”

His brow arched, and he twisted more to face me.

“When someone gives you a preferred arrival time, you shouldn’t walk in at that scheduled time. You should arrive five minutes earlier. I’m surprised you don’t know that.”

“Meki’s wife went into labor and he told me at the last minute,” he explained.

Everett’s voice was like pure honey. Nice and easy, and like a soft touch to my ears. His expression was even and endearing as he explained. The man’s eye contact never wavered, looking me fixed in my eyes. His stare was intense, making my heart feel like it was beating in my ears with his words.

“I’m aware,” I confirmed. “That doesn’t negate you being on time. He gave you a reasonable heads up at a time that still would have had you here on time.”

“I wasn’t sure I was going to show up.”

It was my turn to arch my brow. I raised both, in fact.

“I’m not all that confident you can train me in a way I need to be trained.”

My hands were on either side of my waist when I asked, “And why’s that?”

For the first time, his eyes lowered from mine to look me up, then down. “I’m not looking to have a body like Chloe Rae. She was your client, right? You’re credited often, everywhere, on and offline, for her famous ass she loves to show off.”

I took a breath at the mention of her name.

“Female trainers focus too much on core workouts and spend way too much time on toning. I hate toning.” He shook his head. “I’m not trying to be in here doing squats and lunges up and down that hall back there half the time. I’m not looking to gain a fat ass.”

“First.” I closed the space between us. “That’s very sexist.”

“It is,” he admitted, with no qualms about it.

I bit down on my back teeth. “Second, that’s presumptuous of you to think that’s my fitness plan for you.”

He blinked in response.

“And last, squats work not only at the core. It’s a full-body workout. It gets all the muscles activated all at once, but you would know that if you weren’t trying to do my job and not yours.”

“What’s my job?” He challenged.

“To be on time,” I snapped back. “And don’t give me this nonsense of it being a last-minute schedule change. You had plenty of time to adjust.”

He squared his eyes in a way others would cower at the sight, but I wanted to choke him.

“See, right now,” he went on, “you’re pissed. I acknowledge that you’re pissed, but I think it’s cute at best… comical at worst.”

My head jerked back.

“I see Ashley Banks from The Fresh Prince of Bel Air when I look at you. You two are like twins. Same sweet, innocent face. Not intimidating at all. If she got mad on the show, it was adorable, sometimes laughable.”

I scoffed this time.

“Like a charming teacup Yorkie, circling around barking at people’s ankles. I hear it, but it has no effect on me.”

My eyes ballooned. “Did you just compare me to a dog?”

He shook his head. “Nah. This ain’t gon’ work. I’m out.” Everett turned away from me and started toward the direction we had entered.

I inhaled a deep breath and decided on my exhale that this was war.

“Get your disrespectful ass back in here and on this fucking mat.”


Gluttony, book 5 in the Love is Cure, Vol. 1 – Vices & Virtues series is scheduled for release Friday, January 27th. Click here to download.