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Between Commitment and Betrayal: Chapter 15

EVERLY

WHEN DECLAN HAD BARRELED out from that elevator, he’d radiated an energy that was electric, visceral, and almost tangible.

I’d felt his gaze lick up and down my body, and I couldn’t help my reaction, not even with Wes standing near. No man affected me like Declan did now. All of this going back-and-forth with him, taking care of his wrist, feeling his skin against mine even if it was platonic, and then seeing how he took care of me so casually.

He got me breakfast, coffee, a ride to work. He even set up a freaking charity for the kids I taught.

Without hesitation. Without considering the consequences. He just did what he wanted for me, not realizing he was being better than anyone I’d ever been with. And I couldn’t escape the thought of it either. Even when my mom called, she’d try to read me the news.

“You were in the paper today, Everly. Declan got you breakfast? I thought you were just staying in his guesthouse.”

“I am.”

I heard the smile on her lips, “If he is making you happy, I really want to—”

I cut her off, not wanting to get her hopes up. “We’re just friends, okay? Nothing more.”

“Have you told him about Andy?” she’d asked and I’d wanted to scream that I hadn’t, that I wasn’t going to.

“Gotta go, Mom. You are my sunshine.”

She sighed, “My only sunshine,” she murmured right as I hung up.

But the question lingered. My ex in my mind lingered. When Declan made the extra effort, I remembered how Andy hadn’t, how he’d always reminded me of his status in the community, how I was lucky to have him.

And Declan was so much bigger than Andy would ever be. Yet, he worked for everything he’d got, he didn’t quit because he’d already made it, and he didn’t shove his reputation in my face.

Even now, he didn’t try to skirt around the work. I made sure we covered every base—because above all else, I needed to get his wrist back to one hundred percent to show him I was capable and because he deserved it with how hard he worked—I saw the athlete in him. I admired how he pushed through pain, and I knew it was infuriating and painful to work a small muscle around all the bigger and better ones. Yet, he didn’t quit. He just worked it harder, like he wanted to prove no part of him was breakable.

“Last rep, give it your all,” I encouraged quietly. The TVs and music and most of the lights were off now that Declan had shut everything down. I planned to get an Uber considering it seemed he wanted to work out on his own after this. He’d never shut the gym down this way, but I realized he’d been working upstairs on meetings with lawyers and shareholders all day. He probably needed to clear his head.

“Done,” I announced but didn’t let go of his wrist as I massaged it, making sure we broke up the scar tissue right after the workout and allowed for correct healing this time. “I’ll get myself an Uber right away. I can wait to shower so you can have some time to yourself.” I needed to get away from him too, try to shake off the desire building in me for him even after I’d told him time and time again we couldn’t indulge in it.

“You’re staying,” he said matter-of-factly. “Don’t you have pull-ups to do? Ten?”

“I can do those tomorrow.” Why had my heart started beating so fast as he held my gaze?

“You’ll do them now.” He grabbed my hips and turned me toward the bar. Before I could stop, he nudged me forward and walked behind me until I was directly under the metal.

“Declan, I—”

He didn’t wait to lift me. His strong fingers held me up like I was a feather, and I immediately grabbed the bar I normally had to use a step to reach. I stared in front of me at the mirror, looking at his reflection behind me. His eyes were on my body, on my form, on how I hung there for him to see.

“Ten. Everly. Give it your all.” He repeated my words back to me, then smiled as he said, “Commit.”

That smile … it was menacing, daring, and filled with heat that slithered through my body, even in that dead hang position. This was a closed chain exercise that I’d been trying to master for so long. With the hand or foot being fixed in these types of exercises, the muscular growth impact was much more. It’s how we pushed our body further, how we made strides for growth.

I tensed every muscle to raise my chin to the metal. Slowly. Efficiently.

“One,” he counted. Or taunted. I wasn’t sure which. Every time I hit another, he said it without praise, without encouragement.

I pushed harder.

“Eight, Everly.” My body weight was getting the best of me as my arms shook halfway through this one. He stepped close and murmured in my ear, “Can you commit, Drop?”

I glared at him as his sea-green eyes narrowed before he raised one arm up and suddenly, I felt the inside of his fist wrap around the bar against the outside of mine.

Then his chest was against my back, his other palm gripping the bar next to mine as he hopped up, caging me in.

Our bodies pressed against one another’s as he crisscrossed his calves under my shins and lifted.

My body weight was gone.

The shake in my muscle gone.

The strain of hitting number nine in my reps gone.

“Nine, Drop,” he whispered against my neck, and my whole body shook for another reason.

I watched as he pulled me up and then lowered me down again. “Ten.”

I bit my lip as his tongue dragged across my neck, then his teeth latched onto to my ear, and I gasped at the same time I felt his cock hardening against my ass.

“Should we keep going?” he questioned. “Or did we commit well enough for you?”

Commitment.

That stupid word. The way we flirted with disaster and how I knew my heart couldn’t handle it had me dropping off the bar fast. He dropped with me, like his body knew mine already, like they worked in sync together even if our minds didn’t.

“There’s no commitment in cheating the system,” I murmured to him, breathless. “I don’t even need a spot for pull-ups. You shouldn’t have helped.”

“Haven’t you been cheating your whole workout?” He lifted a brow at me in the mirror, my back still against his chest. When he pulled me closer and wrapped his arm around me, my hands immediately went to his forearm to hold on as he said into my neck, “Men everywhere spotting you at every turn.”

“They’re being nice, Declan.”

“They can’t take their eyes off you.” His hand curled around my waist and slipped lower and lower as he shook his head. “I know I can’t. I’ve fucked you and called you my wife.”

His skin against my skin, the way he murmured the words, how his voice vibrated down into my bones had me dizzy. I wasn’t in control.

“I’m not … I’m not wife material, Declan. I wasn’t kidding when I told Wes I can’t be exclusive, that I can’t even imagine being in a relationship.” How could I tell him Andy had broken me?

“We’re already married.” He said it decisively, like there was no room for argument, like I shouldn’t be even questioning it. Then, he walked us both backward until he reached the lat pull-down machine. Each side had a bar that was just within my reach, and he wasted no time grabbing the band we’d been using for his rehab to wrap my wrists tight before threading the elastic right next to the bracelets I had on like an Eagle Scout demonstrating how to tie knots. Before I even realized that he’d restrained me, my hands were above my head, attached to the bar, and every time I pulled, the weight from the machine restrained me.

Declan smiled at his handiwork. “What can you pull, babe?”

“Seriously?”

“Fine.” He shrugged and pulled the peg out only to shove it into the three-hundred-pound weight.

Shit. The adrenaline running through my veins should have been an indicator to stop but with him, my body didn’t want to.

“Safe word, Drop?” He asked before he took, asked before he pushed the boundary.

It was the reason I didn’t even hesitate, that I knew I could trust him more than I had others before. “Gardenia.”

“Why?”

“I hate the smell of them.”

He halted his motion for a second. “They’re all around the guesthouse.”

I shrugged. “I know. I understand the appeal. They used to be a favorite.” I didn’t elaborate. The smell of them haunted my soul. They were what Andy had gotten for me once.

“Okay,” Declan murmured and dragged a finger across my jaw, soft, soothing, and as light as a single drop of rain on my skin. “Trust me?”

It was just two words, but my whole heart wanted to desperately, and as the air left my lungs, I gave in to whatever this was between us for the moment. I nodded once, and he moved like he always did, without hesitation and without restraint.

He stepped back, the green in his eyes more vivid, full of life, hunger, and control. He knew he had the power now, every part of me hanging there at his will. He walked around me once. “I shouldn’t want to punish you for the attention they all give you, Drop. But I really do.”

I shivered at his confession. “Do it,” I whispered out.

“She commands me like she has a say. Don’t you know you’re at my mercy, Drop? And I have one goal here tonight.”

“What?” I couldn’t stop myself from asking. I tried my best to keep my eyes on him as he circled me again, his stride long, his muscles moving fluidly as he tilted his head to crack his neck as if readying himself for whatever he was about to do.

“Next time you step inside my gym, you’re going to remember most everything in it belongs to me …” He stood behind me, so we looked at each other in the reflection of the mirror again. “Including you.”

“You know I don’t really belong to you,” I said, even though the idea of it made me clench my thighs.

He grabbed my chin so I wouldn’t move my head, so I’d only stare at the both of us, take in how he hovered around me, how I looked so tiny with him standing with his chest to my back. He rubbed himself back and forth so I could feel him. “Look at yourself while you feel me against you.”

His hard length against my back wasn’t something I could ignore. I knew his cock was throbbing for me, knew right now, right here that he wanted me, that I’d made this man almost crazy with desire. Being at his mercy had my body basically begging for him to get closer, my pussy wanted him in me. I tried to push back against him, but he leaned away.

“Stop teasing me, Declan.” I yanked at the restraints on my wrist.

He chuckled. “You’re not getting out of anything I tie you up in, Drop. You’re mine tonight.” He rubbed back and forth over my stomach before dipping his hand low over my yoga pants to rub my clit through the fabric. He worked me up so much that I started to see my arousal coming into view, felt the dampness collecting between my legs. “See how you get wet for me.”

I whimpered as his other hand went to the zipper on the front of my sports bra. “Yes.” Before he even undid it, my nipples tightened in anticipation.

“So impatient, Drop. Where’s that composure I always see from you, huh?”

I bit my lip as my hips moved against his hand, and when he slowly unzipped my bra for my breasts spill out, I knew I wouldn’t last as his hand gripped them.

My whole body careened over the edge, spiraling down into my first orgasm as I screamed his name, all my self-control completely lost. I was losing everything when it came to him. Losing my mind, for sure.

And then his praise came next.

That’s when I knew I was about to lose my heart to him too.


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