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Reckless (Chestnut Springs Book 4): Chapter 22

Theo

Winter: I’m going to go work out tonight. Summer offered to watch Vivi, but if you aren’t working, you can have her instead.

Theo: Unfortunately, I’m working tonight. I close the gym.Are you working out alone? I could help you.

Winter: No, you don’t need to do that. Summer booked me a session with another trainer. Max, I think?

Theo: You could have asked me.

Winter: I don’t want to work out with you.

Theo: Is it because you’re going to wear tight pants you know will give me a boner?

Winter: This job must be hard on you with your uncontrollable erections.

Theo: The gym is fine. It’s living next to you that’s the issue.


“No.” Winter’s arms cross under her breasts, propping them up in the most appealing way.

I’ve spent the past twenty-four hours thinking about her new pink nails and how good they’d look wrapped around my dick. And now she’s gotta create a shelf under her tits and put them on perfect display for me.

I’m going to have to deep-clean my own house to keep my hormones in check. My mom used to bug me and say the Virgo in me would stress clean. I laughed her off, but the older I get, the more I wonder if she was onto something.

Is horny cleaning a Virgo thing? Cause that’s where I’m at right now. I could clean this whole fucking gym and it wouldn’t sate me.

“Yes,” I deadpan back at Winter while Summer shifts awkwardly on the spot, Vivi babbling happily in her arms.

“I had my session booked with some Max guy.”

I groan and roll my eyes. No chance that was happening.

Summer shoots me a look, and I give her my best puppy dog eyes. “Somehow, the schedule got changed around. It’ll be fine. Theo knows this stuff inside and out.”

“I’m not paying for him to work out with me. He’s not even certified.”

I stifle a laugh. Tink is mad. “I am. Did the course during my off-season. But you don’t have to pay. I’ll do it for free.”

Summer’s eyes volley between us. Amusement and nerves war on her face as she bounces on the spot, clearly not sure what to do with herself. “Theo insisted that it be him—”

“Summer,” I cut her off. “You can go. I’ll talk to Winter.”

“Don’t tell her what to do. This is her gym. I’m her sister. And this is supposed to be my free time.”

“Okay! On that note, Vivi and I have a date with the bathtub and her rubber duckies.” Summer’s tone is altogether too bright, smile too forced.

Winter turns on her. “You’re taking his side?”

Summer’s head tilts and her eyes roam over Winter’s face. “No, Win. I’m taking your side. This will be good for you. Go take care of yourself. I’ve got your girl.”

She looks at us both when she says your girl and makes a show of waving at both Winter and me before turning around and leaving the gym.

“I don’t want to work out with you,” Winter announces without glancing my way.

“Something else you’d rather do instead?”

Winter’s eyes roll as if I exhaust her, but her tone has no malice when she says, “I hate you.”

A chuckle rumbles from the back of my throat, and a knowing smile touches my lips. She didn’t hate me when she tugged me down on top of her. “Haven’t you figured out that doesn’t deter me at all?”

She scoffs, turning away to scan the gym floor. Various machines and weights litter the space in a sort of organized chaos, but in a town this size, it’s quiet at this time of night. The group classes have filtered out and only a few stragglers remain.

“I could take you for tequila again.”

Her shoulders stiffen. “Yeah. That ended so well last time.”

I step closer to her, admiring the elegant column of her neck. She always holds her head so high. I admire that about her. No shame, like the opinions of those around her don’t matter to her—even though I know they do. She’s strong.

“I think it ended pretty well.” I trail a finger up the indent that runs through the center of her back, right over her spine. She shivers but makes no move to pull away. I lean forward and whisper in her ear. “I still think about pressing you up against that window. The way you trembled when I—”

“That’s not what I meant.” She swallows, eyes full of pride. I see the tip of her tongue dart out over her lips.

“Did you mean Vivi? Because I thought nothing would be sexier than that night. Until I saw you with her.”

A small whimper escapes from her lips, and she steps away. “Yeah, sure. Until you decide you want to trade me in and shack up with some bimbo buckle bunny with a porn voice and give Vivi a new stepmom.”

“What?” My brows knit as she finally turns to me, glancing around to see if anyone is watching us.

She snorts. “I had a dream about it. She was hot. I mean, good for you. It just made me realize things might get complicated. I’ll have to share Christmas morning—”

“With me and my bimbo wife?” I roll my lips in to stifle a laugh.

“Yes!” Her hands shoot out, annoyance billowing from her in waves.

“Can you give me a demo of this porn voice?”

Winter swaps her facial expression, batting her eyelashes so fast it looks like something is stuck in her eye. “Oh, Theo, there aren’t any chairs left. Can I rub my ass all over your lap for Christmas?” she mocks, and I don’t bother holding back the laughter anymore.

“Is that what she said?”

“Basically. Before grinding herself all over you.”

“That sounds like a pretty great Christmas gift.”

Her lips twitch. This conversation is ridiculous, and she knows it. “You’re the fucking worst.”

“You’re the one who’s mad at me for something I did in a dream.”

“I’m not mad at you.” Her arms cross. “I’m mad at the future.”

“Don’t be. I promise you that’s not what the future holds.”

“Okay, I’m mad at you for torpedoing my training session with someone who doesn’t constantly hit on me. Why did you do that?”

I shake my head as I breeze past her, through the turnstile and onto the gym floor. Might as well be honest with her, so she isn’t confused about what I want. “Because I’m the only one who’s going to be putting his hands on you in those tight fucking pants, Tink.”


Winter is lying on a bench in front of a long bank of mirrors. Racks of dumbbells line the lower part of the wall in front of her. She has her knees bent, her sneakers resting against the end of the gray pleather seat, and her palms covering her forehead as she stares up at the ceiling.

I’d worry I worked her too hard, but we kept things light. I showed her the machines she can use in her free time to get back into things slowly. It was on the turf floor that everything went to shit.

I started her in plank pose, set a slider under each foot, and had her use her core to drag her feet toward herself, piking up into a V-shape. Then she’d walk her hands back out and start over.

At first, she seemed unsteady and struggled with the exercise. But she wasn’t a quitter, and I supported her where I could. A hand on her hip. One flat on her bare back where her tank top had ridden up.

It was why I went into the computer system and changed her session to be with me. Not a fucking chance would I sit at home while some Roid Monkey ran his hands all over her under the guise of helping her work out.

When I tugged the fabric back down to cover her, she snapped. In a flash, she dropped to her knees and rolled up into standing.

“Yeah. My core sucks after pregnancy. No need to rub it in. I’m done now. I’m going to go stretch.”

And with that, she marched off without a backward glance. If she’d bothered to look, she’d have seen me staring at her ass.

I decided not to push her and started tidying the gym for closing. Putting away the plates people left all over the place. Wiping down touch points. Bidding patrons farewell as they head out the door.

And through it all, Winter has laid there on the weight bench, not moving. And definitely not stretching.

I decide to wait her out and let her have whatever moment she needs. As I slip behind the front desk and turn the music down, the last guy here walks out of the dressing room. His head snaps in Winter’s direction and he hesitates before walking over to where she’s still laid out.

He hikes his bag up on his meaty shoulder and tips his head down over her. I don’t like the way he’s leering at her. And I hate the way he says, “Hi,” with that dorky, bashful smile, like he hasn’t been eyeing her up all night.

“You okay?”

“No,” Winter replies, making my stomach drop.

He crouches beside her head as if she invited him to talk to her some more. “I saw you here yesterday.”

My feet move before I realize what I’m doing. All I know is I don’t want him towering over her while she’s laid out like that. I don’t want his eyes on her body. Not today, not yesterday. I want him out.

“Thought that sometime we could—”

Winter doesn’t even turn her head to look at the guy. “Goddamn, I wish I had your confidence. My life would be so different.”

I come to a screeching halt several feet away from where his massive back stretches against his tank top.

“Pardon me?”

“I just told you I’m not okay, so you ask me out? If I didn’t want so desperately for you to leave me alone, I’d ask what leap of logic brought you to the conclusion that this was the way to go.”

He pushes to stand, ears a little pink, like she embarrassed him. “I . . . I just thought—”

“Hey, pal. We’re closed. Time to head out.” Maybe he deserves a chance to defend himself. Winter can be harsh, but I’m also irrationally happy to watch him fail.

He can’t handle her claws.

Not like I can.

His thick brows pull together over his pronounced forehead. “I think there might be something wrong with her.” He points at Winter, who still hasn’t moved, and to his credit, he looks concerned.

“Yeah.” My lips twitch as I stare past him at Winter, who glares at me for agreeing with him. “I know there is. That’s what I like about her.”

His eyes go wide as understanding blooms on his face. “Sorry, man. See ya tomorrow.”

I give him a nod and prop my hands on my hips, eyes latched onto Winter. She’s intentionally avoiding my gaze now. I can tell by the tense set of her jaw and the vein throbbing in her neck.

When the door slams shut, Winter flinches, and I watch a subtle pink flush dust her high cheekbones.

“Winter. Look at me.”

“No, thank you.” Her jaw pops. So stubborn. Reminds me of getting Vivi to settle down the other night. Must get that from her mom.

“Should I turn the lights off and leave you here?”

“Well, you’ve got the leaving me alone part down pat. Why stop now?”

With only a couple of steps, I’m behind her, crouching at the head of the bench, one hand gently cupping her throat as I stare down at her face. “It’s almost like you’ve forgotten I like when you hiss at me, Winter.”

Her wide blue eyes snap to mine.

“Tell me what you’re doing.”

“Lying here.” She fires the words from between her lips like projectiles.

“Why?” My hand tightens, fingers gripping her chin to tip her head back and have her look at me.

“Gravity.”

“Gravity?”

“Because if I sit up straight, the tears will fall out. And I don’t cry.” I notice it then, the sheen to her eyes, the way they fill as I watch. My chest seizes at the sight. Her face is a window into all her feelings. “I’m not at my best right now, Theo. I’m in a bad mood. I’m angry, and it doesn’t even make sense. You should leave me alone.”

“You know what I think, Winter?” My thumb strokes over her pulse point.

“No, but I bet you’re going to tell me anyway.”

“I think people mistake you being in a bad mood when you’re just overwhelmed. I think you needed to lie here for a few minutes with no one needing you. I think you’re overstimulated and even the best of us require some time to collect ourselves.”

She nods, lips rolling together, and one lone tear slips down her cheek, my thumb brushing it away almost instantly.

“I don’t—”

“I know.” I nod solemnly. “I’m pretty sure it’s a leak in the ceiling.”

She snorts now, head shaking as her hands cover her face. “Why are you so nice to me?”

“We’ve been over this. It’s because I like you.”

“That was a year and a half ago.” Her hands drop to my arm, but not to push me away. They rest there.

“Well, you’re hard to forget. And the thing is, I like you even more now.”

“Is that why you keep putting my clothes back on me?”

I still. “What?”

“The other night you took one look at me and pulled my nightgown back down. Today you covered me up again. It feels like you don’t like what you see.”

With a growl, I push her up to sitting, swing a leg over the bench and straddle the seat behind her. One arm around her ribs tugs her straight back into me and I see her shocked expression in the mirror’s reflection.

“Don’t like what I see?” Her back is pressed up against my chest, pulse vibrating through her body. “Winter, you have no fucking idea what I see. No fucking clue how hard I’m trying not to be another person who needs something from you. I’m prioritizing what life has thrown at us in the past few weeks. I’m trying to give you what you need. But if you think I don’t like what I see, then I’m not the one who needs his head checked.” I swipe her ponytail to the side of her neck and drop a kiss on the top of her slender shoulder. “Because your wellbeing has quickly become my number one priority.”

“Why?” Her ragged breathing echoes in the otherwise quiet gym.

“Because I fucking adore you. Haven’t you been paying attention?”

She shivers and I watch the fine hairs at the back of her neck stand on end when I breathe against her skin.

“Why?”

“Why do I fucking adore you?”

“Yeah. And if you say it’s because my body performed miracles growing and birthing a baby or some shit like that, I swear I will get up and walk out of here.”

I grin at the image of us in the mirror, her all fierce and flushed but also relaxing back into me. A small sign of trust from a woman who doesn’t trust easily.

One I won’t squander.

I trail a finger up the side of her slender neck. “This line right here. You carry yourself like royalty. There’s something about this curve, the little hairs.” I pinch the hairs and give them a gentle tug, eliciting a gasp from her. “Sometimes, when it’s sunny in the morning, the light through the front living room window catches all these little flyaways that end up looking like a halo.”

She stares at me in the mirror.

“Can I keep touching you?” I rub my stubble against her shoulder before dotting a kiss on the bump where her collarbone attaches.

She nods while swallowing. Her responding, “Yes,” is a whisper.

“I like your collarbones.” My left hand grips her hip while my right one dips under her arm and over her chest so I can trace the line of bones framing it. “Mine will always look a little crooked now. But if that’s the price I had to pay to get your attention . . . I’d break the other one myself.”

“Weird. But okay.”

My hand shoots up, and I press my pointer finger to her plush mouth while gently cupping her jaw. “I love your lips. This smart fucking mouth. I like the venom it spews. I especially like the way it looked wrapped around my cock.”

She moans.

“You liked that too, didn’t you?” Her body clenches and I squeeze her thigh before trailing the tips of my fingers over the inside seam of her leggings. “I know you did.”

“I—”

I cover her mouth with my free hand. “Don’t bother arguing with me. It makes me hard, and I’m not above flipping you over and fucking you right here and now.” I grind into her lower back, my dick already straining at the front of my shorts.

I watch her eyes change in the mirror. Instead of tears, they fill with heat. Longing.

With one hand still over her mouth, I slide the other under the loose tank top she’s wearing. She makes no effort to escape my hold. Her sports bra is tight, but it doesn’t stop me.

“I love your breasts.” I palm one and then the other before tweaking a nipple. “Your nipples get hard so easily. They’re so sensitive.” I tweak again, and her eyes drift closed. “I know that waste of space you married didn’t know how to make you come. But I do. And I bet I can do it by playing with these alone.”

Her head tips back onto my shoulder, her back arching as she presses her breast into my hand. It’s like I can feel her coming back to life. For me.

I release her nipple and slide my hand down her stomach, into her stretchy pants. I go straight for her core, running my finger through her soaked flesh before shoving it in. She clamps down on my digit and tries to cry out, but the sound is muffled by my palm.

“And this.” I work it in and out of her a couple of times. “You. I love how you look impaled on my cock. Open your eyes. Look in the mirror.”

I add a second finger and plunge into her wet heat, watching her lashes flicker open to meet my gaze. “Look at us. How could I not fucking adore this? I love the face you make when you fall apart for me. Am I still the only man who’s been able to fuck you right, Winter?”

Her head moves in a shallow nodding motion, her legs spreading wider to grant me deeper access.

“I bet I could make you come on my fingers just describing how beautiful you are to me right now. How fucking perfect you are.” I rasp my stubble against the shell of her ear and drop my voice. “But that would be a shame when you have such a pretty pussy for me to eat, don’t you think?”

She pants, her chest heaving and rosy. And just like before, her icy exterior melts away and leaves this woman. This confident, amazing woman, who’s occupied my brain and my body for well over a year now.

I drop my hand from her mouth, and we stare at each other in the mirror for several beats. My eyes are nearly black, while hers appear almost lighter. Brighter. More vibrant.

“You don’t have t—”

“You’re still not listening.” I stand and step around the bench, coming to kneel at the foot with a knowing grin. Winter looks flustered as she glances around. “I like everything I see. I want you.”

Her throat works, and she drops my gaze. I know there’s a cruel voice inside her, filling her head with shit that isn’t true. “What if someone comes in?”

“As long as I’m the one with my head between your legs, I don’t care who watches.”

Her mouth pops open in shock. “I don’t know what kind of weird shit you get up to on the circuit but—”

“What kind of weird shit?” I quirk a brow at her. “The only ‘weird shit’ I’ve been up to is abstaining from touching anyone at all. And you sitting here in these tight fucking clothes”—I reach for the waistband of her pants and tug—“giving me those tortured fuck-me eyes is shredding my self-control. Like you’re begging me to be inside you.”

Her leggings and underwear hit the point where she’ll need to lift her hips for me to pull them down any further. But Winter’s ass stays planted on the bench, hands propped behind her. “What do you mean, abstaining from touching anyone at all?”

Cat’s out of the bag, I guess. Might as well come clean.

“I mean, I cleaned up my act.”

“Why?”

I huff out a breath and hold her gaze, wanting her to really hear this. “Because I wanted to be the type of guy who could land you for more than one night.”

Her gaze bounces around my face. “You mean someone like me?”

“No, Winter. I mean you. That’s why I gave up my old phone. That’s why I have your number on my new one. I intended to call you. You needed time to rebuild, and I needed time to grow into someone who deserves you. I was biding my time, being patient.”

Her breath falls faster, stronger—choppier—as she regards me. It’s like I can see the pieces of the puzzle snapping into place, see her mind whirring. Which is why I reach for her hips and haul her toward me, taking the waistline of her pants as I go. Her hands fall to my shoulders when I look up at her and grin, tugging roughly at the stretchy pants that are now nothing more than flimsy fabric getting in my way.

“I’m done being patient, Tink. I’m coming for what I want. Right now.”


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