Gin Fling (Bootleg Springs #5) - Lucy Score



“Activate those glutes,” I told the nineteen-year-old star of his college baseball team.

“Dude, if I activate them any harder, they’ll turn to stone,” Eric complained, hefting the bar off the floor.

“Looks like he’s doing just fine from where I’m standing,” Mrs. Morganson observed from her vantage point directly behind him.

It was deadlift day.

Once a week, I turned the weight room at Bootleg Springs High School into an open gym for all ages and abilities. The room was crammed full of equipment and smelled like sweaty, unshowered youth. The short windows just beneath the drop ceiling were stingy with the sunlight they let in.

But we made it work.

It should have been a disaster. I was coaching kids on their summer break from college, middle-aged newbies just starting their fitness journey, a few long-time lifters, and a couple of senior citizens. Some were actually here to work out. Others were in attendance primarily for the eye candy.

But somehow, no matter who showed up, we all had a damn good time.

“Nice job,” I said, slapping Eric on the back when he dropped the weight bar with a resounding clang. The kid was a hell of a lot stronger than his long, lanky frame let on.

“Woowee!” Mrs. Morganson cheered.

Minnie Faye, owner and operator of Minnie’s Meow Meow House, elbowed her friend. “Don’t get us booted out of here like you did the football team’s car wash,” she cautioned.

Both ladies bent to pick up their significantly lighter bars. I winked at them as they made an energetic show of practicing the lift.

“How you doing, D?” Doris to her family and D to her gym friends was glaring at her barbell.

“I wanted a PR today.” Frustrated, she swiped the sweat off her forehead with the hem of her t-shirt. Doris was fifty-six and three years on this side of a heart transplant. She’d tracked me down about a whole day after I decided to bring my personal training business to Bootleg last year.

In a town this size with residents this close, news traveled fast.

She’d told me since someone had to die for her to be here, she didn’t want to let them down. We had our first workout together that day. A walk through the lakefront park.

We started small and slow, but her commitment never wavered. She’d already quit smoking before the transplant. After, she’d taken up walking. Soon I had her jogging and hanging around my pop-up boot camps. Then she’d discovered a deep love of heavy lifting. Somewhere along the way, she’d dragged her husband, Josh, into it. Josh had lost twenty-five pounds and started rowing. Doris added ten pounds of lean muscle and was currently glaring at the weight plates on her bar that stood between her and her new personal record.

“How much you got on there?” I asked, already knowing the answer.

“Two hundred. Can’t get the dang thing off the ground.” She kicked at the bar with the toe of her sneaker.

“Tell you what. Go grab a quick drink. I’m gonna take some of the weight off, and we’ll check out your form at eighty or ninety percent of your max. Okay?”

She sighed, shrugged. “Yeah. Okay.”

“Not every day is a PR,” I reminded her.

“Yeah. Yeah.”

“She went to bed early last night so she’d be rested for lifting,” Josh told me when Doris walked away. “Gonna be pissed if she can’t beat her last.”

“Don’t I know it,” I said, pulling a plate off each side of the bar. I swapped a couple out and reassembled the rig.

“That looks like more than—”

“Zip it,” I warned him as Doris came back. Josh busied himself with his own bar and played it cool.

“Ready?” I asked her.

“Yeah. I don’t know what my problem is. Just feeling weak, I guess. Maybe it’s allergies?”

“Maybe,” I said, gesturing for her to step behind the bar.

“How much is this?” she asked, adjusting the headband that tamed her wild, curly bob.

“Don’t worry about the number. I just wanna check your form. We’ll get you to where you want to be when you’re meant to be there,” I promised her.

“I know. I know. It might not be today, but we will get there.” She recited one of my many pep talks with a sigh. “I just really wanted it to be today. Today’s the day, you know?”

“Your anniversary?”

“Three years ago, I was on death’s door and woke up with a new ticker.” She thumped a fist to her chest. “Kinda wanted to be able to email the donor’s family and tell them I hit