Wounded Angel (The Earth Angels) - By Stacy Gail Page 0,1
concave cheeks darkened by a five o’clock shadow, and the faint sneer snarling his upper lip would have done an Elvis impersonator proud. If anything, he looked like he wanted to tear his punching bag a new one and was ready to do it with his bare—
“Are you enjoying your daydream, Ella?”
Her attention snapped back to reality so hard she thought it might have made a noise. With a sinking heart she realized that while she was checking out the vision of sweat-slick masculine perfection a few bags over, Jacob had prowled toward her with all the accuracy of a shark aiming for blood in the water.
“No daydreams here, Jacob.” With renewed focus she attacked the bag in hopes of impressing him. “Just working the reps.”
“And do you know what rep we’re on?”
“Of course I do.” She could bluff with the best of them.
A vein pulsed down the middle of Jacob’s corrugated forehead. “You’re on your sixth rep, which must mean you feel I’m not working you hard enough. Do you think I’m not working you hard enough, Ella?”
“Thank you for the suggestion. Everyone, Ella feels we should do more, so that’s what we’re going to do. Five more reps, double-time!”
It was a wonder she didn’t fall dead under all the lethal stares.
At long last the torture came to an end. The man who had been bent over stumbled from the room while a few others simply dropped where they stood. Ella didn’t bother to look around to what the newcomer was up to; in all probability he was wishing her six feet under like the rest of the class.
“I take it you really like kickboxing?”
In the process of toweling off her face and wishing she could strip out of her high-necked, long-sleeved black compression shirt before she passed out from heat exhaustion, Ella whirled around. Every nerve kicked into high gear as she zeroed in on the man she’d noted earlier, now only a handful of feet away. First Jacob, and now a stranger had snuck up on her. That went against her main survival rule of always being aware of who was around her. This could not be allowed.
“I suppose.” Snappy comebacks weren’t a consideration when her touchy ideals of personal security were compromised. In a world that was far more dangerous than it appeared, getting caught off-guard was an absolute no-no. “Sorry about the extra reps.”
His smile was a slanted work of art, designed for the sole purpose of staggering the planet’s female population. “Don’t be. I need the work, and this was a fun way to do it.”
“I don’t think fun would be the word everyone would use to describe Jacob’s advanced kickboxing class.”
“It’s all in the motivation. Take me, for instance—I’m not happy unless I’m pushed to my limit. Not that I’m a big believer in limits.”
Somehow this wasn’t a shocker. “I think a few people in class hit theirs.”
“You didn’t. You were hitting just as hard at the end as you were at the beginning.”
So he’d noticed her. Ella had no idea if this was a good thing or bad thing. “I’m a trainer here at The Body Electric, certified in strength and conditioning, self-defense and sports medicine. If I can’t take whatever Jacob dishes out, I don’t deserve to work here.” Then she closed her mouth with a click. Good grief, it must be her evening for breaking personal rules. Information meant power, and personal information gave power over her to people who had no right to it. Yet she’d just offered up a cartload of her new life to a perfect stranger like she didn’t know any better. It was like she’d forgotten every stay-alive lesson she’d picked up in the past two years.
Who knew she was such a sucker for a pretty face?
“A personal trainer, huh?” His knockout smile widened, and she made herself look to the task of folding her towel before she blurted her Social Security number and cup size. “That explains it. No wonder I couldn’t keep up with you.”
Ella had to bite her tongue to keep from assuring him that he’d kept up just fine. If she did that, he would know she had been watching him, and that would lead to a conversational brick wall. She didn’t want him to know she’d been aware of his existence. She didn’t want to notice him, period.
Disgusted with her tangled thoughts, she tried to appear professionally aloof as she back-pedaled in the direction of Jacob, snatching up