Authors: Adele Huxley
Tags: #Romantic winter thriller
by Adele Huxley
This book is work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental. This book contains explicit material and is intended for readers 18 years or older.
The author acknowledges the copyrighted or trademarked status and trademarked owners of any wordmarks mentioned in the following fiction.
2015 by Adele Huxley
All rights reserved.
No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without written permission from the author, except in the case of a reviewer, who may quote brief passages embodied in critical articles or in a review.
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Other books by Adele Huxley
The Tellure Hollow Series
The Billionaire’s Power Trip Series
The Kael Family Series
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To Whitney, Niki, and Ali who made New Zealand the trip of a lifetime. Meet you all there for a pint and Fergburger soon!
dear reader! Just a quick note… Liz and Bryan met a few years ago under some particularly stressful circumstances. I’d explain but, well… it’d ruin the surprise! While
Devoted to the Blizzard
is a standalone novel, you might want to also check out the beginning of their story in
Caught by the Blizzard
Saved by the Blizzard.
Thank you for reading, enjoy! - Adele
My eyes stung with sweat. My thighs, calves, and ass burned with an unholy pain that I thought would never end. Every part of me desperately fought the urge to give up, to collapse. I loudly cried out through gritted teeth and prayed to every deity I could think of to release me from this torture. Worst of all, there was a tiny woman in front of me screaming words of encouragement.
“Twenty more seconds! You can do it. You’ve got this,” my tormentor cheered.
I growled a pained response, pressing my chin to my chest. That slight movement forced me to correct my balance, wiggling and correcting until I found a steady spot again. For over a minute, I’d stood on an exercise ball, holding myself at a ninety degree weighted squat position. The gray torture device beneath me wobbled and fought my control. It was like trying to stand on a log in the middle of a swiftly moving river or an animal attempting to throw me from its back. Through sheer will, I fought and regained my equilibrium.
“Five, four, three, two, one!” Janet counted, a clap punctuating each number.
I ungracefully jumped from the ball, and let the heavy padded bar roll from my shoulders, landing on the floor with a thud. I tried to stay standing, resting my hands on my knees, sucking air deep into my lungs. My quivering leg muscles had a different idea and quickly collapsed beneath me. I fell hard to my hands and knees with a grunt.
“Liz, you have two minutes to recover and then we’re moving on to some core work.” I glared at my coach as I rolled onto my back. I didn’t have the breath to curse her, but you better believe that there were some choice words flowing through my mind.
My chest rose and fell quickly as I tried to catch my breath. Even in just a sports bra and shorts, the stifling heat of the gym was nearly unbearable. July in Colorado was no joke. My third summer in the Rockies and I still couldn’t believe how diverse the seasons were.
Janet crouched beside and handed me a cold bottle of water. Her short hair was damp with sweat as well, but she didn’t look at all fatigued. Fifteen years my senior, the woman was at least three times as fit as I was. “Good job on the balance ball.” That was the most praise Janet would ever hand out.
“Yeah, yeah,” I groaned, rolling back to a sitting position. I dumped a stream of refreshing water over my head before squirting some in my mouth. “I know you shortened the time. I bet Nicole can hold it for over two minutes.”
“Liz,” she sighed and stood, resting her hands on her hips. “You really can’t keep doing this to yourself. I work you much harder than anyone else I’ve ever trained. You and Bryan didn’t give me much choice with such a short amount of time. You should only think about beating yourself.”
I rolled my eyes. “You don’t believe that any more than I do. I know how competitive you are. Like you aren’t motivated by the image of standing on the tallest podium.”
“I’m actually hardest on myself. Thirty seconds left, by the way,” she said, grabbing the bottle and taking a swig.
I grumbled again, but climbed to my knees. I didn’t trust my legs enough to push up completely to standing yet. I slicked my wet hair back, flicking my ponytail irritably.
Janet crossed her arms and closely regarded me. “When you and Bryan hired me, I wasn’t sure I’d be able to get you in shape in under two years. But you did everything I asked of you and more. Now look at you.”
I saw a twinkle of humor in her golden brown eyes, but her face remained absolutely stoic. I couldn’t help but laugh. “Oh yeah, just look at me,” I replied, snapping the strap of my sports bra with a wet
. “I wouldn’t go calling me a testament to your training quite yet.”
It earned a smirk before she glanced at her watch. “Roll over. We’re doing walking plank intervals.”
Every time I returned from the gym, I barely had the strength to lift my arms. Every muscle in my upper body screamed in agony as I pushed the front door open, the heat of the cabin hitting me like the inside of an oven. I dropped my gym bag the second I was inside, wanting to flop beside it and take a nap.
“I’m home. Are you back yet?” I called out.
There was no response, but I heard the dull sound of the shower running. With a smile, I stiffly headed towards the bedroom, shedding my wet, smelly, revolting clothes as I went. It was like a Hansel and Gretel trail for sweat fetishists.
Fully naked, I eased the door to the bathroom open to see Bryan through the clear shower curtain. His eyes were closed as he rinsed the shampoo from his tangled mess of hair. The soapy water rolled down his muscular back and down his thick legs. After a moment watching him, I gently rapped on the door and dramatically cleared my throat.
Bryan pulled his head from the water, and wiped his face clear. “Hey you! Thought I heard something.”
“I could’ve been a serial killer,” I replied darkly.
I boldly strutted towards him. Aside from the scars under my breasts, I’d always been proudly confident of my body. Curves in all the right places, long legs, thick hair… my mom had blessed me genetically. But after all the conditioning I’d been doing to get ready for the race, my body had become something else entirely. Flat stomach, firm ass, legs made of steel… His eyes took me all in, and despite my exhaustion, I felt a twinge of excitement as I gazed back at his enticing naked frame.
“Don’t use up all the hot water,” I chided with an arched eyebrow.
He flung the curtain open, skin dripping wet. His newest scar, a few inches long and on the inside of his knee, was now rapidly fading from a red welt to a white streak. It was the latest attempt to get his body back in full working order. The others I barely noticed anymore, although I remembered the first time I’d seen them, the one at his hip in particular. It was like finding someone of the same species, a person whose past pain existed on the outside as well as in. “I wouldn’t dream of it.”
Climbing out of the tub, he pulled me into a hot, wet embrace. “I’m still all sweaty!” I squealed as he buried his face in my neck, his soft stubble scratching at my skin.
“I don’t care. I love your smell,” he growled against my shoulder.
“Probably not every smell,” I laughed, giving him a playful slap. I stepped into the still running shower and pulled the curtain shut behind me. I worked my muscles out under the hot water, digging the tips of my fingers painfully deep to release the tension. “How was physical therapy?” I asked.
“Fine, you know. How was training?” he asked as he toweled off.
I swallowed the self-doubt and shrugged. “Fine. Janet was a little Hitler, as usual.”
He laughed knowingly. “That’s why she gets paid the big bucks.”
I dipped my head under the water, wetting my hair. “I was thinking on the way home, does that make me a masochist? Paying someone to hurt me five days a week?”
Bryan’s chest rumbled with a low laugh. “I think that depends on whether or not you get off on it.”
“That’s a resounding no,” I replied as I peeked my head out of the curtain.