Breaking the Rules


“Hey, have you guys seen Travis?” Amara popped her head into the employee lounge, where all the senior staff of Holt Body Fitness was gathering for the team meeting Travis had called.

She’d come straight from work to catch this meeting, and she’d expected him to be waiting at the front desk for her, his brown eyes alive with desire, like he usually was. Now with five minutes until the meeting, it was unlike Travis to not already be sipping water and watching everyone file in.

Lex shrugged, easing into the corner chair he used at every meeting and would defend with physical force if necessary. “Maybe he’s on the phone. He’s been getting a lot of calls lately.”

That was for sure. Amara grinned. The man was busier than ever, and she loved watching him step deeper into the role of businessman and creative entrepreneur.

Damn near everything about Travis fascinated her, a fact that still hadn’t changed nearly six months after his big win, which they formally made their anniversary date. Most days, she was swept up in the busy flow of their life together—working with the non-profit during the day, helping out at the gym as needed, and doing whatever it took to brainstorm with her man and keep him on track.

Up to and including making sure he made it to his big meeting on time.

Amara checked the weight room again and then headed back toward his office. Her skin prickled from wanting to see him. They’d kissed each other goodbye at seven forty-five that morning, but at four p.m., it already felt like a lifetime had gone by without seeing him.

And really, that’s how she knew this was it. Travis was the one. She’d known from the day of his big fight—earlier, actually, though she’d tried to talk herself out of it—and there hadn’t been a moment since when she’d doubted the truth of their love. Almost six months later and she was still hardcore honeymooning with this man. Would it ever end? Statistically, it had to segue into regular relationship mode at some point—but she suspected even that phase would be just as fun at Travis’s side.

Just as she reached his closed office door, her hand outstretched to go inside, the door swung open. Travis filled the doorway, his eyes crinkling at the edges once his gaze landed on her.

“Hey, babe,” she said, reaching out for him. His big arms went around her, the manly scent of him bathing her in contentment. This. Right here. This man, this hug, this life together. She didn’t ever want to consider what life would have been like without him.

“There you are. You got here early.”

“I ended up meeting with my team earlier than expected,” she said, propping her chin on his chest as she looked up at him.

“And?” he prompted, which caused a grin to blossom on her face. Even in the hustle and bustle of managing Holt Body Fitness, Travis never forgot about her career and her accomplishments.

“And everyone approved of my proposal to open up the new position,” Amara said. It was a pet project she’d been cultivating for a few weeks—an admin support position that would be strictly filled by women who came through their doors seeking assistance. It was one way to ensure that the women who needed help could have better access to the jobs that could change their lives.

“I knew it,” Travis grabbed Amara’s hand, bringing her knuckles to his lips. “Because you’re a genius.”

She smiled, his compliment warming her. As they headed back down the hall toward the employee lounge, Amara looked up at him. “What about you? Are you ready?” she asked.

“Yep. All thanks to you.” He pressed a kiss to the top of her head. “My sexy little taskmaster.”

She snorted. “That makes me sound like I carry a whip around.”

“If you did, I wouldn’t complain.”

She lifted a brow. “Are you saying it’s time to spice things up in the bedroom?”

Travis grunted. In a low voice, he said, “God. All you did was say the word ‘bedroom,’ and I’m half hard.”

“Fine,” Amara said, gaze stuck on him as they approached the doorway. “No whips for now. Just more silk ties and that big…huge—”

“Hey, there he is!” Lex’s voice cut through their conversation. Probably for the better—with the way it was heading, they might have made a 180 to Travis’s office.

Travis cleared his throat, holding up a hand for a high five as he filed past Lex. “Sorry I’m late. Got lost in the groove.”

“Not sure if you’re talking about training or disco, but that’s fine,” Lex cracked. Inside, the fifteen most senior staff of Holt Body Fitness—receptionists, trainers, and support staff—awaited them. Amara settled on the sidelines as Travis took his seat at the head of the table.

“All right, folks. One week and counting!” Travis clapped his hands together.

The focus of the meeting today was the upcoming miniseries slated to begin filming next week: Regular People Fighting MMA Champs. Five episodes in total, with the film and production crew inhabiting the gym for the next three weeks. Amara was so excited to see their brainchild come to life. She’d do anything Travis needed to see that his vison kept growing bigger and stronger.

While his employees applauded, Travis said, “We are officially entering mini-series territory.”

“When does the reality show territory begin?” Another trainer cracked.

“Jesus, don’t even go there,” Travis said with a laugh. “I don’t think I’m ready for a twenty-four-hour camera crew in here. No, I think just a few hours each day is plenty for now.”

Travis ran over the details, letting the team know what to expect and what would change over the coming weeks, as he and Lex prepared to become the faces of this new show. Travis fielded a lot of questions from his staff. Amara listened raptly as he spoke—not just because this concerned her, but because she loved listening to him. Watching him in business mode made her swoon—hard.

“Okay, any last questions?” Travis asked.

“Yeah. This is a big one.” Lex held up the neatly stapled packet that each employee had been given. “Who made your outline? This shit is professional.”

Travis grinned, his grin swinging over to Amara. “You can thank my beautiful girlfriend for that.”

Lex let out a low whistle. “Damn. Wish I had somebody in my life who made outlines like these.”

After the meeting wound down, Travis came over to her, watching her with a sexy twinkle in his eye.

“That went really well,” Amara said, allowing Travis to gently pull her to her feet. His big hands pushed over the tops of her hips, sending that familiar jolt of electricity through her. She would never stop wanting him.

“Thanks to you. My outline expert.” He brushed his lips against hers, cupping the side of her face. “What do you say we get out of here?”

“I thought you had more training?”

“Cancelled. Now that you’re here, I can’t let you walk out of this building without me at your side. So you can either sit on my lap for the rest of my work day, which I promise will be awkward, or I can say ‘fuck it’ and we go home and watch a shitty sitcom while I kiss you, finger you, and fuck you.”

A shiver raced through her. But not just from the risqué suggestion. Because Travis kept calling his apartment home. Like maybe he considered it her home as well, even though she still technically lived with her mama.

“Babe, believe me, I love where you’re going with this, but I don’t want you to cancel on people who are looking forward to their appointments with you.”

He jerked his head. “It was just going to be me wandering the weight room anyway.”

“Oooh.” She slid her hands over his bulky shoulders. “Well in that case…”

“Great. Let’s go.” He scooped her up into his arms. She giggled, clutching him, as he carried her out into the main hallway. She’d never felt as safe as she did in Travis’s arms. She melted into him, enjoying the ear-to-ear grin on his face as they headed for his office to grab their things.

He kicked the door shut behind him and gently lowered her onto the edge of his desk, and her knees splayed open to welcome him between her legs. He grunted, his gaze hooded.

“Should have known we wouldn’t make it out of here without a little office romance first,” he murmured.

“We really should go back to your place,” she whispered, right before he dipped down and caught her lips in a kiss. But he broke the kiss early, pressing his forehead to hers as he cupped her hands in his.

“Speaking of that,” he whispered. “I have a confession.”

Something deep inside her cinched. Maybe what she and Travis had was too good to be true. Like maybe one day, it would all come crashing down after one accidental revelation or mistake. “What is it?”

Travis’s dimple flashed. “Well, it has to do with my place.”

“Okay, and?” She wriggled in his grip, as if the motion might make him reveal his truth more quickly.

Travis paused, his chocolate gaze searching her face. “Babe, I want you to move in with me.”

She rolled her lips inward, unsure where the sudden urge to cry had come from. Her limbs filled with heat, and before she knew it, an excited yelp passed her lips.

“Are you serious? Of course I’ll move in with you!”

Travis laughed, squeezing her into a hug. A couple tears escaped as she clung to him. Travis’s lips found hers, and they kissed messily, over and over again. Amara moaned, finally ripping away when her when she absolutely had to breathe.

“I love you so much, Trav,” she whispered, cupping his head in her hands. “It physically hurts sometimes. Do you know what I mean?”

He nodded, his throat bobbing. “I do, babe. I love you that much and more.”

She grinned, a tear making a hot trail down her cheek. “Do you know how perfect you are?”

Travis kissed her tear away, flattening the palm of her hand over his heart. “I’m not perfect, but we’re perfect for each other. Now let’s go so we can take the first load of stuff from your mom’s house and move it into mine,” he said, his own eyes shining with tears. She wouldn’t mention it, because she already knew he’d deny it. “And then we’ll start our sexy time on the couch.”

“You mean go grab a load now?” she asked, already following him out the door of his office.

“Eddie’s taking care of it. He already went to go talk to your mom.”

A laugh rippled out of her, along with more tears. “Wow. You guys really planned this out.”

“What can I say? When I know something’s right, I go after it.”

He slung his arm around her shoulders, his words echoing through her, making her throat tighten once more. Too often she thought back—with guilt, usually, but sometimes also shame—on how hard she’d fought to sabotage this blossoming relationship once she caught feelings.

“And thank God you do,” she whispered, tightening her arms around his waist, trying not to blatantly cry as they walked through the foyer toward the main doors. “Because you going after me was the best thing I never knew I needed.”

Travis brought her knuckles to his lips, his eyes shining again. As they walked out in the warm Los Angeles early evening, the sky red-streaked with the encroaching sunset, it felt like the world was at their fingertips. Like anything they wanted or tried for was already theirs.

With Travis at her side, she’d go farther than she ever could have alone.


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