Getting fit on reality TV is PR guru, Lauren Michaels’, brainchild for gym equipment and fitness company Physicality, Inc. The brilliant PR stunt involves one brave volunteer who wants to be fit badly enough to submit to the not so tender training techniques of personal trainer, Wolf Jennings, whose successful, but non-conventional, methods would make a drill sergeant look like a fluff ball. But when CEO and owner of Physicality, Inc., Claire Amos, decides her PR ace in the hole needs to walk the walk, Lauren finds herself between a kettle bell and a hard place… er, a hard trainer. That’s nightmare enough, but for six weeks, 24/7, the explosive chemistry between the two will be sweated out live on camera for the whole world to see. What could possibly go wrong?
Claire’s phone blared out Flight of the Valkyries over Jennings’ barked instructions to his tortured clients. “Speaking of the devil,” she said, nodding to Jennings’ arse on the screen as she answered her device. “Wolf, darling! Lauren and I were just talking about you. Watching your lovely video, actually. On our way over.” She winked at Lauren, whose stomach suddenly felt like it was in freefall. “Here, sweetie, let me put you on speaker so I can introduce you two,” she said just as the Wolf Jennings on the screen yelled for his people to clench those glutes and zip those abs.
And suddenly it was like that slow-motion scene in a horror film, just before the pretty young innocent is shredded by Freddy Krueger or pursued by the monster from the fetid swamp. Wolf Jennings turned to gaze at the camera from beneath hooded eyelids that revealed familiar blue eyes. He offered a smile that was damn near erotic. Then he said in a very northern accent, “If you do your part, I guarantee I’ll get you there.”
As the clip ended and Misty and Del were once again on camera, Lauren sat frozen to the spot, just like all those poor women in the films. She didn’t scream, though she felt like it. Instead she managed in a shaky voice, “I can’t work with him.”
“I can’t work with her.” The response on the other end of the phone was simultaneous. The familiar voice was honey and heat and frustration. Then he continued, sounding at least as breathless as he had on his video, as he had when he got up close and personal with her in the garden behind the pub. “There’s been some mistake, Claire. I can’t work with her. We can’t work together.”
The smile on her boss’s face slipped just a fraction. “Why ever not, Wolf? You two are perfect together. Not only is Lauren comfortable on camera, but she’s horribly unfit.” Before either of them could respond, she continued, “I need my PR ace in the hole fighting fit, and right now I doubt if she could fight her way out of a paper bag.”
“Oh, yes, I could.” Fuck, Lauren sounded like a kid at the Christmas pantomime.
“Didn’t look like you could on the stairs,” Claire responded. She turned her attention back to Jennings. “Obese couch potatoes or under-muscled, out-of-shape career women, unfit is unfit, Wolf.”
“I’m not really that unfit.” Lauren barely got the words out before they both said in unison,
“Yes you are.”
A part of her wanted to crawl under the seat in her embarrassment while the other part wanted to punch Wolf Jennings right in his smug gob. Instead she snarled between her teeth, “You lied to me, Jennings.”
“I lied to you?” His voice became a hushed growl. “How do you figure that? If anything, you lied to me.”
“As I recall you’re the one who sat down right next to me and wheedled your way in. I didn’t ask for your company.” She leaned closer to Claire’s iPhone, which the woman obligingly held up for her, with a bemused shrug. “I didn’t even know who the hell you were, or you’d have been wearing your Sneck Lifter.”
“Did you two have sex?” Claire Amos seldom pulled punches.
“We didn’t,” Lauren said.
“We would have,” Wolf said.
“Would not,” she responded.
“Oh, and that’s why you grabbed for the condom, was it? You couldn’t even wait to get to a room.”
“You had me pushed up against the garden wall. I wouldn’t have come near you if I’d known that you were Wolf fucking Jennings.” She grabbed Claire’s phone away and all but yelled into it. “Look, I don’t want to be here anymore than you want me to. I’m not one of your fucking gym bunnies.”
“Clearly,” he spat back.
Lauren felt the chill of doom crawl up her spine as Claire took the phone from her hand. The smile on her face was back, this time with a good dose of scheming behind it. “Let me get this straight, the two of you ran into each other in a pub?”
“And one thing led to another and you got touchy-feely.”
“Mind telling me why you didn’t do the deed?”
“You sent me the fucking file with Lauren Michaels’ image front and centre,” Wolf managed. Even on the phone, Lauren could tell he was struggling as much for control as she was. “I don’t sleep with my clients.”
“Well you must not have been too into each other if you let a little text file stop the action.”
“I didn’t check it intentionally.” He sounded offended. “The phone fell out of my jacket and the message popped up with Lauren’s name and photo.”
Claire actually giggled. “I won’t even ask which of your explosive cardio moves you were trying on Lauren that made your phone fall out of your pocket.”