Fair Catch - Emerson Rose

Chapter 1

Angel

My tight muscles begin to loosen in Marcus’s capable hands.

“How does that feel?” he asks, pushing against my leg.

"It hurts a little, but I don't want you to stop."

“I want to take this slow, Angel. I don’t want to hurt you.”

“I don’t have time for slow.” I take a deep breath, hold it, and slowly blow it out as he backs away from me. His kind, warm brown eyes plead with me to let him go easy, but I can't. I want this. I have to have it.

"Okay, I'll work you over, but you have to promise me something."

“Anything,” I say as he raises my leg again, leaning into me.

I see a glimmer of hope flash across his face. Maybe I should be more careful about offering anything.

“Let me take you to dinner.”

Marcus winks, and one side of his mouth lifts in a sexy smirk that would melt the panties off most women.

Not me.

“Are you supposed to be fraternizing with your clients?” I ask.

“Probably not, but I can’t help myself.”

I roll my head to the right and see us in a mirror across the room of the physical therapy room. We are a sight to see, two attractive people in what could be construed as a compromising position in any other environment. My leg is nearly horizontal to my torso. Marcus has one hand on the back of my thigh and the other cradling the arch of my foot, testing the limits of my hamstrings.

How to let him down easy? I could say I have a boyfriend, but I'm pretty sure he knows I don't. I could say I'm a lesbian, but I think he's too smart for that one. Maybe I should tell him I'm too busy. That's not a lie, but it's an ego buster, and Marcus is sweet. I turn to face him again.

"Thank you, really, Marcus. I appreciate the invitation-slash-bribe." He's smiling. Whew. This is going well.

“My audition is next week, and Miss Valentina has me on a strict schedule that consists of hours of practice and zero fun.” I wag my finger back and forth, emphasizing my lack of a social life.

“You should take a break and let me feed you.” He looks at me through my legs when he sits back on his heels with his chin down and eyebrows high.

“I’m sorry, but I can’t.”

“You should tell Miss Valentina to lighten up.”

“Ha, no way. You have not met Miss Valentina. She's scary and demanding. Telling her to lighten up would be like telling Miley Cyrus to keep her tongue in her mouth. It's just not going to happen."

“Hmm, intense, huh?”

“To say the least.”

“Well, I guess you’re going to have to have her do your physical therapy then,” he says, laying my leg down on the floor.

"You work for MBS. You're supposed to heal my mind, body and soul. You took an oath or something, didn’t you?”

He chuckles, and I sigh with relief. I'm glad he's not upset, or at least, he doesn't appear to be. Rejecting men will never get any easier, especially when they are as nice as Marcus. My career is my top priority, though, along with making my parents proud. I'm not letting a man derail me now. I've come too far.

My mother put me in dance when I was two and a half, the second I was out of diapers, and she regrets it every day. My father is a gifted neurosurgeon, and he had his heart set on both of his daughters being physicians, but he was only granted half of that wish. My older sister, Heaven, has been a pediatrician for three years now, and he couldn't be more proud of her. Dancing, on the other hand, is not an acceptable career, in his book, but I'm going to make him change his mind, no matter what it takes.

“I have so many dirty responses to that question, it’s insane. I’ll be a gentleman and keep them to myself.”

He stands and offers me his hand to help me up. I take it and let him tug me to my feet, even though I don’t need the help.

I've been coming to MBS since I twisted my ankle and pulled a hamstring two weeks ago. It's expensive, but MBS is a famous healing center for athletes with injuries. Their nurses also travel and, God willing, I will be touring with the San Francisco Ballet Company after my audition next week.

"Thank you," I say and curtsey deeply, with a flourish.

"Don't mention it.