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Beautifully Damaged(6)

By:L.A. Fiore

I wasn't there too long when I felt the oddest tickle down my spine and I knew who it was before my eyes landed on Trace. I actually felt the air still in my lungs. He was dressed in black sweats and a white tee that was snug across the muscles of his chest and arms. And how so like a man to be able to make sweats look sexy as hell. He came alone but as he moved through the crowds I noticed the people, mostly women, who started to gravitate to him like steel to a magnet.

I moved my eyes from the man to the women and had to resist the urge to scratch my head. Who fixes their hair and applies makeup before going for a run? Their running clothes were not only designer but they looked as if they'd never been worn. I felt like a bit of a slob next to them considering my hair was pulled up into a messy knot, my sweatpants had seen better days and my faded gray t-shirt had shrunk a bit over the years so that the words "May The Force Be With You" were stretched across my breasts.

I watched Trace -- more like stared blatantly -- and I noticed again how he seemed detached from his surroundings, including the women flocking around him. I thought to go over and say hi but the mere thought of doing so, in front of his fan club, made my stomach twist up in knots. And then, like magic, he turned his head and those steel-blue eyes looked right into mine. I watched as his lips curve up on the one side and then to my utter joy he started over to me. I almost swooned, my knees actually started knocking. He really was the most gorgeous man alive and he had the most excellent swagger. His stride was long and yet he moved with a deliberateness that made my mouth water. When he stopped right in front of me, I got lightheaded and then realized it was because I was holding my breath. I released it with a smile just as he spoke.


I had trouble forming words since my brain seemed to have seized up from shock but I did manage a simple, "Hi."

He studied me with an intensity that warmed my blood. Unlike the aloofness I had observed both at that time and the day before, there was a heat in his gaze that had my heart rate speeding up. Somehow I managed to say, "I don't know if you remember me from Sapphire...."

I didn't get to finish my thought when he offered,"...Ember Walsh, I remember."

He remembered my name. I wanted to do a little victory dance. Looking at that face, I couldn't help smiling; he really was altogether yummy.

"I wanted to thank you for helping me the other night."

"I think you were doing pretty well on your own but I was happy to help."

His voice was so deep and hypnotic. I could listen to him all day, stare at him, too. I pulled myself from those thoughts before I started to drool or whimper or both.

"Maybe, but I really appreciated you stepping up so thank you, Trace."

I noticed a flash in his eyes and I had the sense that he was surprised I remembered his name. The man was unforgettable; surely he knew that.

"You're welcome, Ember." We just stood there looking at each other and then he asked, "Do you mind if I join you?"

I was surprised and ridiculously happy in response to his question before I answered.


He started to warm up, the muscles of his torso bunching and cording under his tee. I noticed the slight coloring along his jaw. Clearly, the man had been in a fight since the last time I saw him but considering he knocked my would-be-attacker on his ass with very little trouble, I wouldn't be surprised to learn he was some type of fighter.

I watched as he continued to warm up with his face in profile, and what a face it was. His tattoo was on the arm opposite from me so I still couldn't make out what it depicted but I did see lots of flames. I was pulled from my silent study of him when the announcer called us to the starting line. Trace's eyes turned to me.

"Shall we?"

I smiled as we joined the masses. When the gun sounded I expected Trace to take off considering his legs were so long. He surprised me though and paced himself to run at my side. I had butterflies in my stomach every time I looked over at him. At one point when I looked, he was looking back, which had my heart nearly beating right out of my chest. I smiled before I turned my head but knew my face flushed as red as an apple. I knew he saw it, too, if the wicked grin he threw me was any indication. I didn't know what it was about this guy but I felt like a teenager with a crush when I was in his presence. About halfway through Trace moved a bit closer to me.

"I'll see you at the finish, Ember."

My eyes found his and damn they were pretty before I replied, "Okay."

He held my gaze for a moment and then he took off. He was not only beautiful but the man was in prime physical shape as he moved himself through the masses. In only a short time I couldn't see him any more. I didn't really expect to see him at the finish. I assumed his parting words were a farewell of sorts. I was disappointed because I could have spent the entire day with the man and it still wouldn't have been enough. I didn't know anything about him but I wanted to. I found that I was very interested in Trace Montgomery and that kind of interest in a man had never happened to me before. Of course, leave it to me to develop a crush on a man who was so out of my stratosphere.