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Homely Girl (The Bancrofts Book 0)

Homely Girl (The Bancrofts Book 0)

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A love to last a lifetime?The odd couple: April and Taj were opposites in so many ways. He was the cute, athletic, boy genius on campus that everybody wanted to be friends with. She was the overweight, shy and withdrawn girl who the bullies teased mercilessly.But they were friends and the older they got the deeper their friendship became. As friendship turns into something more, do April and Taj have a love that can last a lifetime? Or will time and separate paths rip them apart?
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Rock Abs Gym, 2003

April entered the gym wearily. She had been putting off going for months now but Rock Abs, the gym that was closest to her workplace, was having a special and she could not in all conscience ignore it. Her doctor had pointedly given her a flyer about the gym last time she visited his office, and there was a gorgeous guy on the front. He had an eyebrow saucily raised as if to say, 'come to me.'
His hair was in cornrows; he had deep-set bedroom eyes and looked oh so manly and gorgeous. She wondered, idly, if he would be at the gym when she got there. He would be perfect eye-candy.
She took a deep breath and pushed through the tinted front doors. She entered a large reception area that had a slim perky girl manning the front desk.
"Hi, I'm Denise," the girl said, giving April a friendly once over. "What can we do for you?"
April peeked through the frosted glass at the front and saw a ton of people inside working out on various machines.
"I have no idea," April said helplessly. She had never been to the gym before and had lost forty pounds in the last two years since college by sheer unfettered determination. She had walked everywhere and tried to watch what she ate. What she wanted to do was tone up her body and maybe lose twenty pounds more.
"Well," Denise smiled at her, "you could start by filling out one of these forms. It will give you an idea of what we can help you accomplish and then I can get one of our guys to show you around."
April nodded absently and took the paper and a pen that Denise handed to her in a flourish. It had the gym's logo in the middle. She moved further down the desk to make way for any newcomers to the desk and proceeded to look over the brightly colored card.
"It's a great day to join the gym," Denise said to her helpfully. "We are having a special that is running for the whole month."
April nodded as she scribbled in the information that she knew: age-23, known illnesses-none. She had no idea what her current height or weight was, or her body mass index.
She resisted the urge to chew the top of the pen. It was a bad habit she had taken up since high school, and she found herself picking up again since she removed her braces a year ago.
The front door made a slight whooshing sound as somebody walked in and April glanced up absently. Her eyes widened in appreciation of the guy that walked through. He had gorgeous brown skin, a lean, muscular physique, and deep-set eyes. It was him, the guy from the flyer!
She was looking at him so intently that he slowed down and came toward her.
April's insides started trembling. She hadn't felt so young and gauche since her high school days.
"Hi Shemar," Denise said to the guy. "I have a ton of messages for you regarding the marathon race that the gym is sponsoring."
April exhaled tremulously. He wasn't coming toward her. He was going toward Denise.
She hung her head back down and looked over her form. He hadn't even seen her! She exhaled shakily—she was alive though, thank God! She hadn't been attracted to anyone since Taj, the guy who was firmly cemented in her head as her one true love.
Lately, she had been wondering if something was seriously wrong with her.
When she looked up, the handsome guy was gone.
"Dishy, isn't he?" Denise asked, giving her a wicked grin. "I swear, we have a lot of female gym memberships just because of Shemar and that flyer."
"He works here?" April asked, trying to appear nonchalant.
Denise laughed, glancing over her card. "You could say that. He owns the place."
She leaned closer to April. "He is here every day though, and he works out in the mornings."
She laughed even louder as April shrugged, pretending as if she didn't care.
"So, when's the best time for you to work out?" Denise asked her. Her brown eyes were dancing with mirth. "You didn't put anything down on the form."
April swallowed. "In the mornings."
Denise chuckled and jotted that down. "Okay let's see. I am going to assign you to Derrick since you are a newbie. He'll show you around…help you to get acquainted with the machines. We have special classes like Pilates and yoga…"
Denise gave her a bright smile. "You'll have fun here, don't worry." She grabbed the phone and spoke to somebody, and a few minutes later a pleasant-faced guy with hulking muscles appeared at the door and introduced himself to her as Derrick.
The first place he carried her to was the weights room where there was a large digital scale and a tape measure.
Derrick scribbled down her measurements as he took them and then grinned at her. "Your body fat percentage is not that bad, with a little work and some sweat you'll be okay in no time."
April nodded. "Cool. That is good news. I am willing to work."
"All right," Derrick said, putting away the tape. "I am going to carry you on a grand tour of the gym. We have some very interesting features that you can take advantage of…like the massage room. That room you will have to book ahead of time because it is in high demand."
He showed her around and whistled as he sauntered through the large gym area. His whistling reminded her of a familiar tune from high school days. She grimaced slightly and tried to put her memories of high school at bay, but they hurtled up to meet her. She fought to keep her concentration on the here and now.
Derrick stopped and showed her the yoga room; two persons were in there, in the corpse position. Soothing music wafted through hidden speakers, and she made a mental note to do at least one class a week—it looked much more peaceful than the racket that was outside where the machines were.
April stared absently into the next room indicated to by Derrick—thoughts of high school were persistent in her mind. She inhaled deeply and allowed them to flood in. High school, she hated every moment there, except for Taj...