Preorder link: Rebound
“This is a powerful and marvelously told story. I never saw the first version, so I have no idea what was missing from Claire’s story/experience, but whatever it was, this full-on revision will knock readers’ socks off. Kudos to you for reaching deep and putting it on the page. Very real and moving.”
**This book was previously published. It has been re-edited, re-formatted, and re-released.**
An award-winning choreographer faces her biggest heartbreak when she’s teamed up to coach with her former lover at a gymnastics camp for Olympic hopefuls.
Claire LeMay is at the top of her game—she’s head coach for a top gymnastics facility in Winnipeg, Manitoba with her gymnasts winning awards for her outstanding choreography. Now her biggest challenge is to coach alongside the man she’s avoided for three years after rejecting his offer of coaching under his command at his club in Ottawa, Ontario.
After sinking every penny of his inheritance into his state-of-the-art gymnastics facility, Justin Black has achieved his dream. But even with hundreds of members and well-trained coaches, when Claire’s presence invades his space, he realizes she’s the one thing that’s missing. Clueless about why she didn’t accept his earlier job offer, he is determined to discover why she turned him down.
Will they be a rebound romance, destined to repeat the same old routine, or can they choreograph a new one?
“Nice, eh?” Shelley said. “Want to check out the second floor?”
Tamping down on the rising emotion, Claire nodded and turned, following Shelley up the stairs. At the top, they walked straight into a viewing area equipped with enough chairs to seat an army and a bunch of toys in one corner. A small canteen filled the opposite corner, complete with vending machines.
She stroked her chin thoughtfully and smiled. Justin knew the parents and other family members of gymnasts had a place in the gym, and he wanted them comfortable, albeit from a distance. She’d heard he trained his own coaches and made sure they received coaching certification. If the rumor held true, his club had upwards of a thousand members, from preschool to elite.
Tears pricked her eyes. And he did it all without me.
The murmur of voices drew her attention to the left, and she walked down a small hallway with a boardroom and a door marked Dance Studio off of it. Claire blinked her tears away and swallowed the lump in her throat.
I’ve got to pull it together. She moved toward the boardroom, where the coaches were gathering. Some of the coaches were here to observe, like Shelly, while the rest coached the attending athletes. Since almost everyone knew each other, they took turns shaking hands and giving hugs. Everyone greeted her with hearty hellos, and she turned to greet another coach only to find herself face to face with Justin.
Her heart skipped a beat, and she froze on the spot. With a roomful of eyes on her, she did the only sensible thing she could think of—she hugged him.
His surprise registered in the way his body tensed, but to save face, he brought his arms around her and gave her a manly slap on the back that made her cough. “Good to see you,” he said.
“Likewise,” she murmured. “Shall we begin?”
Justin leaned up against a wall, arms crossed over his chest, and watched as Claire led the girls in a warm up. Compassion filled his heart for her. She gave a hundred percent effort into everything she did. Anger flickered in his gut. Why hadn’t she given their relationship just as much effort?
He continued to watch as Claire instructed the girls on a series of still exercises designed to work on their posture, poking and prodding them into position. Then she made them perform successions of leaps across the floor.
He gave an imperceptible shake of his head. None of the gymnasts leaping across the length of the floor had half the grace Claire possessed, nor did they have her presence. A mere five feet one inches tall, when she stood with that impeccable posture and spoke in her clear voice, she could be mistaken for a giant. Too bad she hadn’t been given her chance to shine.
Heat flared in his loins as he watched her perform a leap to demonstrate. Jesus. Fuckin’ perfect. Disgusted with his body’s traitorous response to her, he distanced himself by heading upstairs again.
He snagged a bottle of water from the refrigerator in the canteen and, unable to resist, looked down from the upper level window as Claire led the gymnasts through a short choreographed routine to a pop song. He knew they’d add to it each day, and at the end of the week, the girls would perform it for the coaches. Since the girls had come from all over the country, it provided a good way for them to get to know one another while they did something fun.
He chuckled as they tried to copy Claire’s movements. With the patience of a saint, she went over the steps again and again, watching them intently, giving instruction on arm placement and hip movements. Watching her dance had always captivated him, and it did so now. She had the amazing ability to observe a routine and then perform it near-perfectly.
The grace she possessed spilled into other areas of her life, too. He recalled how she’d accepted defeat that day at the Canada Olympic Trials, never shedding a tear, or swearing, or calling the other girls down as some gymnasts did when they lost. She had made a mistake and accepted it stoically.
The dancing stopped, and the lack of movement on the floor brought Justin back to the moment. Claire stared up at him. He nodded and smiled at her. She tucked a non-existent stray lock of hair back behind her ear and grinned shyly in return. Her cheeks flushed, and she bit her lips together.
His heart thudded in his chest. Ah, shit.
He knew right then he hadn’t succeeded one whit in putting behind him what they had shared. In the past, ignoring her had worked, at least somewhat, because he’d known that once the meet was over, they’d both return to their home provinces. Now that they were working alongside each other they’d be expected to field questions and converse with each other, not to mention everyone else. Time to let bygones be bygones.
How the hell do I do that? So much remained unsaid between them, and he didn’t know where to start—anger at her for walking out on him, anger she hadn’t shared his dream. And if he were honest—pissed at himself for letting things get so far off course.
Staring at her now, his heart pounded hard, like a gymnast sprinting down the vault runway. He heaved a sigh. Could he be man enough to call a truce? Would she believe his intentions were sincere? She had no reason to, and he didn’t blame her, but he’d never be able to move on if he didn’t try.
She gave him another half-smile, her blue eyes shining up at him.
He scrubbed a hand over his face and turned away, expelling the air from his lungs.
She’d be here in his personal space for a week. He wouldn’t be able to ignore her this time, and he knew it. So much for not examining my emotions.
Pondering goodwill gestures, he turned and jogged down the stairs to the gym.