Sidequest for Love - Page 27

I ran a hand down my face, suddenly feeling more tired than I’d been in a while. “She is. She likes parkour, too. That’s why she’s so obsessed with the show.”

“She’s very pretty,” Afric said, and if I wasn’t mistaken, I sensed there was something else she wanted to say but was holding back.

“You think so?”

“Anyone with a pair of eyeballs can see that she’s pretty, Neil.”

“I guess you’re right,” I said, focusing back on the episode and worrying my lip.

“She has that whole slim but muscular look going on. You must be really into that. Leanne has a similar body type,” she said.

I frowned, thinking about it. “It’s not that I particularly favour it. I developed feelings for Leanne mainly based on her personality and our close friendship. The same goes for Annabelle. Our conversations are what made me start liking her.”

“Oh,” Afric said, an odd note in her voice. “Well, that’s good to know.”

It was? Why? I didn’t voice the question, and both our attentions quietly drifted back to the episode.

Afric yawned softly when the end credits rolled. “I’m tempted to watch the next part, but I know I’ll only end up staying awake all night to watch the whole thing, so I should probably go to sleep.”

“We can watch the next episode tomorrow night if you want?” I offered impulsively.

I wasn’t sure why, but I’d really enjoyed this. Just virtually spending time with someone instead of sitting alone in my hotel room was surprisingly pleasant.

She granted me a pleased smile. “Seriously? I’d love that. Okay, I’ll call you around the same time tomorrow. Will you be free?”

“I should be.”

“Great. Talk to you then.”

“Goodnight, Afric.”

“‘Night, Neil.”

With that, we ended our video call, and I lay back in bed, staring at the ceiling. I had a long day of work ahead of me tomorrow, but knowing that I’d get to watch North and South with Afric at the end of it oddly made the prospect far more bearable.


Neil was going to murder me if he ever found out about this. Well, it was a good thing I didn’t plan on telling him. I’d followed the devil on my shoulder and decided to hell with it. I had a free afternoon, and I was going to do a little reconnaissance.

It had been easy enough to sign up for a free pass at the gym where Annabelle worked. The trouble was, I’d had to endure a one on one with a personal trainer named Derek and explain my health and fitness goals to him. I was a little disappointed I hadn’t been assigned to Annabelle. That way, I could’ve really picked her brain.

I’d given Derek some made-up spiel about wanting to lose a stone, and he’d drawn up a workout plan for me. He was so nice that I felt a little bit guilty for wasting his time and was actually considering joining the gym now.

What? They had a competitive yearly rate, and to be honest, I could do with getting into shape. My sedentary lifestyle was starting to affect my ability to climb the stairs to my flat these days. Huffing and puffing up several flights of stairs was not a good look, at least not at my age.

Once Derek released me to explore the gym on my own, I wandered from section to section until I spotted Annabelle standing with another of the personal trainers next to a row of elliptical machines.

I took a sip from my complimentary water bottle and eyed her while stepping onto a nearby treadmill. I was too far away to hear what she was saying to her co-worker, but I didn’t want to risk getting too close and arousing suspicion. I set the treadmill to a medium speed and started a slow jog. I figured I might as well get a workout in while I was here.

After a few minutes, two middle-aged women entered the elliptical area, each climbing onto a machine. They chatted as they began exercising, both a little overweight. My attention went to Annabelle as she whispered something to her co-worker, a tall, muscular guy in a sleeveless shirt that displayed his gun show, which I guess was the point.

I narrowed my gaze, suspecting they were making fun of the two women in some way by their grins and conspiratorial whispers. Thankfully, the women were oblivious to whatever was being said about them, too busy chatting away as they exercised.

A small brick settled in my stomach. I mean, I could’ve been wrong. Annabelle and Mr Muscles could’ve been talking about something else entirely, but my gut told me otherwise.

I’d come here hoping to assuage my misgivings, but all I’d managed to do was make those misgivings even worse. I hadn’t known Neil long, but he was such a cutie pie, and I felt protective of him. He was my adorable little Clark Kent, and I suddenly couldn’t stand the thought of Annabelle getting her claws into him.

Tags: L.H. Cosway Romance
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