“I really appreciate it, but you don’t have to give it to me for free,” Clare’s brow furrowed as she took the membership card from the spunky redhead.
“Oh, please, girl. I used to work busing tables at O’Leary’s Pub when I was in high school. Is Cian still in charge over there?” She smiled back as she continued putting Clare’s information into the gym’s computer system.
“Yeah, he’s my supervisor.” Clare nodded at the woman, slightly mesmerized by how piercing and blue her eyes were in contrast to the bright red wavy hair that flowed down most of her back.
“Then believe me, these self-defense classes can be written off as a work expense on next year’s taxes.” Both women snickered. Clare leaned against the counter, enjoying the interaction, since she hadn’t made any friends around her age in the three weeks she had lived here. Clare felt a pang of regret slice through her as she wished that an irritating boss was the only reason she needed self-defense classes.
“I’m Casey Kavanagh, by the way.” The redhead reached out her hand to Clare, who accepted it happily.
“Clare—well, I guess you already know that.” Clare pointed toward the driver’s license that Casey was still holding. Casey just smirked and waved her hand nonchalantly.
“So—Kavanagh? You’re part of the family who owns this place?” Clare tried not to sound like she was prying, but she was curious. She’d heard that name all over town since she got here.
“Yeah, my uncle owns it. Started it up back in the late seventies. It’s been remodeled lately, but we definitely still have the old-school reputation.”
“Oh.” Clare nodded, not sure what that meant or what to say.
“Here, you can have this back. I think I have everything in here now.” Casey handed her the license. “The thirty-day trial membership begins today, and then we can talk about different types of plans after you’ve had a chance to try out our various amenities and classes.”
“Thanks. Do you think I could have a peek around? See where the locker rooms are and stuff like that?” Clare tucked her driver’s license back into her wallet along with the new membership card, then stuffed the wallet into the small brown purse that was slung over her shoulder.
“Hell, yeah! Come on, let me give you a tour. Welcome—officially, this time—to Legends!” Casey popped out from around the back of the counter, motioning for her to follow.
Clare watched the bouncy, energetic woman in amusement as she followed her, feeling slightly overdressed in her knee-length red dress and thigh-high black boots, compared to Casey’s black yoga pants and neon-green long-sleeved tee.
“Okay, so here are the locker rooms. Men over there, women right here.” Casey started to point toward various doors they passed as the hallway opened up into a large room with an open floor plan.
“The entire far side of the room is pretty much for the fighters, not really anything but testosterone and ball sweat over there.” Casey slid her arm around Clare’s elbow to pull her along.
Clare giggled at Casey’s remarks and took in the view of dozens of men on weight-lifting machines, standing in front of weight benches, and in the rings. She had to agree, there was definitely a lot of testosterone in here.
“But over here is where things are a bit less noisy.” Casey led Clare to a side hall that opened into several small classrooms. A few of the rooms were filled with people doing group exercises; Clare recognized a yoga class and a spinning class.
“All the classrooms are walled in by windows, but the glass is so thick that you can’t hear all the noise from the rings.” Casey indicated an empty classroom that was at the back wall of the gym.
The door they entered through was set in a wall of all glass, just like the back wall of the room that gave them a view of the street. Clare strode toward the back wall, loving the openness and the view of pedestrians passing by.
“Yeah, that’s my favorite part, too,” Casey said.
“What, people watching?”
“Of course! People are weird, which is fun,” Casey quipped, joining her at the window as they stood side by side.
“See, there’s an example of weird right there.” Casey pointed at a behemoth of a man crouching on the sidewalk with a large dog next to him.
“That’s my cousin, Rory, but he’s more like a brother. He works here sometimes, used to be a fighter but got hurt in the championships last year. Almost couldn’t walk again since his leg pretty much split in two. A year later, not only is he walking, but there he is crouched down, feeding a damn street dog.”
Clare watched more closely, and now she noticed the second dog. In front of both the man and the larger dog beside him was a smaller, frail-looking pup. It couldn’t be more than twenty pounds, although it seemed like it should be much bigger. The dog’s ribs were poking out of its side as Casey’s cousin slowly fed him a sandwich. He was careful to hold his hand out flat and she could see his lips moving from his profile, realizing he was probably coaxing the dog to accept the food.
“I think that’s sweet. I was studying to be a vet before I moved here.” Clare’s voice was soft as she admired the man’s kindness toward the stray.
The man stood and stretched a bit, opening up the other half of a bagged sandwich and then settling himself on the curb by the thin dog, who seemed more trusting of him now. In his new position, Clare could see more of his face and she realized that it was the same burly yet handsome man she had flirted with at O’Leary’s last night.
Of course, that was before he had broken her boss’s nose.
She felt a stirring in her abdomen as she watched him, her mouth slightly parting. The brown pup cautiously took a few steps to him, then sat and placed his head in Rory’s lap. Clare felt a glow as her heart warmed at the sight.
“I’m so not an animal person, but Rory would help a goddamn rat if he found one. That bigger dog there is his shadow, Ace. Barely ever see the two of them apart.” Casey stepped away from the window.
Clare hesitated, watching Rory and Ace for a moment longer, then pulled herself away to go follow her new friend. It had been a while since she had thought about her previous career aspirations, and a wave of sadness passed over her as she thought of the different trajectory of her life now. Maybe now that she was starting over, she could go back to school, she found herself hoping.
“Then let me behind you walls. Let me be your walls. You’re safe with me.”
“No, I’m having a moment, and you’re the woman I want to spend it with.”
“Clare, I’m swinging in the dark here. I’ve no clue what I’m doing. All I know is that this is different. I don’t want to just have one night with you. I think I might want every night with you, and I can’t even believe those words are coming out of my mouth right now…”
“It means that you are the pulse of my heart, you’re the reason it keeps beating, Clare. You bring me to life in a way I never could have on my own.”
Breaking a Legend was considerably different from what I was expecting. It turned out to be an angsty and steamy read. Ms. Robinson does steam very well and she brings it on with this passionate couple. The story was rather heavy with the main characters both broken and hurt with their spirits beaten down and weakened. Both are smart and capable. I enjoyed the plot, humor, banter, sizzle, sweet love story, and most of the characters. Clare frustrated me somewhat, she appears deeply damaged and although she occasionally showed feistiness, it was alternated with flakiness – and a lifetime of poor choices, I wanted to whack her on the back of the head.