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Discovering Dalton

By:Nicole Colville

Discovering Dalton

Nicole Colville

Chapter 1

Dalton glanced around the empty street, then sighed as he turned his attention to the building beside him which he was desperately trying to forget. The shiny silver sign over the door held his attention for longer than it should. ASPIRE. An apt name for a gym, he thought.

He slumped against the wall, pulling out his mobile, checking to see if his friend and work mate Milo had changed his mind and decided to come work out with him. Dalton couldn’t really blame him for not being there. Milo had a lot going on at home and a promotion at work to occupy his time. They saw less of each other with Milo now being more office based in the station and Dalton still patrolling the streets of Manchester in his squad car.

Dalton sent him a text, trying to be funny, saying he hated him for abandoning him in his hour of need and what a selfish bastard he was. Both knew not one word of it was true, but Dalton liked to wind Milo up. It was so easy to do after all.

He brushed a hand over his head and looked over his shoulder, sneaking a peek through the glass double doors of Aspire and spotted Kathy inside, staring back at him with a sly grin on her face.

She was one of the trainers, and Dalton found out from Milo she was almost as new to the gym as he was. It was men only until six months ago, but in a bid to get more bums on seats, as they say, the owners introduced mixed classes, which Dalton attended, and not just to sit in the spinning class and watch the women’s arses bouncing around on their bikes either. Although that was nice. Aspire was a safe haven for him, and he’d spent more time there than home over the last three months.

Kathy tilted her head to the side, tapping her watch before beckoning him inside with a crook of her finger.

Dalton smiled, putting on his ‘I’m not bothered by anything’ look and walking into the building. He knew how to act—years of training in the police force showed him how important it was to never show weakness, but it seemed Kathy watched for longer than he thought, and she’d seen through his professional mask.

“You all alone, handsome?” Kathy grinned at him, making a big deal of looking past him and through the glass door behind him. “Where’s the other one tonight?” She had this thing for Milo.

Dalton leaned on the desk and shrugged. “He’s with his boyfriends.” He took time out to shake his head. “Why is it he always gets so much attention? Is it because you know you can’t have him?”

Kathy laughed as she walked around the desk to his side. “I would say it’s his dark looks and overall sexy demeanour. Also, two men getting it on is H.O.T.” She began walking and Dalton adjusted his gym bag on his shoulder, biting his tongue as he followed her so he wouldn’t correct her mistake and say three. “Well, you should know.” She threw a wink over her shoulder.

Dalton tripped over his own foot as he came to an abrupt stop. She thought he was gay? Several thoughts ran through his mind. One being maybe that’s why she didn’t come on to him, but then she came on to Milo, so… The other being frustration as he’d always been tagged with that label ever since he and Milo became friends. Gay by association, not that he was bothered, but still…

“I'm not gay. Just because I have friends who are, doesn’t mean I am, you know.”

Kathy turned to look at him as she pushed the door open to the spacious room where she held her classes. It was surrounded by floor to ceiling mirrors, which Dalton was adamant they put up to make sure you knew just how horrible you looked and kept you coming back to get slimmer. She looked him up and down, smirking smugly. “You sure about that?”

What the fuck! Dalton looked himself up and down, searching for what she saw, then glared right into her brown eyes. “You're fucking with me, aren’t you?”

Her impish grin grew larger and he gave her a gentle shove as he walked into the room. “Aw, come on! Okay, I thought you were, and then I didn’t, and then I did, and then I thought you were bi.”

“What the hell does it matter to you who I fuck anyway?” Dalton said that a bit too loudly and a few heads turned to look at them.

“It doesn’t, Dalton. I’m just a nosy bitch. Don’t take it personally. I didn’t mean to insult you.” Her smile shrank as she grabbed her shoulder-length hair and tied it back into a ponytail.

Obviously he’d offended her which wasn’t his intentional at all. “I'm not insulted. I'm just… I don’t know.”

He’d always been gossiped about—even being married to a woman hadn't stopped that. It bugged him a lot because he was monogamous and it was the thought of people thinking he cheated which wound him up. He overcompensated sometimes, in the beginning before he was comfortable with just not giving a fuck, but ten years ago things weren’t as open as they were now, and he’d seen Milo go through some bad times. He’d always supported Milo, been there through the hard times and the good times. Dealt with the rumours, rumours about the two of them.

Dalton downed half a bottle of water as he waited for the rest of the group to come in and settle on their bikes. It was easy standing up for gay rights and supporting his friends through their difficulties, easy because he went home to his wife and didn’t have to struggle with the name calling and the bitching, the endless jokes. He could settle back into his comfortable life and forget about it all, but if he was honest with himself, things hadn't been good with Kelly for years, and going home didn’t hold the same level of comfort as it once did.

The fact she was fucking someone else still came as a shock when he found out though. Dalton felt that familiar ache in his stomach when he thought about his wife of ten years sharing another man’s bed, but all too soon Kathy was shouting at them to get ready and he jumped on his bike, happy to work out his emotions in a safe way, one where he could control himself and vent the anxiety and anger which built daily inside him.

An hour of pushing his limits and Dalton slid off the bike, his arse aching and his legs wobbling like Bambi taking his first steps.

“Good work, Dee.” Kathy slapped him on the back, making him choke as he took a drink of water. “Soz, mate.” She laughed, slapping him a few more times until he stopped coughing and nodded at her. “You push yourself more and more. Even without Milo here bugging the shit out of you. In fact, I think you did even better not having him here. Maybe it’s time to let go of the lifeline and try going solo for a bit.”

“I dunno,” Dalton panted out. “I like coming here with him.” Dalton didn’t know if Milo would be able to keep up their sessions in the gym now things were serious at home with Daniel and Samuel, not to mention the extra hours he was putting in at work with the promotion, but Dalton missed his friend. Milo was the only person he ever really talked to. Not that they shared in depth emotional chats, but still, Dalton enjoyed the personal time they had together. “Maybe I’ll be forced into coming alone anyway.”

“Think of it as a good thing.” Kathy smiled at him before leaving him alone in the clammy atmosphere of the training room.

Dalton took a few minutes to calm down, then went into the cardio room. It was the main section which housed all the running machines and other scary looking equipment, which Dalton still got all confused over some days. After three months of coming, his confidence had stepped up a bit, but he still looked at some of the machines and wondered if he was fit enough to give them a go. After spending an hour on the rowing machine and the stepper, it was time to go into the weights room—the room he hated the most.

The first time he came to Aspire and the buff, olive skinned, scantily clad Adonis—which he would later know as Liam—showed him around the place, he felt like a fish out of water. Never having been in a gym before, he didn’t know what most of the stuff in there was for, and when the door slid open to reveal the weights room with all the large men showing off their heavily built bodies in front of the floor to ceiling mirrors, well, Dalton felt fatter and more unfit than he’d ever done.

For most of his life he’d never had an issue with weight. Okay, he’d not been fit, but he’d never been big. Perhaps plump some would say, but when he’d first started coming to Aspire, it came after three months of comfort eating through his depression, and he’d gained nearly thirty pounds. All of it on his stomach and thighs, Dalton noticed.

Dalton sucked in a breath and walked through the door, nodding to a few of the other guys who must live there, because Dalton had never been there when they hadn't. They weren’t really on a first name basis. He knew one of them was called Casey, but that’s because the fool loved himself so much his name was printed on his vest in big, bold, bright colours—a different colour for each day, Dalton observed over time. The guy was loud, and went way overboard with how much he showed off when he lifted stuff, and after watching the other men in there closely, Dalton knew he peed off other members too.

Although Dalton was now over forty pounds lighter, and fitter than he’d ever been in his entire life, having muscles under his skin not flab, he still felt out of place. Going in for the first time without his BFF Milo shook him up a bit, and he was about to leave when he felt the steely glare of Liam on him, stopping him in his tracks. He beckoned to Dalton with his finger, his gaze never leaving Dalton’s wary blue eyes for a moment as he walked to him.