“You know the expression on your face is inappropriate for someone sweating as much as you are.”

Mitch could only grin harder and give a brief shake of his head as he kept running. He held up two fingers to let Zander know he was nearly done.

Zander nodded as he stepped onto the next machine. He got set up, towel in easy reach, water bottle in the holder, then stabbed at the screen and the treadmill began to move.

“I thought you hated these things?” Mitch managed as he gradually slowed to a walk.

“Yeah. But in this weather… what can you do,” Zander replied as he started to jog.

“Still raining then?” He grabbed a towel to wipe his face as his machine stopped and he turned to the stand sideways and lean back.

‘”It is,” Zander confirmed. “Which sucks for both of us I think?”

“It’s been a little slow but since our members pay an annual fee or pay in advance for a series of classes… ” He shrugged and looked around the almost empty room. “We’re a little quieter but no big deal. And we still have our regulars like you,” he finished with a grin.

“Us too,” he agreed with a nod.

“Apart from business being slow, everything good with you?”

“Just peachy,” Zander said as he looked down at the control panel to increase his pace.

“You know if you smiled when you said that, I just might believe you,” Mitch said as he stood up and stepped off the machine. He walked over to a stack of clean towels and grabbed one to wipe down the machine with and gave it a thorough going over as Zander tried to ignore him. “Come on,” he prompted finally. “How can I be a good wingman if I don’t know what’s going on?”

Zander scoffed but smiled a little. “Think I was the wingman.” He sucked in a breath. “And job done. You’re welcome.”

Mitch finished with his machine and moved to the front of Zander’s. “Max is… amazing.” He grinned at Zander’s muttered curse and look of distaste. “But we were talking about you.”

“Nothing to talk about.” He jabbed the screen and picked up his pace.

“I find that hard to believe.” Mitch frowned.

Zander shrugged. “Believe what you want. The woman I want isn’t interested. The men I want to get to know only want a kink scene. Nothing.”

Mitch’s brows went up and he shook his head. The thing about the woman he had no idea about but the men? “Are you sure? That’s not the impression I got when I saw you and Luc outside your club.”

“You said it man. If it wasn’t me it’d be someone else,” Zander said, resolute.

Mitch opened his mouth to reply as a soft beep sounded. “That’s my move your ass warning,” he said with a sigh as he tapped the phone he had strapped to his bicep. “I’m working late tonight, why don’t I come by The Void when I’m done? I can say hi to Max then we can grab a drink or a meal?”

With a frown Zander deftly stepped onto the sides of the treadmill so he could talk. “Come in for a drink, I’ll be behind the bar later but Max is off tonight.”

“Is that tonight?” Mitch winced.

“Yeah, she’s not thrilled that you’re working but she gets it,” Zander shrugged. Another beep sounded from Mitch’s arm as Zander stepped back onto the treadmill. “You better go. Talk later,” he added as Mitch nodded.

“Yeah, thanks.” Mitch headed to the locker rooms for a quick shower and change of clothes before rushing into his office to grab the file on his new client. Another MMA hopeful whose trainer thought needed work on his flexibility among other things. Mitch would assess him and decide if they could work together today but given he worked with a few of the trainer’s other fighters he was pretty sure it was a done deal. In which case he’d develop a program and move on from there.

Then he had a ‘train the trainers’ session and after that was filling in on a couple of yoga classes since their usual instructor was on her honeymoon. Which was great for her but unfortunate timing for Mitch since it meant he was missing Max’s family dinner tonight, the first event she had invited him to and he’d had to say no. She’d shrugged it off with a ‘no big deal’ but Zander’s comment seemed to say otherwise. Before he could dwell on it his phone beeped with another reminder and he headed out to reception.

“Still raining then?”

“It is.” Mitch took the hand towel Zander held out and wiped his face before running it over his hair.

“You didn’t have to come out,” Zander said with a grin as Mitch dried off.

Mitch shrugged. “Had to go out to get home, you’re kind of on the way.”

“If by on the way you mean three blocks out of your way.” As Zander spoke he flipped a glass then set it on the bar beside another one and poured a long stream of amber liquid into both of them. “Spiced whiskey,” he said as he set the bottle down and picked up one of the glasses for himself.

Rather than answer Mitch took a sip of his drink, savouring the heat of the alcohol. “Nothing else to do,” he said a little hoarsely then sipped again. “Max likely to stop in after her family dinner?”

“Nope.” Zander shook his head. “They always go late, everyone’s having too much fun to leave. One of the downsides to running this place together.”

“Oh.” Mitch rested his arm on the bar and propped his chin on his hand then frowned. “Why is that a downside?”

“Max hasn’t told you? If you’d gone tonight you would have met both our parents, we’re related.”

“That explains the strange looks when anyone suggests you two could be a couple then,” Mitch said with a chuckle. “Why don’t you just tell people that?”

“It’s just easier. No comments about how we look alike or don’t look alike or how mice it is to work with family. I thought Max would have told you by now though.”

Mitch felt himself flush and hoped the lighting was dim enough to hide it. Talking wasn’t high on the list of things to do when he and Max got together. “So how do you decide who misses out?” he asked to change the subject.

“We usually both go, we have great staff so it’s not an issue, but this weather… we’ve got so many sick, including our manager. Max got to go since it’s her mom’s birthday.”

“Oh come on,” Mitch muttered. “Of all the nights… ”

Zander patted Mitch on the shoulder as he topped up his drink then moved down the bar to serve some customers. He looked over as he heard giggling and wasn’t at all surprised to see two women perched on bar stools as Zander poured their drinks.

“One ‘Slippery Nipple’ and one ‘Quick Fuck’,” he said with a wink as the women giggled again.

“What no screaming orgasm?”

Mitch turned towards the low muttered scoff and offered the damp towel he still held to the lean man sliding onto the stool beside his. “Luc right?” he queried as the other man waved the towel away.

“I’m not that bad,” he muttered brushing his hands over his shirt while giving Mitch an assessing look. “I don’t believe we’ve met?”

“Yeah no,” Mitch agreed with an easy smile. “I know Zander though.”

Luc’s eyes moved down to the man in question then back to Mitch. “Yeah no?” he asked in a teasing voice. “Are you confused or…?”

“Yeah no,” Mitch said with a chuckle. “A bad habit I have.”

“Only one? Could be worse then.” Luc teased then leaned his elbows on the bar and looked past Mitch for a long moment before looking back. “You were outside that night. Mitch and Ben?”

Mitch nodded. “Mitch.”

“Mitch. How do you know Zander? Just through the club?”

Mitch hesitated, not sure what to say, what Zander would want him to say. “I’m dating his business partner, Max,” he said finally, not entirely untruthfully.

Luc nodded but his attention was no longer on Mitch who turned his head enough to see Zander nearing them, a grim smile on his face.

“Hey,” Zander greeted as he set a beer bottle in front of Luc who nodded and picked up the drink. He opened his mouth but before he could speak Zander turned to Mitch. “You good?”

Mitch looked down at his half full glass. “Ah yeah.”

“Call out if you need anything.” He looked from Mitch to Luc so quickly Mitch nearly missed it then went back to the giggling women. “What’s next ladies?” He braced his hands on the bar and leaned forward. “Screaming orgasms all round or maybe a long slow comfortable screw up against the wall?”

A muted thud drew Mitch’s attention back to Luc as he set the bottle on the bar on top of a $20 note then slid to his feet. “It was nice to meet you Mitch,” he said with an empty smile.

Mitch’s “You too,” was wasted as Luc walked away without looking back. “Yeah, nothing at all happening in your life Zander,” he muttered then picked up his drink to sip. Maybe he should leave too. Find out where Max’s family dinner was and join her since Zander said it would go late. Though why hadn’t she suggested that? Maybe she didn’t want him to meet her family yet. Or at all.

He’d told Luc they were dating but were they? So far they’d shared meals and had sex, lots of amazing sex. And it was always his place for the sex and the meals. She never wanted to go out and he was more than happy to stay in for the food/sex combo. Despite her talk about wanting a companion without the pressure of a relationship, someone to take to family dinners, watch movies with, wake up with, they’d done none of those things. Apart from their first time she hadn’t slept over either, it was always in the evening so she had to go to work, and she had never used the key he’d given her so she could crawl into bed with him in the mornings..

He looked down the bar where Zander was pouring drinks, the smile on his lips not quite reaching his eyes as he flirted with the women at the bar. When he was done he stepped away to replace the bottles he had used and looked over to where Luc had sat. For a moment his shoulders slumped and his smile faded and Mitch wondered if he was more like Zander than he knew. Wanting more from Max than she wanted from him…