Authors: Dayo Benson
A Drew Ashley Novel
Breaking Point (Drew Ashley 1)
© Copyright 2012 by Dayo Benson
All rights reserved.
No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without written permission from the author. The only exception is brief quotations in a book review.
Some scripture is taken from the New International Version of the Bible.
Cover design by Ade Benson
Visit the author's website at www.dayobenson.com
To everyone who has ever reached their breaking point. God knows.
Everywhere I looked, there were topless guys. Usually the men's changing room bulged with overweight baldies, but today, it was like it was Hotties Only Day at Gym21. They strutted around, towelling off their toned physiques and solid frames, while my mouth went Sahara dry. I supposed it would be most girls' idea of heaven, but for me it was uncomfortable. I felt like an intruder, a spy.
I lowered my gaze. "Can you hurry up, so that we can get out of here?" I whispered to my friend, Jazzlyn Cotton, who seemed pretty unflustered by the sea of bare chests.
Jazz craned her neck, looking around the men's changing room for the janitorial trolley, while the guys eyed us amusedly and flexed their abs. "I hung the notice about female attendants," she said casually. "So I doubt any of them have a problem with our presence."
The sharp smell of chlorine mingled with the scent of male aftershave and cologne. It was a dizzy combination that rendered me almost as giddy as the sight before me.
I stepped aside as a man whose skin looked like pure, golden honey crossed the room, his dark hair in tight, water-induced curls. If these guys were a tribe, this man would be their chief. He was pure perfection. I adjusted my navy blue Gym21 top nervously as he walked past, brushing me lightly.
I swiped away the drops of water that had landed on my sleeve. They were tangible evidence that the scene before me was no vision, no figment of my imagination. I was hanging on to my three-month-old salvation by a frail thread—and even that was in danger of being snipped in two by the ruthless razor of lust. God help me, but where on earth did these men come from?
"I'm just here for your moral support," I whispered to Jazz, who hadn't even noticed Mr Finest of Them All. "You're the one that's going to get the trolley."
Jazz nodded, unfazed, as she continued her search of the room.
Just then the door banged open bringing with it a gust of stale air as a group of average Joes entered the changing room, and started stripping down. Good. The oppressive 'hunk aura' that filled the room needed diluting.
"Oh, there it is!" Jazz said, sighting the reason for our venture into this chamber of temptation.
I hung back while she cut across the room and went to retrieve the trolley that came complete with a mop and bucket. Men shifted out of her way as she wheeled it towards the door. I held the door open and followed her out of the dank humidity of the men's changing room.
"You handled that pretty well for a prudish Christian," I teased when we got out into the hallway.
"You handled that pretty badly for an experienced Jezebel," she deadpanned.
I was shocked. She was my friend so I could take it, but she deserved a good jab with my elbow for that. I was about to give it to her when she ducked and I went flying into a man in swimming shorts as he emerged from the men's changing room, his beer belly three seconds ahead of him.
"I'm so sorry!" I gasped.
The man steadied me and walked away toward the pool entrance with a grunt. I stared after his bare back, mortified.
Jazz laughed. "Why did I not have my phone ready to video that? It would definitely have gone viral. We could be Internet sensations and quit our jobs in this stupid gym."
I dug my elbow into her ribs and she screamed. "What?"
A few more guys, not the Adonises, emerged from the changing room, but that didn't stop Jazz from running her mouth. "Okay, sorry for calling you a Jezebel."
"You called me an experienced Jezebel!" I muttered under my breath.
A guy whistled. "You sound like just the girl for me."
His companions bursted into laughter and Jazz laughed along with them. I grabbed the janitorial trolley and huffed off. I was not going to be the butt of Jazz's jibes today. Sometimes her never-made-a-mistake-in-my-life attitude just plain annoyed me. It was on days like these that I wondered why on earth I'd accepted her dare to see how long I could survive working here. I should have just acknowledged that I was as spoiled as she accused me of being, and saved myself this torture.
I stopped at the end of the hallway. Once this hallway was mopped up, we were free to leave for the day.
Jazz hopped over and took the mop from me. "I'll do it, I'm quicker." She thrust the mop into the bucket, squeezed out the mop head, then sloshed the water and bleach mixture over the floor. I watched her run the mop up and down the hallway. It took her thirty seconds flat. "There. That'll do," she announced.
I unlocked the store cupboard for her to push the trolley in, then we started towards the staff room, the humidity of the hallways stifling us as we went. Jazz pushed through a door. I put out a hand and caught it before it whacked me in the face.
"Coming to Ignite?" she asked.
Ignite was a Thursday evening campus fellowship. The leader, Russell Lowry, was determined to ignite within us all a passion for God that would explode on campus and cause a revival throughout the hallowed halls of Oxford University. "I guess I am. I totally forgot about it, though. I didn't even pack any clothes."
Jazz rolled her eyes. "There's no one to impress at Ignite."
"You must be joking." Maybe Jazz was just blind to the calibre of guys at Ignite, just as she'd been in the men's changing room a few minutes ago. How could a girl even remotely remember what a janitorial trolley was when a buffet of male bodies was before her?
"Today they're building that fence, remember?" Jazz asked, shooting me an 'I can't believe you want to get dressed up to build a fence' look.
"Oh, yeah." Russell had suggested that we all let our light shine by volunteering to rebuild the run down fence around one of the campus football fields.
I stripped off my uniform when we got to the staff room and stepped into the shower. The water was brutally cold, but I needed it because it was really hot and sweaty in the gym today. I threw on the same sweaty uniform after.
Jazz sighed as I removed my makeup bag from my handbag. "Are you going to put on full makeup to build a fence?"
"You know I am." Being under the scrutiny of the British press for so long had taught me never to go out without makeup. I slapped it on. "Got any perfume?" I asked Jazz when I was done.
Jazz opened her locker and removed a bottle of something cheap-looking. It would have to do. I doused myself with the light floral scent while Jazz just gave her dark curls a quick brushing, then grabbed her bag. "Ready?" she asked.
"Yes." We started making our way out.
"Working tomorrow, Drew?" Alix Asikis called when we got to the reception. He was the receptionist, which meant that he sat and chatted to customers while the rest of us worked our behinds off.
"No, I need to finish my thesis, so I'll be off for a while. My deadline is next week Friday."
"Mine's due in two weeks," Alix said. He smirked, his dark hair flopping over his forehead. "I still find your intelligence quite shocking, you know, Drew."
I wasn't in the mood for Alix's stupid comments today, and the look on his face told me he was about to make one. "Really?"
"Yes. You've changed the way I look at pretty women. I used to just see hair and boobs, now I think about their minds, too."
"You try so hard to annoy me, Alix."
"What? It's not working?"
I smiled. "I'm glad I have been instrumental in changing your worldview."
"Anyway," Alix said grinning. "Congrats."
"You've worked here a full month now, and you haven't been as intolerable as we all thought you'd be."
"Just because she's an ex-snob doesn't mean she can't hold down a job," Jazz said in my defence, although I wasn't sure I liked being described as an ex-snob.
"Well, I got you a little something," Alix told me.
Jazz hid a smile and I gave her a warning look. She was convinced that Alix liked me, but I didn't agree with her. I'd met his girlfriend, Candace Siannas. She was a Greek goddess.
Alix removed a bunch of pretty orange and yellow flowers from under the reception desk. "I know you're probably used to much more expensive things. These only cost a fiver. But it's from the heart."
I laughed as I cut across the reception to accept the flowers. I gave Alix a quick hug. "Thanks Al, these are really pretty."
I was vaguely aware of a door opening as I read the humorous message that Alix had written on the card. I stepped aside as someone approached the desk. Alix went into professional mode immediately, in order to attend to them.
I inhaled the sweet fragrance of my flowers and grinned at Jazz who was looking a little dazed. Was the fact that Alix had given me flowers that flabbergasting? I went to ask her what was wrong, but before I could say anything she grabbed my hand. "Oh my goodness, Drew..."
"What?" I asked, following her gaze. Her eyes were on the person at the desk. It was the leader of the clan of cuties, fully dressed this time. He glanced our way as if feeling our eyes boring into him, and tossed us a quick smile before turning back to Alix.
"Is he real?" Jazz whispered. "Or am I imagining him?"
"Jazz, he was in the changing room before, pretty much in the nude and you didn't notice him then."
"Yeah." I headed for the time attendance machine to clockout. Jazz followed. "Anyway, I hope you're praying towards tomorrow night for me," I whispered.
Tomorrow night, I was going to my ex-boyfriend's sister's engagement party. I really didn't want to see Travis Haywood, again. Not after the humiliating way he dumped me. But I wasn't the kind of girl to run. Wanda had invited me, and I was going, even if it was going to be the most awkward dinner party I ever attended.
"S-sure," Jazz said, still slightly disoriented. "I'll be praying."
"You're still coming with me, right?"
"Yeah. What was the dress code again?"
"Drew," Alix called from the reception desk, where he was attending to Mr Handsome. "Over here."
"Make it quick," I said, walking over. "I have somewhere to be."
"Where's the nearest cash machine?" Alix asked.
"There's one outside."
"It's out of order," Mr Handsome said in an accent that sounded like it had an American lilt to it, but I couldn't be quite sure.