I gave him a sideways glance, hoping he got the point. He was bringing out the feminist in me again and there wasn’t that much ra-ra feminism in me to begin with.

“Look. There are tons of packs to choose from. All over the world.”

Mr. Dawson sped up the pace again.

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“You. Don’t have. To choose. Now.”

I was too winded to respond, but I didn’t like where he was going with this.

The call of the pack slid over my skin, urging me to stay in step with everyone else. It took me a couple of tries to get my footfalls to break their beat. It wasn’t that I had anything against the pack stuff, but I didn’t like the idea of having someone dictate my moves, even if it was just the way I was running.

“What. Are. You doing?” Chris said.

I couldn’t answer him. Staying on the offbeat took all my concentration. I forced my legs to move faster until I was next to Mr. Dawson. Whispers followed in my wake. I was gasping as I reached him.

“You’re just full of surprises,” Mr. Dawson said with a smirk.

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I matched his pace, but made sure my feet hit the ground just before his did.

Chapter Twenty-Three

Ninety-seven.

A drop of sweat rolled off my nose as I straightened my arms, completing a push-up.

Ninety-eight.

My arms felt like jell-o. I was losing form, and my lower back was starting to ache.

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Ninety-nine.

I collapsed down on the ground. The grass felt cool on my hot cheek.

It hadn’t taken that long to finish the laps around the gym with the pace Mr. Dawson set. He wasn’t done with our torture by any means. As soon as we were done running, he took us outside next to the Cazadores track. I’d already done more sit-ups than I’d done in my entire life, a cool 124 and a half before I gave up. I was counting that half. I’d earned it. But the rest had done over 500. They were beasts. No wonder they all had amazing bodies.

Everyone was still trucking along, like there was nothing to 200 push-ups. Their bodies moved to the ground and up together.

I rolled onto my side facing Chris and massaged my biceps. “I can’t do it. I can’t do one more freaking push-up.” Triple digits wasn’t something humanly possible. Or Tessa-possible.

Chris looked over at me, pausing an inch from the ground. “What are you? A girl?” Chris pushed himself off the ground, clapped once, before landing, and did it again.

“Oh, come on! Are you for real?” I shoved him.

“Hey! Watch it!” Shannon said as Chris tumbled into her.

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A throat cleared above me. “Trouble, pups?”

I rolled myself up and sat on my heels. “Not anymore. I’m almost breathing normally again.”

He crossed his arms.

“I can’t do one more, Mr. Dawson. My arms have turned into cooked spaghetti noodles. And they’re shaking.” I held them out.

His mouth set in a firm line.

“I’m not used to this. It’s a miracle I lasted this long.” My stomach growled. “And I’m starving. There’s no telling what could happen, and I don’t want to be responsible for any more disruptions today.”

He laughed. “Okay. Okay. You’re done for now, but you need to be at my cabin in thirty.”

If I was in trouble for not finishing the work-out, I was going to freak out. “Because I’m not as strong as Captain America over here?”

Chris picked up his pace at the attention.

Mr. Dawson shook his head. “No. You’ve surprised me with how well you’ve done today. I expected you to drop out while we were running.”

I patted myself on the back. “Give me a few days. I’ll kick all their butts.”

“Care to put money on it?” Chris said.

“What do you have in mind?”

“Alright. Enough,” Mr. Dawson said. “You’ve got 30 minutes, Tessa. I don’t want to have to come find you.” The threat behind his words gave me the energy to get up. He started to walk away but stopped. “It’s straight back behind the medical wing, okay?”

Shannon stopped mid-push-up. “Does that mean we’re done here?”

“Nope. Listen, pups. We’re hitting the course in five, everyone runs it once and then we’ll do some asanas to finish. I want to see you working! Up and down! Now.”

“You okay?” Meredith said from the ground.

“Fine.” I stood on shaky legs. I was going to be in a world of hurt tomorrow. “Guess I’ll see you later?” I brushed myself off and went back to the dorms to shower.

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