Release Day -RIDING HER ROUGH by Jenika Snow

 

 

 

He kept his distance. She saved her virginity.

Torque Morrison is a biker without roots—a Nomad—and he likes it that way. The pierced and tattooed member of the Death’s Door MC is a bad boy who’s lived hard and stayed away from what he really wants…the curvy Delilah.
And staying away from what’s forbidden has been the hardest thing he’s ever done.

Delilah Stringer was the daughter of the Death’s Door MC president, and she wasn’t a shrinking violet. The outlaws she grew up around may be crude and nasty, but they’re also protective, and they’d never approve of her being with a fellow Patch.
But Torque is the only man she’s ever wanted.
And then he’s back in town, and one drunken night leads to her giving him her virginity.

Torque finally claims Delilah. She’s his in all ways. He isn’t about to walk away from her, no matter who he has to go up against to make that known.

Warning: A fast, filthy story that leaves nothing to the imagination is just a page away. It’s unbelievable, and it might even be a little ridiculous, but it hits the spot in all the right ways.


READER NOTE: This was previously published under the title Ridin’ Her Rough. It has since been re-edited and revised.

 

He stood, but because she was still sitting, that put his crotch right at level with her face. She curled her uninjured hand into a fist and slowly trailed her gaze up to his face.
“I’m barely controlling myself as it is, Delilah.”
Her chest rose and fell with the force of trying to get enough oxygen into her lungs, but she was growing light-headed regardless. “What?” It seemed when her lust pounded inside of her, she was nothing more than a one-word kind of girl. Torque made her this way, and she knew he always would.
“Baby, if you keep looking at me like you want me to fuck you, then that’s what I’m going to do.” She watched as his jaw hardened. “In fact, I’ve had enough to drink that even though I know what I want to do to you will likely get my ass handed to me by your dad and the other members, at this point I am so fucking hard up for your pussy I don’t even care.”
Her tongue felt swollen, as did the rest of her body. Her clit throbbed, and her nipples were so hard she wouldn’t have been surprised if the damn things ripped through the thin material of her top. “I think you’re too drunk to know what you’re saying.” She needed to get out of this room right now or she’d be liable to do something that would most likely end up having her regret it in the morning.
She stood. They were now face-to-face, and although they were only inches apart, Torque didn’t move. He was at least a foot taller than her measly five-foot-two-inch frame, so she was forced to crane her neck back to look him in the eye. God, he was just so big and masculine, and although Delilah wasn’t a little thing by any means, even considered herself more on the thick side, this man made her feel petite in every way imaginable. Before she could move away, he shot his hand out, grabbed a chunk of her hair, and yanked her head back until her throat was bared to him. The sting of pain from his forceful touch only amplified the lust burning inside of her. She parted her lips, not knowing if she was going to tell him to stop or beg him for more.
“Baby, I know what the fuck I’m saying, and who I’m saying it to.” He leaned in close until she felt the brush of his lips along hers. He didn’t add any pressure, just held them there like he was some kind of sadist and was getting off on the fact that she was squirming from his torture. “I know that if I were to fuck the prez’s daughter, I’d get a fucking beating that would probably leave me bleeding out of my ears.” His breath was warm and smelled of whiskey, but the sweet scent had her pussy clenching. “But you know what, baby?” He didn’t give her a chance to speak. “I have wanted your ass for far longer than I am even comfortable admitting, and I know you want my dick buried deep inside of that sweet little pussy of yours too.”

 

“Oh God.”
He chuckled deeply and shook his head, which had his lips brushing back and forth along hers. “No, Delilah, not God. But I’m going to have you calling out his name as I fuck the hell out of you.”

 

Jenika Snow is a USA Today Bestselling Author that lives in the northwest with her husband and their two daughters. Before she started writing full-time she worked as a nurse.

Author Links

 

New Release – NEXT TO NEVER by Penelope Douglas

Buy NEXT TO NEVER

Amazon / Amazon UK / Amazon AUS / Nook / iBooks / Kobo

 

Title: Next to Never

Genre: New Adult

Author: Penelope Douglas

Release Date: January 17th, 2017

 

Synopsis:


New York Times bestseller Penelope Douglas introduces Quinn, younger sister to Jared, Madoc, and Jaxon, in the latest novella in the series that began with Jared and Tate in Bully…

Quinn Caruthers has several problems.

Her father, Jason, and her three older brothers, Jared, Madoc, and Jaxon.

Under the close watch of the men in her family, Quinn has found it nearly impossible to spread her wings—or even date—without them jumping in to hover. And when a family friend—several years older—from her childhood captures her heart, she knows they’re going to be a problem. Lucas Morrow is a man—experienced, sophisticated, and important. And knowing her brothers, he may as well be forbidden.

But Lucas left town years ago and shows no signs of returning. Quinn knows she shouldn’t wait for him anymore.

But then a package turns up on her doorstep with no return address and its contents reveal family secrets that threaten to turn Quinn’s world upside down. She’s never asked about the tumultuous path of her parents’ romantic history, but she soon learns their happy marriage had a very rocky and passionate start.

As she begins to see things around her with new eyes, Quinn will have to make tough choices about whether she’ll keep waiting…or finally go after what she really wants.

 
Prologue:
There’s a prologue that Penelope had to delete from the book and she was kind enough to share it with all of us on her website. If you want to read it, and I highly recommend that that you do, you can check it out here.

 

About the Author:
Penelope Douglas is a New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal bestselling author. Her books have been translated into ten languages and include the Fall Away Series (Bully, Until You, Rival, Falling Away, and Aflame), as well as Corrupt, Misconduct, and Punk 57. Next to Never (A Fall Away Novella) is coming in January 2017.

She dresses for autumn year round, loves anything lemon flavored, and shops at Target almost daily.  She lives in Las Vegas with her husband and their daughter.

 

Follow Her Here:

Website   ***   Facebook   ***   Twitter   ***   Goodreads   ***   Instagram   ***   Pinterest 

Giveaway:

Enter to win a FULL set of signed books or a $50 Amazon gift card!
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Cover Reveal – FAKE FIANCEE by Ilsa Madden-Mills

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Fake Fiancée is a new standalone romance from Wall Street Journal Bestselling Author Ilsa Madden-Mills releasing February 6th!

Meet Max Kent & Add Fake Fiancée  to your TBR: http://bit.ly/2jh5mIR

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Blurb

A new standalone romance from Wall Street Journal Bestselling Author Ilsa Madden-Mills…

They say nothing compares to your first kiss,

But our first kiss was orchestrated for an audience.

Our second kiss…that one was REAL.

He cradled my face like he was terrified he’d f*ck it up.

He stared into my eyes until the air buzzed.

Soft and slow, full of sighs and little laughs,

He inhaled me like I was the finest Belgian chocolate,

And he’d never get another piece.

A nip of his teeth, his hand at my waist…

And I was lost.

I forgot he was paying me to be his fake fiancée.

I forgot we weren’t REAL.

Our kiss was pure magic, and before you laugh and say those kinds of kisses don’t exist…

Then you’ve never touched lips with Max Kent, the hottest quarterback in college history.

Get ready for breathtaking kisses and dreamy football players…

About the Author

ilsa madden bioWall Street Journal best selling author Ilsa Madden-Mills writes about strong heroines and sexy alpha males that sometimes you just want to slap.

She’s addicted to all things fantasy, including unicorns and sword-wielding females. Other fascinations include frothy coffee beverages, dark chocolate, Ian Somerhalder, astronomy (she’s a Gemini), and tattoos. She has a degree in English and a Master’s in Education. When she’s not pecking away on her computer, she shops for cool magnets and fuzzy pajamas.

She loves to hear from readers and fellow authors. Email her at ilsamaddenmills@gmail.com.

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Cover Reveal – UNWRITTEN by Jen Frederick

Check out the cover for the next book in Jen Frederick’s Woodlands series!

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SUMMARY:

After years of trying to hit it big with his band, Adam Rees’ dream is
finally about to come true. A new lead singer brings with him a hot
tour invite, but with a catch—his sister has to come with them.
Despite an off-limits edict, Adam is instantly attracted the smart and
beautiful Landry. But if he wants to claim his woman, it might be at
the expense of all his ambitions.

Landry Olsen has had success at every stage of her life, except when
it comes to men. She’s put her heart on the shelf, but one look at
Adam and she’s a goner. The hot rocker heats her from the inside out,
and she wants him as much as he wants her. The only thing standing in
their way of their happiness is Landry’s brother—she ruined his
musical hopes before, and she won’t do it again. Even if it means
saying no to the one guy who makes her believe in love again.

There’s no fruit more tempting than the forbidden kind…

Pre-order links:
Barnes & Noble   ***   Kobo   ***   iTunes

Cover Reveal – OFF THE ICE by Julie Cross

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Let us know what you think of the cover for Off the Ice by Julie Cross which releases February 28, 2017!

This cover reveal is brought to you by Entangled TEEN & YA Books Central!

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About Off the Ice:

All is fair in love and hockey…

Claire O’Connor is back in Juniper Falls, but that doesn’t mean she wants to be. One semester off, that’s what she promised herself. Just long enough to take care of her father and keep the family business—a hockey bar beside the ice rink—afloat. After that, she’s getting the hell out. Again.

Enter Tate Tanley. What happened between them the night before she left town resurfaces the second they lay eyes on each other. But the guy she remembers has been replaced by a total hottie.When Tate is unexpectedly called in to take over for the hockey team’s star goalie, suddenlyhe’s in the spotlight and on his way to becoming just another egotistical varsity hockey player. And Claire’s sworn off Juniper Falls hockey players for good.

It’s the absolute worst time to fall in love.

For Tate and Claire, hockey isn’t just a game. And they both might not survive a body check to the heart.

Want to read more? Pre-order your copy of Off the Ice by Julie Cross today!

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Amazon | B&N | iBooks | Kobo | Amazon CA | Amazon UK

About the Author:

Julie Cross lives in Central Illinois with her husband and three children. She’s a former gymnast, longtime gymnastics fan, coach, and former Gymnastics Program Director with the YMCA. She’s a lover of books, devouring several novels a week, especially in the young adult and new adult genres. Outside of her reading and writing credibility’s, Julie Cross is a committed–but not talented–long distance runner, creator of imaginary beach vacations, Midwest bipolar weather survivor, expired CPR certification card holder, as well as a ponytail and gym shoe addict.

Release Day – STEALING CHRISTMAS by Alexa Riley

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Christmas Winter is lucky she loves this time of year, because her name didn’t give her much of a choice. She’s always bubbly and happy. So when she takes a job as an elf in the mall, she’s excited to spread some cheer. But Christmas could never expect what happens when she catches the eye of a stranger.

Nicholas Light owns everything he sees, and when his eyes land on the new elf in his mall’s Santa exhibit, he knows she’s no different. There’s something about her sweet innocence that he has to have, and he’ll concoct a plan to make that happen.

Warning: Grab your jingle bells and swing them over your head… This holiday quickie is gonna light up your Noel. Okay, none of that made sense. But it sounded festive, right? This book is adorable, and you’ll love it. Just don’t get tinsel stuck in the wrong places. Trust us.
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Alexa Riley is two sassy friends who got together and wrote some dirty books. They are both married moms of two who love football, donuts, and obsessed book heroes.
They specialize in insta-love, over-the-top, sweet, and cheesy love stories that don’t take all year to read. If you want something SAFE, short, and always with a happily ever after, then Alexa Riley is for you!
Author Links
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Release Week Blitz and Review – COWBOY RISING by Mia Hopkins

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Feisty reporter vs. gruff cowboy—buckle up for a hard ride…

 Come back to the rodeo with Mia Hopkins and the newest release in the Cowboy Cocktail series, COWBOY RISING!

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About COWBOY RISING 

Journalist Georgia Meyers is writing an article about MacKinnon Ranch in a last-ditch effort to save her job at a failing newspaper. At first, the hot-as-hell rancher wants nothing to do with her. But butting heads leads to knocking boots, and soon she’s getting the real story—in bed and off the record.

Cattleman’s son and petroleum engineer Daniel MacKinnon turned down a lucrative oil career to take over the family farm. Frustrated about giving up his dreams and worried about money, Daniel buries himself in ranch work—that is, until gorgeous Georgia shows up and rocks him to the core. A blazing one-night stand leads to something deeper. Despite their feelings for each other, he’s tied to the land and she’s a rolling stone. When the time comes to part ways, will the lovers choose duty over desire? Or will they face their fears and rise to the challenge of love?

Warning: Get ready for sassy banter, sizzling sex, orgasms galore, and a nerdy dirty-talkin’ cowboy who can go all night long.

On Sale in Digital: November 22, 2016

Amazon

  Add COWBOY RISING to your TBR pile on Goodreads!

CELEBRATE THE RELEASE WITH A GIVEAWAY!

Grand Prize: Digital copies of Books 1-4 in the Cowboy Cocktail series plus a delicate gold and quartz crystal necklace from FeminaHandmade.

5 Runner-Ups: Digital copies of Cowboy Resurrection (Book #2 in the series) 
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Excerpt:

His cheeks red from working outside, the new brother removed his gloves and tucked them under his arm. He took off his hat and shook her hand. His rough fingers were warm.

“Daniel MacKinnon.” He didn’t smile.

Georgia couldn’t explain it. With a heavy jaw and dirty blond hair styled high and tight, he was as clean cut as a cadet—she usually preferred tattooed, bearded types. He looked to be in his mid-twenties—she usually liked seasoned men who were older than her, not younger. But this guy’s hotness seared her eyeballs, nailing her feet where she stood.

“Georgia Meyers, L.A. Chronicle,” she said automatically, all other words escaping her. She was too old, too experienced, and far too smart to react this way—and yet, here she was. Staring slack-jawed at a pretty-faced cowboy like some blue-stockinged virgin at a rodeo dance.

“I know you’re here to see my father,” he said, the low rumble in his voice stroking a sweet spot inside her chest, “but he isn’t available today. You need to reschedule, Miss Meyers.”

His bright green eyes were so distracting, she almost didn’t register his words. “Reschedule?”

“Yeah. You need to come back. Do the interview another day.”

“What?” Snap out of it, Gigi. The story. She yanked her professional persona back in place. “Mr. MacKinnon, I’ve just driven an hour and a half from Fresno to be here. Two days ago, your father said he’d give me a tour of the ranch and walk me through the organic certification process. Isn’t there anyone else I can talk to?”

Daniel’s stoic expression was both infuriating and unspeakably hot. “No.”

Hot or not, who does this guy think he is? She stood up straight. “Okay, let me lay it all out for you. If there’s no one here who will speak with me today, just to make sure my time isn’t wasted, I’ll be more than happy to find another rancher. There are plenty of spreads in your neck of the woods, aren’t there? I’m sure my readers wouldn’t mind learning about conventional ranching operations. Maybe someone at the Hughes Ranch will make time for me. What do you think?”

He narrowed his eyes at her and took a deep but silent breath. His broad chest rose and fell as he looked her over. At last he said, “Can you ride?”

“A little.” Which was completely true, depending on one’s definition of “a little.”

Fresh impatience lit up Daniel MacKinnon’s eyes. “All right. Let’s go.”

 

See what people are saying about the Cowboy Cocktail series:

“Mia Hopkins knows how to put characters on a page.”  – HEROES AND HEARTBREAKERS

“Mia Hopkins is an imaginative author who doesn’t take the easy road to a formulaic book.”– USA TODAY

“Sweet and filthy at the same time, just the way I like it. This book made me so happy.”– READ ALL THE ROMANCE

“The writing is excellent, the emotions leap off the page, and the sex is downright earthy.”– JILL SORENSON, AUTHOR

“Beautifully descriptive…hot, sexy and full of yearning!”  – DELILAH DEVLIN, AUTHOR 

“Off the charts hot.”  – THE ROMANCE STUDIO

“A tantalizing slow seduction of the senses.” – STRANGE CANDY REVIEWS

“Hopkins packs a lot of heat and romance on the pages…Caution: hot, sexy times ahead!”– READER GIRLS BLOG

“Filled with sizzling chemistry, hot sex, and just enough sweetness to leave me wanting more…And those sex scenes…Holy hotness!”  – CRYSTAL BLOGS BOOKS
miahopkins

Mia Hopkins writes lush romances starring fun, sexy characters who love to get down and dirty. She’s a sucker for working class heroes, brainy heroines and wisecracking best friends.

When she’s not lost in a story, Mia spends her time cooking, gardening, traveling, volunteering and looking for her keys. In a past life, she was a classroom teacher and still has a pretty good “teacher voice” and “teacher stare.”

She lives in the heart of Los Angeles with her roguish husband and two waggish dogs.

You can also visit her online at the following places:

Website Facebook | Twitter | Amazon | Goodreads | Pintrest Instagram

 

debbiesreview

 I’ve enjoyed Mia Hopkins’ cowboys and couldn’t wait for the next in her Cowboy Cocktails. Cowboy Rising is the fifth and latest in the series.

I enjoyed the match of Georgia and Daniel. What appears to maybe not be the best pairing, ends up really working for me. I liked that they came from different backgrounds and we get to see how they grow as their relationship develops. We get the feels along with the sexy times.

I’m always looking forward to the next Mia Hopkins book. I love that she delivers the sweet and the sexy with diverse characters.

Cover Reveal – I NEED YOU TONIGHT by Stina Lindenblatt

The cover of Stina Lindenblatt’s newest novel coming 2017 from Loveswept!

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Old habits die hard. But in this sexy, heartwarming romance, a musician who’s addicted to the temptations of the road falls for a good girl who makes him want to clean up his act.

Mason Dell’s band, Pushing Limits, is a sensation, and he’s having a blast on their biggest tour yet. Then he gets a call from his best friend, who’s in the Navy, asking him to find out why his sister isn’t answering her phone. The dude once saved Mason’s life from a suicide attempt related to a gambling problem—so the two-and-a-half hour drive from L.A. to her small town is nothing.

What he finds is a sweet, successful boutique owner who’s too busy to notice when her phone dies. Nicole McCormick has nothing better to do than work. She’s bored of all the men she’s been dating: stable, career-oriented guys who are nothing like her destructive father. Mason’s is a breath of fresh bad-boy air. Their sexual connection is explosive, and with her shop undergoing renovations, Nicole even joins Pushing Limits on the road.  But when Mason falls off the wagon, that’s one path she swore she’d never go down again.

While Nicole picks up her broken heart and heads home, Mason misses her like crazy. Although he wants to forge a future with her, he just doesn’t know how to leave the past behind. But for love, it’s time to learn.

 GOODREADS

Cover Reveal – STEALING CHRISTMAS by Alexa Riley

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Coming November 29th
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Christmas Winter is lucky she loves this time of year, because her name didn’t give her much of a choice. She’s always bubbly and happy. So when she takes a job as an elf in the mall, she’s excited to spread some cheer. But Christmas could never expect what happens when she catches the eye of a stranger.

Nicholas Light owns everything he sees, and when his eyes land on the new elf in his mall’s Santa exhibit, he knows she’s no different. There’s something about her sweet innocence that he has to have, and he’ll concoct a plan to make that happen.

Warning: Grab your jingle bells and swing them over your head… This holiday quickie is gonna light up your Noel. Okay, none of that made sense. But it sounded festive, right? This book is adorable, and you’ll love it. Just don’t get tinsel stuck in the wrong places. Trust us.
AP new -about the author.jpg
 Alexa Riley is two sassy friends who got together and wrote some dirty books. They are both married moms of two who love football, donuts, and obsessed book heroes.
They specialize in insta-love, over-the-top, sweet, and cheesy love stories that don’t take all year to read. If you want something SAFE, short, and always with a happily ever after, then Alexa Riley is for you!
Author Links
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Chapter Reveal – HAIL MARY by Nicola Rendell


Coming November 28th
Exclusive iBooks pre-order
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At a boxing gym in Chicago, Mary Monahan accidentally knocks out the most handsome man she’s ever met. After she wakes him up with a few slaps and some smelling salts, the very first thing he does is ask her out for ribs and beer. His name is Jimmy. He looks like a Gillette model. And he’s just too hunky to resist.

Jimmy “The Falcon” Falconi is mystified that Mary has absolutely no idea who he is. Mystified and refreshed. He is, after all, not your everyday NFL quarterback. He shops at Costco, has a soft spot for Pinterest, and is in the midst of an epic losing streak.

Jimmy falls for Mary fast and hard, the way he does everything—balls out and like it’s fourth and long. And he realizes he’s finally met his match. That stamina he’s so proud of? Doesn’t stand a chance against her Kegels.

But what they don’t know is she’s also his new physical therapist, recently hired by the Bears to work on his rotator cuff…and groin injury. If she can’t help him, he’ll be traded faster than they can say “offensive penetration.”

In spite of the thousands of internet memes featuring Jimmy’s face with captions like: “HEY GIRL, WANT TO TOUCH MY BALLS?” Mary finds herself falling for him and his unrelenting desire to make her his.

Until a toddler shows up at Jimmy’s door.

And throws their lives into total chaos.

***

To the reader: Contents includes love, sweetness, naughtiness, honey, champagne, and an HEA. Safe.
Chapter 1
Jimmy


She’s got a hell of a left hook, and her jab is no joke either. It’s hard to tell what she really looks like, with the big blue rubber mouth guard between her teeth and the black padded headgear covering her jaw and cheeks. But I know this: I want to get my hands on that body. Her tight pink tee is low cut and skin tight, and across her breasts are the words: “NOBODY’S PUSSYCAT.”
A cold draft blows in from the window, making goosebumps ripple up her arms. A thin stream of sweat runs down into her cleavage, and then I watch her nipples tighten. Christ. With little bounces, she heads back to her corner and bends over for her water bottle. Stretchy black leggings and no panty line.
Fuuuuuck.
The buzzer dings and we square up. She holds her gloves up to her face, ready to go. They’re bubblegum pink with white cuffs; the girliest weapons I’ve ever seen.
But never mind the gloves. It’s those eyes that have me. Shit, those eyes. This crazy deep green. Packers’ green. Jets’ green. Green like cash. Green that could make a guy go right out of his mind.
Pow goes a jab into my stomach and I double over, tasting my Gatorade from an hour ago. Before I can breathe, before I can even get up my gloves to slow her down, she pelts me hard with a cross to my sternum that knocks the wind straight out of me. I gasp for air and stagger back into the ropes.
“Jesus Christ,” I moan. “Who are you?”
Her eyes light up in this smile. This beautiful fucking smile that I feel way down inside. Then she bounces on her toes and smacks her gloves together out in front of her. Whap, whap. “I’m Mary!” she says around her mouth guard. “And you’re slow!”
Cute. But, yeah…no. Nobody talks to me like that. Nobody. I hurl myself off the ropes, colliding with her in the center of the ring, skin against skin now. I press into her sexy shoulder with my bicep, feeling the sweat between us. She nails me in the gut again; a solid, low-slung straight, and I think, I can’ t hit a girl, can I?
No. Fuck, no.
So I stretch my arm between us, the padding of my glove holding her steady right below her collarbone. She swings for me but I’m a foot taller and she doesn’t stand a chance. “Jerk!”
Obviously.
But on the upside, now I can really get a good look at her the way I want to; close up, but not so close that she’s pummeling me. Her legs are solid and I can even see that little curve of her hipbones barely showing through her leggings. I let my eyes follow the line of sweat to her inner thighs, to that wet, hot place where everything comes together. Fuck. I want my hands on that place. I want to feel the softness and the strength. I want to know the taste of that sweat. The way that softness gives under my tongue.
Ding goes the buzzer. I push her away, padded knuckles to her shoulder. She spins and gets into her corner, so I do the same.
I grab my water bottle and squirt it into my mouth, watching her all the time. She’s fucking beautiful, this one. Fucking gorgeous. The woman of dreams. Of fantasies.
From a pink Nalgene, she takes one big gulp, two, and a little water dribbles down her lips, rolling in drops down her throat. Her eyes stay right on mine. Her chest heaves. Her eyes flash. Her lips tighten. And that’s when it happens. She peels off her T-shirt and tosses it to the floor so that the only word showing is PUSSY.
Ding.
Her body is fucking perfect. I mean perfect. I moan into my mouth guard and I look her up and down. Lean but not thin. Sexy and strong. A fighter’s body. A woman’s body. A body strong enough to take everything I want to give it. And then some.
She turns to set down her water bottle, bending at the waist. And that’s when I see it. The tattoo. It’s a ribbon of black lace that runs in a beautiful, feminine line down her back from right shoulder to left hip, curving down into her pants. Tough as hell, pretty as can be. And with the sexiest tattoo I’ve ever seen in my life.
Stick a motherfucking fork in me. I’m done.
“Nice ink,” I tell her as we square up again.
“Thanks,” she says, leaning in to my shoulder.
“I’ve never seen one like it.” I hook my arm around her again and pull her in. I smell something familiar. I can’t place it. She slips free and moves behind me. For one second, all I can hear is her shoes on the mats.
“I rebelled when I turned 30. It was either this or a tramp stamp.”
“Of what?” I pivot so my face is close against hers.
“Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.” She smiles tight around the mouth guard. Her glove comes through the air, cutting through the noise of the gym. Whooosh.
I get my right hand up just in time to block her with my glove. The impact rolls down my forearm like I’m nothing but Jell-O.
She lets another jab fly but misses me—barely—and I slip around behind her. The hair at the nape of her neck is curly and wet, and a long dark braid runs down her back. That strip of wet fabric at the top of her pants, dark with sweat. “Why are we fighting?” I growl as I get closer. “Why aren’t we out drinking? Making trouble? Fucking around? Let me take you out.”
She spins to face me, her eyes wide open, surprised. “You wanna drink with me?”
“Hell yes, I do. And a lot of other things.”
“You want me? Fight me.” She fires her bubblegum pink cannons at my stomach with a one-two combination that makes me feel like I’m nothing but a 283-pound heavy bag.
I try to get in a left cross, but she’s way faster than I am and comes up from under with a hook straight out of Manila.
That one got me in my brainpan, in my marrow. “Fuck that,” I snarl.
“Atta boy!”
No way. Nobody atta boys me. I’m Jimmy Goddamned Falconi. I’m nobody’s boy. Never.
“Atta girl.” I nudge her in the shoulder with my chest.
Around her guard, she says, “You fight like you’re in molasses. But you’re strong. You some kind of athlete?”
At first, I’m about to laugh. For about one second, I think I might be on Candid Camera or something. I mean, I can’t walk to the bathroom on an airplane without someone asking me to sign a cocktail napkin. I can’t get through Costco without someone asking me to sign their shopping list. Some kind of athlete?
I’m Jimmy “The Falcon” Falconi. Quarterback for the Chicago Goddamned Bears. I’m somebody.
But there’s zero recognition in her eyes. No flicker of the fangirl. No sign she’s playing it cool either. To her, I’m just a guy getting his ass kicked by a girl in pink gloves.
“Hello?” She presses into my chin with a slow uppercut from the right.
I snap out of it. I don’t even know how to answer her. I play quarterback for the Bears. Ever heard of them? Or maybe, Ever heard of football? America’s Game? Fuck. I wouldn’t even know how to start. I’ve never had to explain it. People just know. “Yeah, I like to work out.”
“Then act like it,” she says, all piss and vinegar, and puts her guard back in her mouth. Wham comes that jab into my gut. Pow goes the straight to my pecs. I loop one arm around her and pull her body in close, hooking the back of her neck with the crook of my elbow. I pull her closer, tighter, both arms around her, to get a feel for her…but also to give myself a goddamned break.
She struggles a little, trying to squirm free, but I see the smile on her face, the crinkle of the skin at her eyes.
I pull her head closer to mine. I must be twice her weight; no way is she going to get free now. We are the welterweight and the super heavyweight. Wrong class totally. But then she wedges her forehead in against my chest. I watch her wind up, her biceps flexing, and, boom-boom-boom.
Every time she connects, I lose a little more air and groan, “Fuck-fuck-fuck!”
“Atta boy!”
Fuck. That.
So I keep her pinned and she starts fighting harder, which makes me want to hang on to her more. I press my nose against her head. In her thick brown hair, I can smell her shampoo, her conditioner. Coconut.
While I’m distracted by that smell, thinking of sunscreen and ukulele music and drinks with umbrellas and her on a beach, she slips out from under my arms and pops up in my face.
Well, shit.
“What, you chicken? Gonna hit me back? Or do you want to dance around for an hour or two? Because I can totally do that. I just have to go home to feed the dog.” Whap-whap go her padded fists.
Oh no, no way. No way am I going to let a pretty little thing talk to me like that. I sniff hard and man up.
I give her a jab. A hook. A cross.
And she blocks me every damned time. Blocks me like she’s fought me before, or like she’s known all along what I’ll do when it comes down to it.
Fucking wax-on-wax off, one-two-three.
Pow-pow go her gloves into my side, and fuck. I think I feel those it in my spleen. Enough. Enough. Anger boils up through me like cheap vodka after a long night.
I’m Jimmy Falconi. And I’m gonna make this girl know my name.
I crack my neck side to side and get serious. I suck air through the holes in my mouth guard and get my fists up. I edge her into the corner and those eyes flash at me. She’s sweating hard and her mascara is smudged. Her hair is mussed and her skin is slick. It makes her look dangerous. Angry. I’d like to smudge that mascara a little more. In bed. Immediately.
But first, I’m going to show her who’s boss.
The more she works herself up, the hotter she gets. That’s when something catches my eye. There’s something written on the white cuffs of her gloves. All fuzzy, written in black marker:
On the right glove: HERE COMES…
On the left:…TROUBLE!
Whomp.
She nails me in the jaw with a haymaker, and my molars shake. “Come the fuck on,” I growl back at her, with my glove pressed to the side of my face.
She smacks her gloves together, and lowers her chin. “Are we sparring or chatting? Hit me!” Bounce, bounce, bounce. Butterfly, bee. Whap, whap, whap. “I’m not going to break!”
I work my jaw open and closed a few times thinking, Okay. Fine. Fine. I didn’t think it was going to go like this, but I can roll with a hostile defense, sure. Wouldn’t be the first time. I give her the old elevator stare—up, down, up again—and get stuck on her belly button for a little too long. But then I get a game plan together. I figure I can hit her in the stomach. Not too hard, not hard enough to hurt her, but hard enough to let her know who’s in charge here.
Which would be me. Me, pussycat. Me.
Nudging the edge of her shoulder with my glove, I drive her backwards. Our eyes lock and I get this…this…prickle all through me.
This woman.
This one. Right here.
I want her. So fucking bad.
The fucking gym with its ten phones playing mariachi goes silent. The guys by the cooler egging her on go silent. It’s just her and me and the sweat dripping between us. Soft skin, sparkling eyes. She smells like a summer day and she’s looking at me in a way that no woman has ever looked at me. Ever.
Like she’s gonna own me and she knows it.
Which is bullshit.
She gives me a little lift of her chin and tightens her lips around the guard. She wipes her nose with her glove and then lowers her head. “Come on! You going to fight or are you just going to screw around?”
With my left hand, I jab her softly in the stomach. With the right, a play-hook to the jaw. I raise her chin on my glove so her eyes come up to mine. Then I pull her close, my arm around the back of her neck again. “You wanna screw around?” I say into her ear.
Bam, another hit to the stomach. “I haven’t even gotten started,” she answers.
Fuck it.
She wants to play? Fucking fine. I’ll play. I’ll play hard. I square up. But she gives me this eye. This champion eye. A winner’s eye. Cocky like no eyes I’ve ever seen before. Tom Brady doesn’t have anything on this kind of cocky right here. My luck, this girl’s some UFC champion. Christ.
But I can take her. Yeah, I sure fucking can.
Probably.
I decide on a straight jab; a no-fail straight jab that I plan just hard enough to send her reeling but not hurt her, not actually injure her. I know the punch. It works in bar fights and brawls on the field. An all-American move. As I wind up, everything slows down. I’m 6’6”, 283 pounds, and I throw a football for a living. When I wind up, I wind up. As I do, she ducks, fast as fucking lightning. Greased. Elegant. Lethal. So as my arm is powering through the air, as my momentum gets caught behind 12-ounce training gloves, she pops back up like a goddamned whack-a-mole.
Those eyes flash again and she smiles so hard I can see her dimples.
Dimples. Oh, fuck.
I watch her shoulder tighten, her tricep pucker, and that’s when she lets me have it for real.
The punch comes from left to right, blocking out my view of everything. I don’t see the Mexican flag on the wall. I don’t see the graffiti mural over the windows. Nope. The universe turns bubblegum pink.
It doesn’t hurt, not at first, and as I’m flying backwards, airborne, I have just enough time to think to myself, I wonder if this is what a knockout punch feels like…
Before everything flickers to black.
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Nicola Rendell writes dirty, funny, erotic romance. She likes a stiff drink and a well-frosted cake. She is at an unnamed Ivy and prefers to remain mostly anonymous for professional reasons. She has a PhD in English and an MFA in Creative Writing from schools that shall not be named here. She loves to cook, sew, and play the piano. She realizes that her hobbies might make her sound like an old lady and she’s totally okay with that. She lives with her husband and her dogs. She is from Taos, New Mexico.
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