Authors: Nicolette Pine
Sports Romance Publishing
Copyright © 2015
All rights reserved.
No part of this publication may be copied, reproduced in any format, by any means, electronic or otherwise, without prior consent from the copyright owner and publisher of this book.
This is a work of fiction. All characters, names, places and events are the product of the author's imagination or used fictitiously.
I bit my lip as the doorbell rang above my head. A few guys turned to stare at me. They were huge and muscular. Their bodies were shiny. I couldn’t tell if they were oiled up or just sweaty.
I squared my shoulders, adjusted my gym bag and made my way over to the counter.
“Hey.” I smiled at the woman sitting behind the counter. She was one of those perky little blondes you love to hate.
“Hi, I’m Sandy. How can I help you?”
“I um, just moved to the area and I’d like a gym membership.”
“Of course!” She went into the drawer and pulled out a few papers.
An hour later I had my gym membership. She’d wanted to give me the “best package for girls,” as she had put it. It included dance aerobics, yoga, a spinning class, and some other things. The thing was, I already had a place to do my yoga, and I really wasn’t interested in taking any classes, so I just took the basic membership. I stowed my bag in a locker and headed for the free weight section. I’d decided do a back and shoulders workout. I stopped in front of the chin-up bar. It was so tall I had to tilt my head up to actually see it. I let out a deep breath. Damn you short girl problems. I crouched and jumped as high as I could. It was just enough to get one hand around the bar.
I ignored the eyes on me. People always stared when I did chin-ups because I always had issues getting on the bar. Since I’m short and rail thin, they tend to underestimate me. I managed to get my other hand on the bar, get my grip right and then it was time to go. I closed my eyes, took a deep breath and focused on using my back muscles to pull me up completely. I did ten repetitions before dropping down. I looked in the mirror in front of me but I saw more than my own reflection.
There was a man behind me. He was tall, with large muscles, like a statue come to life. He had a tattoo running down his right arm onto his chest. My eyes locked on his. He stared right back at me. He was wearing black sweatpants and a black t-shirt. The shirt looked like it could barely contain his massive chest and arms. His hands were wrapped.
I hadn’t planned on boxing today, but maybe I would.
I forced myself to look away, slammed down some water and jumped back up onto the chin-up bar. I did two more sets before calling it quits. I headed for the locker room, pulled out my tape and wrapped my wrists and hands.
I had boxed for years. Thai boxing actually, but it seemed like no one knew what that was. There weren’t any Thai boxing clubs in my new town, so I was stuck using this gym. If I’d known that before I moved, I might have changed my mind.
I grabbed a fresh water bottle and headed for the heavy bags in the back of the gym. I glanced in the mirror. My eyes locked on him again. I felt a blush touch my cheeks as he shrugged the weight he was holding carefully. His intense gaze didn’t shift away from mine until I turned my back on him and stopped in front of the bags. I glanced over my shoulder to see him putting the weights away; he turned and spoke to another guy who had tattoos. He nodded and then went back to his workout.
I forced myself to focus on what I was doing. Jab, jab, jab, hook. Left elbow, right jab; another jab and a right hook.
The bag swayed as I stepped away from the bag and took a long drink.
“You’ve got one hell of a hook on you.”
I turned to look at the person who said it. My heart skipped a beat. Green eyes, tattoo on his arm going onto his chest. I couldn’t make it out with the black muscle shirt in the way. I looked him over now that he was closer. His light brown hair was short and spiky, and he had a trace of stubble on his face.
He flashed me a perfectly white smile, and I was glad I was already sweating.
“Thanks,” I said as I drained half the water bottle. I glanced down at the wraps on his wrist. “You box?”
He had a trace of a smile. “A little.”
“Nice.” I wasn’t sure what else to say really.
“Maybe we could box together sometime.”
My jaw almost fell open. Was he flirting with me? “For sure, yes. I…” I decided to just shut up before I said anything stupid.
He stepped towards the bag I’d just been using. I could see his muscles flex as he held the bag. “Here, let me hold it for you.”
“Thanks.” I felt myself blush, wished I hadn’t, and tried to focus on the bag. I went as fast and hard as I could. My knuckles pounded against the bag. Again, harder, faster. My arms burned, but I refused to give up. I wasn’t about to let Mr. Green Eyes think that I was a poser. Finally I couldn’t bring myself to hit the bag one more time. My arms flopped to my side. My lower back was coated in a thin layer of sweat, and I could feel it running down my forehead. I faced the man in front of me. “Thanks,” I said, still trying to regain my breath.
“Any time.” His eyes seemed to sparkle.
“You want to have a go?” I wasn’t 100 percent sure I could keep the bag still. A man his size could probably hit like a freight train.
“No thanks.” He looked me up and down as he came towards me, and then passed me on the way to the lockers. “I’m Jacob, by the way.”
“Do you fight, Anna?”
“No. I’m too much of a wuss for that.” I gave a soft laugh. “You?”
“Really? You fight? Like professionally?”
He chuckled. “Yes, professionally.”
As we came to a stop in front of the lockers, he turned to face me. I looked him over. It shouldn’t surprise me that he fought. He looked like he was nothing but muscle. He didn’t walk, he swaggered. “That’s so cool, so like MMA? Wrestling?”
“MMA.” He pulled his locker open. “You know, I’m fighting tonight. Would you like to come and watch?”
“Yes!” My heart skipped a beat. I had plans with Carly, but I was going to have to cancel.
I wasn’t sure what to wear, so I settled on my favorite little black dress. I tied my hair up into a high bun, applied some red lipstick, a pair of fake lashes and my favorite black lace flats. I scooped up my red clutch and headed for the door as I pulled out my cell phone. It was 6:28. He said he would pick me up at 6:30. My heart skipped a beat when I heard the knock on the door.
I took a deep breath and pulled the door open. “Hey.”
He wore a black suit with a bright blue shirt underneath. His green eyes sparkled. “Hey yourself.” His eyes went up and down my body. “You look amazing.”
I felt a blush creep up my face. “Thanks.”
He held his arm out for me. I stepped out of my house, turned around and locked the door behind us. Once the door was locked I turned my attention back to him and wrapped my arm around his.
“Are you hungry?”
“I could go for a bite.”
“I know a great little pizza place near where the fight will be.”
I raised an eyebrow, but he ignored it as he guided me down the driveway towards a blue Jaguar. My mouth fell open. The paint practically sparkled.
“Is this your car?”
“Yup.” He nodded as he came to a stop in front of the passenger side door and pulled it open for me.
“Thanks.” I slid into the seat slightly in shock. If it hadn’t been for the cat hood ornament I wouldn’t have known what this was. I watched as he circled around the front of the car and slid into the driver’s side.
“You have got to be shitting me.” I tried to process what I was seeing in front of me. I closed my eyes and opened them again, but it was still there.
“No.” Jacob chuckled. “I chartered a plane.”
“We’re taking a plane? Where the fuck is the fight?”
“New York City. MMA just got legalized there, so there should be a pretty good crowd.”
I took a deep breath. He was taking me to New York? This wasn’t like any other first date I’d had. He came to a stop in the parking lot, turned the car off and popped he truck.
“So, are we going to be spending the night in New York?” It felt so odd to say it. Was I really about to go to New York with a man I had just met?
“We can if you’d like.” He smiled as he pulled a backpack out from the trunk and closed it.
“I um, need to make a quick phone call.” I tried to sound calm as I reached for my cell phone.
“Okay, I’ll check with the pilot. Come aboard when you’re done.”
I dialed Carly’s number and lifted the phone to my ear. It rang three times.
“What?” Her voice was like ice. Clearly she was still mad at me for cancelling our plans.
“Okay so, I need to tell you… because I’m not sure who else I’m supposed to tell.” I took a deep breath. I hadn’t given her a reason for my change of plans; I knew she was going to be mad. “So I went to the gym today and I met this guy, he asked me to come see him fight tonight and I said yes.”
“You stood me up for some guy? What happened to chicks before dicks?”
I scowled. I would never say something that cliché, and she should know it. I kept talking as if she hadn’t said anything, “He picked me up at 6:30. Apparently he’s like fucking rich because he picked me up in a blue Jag and now I’m about to get on his fucking plane. He’s taking me to New York for some fight he is going to be in and… and, well, I don’t know if this guy is full of shit or not, so if I don’t text you within five hours something is wrong.” I couldn’t believe I was actually going to do this.
“I’m sorry, what?” Carly sounded in total shock.
“Yeah.” I let out a deep breath. My mind raced. This was crazy. It was some sort of joke, right? A plane. A fucking plane! He was going to take me to New York for a date! I bit my lip as I glanced at him. He waved at me before turning his attention to a car that was coming towards us.
“Oh, and there is another car here.” It came to a stop and someone stepped out. Jacob chatted with them before they headed onto the plane. “And apparently they are coming with us.”
“Wait… he owns a plane? He must be rich.” Carly sounded a little more interested. “Well, keep me updated. And if he has any hot super rich friends you better set me up with them.”
I rolled my eyes and let out a low laugh. “Of course I will. Alright, I’ve got to let you go. Bye.”
Carly’s mood shift wasn’t surprising to me. She had trust issues, and I knew when I cancelled at the last minute it would bother her. That bothered me, but I also knew the idea of getting set up with a rich guy would make her feel a lot better.
I tucked my phone into my pocket and made my way towards the plane.
Jacob sat beside another guy. I’d seen him at the gym. They had been talking to each other.
He had shaggy black hair, a full beard and blue eyes. He looked up at me and smiled. I returned it.
“You ready?” Jacob asked as he eyed me.
“Perfect. This is my friend Dean. Dean, Anna.” He pressed a button and motioned for me to come sit with him. I nodded and made my way over to the seat across from him.
Dean reached over and shook my hand. “It’s nice to meet you, Anna.”
“So, Jacob picked you up at the gym?” He raised an eyebrow.
I felt my cheeks burn. “Yeah, I guess so.”
Dean threw his head back and laughed. “I’m just messing with you.”
I spent most of the flight listening to the two boys talk. It wasn’t that they ignored me or anything; they were talking shop. I didn’t mind. It was fun, actually; they talked a lot about fighting, their past fights, their current training, and their diet. My jaw dropped when Jacob said he ate 5000 calories a day.
When we landed Dean said he would see us later. Jacob and I took a town car to the hotel. I stared out the window the entire time, just trying to take every single little thing in. I’d never traveled before. Fuck, I’d never been more than six hours away from where I grew up and went to school.
As we reached the hotel I felt his hand reach out and cover mine. Our fingers tangled together. I turned and stared at him.
“Sorry.” He muttered, pulling his hand away and onto his lap quickly.
“No.” I reached out for his hand. My fingers brushed his upper thigh. I tightened my grip as we stopped in front of a hotel.