I swallow audibly.

“Just one more round. I think I needed to find my rhythm.” His words are punctuated by the sound of the gym door closing. The guys all left in a hurry to enjoy the rest of their Sunday.


Squaring my shoulders, I reach up and tighten my high ponytail and bounce on the balls of my feet a little. “Let’s do it.”

The old Italian ladies in the restaurant had a name for me. They called me Difficile. I found out it meant tough, and I kind of liked it. They didn’t say much to me, or about me, but knowing that they thought I was tough meant something. I wasn’t one to back down from a challenge, and I sure as hell wasn’t going to stop now. Captain throwing down the gauntlet was the one sure way to get me into the ring.

I watch as he goes in first, bending between the ropes. I watch his ass, and I give him a smirk when he straightens and catches me checking him out. I duck in and stand up, bouncing all the time. My body is still loose from the workout, and we don’t have on gloves. When we spar we don’t throw punches. We disarm, restrain and contain. So as we both put our hands up and start circling around the ring, we wait and see who’s going to make the first move.

For once, I chase all my feelings out of my head and focus on what’s in front of me. Other than the small distraction of the perfection that is his body, my mind is sharp. I mimic his speed around the mat, waiting for an opening. He’s at least twice my size, so I’m at a disadvantage when it comes to strength. But with the right moves, any man can be brought to his knees.

This isn’t like earlier today. The ring is charged now, and I feel it coming from him. He’s going to come at me, and when he does, I need to be ready. I can tell that when he gets ahold of me, this won’t be so easily won.

Just as the thought enters my mind, he strikes.

His hand comes out, and I try to block him, but he takes me off guard and goes for my upper thigh. I spin and kick, barely getting free of his large hand as he takes a step back and out of my reach.

“My mother always told me not to play with my food,” he says, getting low and moving around the ring again.

“You plan on having a meal up here after I send you crying back to your mama?”

He laughs big and loud, and I can’t help my matching smile.

“Oh no, kitten. I plan on eating something up here, and the only tears being shed will be tears of joy.”

I could try to read into what he’s saying, but his hand comes out lightning fast, and I have half a second to react. His fingers graze my waist as I slip to the side and come up behind him, knocking him off balance and skirting away.

“What’s wrong? Got tired of losing in front of the boys?” I pout as we start to dance around the ring again, and once more he laughs. God, I hate how much I love the sound of it.

He looks at me with intense eyes and his smile turns wicked. “I don’t care about getting my ass kicked by you in front of my guys. What I do care about is them seeing me on top of you and what might happen when I get you on your back.”

I push away his words and try to not let them affect me. “Don’t you mean if you get me on my back?”

He licks his lips and we dance around again. “No, kitten. I mean when.”

The slow throb between my legs has nothing to do with what he’s saying. Nothing at all. At least that’s what I keep telling myself. God, why did I let myself be alone with him? He’s all sweaty and meaty, and Jesus, I want to climb him like a tree. I’d be his little monkey mate and do tricks on his shoulders for money. What is wrong with me?

The distraction is enough for him to exploit an opening. This time he grabs my thighs with both hands and flips me to my back. The mat is a trampoline that’s been strung tight, so although it sounds loud and painful, falling on it doesn’t actually hurt.

What hurts is the ache in my lady business as he moves between my legs and cages me in. How does he keep doing this, and why does it keep turning me on?

“So, as I was saying.” He leans down, his lips a breath from mine, and I’m coiled with anticipation.

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