Until You're Mine (Fighting for Her)(9)

By: Cindi Madsen

Yesterday I’d told myself I wasn’t going to check her out ever again, but when I’d seen her in the parking lot, ass in the air, I didn’t have the strength to walk on by. Not only was I enjoying the show, but she also looked like she might need some help. Sure, maybe I took a few seconds to soak in the view before offering her a hand, but eventually I did the right thing. Then she’d surprised me by making that joke about her car, and teasing her and watching how flustered she got over it only made me want to mess with her some more. I wondered if I could pull more snarky comments out of her. If I could get her to laugh; if I could make her breath hitch. I allowed myself a moment to visualize pinning her against that bright blue Mustang and lowering my lips to hers for a quick taste.

Entertaining thoughts about her was a bad idea. While bad ideas used to be my specialty, I was on a different path now, one solely focused on my next fight, which would get me to the next one. The championship or bust, regardless of how long it took me to get there. Even if I had to fight every single guy in my weight class to get a shot at the belt.

That was what I should be visualizing, so I aimed my mental images that way. They’d call it a comeback, the way they loved to do. It sounded so much nicer than “we shut this guy out until he could make us money again.”

Money could come and go—I knew how true that was—but a title lasted forever. Being the champion might not, but no one could take away the victory of that fight, that night. The title that meant at one point you were better than everyone out there.

Movement and pale blond hair caught my eye. Brooklyn lifted her chin as she strode across the gym, purposely avoiding looking my way. Her brothers weren’t here yet, and if her dad was, he was in his office, so I didn’t bother being subtle about checking her out again. No use pretending it would be the last time, either. She’d smoothed down her hair, but she still looked flustered, and not by me.

I should leave it alone, but now I felt like an ass for leaving her out there in the parking lot with her keys locked in her car, especially since she was having such a shitty day. As someone who’d had his fair share of those, the least I could do was try to make it better. I dropped my duffel bag on a chair and walked over to the front desk. “I’m taking it upon myself to help turn your day around.”

Her shoulders tensed and her gaze remained straight ahead. “Look, I’m not in the mood to hear about your magic penis, and how one ride would fix all my problems, so save it.”

Damn, no holding back punches. I could roll with that. “Okay, that conversation is officially tabled for later”—I shot her my most charming grin—“and I’m really looking forward to it, too, but the reason I came over was to ask if you’d managed to get into your car.”

“Not yet, but I’m taking care of it now.” She clicked the mouse over and over and then banged it on the desk. “If this ever decides to connect to the internet—I’m going to have to bring in my laptop, because I don’t have time for this shit.”

I’d hesitated to admit this outside, because I shouldn’t be volunteering skills that made me sound like a criminal, but it was also stupid to wait for a locksmith, then have to pay him for something I could do in a couple of minutes. “I can break into your car and get the keys. Maybe just warn your brothers so they don’t think I’m trying to steal it. Something tells me they’re more of the ask-questions-later sort.”

One corner of her lip trembled upward before she forced it straight. Then she turned her blue eyes on me, and a sensation I hadn’t felt in a long time went through my gut. “What do you need to get in?”

“A wire hanger. Pretty sure I can find one in the locker room.” I tapped the edge of the desk. “I’ll be right back.”

The second I stepped out of the locker room with a hanger, a hand clamped onto my arm. Without bothering with words, Brooklyn rushed us toward the door.

I thought about dragging my feet and putting up a little resistance, but she was glancing around like a paranoid lunatic, and suddenly I wondered if she was a bit on the bonkers side. I tended to attract the crazy, but I’d sworn off that type. The highs weren’t worth the lows. Still, I couldn’t help attempting to tease out the side she’d shown earlier in the parking lot. “I’ve never had the rag doll treatment. Gotta be honest, I kinda dig it.”

She shot me a look. “It’d be easier if you helped, deadweight.”

There she was. “You know, if you just asked me my name, you wouldn’t have to come up with cute pet names for me.”