In Jack's Arms (Fighting Connollys)(5)

By: Roxie Rivera


with breasts that barely filled a B cup and a tiny booty that no amount of squats had yet to make big or

delicious despite all the promises of those fitness DVDs.

"Abby?"

"Yes?"

"Are you okay? Mattie told me about the robbery." He hesitated. "If you need anything—"

"They only took some video cameras. It was nothing big. We've already had the doors and locks

replaced and our security system has been revamped. We'll bounce back."

"I wasn't talking about the store, Abby. I was talking about you. Are you okay?"

The concern deepening his voice knocked me for a loop. "Yes, I'm fine."

"You know it's okay to not be fine sometimes, Abby. It doesn't make you weak to ask for some support from close friends."

"Like you?" The words rushed out of my mouth before I could even reconsider them. Were we close

friends? I hoped so but…

"Of course like me, Abby." He paused for a few seconds. "You and Mattie are very important to me."

"We are?" God, I hated how stupid I sounded. Get a grip, Abs!

"Yes, you are. If you didn't know that, I'm obviously doing something wrong."

I swallowed hard and tried not to read into his comment. With my stress-fried brain, it would be only

too easy to misinterpret this and make a real jackass of myself.

"Listen, when Mattie is finished working out, I'll bring him back to the shop. I'll swing by and grab some takeout, okay? Let me treat you guys to dinner. It's been a long day."

"Oh, Jack, you don't have to—"

"I want to, Abby," he cut in gently. "I'll send you a text when we leave. All right?"

"Um…sure."

"Great. See you later."

"Bye."

Staring at my phone, I tried to make sense of what had just happened. We're important to him? My

fatigued brain dredged up all the run-ins I'd had with Jack over the last four years as he dragged his family's gym out of near bankruptcy to make it a raging success. After Granddad's health had started to go downhill, I seemed to see more of Jack. Now that I thought about it, I wondered if that was by design— his design.

All those late nights he had turned up at the shop to browse the firearms and go through our sports

inventory suddenly seemed less than coincidental. How many times had he just happened to swing by when

I was working late by myself or with only one other employee? How many times had he picked up a broom

or mop to help me finish with closing?

I glanced up at the fluorescent light bulbs overhead and remembered the way he had taken it upon

himself to install them after running into me at the hardware store a few weeks ago. Never in my wildest

dreams would I have dared to think that simple act of kindness was something else.

Was it really possible that devastatingly handsome Jack wanted me?

Chapter Two

Swinging side to side in his office chair, Jack Connolly stared at Mattie's phone. Abby's sweet voice

ricocheted round and round in his head. How the hell had he screwed up things so badly that Abby didn't

even realize how much her safety meant to him?

Still clutching Mattie's phone, he shoved out of his chair and crossed his office to the window that gave

him an unimpeded view of the gym. He braced his palm against the cool glass and watched the two dozen

or so clients moving through the various stations. Unlike some of the gyms that catered to high-end clientele with their sleek machines and expensive trainers, Connolly Fitness embraced an old-school feel with its

minimalist design and wide open space.

Most clients followed a challenging conditioning and strengthening regimen that consisted of cardio,

weight lifting and flexibility work. He made use of his contacts from his military days to hire instructors to teach self-defense and fighting classes like Krav Maga, kickboxing, Muay Thai and Eskrima. They had a

mixed-martial arts program that was just over a year old and more popular than ever. Finally, after years of busting his ass, the gym was operating fully in the black.

But a few weeks earlier, they had come uncomfortably close to losing it all. Their father had gotten

them tangled up in a mess of debts to two different loan sharks, one of them with a claim on the building

itself. Jack's chest tightened when he thought of the way his younger brother's girlfriend had saved their backsides by giving the loan shark the building she had planned to use as the headquarters for her growing tech business.

The tightness in his chest increased when he remembered the night he and Kelly had barely managed to

save her from that psycho stalker while their dad bled out on the floor of her apartment after taking a bullet to protect her. Their old man had held on through a night of surgeries and was now in recovery at home.