Fighting Hearts

Sometimes big secrets come in even bigger packages…

Louise Becker.

After a rough year, my life is back on track. I’ve enrolled in school, made a big fat tuition payment, and got a second job teaching martial arts in an MMA gym. Everything’s going according to plan.

Until I lose my apartment.

With an empty bank account and no time to look for a new place, beggars can’t be choosers. So when my best friend warns me that crashing with Madman Markovski might be more than I bargained for, her warnings don’t phase me.

After all, I’ve been around super-fit athletes my entire life. It comes with the territory. And even though Usalv ‘Madman’ Markovski is as hot as they come, I’ve got this…Right?

Usalv ‘Madman’ Markovski.

From the moment we met, Louise has been under my skin. A distraction I don’t need, an itch I can’t scratch. The one woman I can’t have. Because love doesn’t work for me and she won’t settle for anything less. So we’ll stay friends, I’ll help her out, even save her life. But the one thing I won’t do is promise not to break her heart.

First Kiss

(when Friends Become Lovers)


 Louise and Usalv…

 “Then why did you offer to let me stay with you?” Louise gives me a puzzled look. “You’re clearly not a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants kind of guy.”

 I flush, making me grateful for not shaving today. “Because I didn’t want you to owe Mike.”

 She tilts her head. “You wanted me to owe you instead?”

 “Not exactly.” I take a deep breath. “I had a feeling that the two of you weren’t on the same wavelength. Especially after overhearing that argument you had with Macy at your apartment. I didn’t want to see you blindsided.”

 “Why do you care?” she asks.

 “I don’t know.” I fold my arms defensively. “Why did you shove your hand up my towel and kiss me?”

 Louise cringes and now it’s her turn to flush. “Listen, about that-“

 “Let me guess. You were drunk?”

 “I was drunk,” she admits. “That’s not normal for me. I am sorry.”

 “You’ve never given me a hell of a lot of encouragement.” I feel myself glare at her. “Now the only play I get is struck down with drunken deniability? Thanks.”

 “You’ve been really nice to me.” She tucks back into the corner between the circuit box and cage wall with her arms folded. “Thank you for everything. I mean that.”

 “Nice?” I repeat, frustration filling my voice. “Nice? In a place like this, what the hell do you think that means?”

 “I don’t know.” Sweet Lou gives me a pleading, troubled look. “It’s not right for me to read into that just because you don’t act like a Neanderthal. God knows I hate it when that happens to me.”

 I blow out a long, slow breath and scratch my beard so hard that there are going to be visible marks. My eyes meet hers and she looks away.

 Fuck it.

 One of my hands grasps the cage wall, while the other finds the curve of her hip, gripping and releasing it gently as I work up the nerve to speak.

 “What are you doing?” she rasps.

 “There’s a lot of kicking in taekwondo, right?” I ask.

 “Um…yeah,” she answers in a tentative voice.

 “So as long you’re standing, you can defend yourself, right?”

 Her eyebrows bend in confusion. “Pretty much.”

 “Good.” My frame lines up in front of hers against the wall as I inch closer. “You don’t ever need to defend yourself against me, Sweet Lou,” I whisper into her ear. “Don’t kick me.”

 “Kick you?” she repeats.

 I release her hip and place my hand on the other side of her head against the wall, caging her in. Lou’s gaze follows my hand before she turns to look at me.

 “What are you doing?” she asks.

 “Changing my tactics.” Her mouth parts, just a little and I bring my lips down on hers.

 It takes every bit of my self-control not to own that mouth. My kiss is slow and gentle as it’s ever been, and I’m as patient as I know how to be.


 Need to know this isn’t all in my head, that the physical signals she puts out aren’t all about her being drunk or stressed or even celibate for way too long. I…need her to want me, too. And moments later, pieces of the puzzle slide slowly into place.

 Sweet Lou’s lips press against mine, stunned and unmoving. I feel her palms spread open against my chest. My breathing stops as they still there, hesitant and undecided. I pause, expecting her to push me away, but the opposite happens.

 She exhales and groans while her hands grasp my shirt, pulling me close as those perfect lips part and she kisses me back. Her hands inch up my shoulders, stroking them through my sweat soaked shirt, until they slide around the back of my neck and pull me down as her breasts crush against my chest.

 “Christ, Louise.” My fingertips explore the curve of her hip, its ultra-smooth skin a stimulating contrast to the rough calluses that cover my hands.

 As the pad of my thumb traces along the smooth muscles of her pelvis, she shudders and gasps aloud. Sweet Lou’s back arches against the wall and those endless legs coil themselves around my waist, drawing me in, the skin of our stomachs now flesh to flesh.

 Damn. It’s on. And so am I.