Title: Against the Cage by Sidney Halston
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Length: 229 pages
In her Loveswept debut, Sidney Halston turns up the heat as a sexy cage fighter shows a former bookworm how delicious a few rounds between the sheets can be.
For Chrissy Martin, returning to her Florida hometown always seems to bring bad luck. The day starts with a breakup text, followed by a jailhouse phone call from her troublemaker brother. Now a routine traffic stop has ended with her accidentally punching an officer . . . in a delicate place. Then Chrissy realizes that the hot cop on the receiving end of her right hook is none other than the man from her teenage fantasies.
Jack Daniels knows how to take a hit. After all, when he’s not chasing reckless drivers, he’s kicking ass in a mixed martial arts ring. So what takes his breath away isn’t the low blow, but the woman who dealt it: a gorgeous knockout with legs Jack wouldn’t mind being pinned under—who just so happens to be his best friend’s nerdy little sister, all grown up. Soon their instant chemistry leads to a sizzling affair, but Jack and Chrissy are fighting an uphill battle if they want to make love last beyond the final bell.
AGAINST THE CAGE – Excerpt from Chapter 3
After a sleepless night of tossing and turning, Chrissy put on a conservative black pantsuit, slicked her hair back and tied it into a tight bun, applied very little make-up, and headed to court. The previous evening she had called Mr. Robertson, the only bail bondsman in town, and hired him. He was already there waiting for her.
“Little Chrissy Martin. It’s been a helluva long time since you’ve been back. Sorry your brother’s troubles are the reason for your return. We’ve missed ya ‘round here. You always were a ray of sunshine.” Chrissy smiled. Before she had left for college and before all the crap that had made her a cynical mess, she really did have a sunny disposition. She volunteered at the neighborhood animal shelter, babysat some of the local kids, and was always friendly with the townsfolk. “Ya know, I was surprised when you called. There was a time when your brother used to keep me mighty busy. Disorderly conduct, public intoxication, bar fights, ya know…the usual.”
Chrissy sighed. “How long has it been since his last arrest?”
“I reckon it’s been about a year or so.”
Well, at least that was something. During the last year he had either matured and stopped his shenanigans or just hadn’t been caught. She hoped it was the former but expected that it was the latter.
Mr. Robertson explained the process and they sat and waited for Slade’s case to be called. She noticed Jack walk in, wearing civilian clothes, and sit a few seats back. He didn’t make eye contact with her. When Slade’s case was called the judge said a few things, then the court-appointed attorney said a few things, and in a few minutes, before Chrissy even thought it had begun, it was all over.
“Okay, honey. Did you understand all that?” Mr. Robertson asked her. She shook her head. From the corner of her eyes, she noticed Jack was now standing right behind her.
“Since this was not his first or even second offense, and because the alleged victim is the mayor’s nephew, the bond is $30,000. So, you need to put up ten percent. $3000.”
“Wait? What? Isn’t that excessive?” asked Chrissy.
Chrissy felt Jack’s hand resting on the small of her back. She knew he was supporting her, physically and emotionally. He bent down and whispered, “The guy deserved to be punched in the face, Chris, but he’s still the mayor’s nephew and this is a small town. Don’t worry. I’ll do everything I can to get the charges dropped.” She looked up at him and he smiled reassuringly, pushing her glasses up her nose. “Don’t worry. It’s going to be fine.”
“Come on, honey. This way.” The bondsman led them through a set of doors and down a corridor where she was asked to write a check and fill out paperwork by Melinda, one of the clerks.
“Well look who’s back in town. The big fancy doctor.” Melinda, a thin woman in her early forties, went around the counter and gave Chrissy a big hug.
“Hey Mels. It’s been a long time. How have you been?”
“Not as good as you, honey. Look at you with your swanky clothes and shiny hair. You look good.”
“Oh, thanks.” Chrissy blushed. She wasn’t in the mood for small talk but Melinda had always been very chatty. Actually, now that she thought about it, the entire town was very chatty.
“You know, my brother, Miles, just got divorced. Remember Miles? He’s a doctor too. A chiropractor. You should come over and meet him. How about tomo—“
“Hey Mels,” Jack interjected. “Chrissy hasn’t had such a great morning. Ya think she can take a rain check on the matchmaking? I’m sure she’ll call you soon enough to discuss it further.” Chrissy wanted to reach over and hug him, but she didn’t want to be rude. She remembered Miles even though he was about ten years older; everyone knew about his reputation of hitting on all things female. He wasn’t a bad guy, just a little too old and a little too creepy for her taste.
“Oh, my. Honey, I’m so sorry. Of course. We’ll talk about it later this week. Let’s get all the paperwork filled out so I can get Slade released.” Chrissy nodded and forced out a friendly smile.
“You okay?” Jack asked while they waited for Slade.
She shrugged. “I’ve had better days.” She rested her elbows on her lap and dropped her face into her hands. Jack sat next to her and caressed her back. “You need help with the money Chris?”
“No. I got it. But thanks,” she answered with her head still hanging. “God, he better not skip town. I’ll kill him. You know he thinks I’m rich because I’m a doctor?” She rolled her head to the side to look at him, her glasses once again falling down her nose. This time she fixed them herself before he was able to reach forward and adjust them for her. “I’m not, you know? Rich, I mean. I’ve basically been volunteering since I got licensed. It’s helped bring down my student loans from medical school, but my bank account has suffered along the way. I’ve enjoyed it, though, going all over the world and helping others, it’s exciting. I wish I could do more to help.” She looked back down. “We didn’t exactly end in good terms last night. I don’t know why I’m telling you all this. Sorry.”
“Because you’ve known me forever. Because your brother and I are close. Because you can trust me. You can tell me anything, you know?” Jack leaned over and gave her a kiss on the forehead like she was his little sister, although after last night she didn’t want to be thought of as a little sister. Scratch that, she didn’t want to be thought of at all by Jack. You’re here to bail Slade out of jail and go home. In and out, that’s the plan. But he was being so sweet and God he was hot. Smoldering hot. Sister? Eeek. Gross.
“I’m sorry about last night. I didn’t mean to be so mean. I just…it took me off guard. The whole MMA thing, it was just…unexpected.”
“You’re forgiven,” he said, with a smile.
Sidney Halston lives her life by one simple rule: “The secret of getting ahead is getting started” (Mark Twain). Or even simpler: “Just do it” (Nike). And that’s exactly what she did. At the age of thirty, having never written anything other than a legal brief, she picked up a pen for the first time to pursue her dream of becoming an author. That first stroke sealed the deal, and she fell in love with writing. Halston lives in South Florida with her husband and children.
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