the newest stand alone in the REAL series!
Read excerpts & be sure to ONE-CLICK
of this AMAZING fighter romance!
Hey! Huge line at the Underground registration, might pick up lunch on our way back home. Don’t wait for us - lunch home w/Diane
Me: Got it ☺ Will take Racer to park and meet you home ltr
I set my phone aside and scan the gym again. Some otherworldly impulse has me walking past the weights section. I cross the treadmills, bicycles, toward the mats at the end and the boxing bags. I scan the area where Maverick always works out. There are several guys at the bags now. None of them are as big, or mysterious. Or hot.
Disappointment washes over me. I wait a bit, checking the time. Five minutes to leave for Racer.
Reese, you’re acting stupid.
“You’re looking for your friend? The one you come in with?”
“I . . . ah . . . yeah.”
“He hasn’t come in.”
I head to pick up Racer from day care, meet Pete there with the stroller and our snacks, then sit Racer inside and push him to the park. There’s this spot I like under the shadow of a tree. I head there. “How was day care, Racer?”
He’s scanning the park for dogs, I know.
“This is nice, isn’t it?”
I pull out his fruit bears and open them. He dives in.
“Racer, I ran extra hard today and I’m suddenly hungry. If I tell you an extra story tonight, would you give me one of your fruit bears?”
“Two stowies,” he negotiates.
“Okay, two stories, for two bears?” I shoot back.
He hesitates, then nods and lets me pull out two bears, examining my hand thoroughly. I let him open my palm.
He grins a dimpled grin that I could eat up, and then continues eating.
I shove them in my mouth and start to set up my blanket and stop in my tracks when I spot the figure doing pull-ups on the tree.
His T-shirt is riding upward due to the lifted position of his arms, and I can see the concrete-like squares of his abs perfectly.
His extraordinary eyes blaze and glow when he spots me a few feet away, not far from the tree. He drops himself to the ground, lithe as a cat and surprisingly quiet, and as he stretches to his feet from the crouched position he landed in, his eyes are direct and interested and warm. No, not warm. More.
There’s a flip in my stomach when his lips curl a little. He ambles over and I have the oddest sensation that he was waiting for me. But . . . was he?
“Mavewick!” Racer repeats, and puts out his fist.
He bumps fists with Racer. “Dude. Cool cap.”
He taps Racer’s Yankees baseball cap. Then his eyes lift to meet mine.
My stomach feels unsettled, but it’s not from hunger, more like from nerves or something like . . . anticipation.
“Didn’t see you at the gym today,” I say.
He shakes his head. “I talked to Oz.”
He gives me this quiet, perfect smile and simply nods.
We smile for the most delicious few seconds.
“So you’re fighting during the inaugural?” I ask excitedly.
He pulls out a page from his back jeans pocket. “That’s me.”
I take and scan the page. It indicates his accepting the Underground terms and rules of engagement, states his coach’s name, and then his name. A dangerous little chill runs down my spine when I read:
Maverick “the Avenger” Cage
And Maverick “the Avenger” Cage is watching me read this paper, studying my reaction.
My palms are sweaty all of a sudden. “Well . . . wow.”
My stomach is quaking upon seeing his name, I don’t know why. Maverick Cage. His name is a conundrum. Maverick means “rebel,” and cage . . . But it looks like this maverick is coming out of his cage.
He tucks the page back into his jeans. “I had to tell someone.”
“And you came to tell me?” If I sound bewildered, it’s because I am.
He stares into me, a liquid look coming to his eyes. “It wouldn’t be happening if it weren’t for you.”
“That’s totally not true.”
He glances down at the stroller. “I wouldn’t forgive myself if I didn’t tell my buddy here.” He fist-bumps Racer again and Racer giggles at the attention.
“Mom and Dad are busy, so I get to keep him for an extra while,” I tell Maverick.
He stares at me. He has a very stubborn, arrogant face, but when he smiles, pleasure softens his granitelike features. And he’s smiling right now. Dear me. “So he’s not yours,” he says.
“God, no. I wish!”
I can’t think straight when he looks at me. I feel naked. As if he knows that I’ve missed him. As if he knows that just looking at him makes me feel odd. Odd and oddly sensual inside. Responding to him.
I open my blanket and bend over to smooth it on the ground. Then I realize my butt is sticking out, the Himalayas of butts out there for him to see. In tight exercise gear. Fuck.
He kneels on his haunches at the edges of the blanket and opens his hand. “Share the blanket with me?”
His knuckles are still scarred. I can’t decide why I keep looking at them. I get a gut squeeze of empathy every time I see the bruises. His hands are huge. He plants them on the blanket, then shifts to lean back on his arms, stretching out his legs before him. Other couples are nearby on blankets. It feels intimate when I set my stuff down, and I feel myself go hot when I sense him watching me settle down next to it.
He spreads out just a little more and squints up at the tree, then looks at me in silence.
I search the picnic bag. “Want some . . . kid food? Or I’ve got . . .” I pull out my emergency Snickers bar, which I’m proud not to have touched yet, and I hand it over. “Plus one water and a drinking cup with a lid.”
I pass the drinking cup to Racer and hand Maverick the water. He takes it. “I’m good.” He opens the water bottle and hands it to me.
I shake my head. I’m not hungry, really. Or thirsty. My stomach feels full of butterflies again and it makes no sense, since I don’t even know him.
He shifts up higher on his arms, the flex of his torsal muscles visible through the cotton of his shirt.
“I almost thought you’d arrived to the gym and got yourself kicked out,” I try.
“Not yet. There’s still tomorrow.” He smirks.
And there’s a tinge of merriment in his eyes.
“Wee, and the ducks?”
I jerk my attention back to Racer and my pending business with him. “Right. I promised we’d feed the ducks today.” I quickly pack our stuff and then push the stroller toward the lake. He walks beside me.
I feel him watching me as I stop at the dispenser to fill up a cup of duck food.
“Mavewick, get me out,” Racer commands.
Maverick sweeps him up and sets him on his feet.
“Don’t go in the water, Racer, just stay on the edge, and don’t let them bite your finger. Do it like this. . . .” I show him how to cup his hand. “Or throw it in the water and watch them pick at it.”
He nods and starts throwing all over, sending the ducks after the nibbles.
I sit on the ground, the scent of damp grass surrounding us as Maverick sits beside me.
“Hey, I want to do something for you.”
I can’t remember how to breathe.
I give him a moment to explain, but he’s not helping me out, only smiling. His face is open, friendly, his smile captivating. But his eyes are guarded, careful. I try to keep my voice indifferent.
“You mean for the gym?” I ask, a puzzled frown on my face.
He nods. “For that. And Oz.”
“Oh.” I shake my head, laughing softly. “It’s nothing, really.”
When he looks at me, he looks curious, and unsatisfied somehow. But a genuinely appreciative smile touches his eyes. “Trust me. It’s not nothing. It’s something, and I appreciate it.”
His open gratitude makes me so warm. He makes me feel impulsive.
“I’m in a healthy-living boot camp this summer. You’re meeting the new Reese,” I hear myself blurt out.
Wow. Did I just spew it out like that?
I’m so desperate for him to share bits of himself that I’m just totally baring myself to him without his even asking. Thank god he takes it in stride with an attractive little dance in his eyes.
“What was the old one like?” he asks easily.
I shrug and shake my head, not really wanting to get into that.
When he does nothing to fill the silence that settles between us, it leaves me with nothing to do but look up at him. I lift my lashes, and he’s staring at me with a look of total intrigue in his eyes. Wisps of hair tease my face, and I push them away, feeling really restless under that stare.
“Help me kick my own ass, and we’ll call it even,” I suddenly suggest.
He shakes his head with playful stubbornness. “We’re not even. I still owe you.” His eyes grow thoughtful, and he reaches into his pocket and extracts something. “Open your palm.”
He looks so intense that I open my palm and watch him drop something in it. “What’s this?”
I stare at the penny in my palm, then look up at him in confusion.
His voice sounds a little more harsh and textured all of a sudden. “I don’t have a lot right now, but I got this.”
“For a rainy day?” I ask.
“For any day.”
Book Summary & Purchase Link
As Mav trains, he meets a young girl—the only other new person in the town--and sparks fly. When things get heated between them, he finds out she's none other than Reese Dumas, the cousin of Remington Tate’s wife. A girl who's supposed to root against him and a girl he's supposed to stay away from.
But Maverick fights for the woman in his heart, and the monsters in his blood. The world’s eyes are on them and the victor will go down in history as the ultimate fighting champion; the ultimate LEGEND.
* LEGEND is the 6th and final installment of the REAL series, but it can also be read as standalone or after the three Remington and Brooke books (Real/Mine/Remy.)
(click on image for full view)
Tate’s lips curl rebelliously, and he looks at me with challenge in his eyes.
I smile back, a feral curl of my lips.
We tap gloves.
I jab. He swings his arm, blocks the hit, leaps back, and I jab again, blocked again.
We space apart and jump in place, shaking our shoulders, loosening up. I pull my gloves back up, narrow my eyes, and he asks, “You think you’re the shit because you’re fast and strong? I got news for you. I’m faster, I’m stronger, and I’m disciplined. Your coach isn’t doing you any favors.”
“He’s in my corner, and that’s enough for me.”
He swings, I duck fast and come up behind him. He straightens and faces me again. “If you settle for that, then you should settle for second place.”
“What the fuck. You want me to win?”
“I want a good fight. I like keeping things real. Reminds me I’m a man. Mortal.”
“I want to be a legend. Legends never die. Even if they die alone.”
He swings again, and I duck, come up, and jab three times.
He blocks repeatedly, then hooks with his right; I deflect. He grins and jabs again. I block, then I duck before he puts me up against the ropes, and I head back to center. He follows.
“To be a legend you need to fall seven times, get up eight,” he says.
I remember a final a few years ago when my father kicked Tate to a pulp. “Or not fall at all.”
He backs up his arm and then smacks the smirk right off me. “Before you stop falling, you need to embrace the fact that you’re going to hit the ground.”
I clean the blood from my mouth, glowering.
We take positions again, and he watches me as if waiting for my next move as we start dancing around, jumping, waiting for the other to strike.
“Do you want the headgear now?”
I lunge and start hitting, and he blocks, deflects, blocks. “Fuck you,” I grit out.
“Getting angry doesn’t help. You control the anger, not let it control you.”
I want to prove him wrong; I loop out my arm and aim for his head.
He ducks and hooks, his knuckles cracking into my jaw. I spurt blood and bounce against the ropes.
I shake my head, wipe the blood away, grit my teeth and straighten, narrowing my eyes. “My turn,” I growl, and I swing. My fist connects: a kidney punch.
He blocks my next hit, frowning in thought. “You’re cocky for someone who just lost yesterday.”
I dive my upper body to the side, evading. “You got to play it to become it.”
“I’m the champion, not you.”
“You won’t live forever, champ.”
He jabs three times, then leaps back, flexes his arm and looks at it.
“Muscle memory. You hit enough times, you fight on instinct; part of your brain works on your assault, the other is focused on the other’s assault. Let your muscle memory work for you and consciously stay focused on your opponent’s eyes.”
I laugh mockingly. “I don’t need your pointers.”
“Go back home to daddy, then.”
“When I’m finished with you.” I punch him, then raise my left hook and connect hard enough to stun him.
He raises his head, shakes it to clear it, and wipes blood from his nose. I catch my breath, satisfied I got some blood. At least I won’t be the only one with an ice pack tonight.
He sees the blood on his arm and looks at me, impressed.
“TIME!” his coach yells out from the corner. “You two won’t have shit for the fight if you keep up this nonsense.”
Tate grins at him, then turns back and glowers at me. “You get enough?”
“Barely warming up here.” I squint the blood out of one eye and raise my gloves. “Come get it, Riptide,” I growl.
Meet Katy Evans
Stalk Katy on her Rock Star Page