12 Rounds (Knockout 1) - Page 51

My best friend waves me off. “You go ahead Lee, I’ll be fine.”

“Yeah, Melissa, I don’t know.” There’s a nervous quiver in my vocal chords. I’ve just gotten used to classes with her. I’m not sure how I’ll handle the classes with another instructor. “I don’t think it’s a good idea.”

Melissa puts her hand on my shoulder and wills me to look into her eyes. I meet her gaze, but stomach is in knots. “You’ll be fine,” she assures me. “I promise you, he’s much better at this than I am.”

“He,” I squeak out. There’s no way I’ll be able to do this. “Who’s he?” My fingers tremble and my heart is hammering against my ribcage.

“Me,” he chimes in.

I spin around and face Sean. He stands against the open doorframe, his shoulder dipped in and his arms folded across his chest. On my face is a look of pure and complete shock.

He tilts his head to the side, motioning to the open door as the entire room breaks out into a chorus of hushed chatter. Most of the women in my class keep glancing between me and Sean before exchanging giggles and awestruck looks. Finally Sean cuts into the whispers with, “I can’t say that I don’t bite because the truth is I do. And I like it. But I promise I won’t bite you.” He chuckles wrly. “Unless you want me to.”

There’s something so sexy about the way his words roll off his tongue that they completely shut down my voice box.

I’m speechless.

And nervous.

And I’m one hundred percent certain my cheeks are the reddest they’ve ever been.

More whispers.

More giggling.

I look to Lara for some kind of sign, but she’s gaping at Sean, her mouth hanging open.

My eyes find Sean’s. There’s a friendly yet devious glint swirling around in his pools of bluish green. He tilts his head toward the door again in a casual way, but his mannerisms don’t make me feel any less uneasy.

I try reasoning with myself.

You know him Hadlee. Well, sort of know him. He’s nice. Well, sometimes. He’s not threatening. That I’m certain of. It doesn’t matter how intimidating he looks on the outside, I know he’d never hurt me.

Before I can talk myself out of it, I walk to the door, stumbling along the way, and when I’m inches away from Sean he smiles brightly revealing a set of perfect white teeth. I look to Lara one last time. In a way it’s like a last ditch effort for her to talk me out of this, but she only giggles and gives me a two thumbs up. Without the the I can’t bail on my best friend excuse, I realize I have no way out of this. I’m like a lamb walking to get slaughtered. It’s true that I could always say no, but I’m beyond intrigued to know exactly what the Sean Reilly method to self-defense is.

And I don’t have a chance to contemplate that method any further. Without another word, Sean closes the door to the classroom and we’re walking across the gym to the boxing ring.

It’s not until we’re about half way to the ring that I notice that there a lot of eyes on me.

Most of them are women.

A few gawk.

Another looks like she’s about to cry.

But the last one, a tall tan brunette stares at me through slits, scowling.

What’s her problem?

I’m so focused on Little Miss Mean Face that I don’t realize that Sean has stopped walking and I smack right into his back. Shit. Not only do I bite my lip, but I react instinctively by petting his back, trailing my fingers along the flimsy fabric of his wife beater. “Oh my God,” I gasp as he turns to face me. “I’m so sorry.”

Part of me expects him to fly off the handle, but he doesn’t. A relaxed smile curls on his lips and he grabs my wrists. “You okay?”

“Yeah,” I mutter. “I should have been watching where I was going.”

“No big deal. It’s easy to get distracted around here. There’s a lot going on.” He points to the ring. “I’m gonna help you up. You okay with that?”

I smile and a rush of anxiety pumps through me when I think about his hands on me. Then I freeze. What if I freak out? What if I say something stupid? What if I somehow fall and embarrass myself in front of the entire gym?

Tags: Lauren Hammond Knockout Romance
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