LAID OUT (Worth the Fight #4)
Release Date: August 18, 2015
Growing up an Army brat, Violet Channing could never meet her dad’s high expectations. But in the eyes of her best friend, she could do no wrong. He even insisted that he should be her first kiss. Now Cain Sorensen is all grown up, hardened by years in special ops and always looking for a good fight. Tall, with striking blue eyes and impossibly blond hair, he’s a modern-day Viking warrior. Of course, Violet’s all grown up, too, and she’s ready to surrender to his every command.
Cain knows he’s bad for Violet. His work is dangerous, and his hobbies are downright deadly. As a private mercenary and a mixed martial arts fighter, he could never let such an innocent soul into his world. And yet his most grueling combat training is no match for Violet’s killer curves, hot touch, and suggestive glances. Now all of Cain’s most explosive fantasies are coming true—but once they cross the line between friends and lovers, there’s no turning back.
USA Today bestselling author, 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.
About the Worth The Fight Series
Violet put her hands up in surrender. “Tom really did chew strange!” She stopped and pinched the bridge of her nose. “Or was it Tim? Whatever. The point is that the way a guy chews is a legitimate flaw. I can’t marry a man who talks and chews at the same time, spitting little chunks of steak in my face. Ew! What if one of those little pieces lands in my eye? I could go blind.”
“The thought you’ve put into that exaggeration is really impressive, if not disturbing.” Her friend threw the scarf back at Violet. “Come on. Finish getting dressed already.”
Minutes later, Violet was sitting cross-legged in the middle of her bed applying makeup when JL walked in again, fully dressed to bartend at the Pier. “I was thinking . . .”
“Oh, no. Are you okay?”
JL playfully smacked Violet’s shoulder before sitting down on her bed and fussing with Violet’s hair. “Maybe the issue is Cain. Have you heard from him?” That was not something Violet wanted to talk about, and her friend knew it, which was why she’d brought it up. “What the hell is going on with you and Cain? And before you say nothing, remember we’ve been friends for a long time. I know you. We live together. That man has you in knots, and since he left four months ago, you’ve been a Debbie Downer. It’s depressing. You’re depressing.”
“One hundred and ten days. Not that I’m counting. I have absolutely no idea where he’s at. He just vanished. But even when he was here, there was never anything going on with us. You saw how he treated me when he bothered to speak to me. I don’t know what I did to make him hate me. We were best friends, and then we weren’t. Plain and simple. My issues have got nothin’ to do with him.”
“He doesn’t say a word to anyone. I’ve been living in Tarpon Springs for years now, and since he moved here I think I’ve heard him say ten words. So the talking thing, it’s a nonissue. It’s got nothin’ to do with you. The jerk thing—yeah, all you, babe. Not sure what’s up with that. He’s not exactly Mr. Friendly, but he’s not flat-out rude to anyone except you.”
“Except me,” she agreed.
“No clue.” Violet lay back, sucked in her gut, and closed the top button of her jeans. “He’s so surly nowadays,” she said breathlessly. “When we were growing up he was always the quiet and introspective one, but he wasn’t the Cain I’ve met here in town. This Cain’s a—”
“A dick,” JL interrupted.
“Dick! Dick!” Bird cawed.
JL barked out a loud laugh. “I love that bird.”
Violet rolled her eyes and ignored the parrot. “Yep. He’s not very friendly. Cain, not Bird. Actually, both. Or neither.” Violet shook her head. “Ugh! What I mean to say is both Cain and Bird are not friendly.” Violet let out her breath and put her arms out to JL, who grabbed them and pulled her up. “But I’m so freakin’ worried about him. Mad or not, I hope he’s okay.” Violet stretched her legs and walked over to the mirror behind her door to look at herself. Normal to large boobs, average waist, biggish butt, and short legs. She was on the voluptuous side of the spectrum. But she liked the way she looked, and so long as she was healthy, she never dieted and never looked at the scale. It had taken her a lot of years of self-loathing, but now, at twenty-eight, she loved her curvy body and wore it proudly—her father’s opinion, God rest his soul, be damned.
She turned halfway, looked at her backside, and smiled to herself. She had long ago come to terms with the fact that she would never be the same size as JL—but neither were most women. The mean girls in high school who had tormented her and mooed at her when she walked down the hall were now cordially invited to kiss her big behind, because she was happy with her tush just as it was and she seriously enjoyed her cookie dough ice cream addiction.
“Looking good, sister,” JL said. “I swear I’m going to burn your scrubs.”
“You think John will like it?”
JL walked up to Violet and playfully eyed her cleavage. “Only if he’s a guy.” Violet swatted her away and adjusted her top so that she wasn’t spilling out of it. “Come on. You’re going to be late for your date, and I’m going to be late for work.”
Violet took a deep breath, grabbed her purse, and followed JL out of the house. A glass of wine would loosen her up. That’s what she needed in order to get rid of the butterflies in her stomach. She wasn’t so good with dates, and blind dates were the worst.
Cain hadn’t left Tarpon Springs, Florida, for this long since he’d moved there four years ago. He’d grown up on an army base, then served in the military for eight years before retiring, and this was the first time in his adult life that he felt he had a home. After one too many fights in school, his father had forced him to enlist, to follow the path of his father and his father’s father. The Sorensons bred military men. Then his second tour ended and he didn’t want the army to be a career, so he’d gotten out, much to his father’s dismay. Right now, if someone asked him why he had signed up with IMC, International Military Coalition, as a contractor, he couldn’t answer. At the time he’d only seen the dollar bills. The pay was amazing compared to what the U.S. government had paid him for risking his life for years as an Army Ranger, and signing up to make four times the amount with a private company seemed like the obvious next step.
As soon as Cain walked out of the airport, he hailed a taxi to take him straight to the Pier. It was Friday night, and his friends would undoubtedly be there. Plus, he needed a beer . . . or seven. On the ride over, he received a text from Iggy Mitchell, another mercenary he’d met overseas. Iggy had lost a leg in a tour in Iraq a couple of years ago, and when he wasn’t on a mission for IMC, he worked as a consultant in Tampa specializing in testing firewalls and other online security threats. In other words, he was a professional hacker. The two men had quickly hit it off and sparred together during their free time. Iggy’s hard work and zest for life made the prosthetic leg a nonissue. One evening Iggy had mentioned how he loved to gamble on a series of underground fights put together by some Russians. The text Cain was currently reading was the address of a fight happening in a few days. But Cain wasn’t a gambling man, so he wasn’t interested. He slid the phone back into his pocket and settled in for the forty-five-minute cab ride to the Pier.
It was raining when the taxi arrived. He swung the big duffle bag over his shoulder and looked around the familiar town before he reached to open the front door. A hand on his shoulder stopped him. “Hey, man! You’re back.” It was Tony, his friend, sparring partner, and professional mixed martial arts fighter, whom he had helped train a few months ago.
“Cain, honey, so glad you’re home!” Tony’s wife, Francesca, threw her arms around him for a big hug. He wasn’t big on contact, and he awkwardly put his arm around her waist and patted her back.
“Come on, let’s go inside,” Tony said. “The rest of the guys are on their way. Do they know you’re back? Where were you, by the way?”
“Libya. Just arrived. No one knows,” Cain replied.
Francesca hissed. “Libya. Fuck. That’s not safe.”
“Still quite the conversationalist, I see.” Tony patted Cain roughly on the back.
“Leave the man alone. He just came back from hell, he doesn’t need that attitude tonight. By the way . . .” She poked Cain in the shoulder. “Don’t you ever fuckin’ leave again without letting us know you’re leaving or where you’re going. We were worried.” She reached in and hugged him again.
“Violet?” Cain asked when she released him.
“What about her?” Francesca asked.
“Ask her yourself—she’s here.”
Cain tried not to smile, but his lips seemed to curl upward all on their own. He hadn’t seen Violet for years until a few months ago, when she’d moved to town. He was happy he’d get to see her tonight. As had always been the case, her warm smile was the perfect salve for his shitty mood.
Cain put a hand on Francesca’s upper arm. “Wait—before we go in, are there any fights coming up? Sign me up for something. Soon.” Francesca was co-owner of Worth the Fight Academy, a mixed martial arts gym that trained professional cage fighters, which was what Cain had been doing before heading off a few months earlier.
“You just got into town. You need to take a breather. We can talk about it when you’re settled back.”
“I’m settled. I’m back. Sign me up.”
“Fine. But tonight, relax, at least for a few hours. Come have a drink and say hello to everyone. We’ll find you something tomorrow,” Francesca said.
As soon as he opened the door to the familiar laughter and smell he started to feel better.
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.
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Full Contact (Worth the Fight #2)
How could she have been so stupid? When Jessica Cross decides to give her violently jealous boyfriend—the otherwise influential and charming Dennis Stavros—a second chance, she very nearly becomes a statistic. After weeks of healing from a broken rib and collapsed lung, and with Dennis behind bars, Jessica finally feels ready to come out of hiding. But will she ever be able to take a chance on love again with someone new?
Mixed martial arts fighter Slade Martin knows he has a bad reputation. Hell, he's probably earned it. So it won’t be easy to convince beautiful, vulnerable Jessica that she can trust him—that from the moment she walked into his life, she’s been the only one he’s wanted. Powerful and confident, Slade knows he can honor his vow to protect Jessica body and soul. Winning her heart will be another matter . . . but a woman like Jessica is worth the fight.
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Below the Belt (Worth the Fight #3)
Once one of the most sought-after names on the mixed martial arts circuit, Antonio “Scarface” Marino watched his career go down for the count as he chased skirts and made tabloid headlines. Now he’s finally making a comeback, and it’s all thanks to Francesca Silva, a Brazilian bombshell as tough as any of her fighters. But who’s the real Francesca: the trash-talking trainer who rides him hard, or the vulnerable woman who blushes at his touch?
Francesca went to the mat to sign Tony because she believes he still has the potential to bring big success to her gym—if she can keep his head in the cage and out of her personal life. After a short-lived marriage soured her on love, a one-night stand is all she can handle. Now Tony’s kisses are stirring up complicated feelings—especially when he agrees to face her ex in the ring. Francesca’s used to freezing guys out. But Tony’s tempting her to give in to the heat.
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