Authors: Sarah Bale
before his biggest fight, an MMA champion runs into the woman who broke his
heart eight years ago. Now she has one month to convince him to trust her and
forgive her, even if it means letting him find out everything he thought he
knew about her was wrong.
Shannon’s old high-school
sweetheart, Dev, gives a whole new meaning to the term “submission wrestling”
when he brings out the shackles and chains for a little BDSM fun.
from Ellora’s Cave
This book is dedicated to my sisters—Katie, Sammie and
Terri. I couldn’t have done it without you girls!
I also want to thank my partners in crime—Yousef, Maegan,
Lindsay and Angie. You guys are my inspiration.
And thank you to Jill, my editor, for helping me learn so
Music deep with bass shook the floor and Devlin James—Dev to
his friends—moved to the beat. The air in the crowded nightclub held a spicy
aroma. Dev laughed to himself. Okay maybe not spices exactly. The Latino beauty
he danced with wore a strong perfume that teased his nostrils and set his blood
Though the dance floor was crowded, Rosa, the woman he
planned to spend the night with, danced as if they were the only two people out
there. His hand settled on her waist and she ground her ass against him,
pressing herself against his cock. Her dark hair fell down her back in long
waves as she shook her body with the beat of the music.
Oh yeah, tonight was going to be fun, whatever happened.
Dev glanced across the room and spotted his crew sitting at
the VIP table. Beautiful women surrounded them, at least two for every male
present. He grinned. Knowing his friends, they were making his bar tab grow
higher and higher. He didn’t mind though. Tonight was about pleasure in any
Marco, his trainer and oldest friend, stood by the table
scanning the packed crowd on the dance floor with an intense look on his face.
When their eyes met Marco scowled.
Fuck, not this again
. Dev turned his
back, ignoring his friend.
They had the same argument every time Dev won a fight. He
would take his crew out to party and find a woman to spend his night with.
After the first few times, Marco pointed out that all the women resembled
in one way or another. What a load of bullshit.
was a blonde and he
never fucked blondes. Not anymore…
Marco would roll his eyes and point out the other
similarities. They might not have the same hair color but there was always
something about them that reminded Dev of her…their eyes, their smile. Though
Marco had never met her, he knew what she looked like from the investigator’s
file he had in his office.
Dev glanced down at Rosa and she smiled. So what if they had
the same lips?
As the song changed to a slower tune, Rosa took him by the
hand. He ignored the knowing glances his crew sent his way. They knew the
drill. He worked hard and played harder and since he had won his fight he
intended to enjoy himself.
He caught a glimpse of Marco going up the stairs to the
second floor. He was supposed to be meeting an old flame but hadn’t been able
to find her in the throng of people.
A tugging of his hand brought him back into the moment and
he followed Rosa outside. They made their way through the crowded patio until
they found a quiet corner. A breeze caressed his skin and he could smell the
ocean in the air. Damn, he loved Miami. Unfortunately the life of a fighter
kept him on the road so he wasn’t home as much as he’d like to be. When he
wasn’t kicking asses he was promoting and doing media rounds.
“Dev,” Rosa purred in his ear. “Let’s get out of here.”
Her accented voice set his blood on fire. Everything about
. And he was more than willing to oblige. Grabbing her
hand, he led her toward the exit. Time to take this party of two back to his
Three fucking feet from the gate Marco stepped in front of
Dev and his date, blocking their path.
“What?” Dev ground out.
Marco avoided Dev’s gaze. Bad sign.
“Shit,” Dev said. “What is it?”
Marco’s jaw ticked and he finally said, “She’s here.”
For a moment all Dev could hear was the blood pounding in
his ears. Taking a deep breath, he filled his lungs with oxygen and then let it
out slowly. No need for Marco to clarify—Dev knew exactly who his friend meant.
Marco walked inside the club but as Dev started to follow,
Rosa pulled him to a stop.
“Baby, I thought we were getting out of here.” She pouted
her full lips and crossed her arms over her ample chest.
Those lips seemed second-rate now that he knew the real
thing was there.
He shook his head. “Sorry, Rosa. I’ll have to take a rain
Her eyes flashed fire. “I don’t give second chances, Devlin
He stared down at her, weighing his options. Finally he
nodded. “Have a great night.”
Angry Spanish curses filled his ears as he went back into
the club. He supposed he deserved this verbal lashing but he didn’t really
care. She would have been a one-night stand and there were always more where
she came from.
“Marco, are you sure it’s her?” he asked over the loud
His friend stopped and replied, “It’s her, Dev. Trust me.”
“Does she know we’re here?”
Dev didn’t really mean “we”. What he meant was did she know
was there. Marco shifted.
Oh hell, what next?
“She didn’t see me. She was…busy.”
He could only imagine what she was doing to keep herself “busy”.
His fists clenched and unclenched.
“Who is she with?” he asked in a voice laced with steel.
That was the million-fucking-dollar question.
Marco shook his head. “Dev, it’s not like that. She isn’t
here with anyone.” He paused then said, “Just follow me and see for yourself.”
If she wasn’t with someone, then she was working. The club
they were in,
, was popular for several
reasons but mainly for the strippers who danced on the second floor. The
dancers alone made the club the perfect place to take his crew and for Marco to
meet up with his ex. However this was
Sure enough, Marco led him to the stairs and began climbing.
On the second floor, a large, armed bouncer sat by a door. Marco flashed their
VIP card and the bouncer let them through. Dev wasn’t sure what to expect—he’d never
been up there until tonight.
He stood just inside the doorway and waited for his eyes to
adjust to the darkness. The lights, kept purposely low, had a sharp,
blue-colored tint. A very flexible redhead wrapped herself around a silver pole
at the front of the room. She slid down the pole, giving everyone watching a
nice view of her bare pussy. Hell, he even caught a glimpse of a piercing.
She flipped from the pole and began swaying with the music.
The beat was different than the tunes downstairs. This music was meant for one
thing…turning men on. Shaking his head, he remembered why he was up there. He
scanned the room. A few strippers were giving customers lap dances on large
chairs situated around the wide-open floor but he didn’t see her.
“Dev, just don’t do anything stupid,” Marco warned.
“I don’t see her. Where is she?”
God help whomever she was dancing for…
Marco pointed across the room. “She’s bartending. Over
there, on the far right.”
His gaze went to the bar. Sure enough, she was behind the counter,
chatting with a man as she fixed a drink. The air left Dev’s lungs.
She hadn’t changed much since the last time he saw her. She
was still the most beautiful woman he had laid eyes on. She wore her long,
blonde hair swept back in a ponytail but all he could focus on were the dark
circles under her eyes. What was she doing to be so tired?
The white tank top she wore was tight against her skin,
showing off the hot-pink bra underneath as well as her erect nipples. Her damn
skirt was so short he imagined her ass cheeks were visible. And knowing her,
she had on high heels. She always wore them, showing off her long legs.
“Dev?” Marco asked slowly.
Dev glanced at his friend and then began stalking toward the
bar. Eight years had passed since he had last seen her and he still had a lot
to say. And this time she was going to listen.
* * * * *
,” Molly breathed out, using her favorite
Spanish word. “Check out the hottie coming our way.”
With a smile, Shannon glanced away from the customer to see
who her friend talked about. Molly always found a “hottie” to enjoy for the
night. This little game made the long nights go by quickly.
While Shannon would indulge her friend by looking, that was
as far as she ever took the game. Even a friendly smile could be taken the
wrong way at
and she didn’t want to deal
with those issues again. Not when Johnny Ice was pressing so hard for her to
take the next step at the club. Not when the money he offered was starting to sound
“Where is he?” she asked, pushing the unwanted thoughts
“He’s across the room, heading this way. God, look at those
muscles.” Molly was practically panting. “Let me get this one, okay?”
“Sure,” Shannon agreed.
Missing out on one tip wasn’t going to kill her, not when it
made Molly so happy to serve him. Grabbing another beer, Shannon slid it to a
customer and then looked again, trying to catch a glimpse of the guy who’d
captured her friend’s attention. Her heart slammed against her chest.
Before her very eyes, Devlin James came toward the bar. He
moved his muscular body through the crowd with ease, his dark shirt clinging to
him as he walked. He wore his brown hair cut shorter than she remembered but
his dark eyes with their flecks of gold caught and held her attention.
Shit, she knew that look. Dev stalked toward her as if he
were a lion set on ripping apart his prey.
“Oh my fucking god!”
“Shannon?” Molly asked in a worried tone. “Tell me you don’t
“Molly, I have to go. Now. Cover for me!”
Without giving Molly a chance to respond, Shannon grabbed
her small purse from behind the counter and ran through the side door the
employees used. If she was lucky, she could make it down the stairs and out the
back before Dev had the chance to catch up.
Why had she worn her six-inch heels? She reached down,
slipped off her shoes and ran down the stairs.
“Shannon,” he called out. “Stop running from me.”
She huffed at that. Apparently, after eight years his ego
was as big as always. She picked up her pace, determined he wouldn’t get his
way. Not this time.
Shoving the back door open, she ran, using her long legs to
her advantage, making quick time through the parking lot. Her little car was
parked at the back and she cursed herself for arriving late that day. Usually
she was able to park right by the door but she had overslept. Working two jobs
was starting to catch up to her.
She reached into her purse and pulled out her keys, fumbled
through the ring until she found the right one then slipped the key into the
lock. A large arm wrapped around her waist, sending shockwaves through her
“I told you I always get what I want,” he said against her
His cock pressed against her lower back. Her eyes closed and
she tried to forget how big he was—in every sense of the word.
“Why did you run, Shannon?” Surprisingly, he sounded hurt.
“We don’t have anything to talk about.” She hated how her
voice sounded breathless, as if they had just made love.
His other arm wrapped around her, drawing her fully into his
“I’m not going to lie—you’re the last person I thought I
would see here tonight.”
She bit her bottom lip, dismayed to learn his deep voice
still sent shivers down her spine. To make matters worse he had started
stroking her skin. She felt herself leaning into him. His arms were one of her
favorite things about him and it had been so long since he’d held her.
He nipped her ear and then kissed her tattoo on the back of
her neck. The touch of his lips branded her skin. Of course he would remember
that silly tattoo. He let go of her with one arm but before she could think, he
cupped her breast. Her nipple puckered instantly under his thumb.
He traced a path down her thigh.
“So silky,” he murmured.
He had always said her skin was as soft as silk. She used to
laugh at him but now the endearment made her feel cherished. Her eyes shut as
his hand moved under her skirt. With one easy tug he ripped away her thong and
she smiled ruefully. Dev was never a patient man. He cupped her and then opened
the lips of her hairless pussy.
“Ah, Shannon. Always so wet for me.”
He used his finger to spread her juices and she shivered.
Her hips thrust against him of their own accord and he chuckled at how she
responded to him. His finger scraped over her clit and air hissed through her
“Dev,” she moaned.
She wanted to stop this from happening but she couldn’t. She
had missed him too much to let him go now. He pressed his hardness against her
back and she wanted to weep. Even if this was purely sex for him, he must have
missed her too, in some way.
Only one word but he guessed what she was asking for. The
cool night air surrounded her as he lifted her skirt above her hips. His hand
felt hot against her skin and the lace on her bra rubbed against her peaked
flesh, pushing her that much closer to what she wanted. She braced herself
against her car, knowing what was coming.
Hot breath hit her neck and she angled her head so she could
capture his mouth in a kiss. Dev had always been the best kisser, teaching her
everything she knew. Now she hoped to teach him a few things as their tongues
danced together. He tasted faintly of mint and she wanted nothing more than to
kiss him until she could remember that taste forever.
With a loud curse against her lips he pulled away and let
her skirt fall into place. Hot tears filled her eyes as she held onto the car.
The sound of him stepping back told her the moment was over, that he would not give
her what she so desperately wanted.
“Fuck, Shannon. What are we doing?” He sounded as tired as
Taking a deep breath, she turned to face him. It took every
ounce of willpower not to wrap herself around him and beg him to protect her—to
help her get out of the mess she had made of her life. She straightened her