Authors: Violet Duke
Tags: #Fiction, #General, #Contemporary Women, #Contemporary, #Romance
Table of Contents
Love, Tussles, and Takedowns
A CACTUS CREEK NOVEL
COPYRIGHT © 2014 VIOLET DUKE
All rights reserved. Except as permitted under the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, this book and any portion thereof may not be reproduced, scanned, transferred, or distributed in any print or electronic form without the express written permission of the author. Participation in any aspect of piracy of copyrighted materials, inclusive of the obtainment of this book through non-retail or other unauthorized means, is in actionable violation of the author’s rights.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, media, brands, places, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used fictitiously. The author acknowledges the trademarked status and registered trademark owners of all branded names referenced without TM, SM, or (R) symbols due to formatting constraints, and is not claiming ownership of or collaboration with said trademark brands. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or events is purely coincidental.
Copyedits and Proofreading by Dickinson Copy Editing and the Eagle Eye Team
Ebook ISBN: 1941198929
Ebook ISBN-13: 978-1-941198-92-6
Excerpt from Leather and Lace © 2014 Jessie Evans
OTHER TITLES BY THE AUTHOR
NICE GIRL TO LOVE Series
Resisting the Bad Boy
Falling for the Good Guy
Choosing the Right Man
Finding the Right Girl
Serial Trilogy Boxed Set:
Nice Girl to Love
CACTUS CREEK Series
A Little Combustible Chemistry
Love, Chocolate, and Beer
[Luke & Dani]
Love, Tussles, and Takedowns
[Hudson & Lia]
Love, Exes, and Ohs
[Isaac & Xoey]
Love, Sidelines, and Endzones
[Grady & Sienna]
A Little Holiday Meddling
[Noah & Katelyn]
To my editors, proofreaders, long-time-fan critiquers, author beta readers, last-line-of-defense eagle-eye sweepers, and every valued member of my “Shelf Team”…thank you. Thank you for keeping me sane and smiling throughout the rollercoaster ride that is writing and publishing. For me, with each successive book, that incredible rush I get the entire ride never changes. In fact, I think it gets even more exhilarating.
From every eye-popping, what-the-heck-was-I-thinking climb up that track, to every holy-crap, gravity-defying drop that repositions our hearts…through every loop de loop, every topsy-turvy twist, and every rattle-our-brains sideways spin, knowing that you all are on this ride with me gives me that little extra ‘something’ that lets me let go of the handlebars and just
To me, writing is definitely a team sport and as far as I’m concerned, each and every one of you deserve MVP awards. Not just for helping me make every book everything it can be, but for making the experience throughout so darn fun. It’s no wonder that every time the ride comes to an end, I find it impossible not to say,
“Can we do it again?”
He’s a better fighter
A fighter to the core, Hudson Reyes has collected enough battle scars now to last several lifetimes. But after his combat injuries retire him from the life he wasn’t ready to give up, Hudson finds himself spending the carbon copy days of his new career as a Hollywood fight scene and weapons specialist just doing what he knows best: surviving. Until he meets
. The one woman who makes him want to
again. With wounds as deep as his own, she’s a scrappy little thing--an angel-faced paradox that comes as a package deal with an offbeat town of admirably protective, but downright nosy folks.
And a wicked roundhouse kick that’s become intimately familiar with his head.
...but she has all the weapons.
An antique arms authenticator by day and a self-defense instructor by night, Liana Lin has made a living turning the unthinkable demons of her past into the passions that fuel, and fill, her life. So when the unjustly handsome man she’s been unable to stop thinking about literally takes her to the mat with martial arts styles unlike anything she’s ever seen--pinning her with a molten hot stare that melts her like a marshmallow trapped between a graham cracker and a chocolate square--Lia flips into no-holds-barred fight mode. Because if one man could find a way to disarm her carefully-built defenses, it’d be him.
Now if only they could stop sparring long enough to find out...
Hudson Reyes stopped talking to his buddy Pete midsentence when he saw the poised, lithe Asian woman over at the main exhibit hall glide forward to receive the warm round of applause greeting her arrival. Even amidst the crowded audience gathering all around, her quietly captivating smile and feline grace were hard to miss.
The nameless woman who’d been raiding his nightly dreams for over two weeks now.
Crazy, really, seeing as how he’d only seen her from afar for maybe an hour tops at his buddy Luke’s wedding in March.
“I’m a friend of Dani’s—I’m the bouncer at her brewpub,”
he’d overheard her say to the wedding guests who’d asked how she knew the bride and groom that night. Hudson had just gotten through giving his congrats so he could make an early departure when the woman’s words had stopped him in his tracks.
“‘Bouncer’ meaning I basically handle security, take care of brawls, that sort of thing. Usually just for concerts and game nights…no, seriously.”
He’d almost laughed out loud over the befuddled shock of the elderly couple’s reply. And he’d
turned around right then to meet her.
But he didn’t.
The universe’s response today to his restraint that night was ironic at best.
Still. This time, he found it infinitely harder to just walk away again.
God, she was pretty.
And she was doing that thing again, too. Just as she’d done that night. Looking around at her surroundings in that wary, watchful way that had drawn his attention to her in the first place. And he was once again hit with an inescapable fascination over her, blindsided by an instant need to know why she studied her environment the way she did.
The same way
As the seconds ticked away, he observed her gaze slide back and forth over the growing crowd with the ease of a seasoned public speaker, and for some bizarre reason, with each sweep she did of the room, he noticed her earrings—simple swinging slivers of silver that caught the light whenever she moved. Why on earth he noticed them, he had no idea. With his own wardrobe consisting entirely of the spring, summer, fall, and winter line of the Army’s camouflage collection that was all the rage during his many repeat deployments over the past decade and a half, he was the furthest thing from a metrosexual who noticed fashion details.
he took note of. For one very simple, unevolved reason.
It was sexy as hell.
Here she was, the sole female member of the group of antique arms collectors featured today and while every other part of her outfit was all business-casual—much like the attire of her more quintessential firearm-toting colleagues—her earrings were a tiny, covert statement that spoke private volumes about the woman under the skirt suit. And for him, they managed to straddle her on that paradoxical line between unattainably beautiful and just plain adorable.
It made no sense whatsoever.
But logical or not, every glittering wink of silver kept snagging his focus, hypnotizing him like a swinging golden watch. So much so that the next prismatic shimmer almost caused him to miss the way her eyes caught and narrowed on the tall man in his early forties standing near the entrance. The same man Hudson had made a mental note of earlier as well.
A possible threat.
There was something in the agitated way the man held himself, the latent aggression in his expression that had pinged Hudson’s potential-dangerous-persons radar at first glance.
Discovering that his mystery woman operated off a similar radar was a revelation.
She was getting more and more fascinating by the minute.
Just as he’d made a point to do a quick sweep of the other audience members for anymore radar pings, the woman did three more room-spanning camera-shutter blinks. Then she was walking into the doors of the Phoenix Convention Center grand ballroom with the other presenters, the eager audience filing in right behind them for what was clearly a big deal for this year’s antique gun show.
Having never actually been to an antique gun show before, Hudson was surprised to see the varied exhibit rooms set up more like an art gallery opening while the rest of the large space looked like a prototypical trade show with collectors and vendors packed in like sardines.