Redemption, Book 5
For the longest moment Zack’s brain couldn’t process the sight in front of him.
Seven years, ten months and twenty-seven days. That was how long it had been since he’d seen her. That was how long it had been since he’d lived a life without regret.
Fight promoter Zack Grayson is on the prowl for a rising star. As the top recruiter of a prestigious MMA promotion company, he wants to take someone where he was never able to go: the top of the professional league. He didn’t expect that someone to be the woman he loved…and left.
Top-ranked MMA amateur fighter Shayla “Shilla the Killa” Tyler built walls around her heart when Zack left her seven years ago–and again when her husband turned violent. Now, seeing Zack is nearly enough to send those walls crumbling. But she can’t risk the exposure of the limelight, and she definitely can’t risk another heartbreak.
As Shayla and Zack grow closer, though, business turns personal. And once their passion unleashes, there’s no going back…
PRAISE FOR STRONG HOLD
“WOW!!!! I could not take my eyes off each word…You will fall for these characters. You will get all warm and gooey when you are brought back with old friends…MUST READ for the summer! Once you start this book, you will not put it down!” —Crystal’s Book World
“STRONG HOLD is a dramatic, intense and captivating story. The premise is energetic and impassioned; the characters are dynamic and vigorous; the romance is provocative and fated. Sarah Castille writes tantalizing romances, strong heroes, and sassy heroines.” —The Reading Cafe
“Oooo Zack…I can’t believe that this is my introduction to the Redemption family. Seriously have I been living under a rock??? I need to change that ASAP!” —OMG Reads Blog
Read an Excerpt (Click to show / hide)
“Let her go.” Zack crouches beside us and shows Sue how to free her head from between my legs. Then he sends her across the room to work with another newbie, gesturing for me to remain on my back on the mat. As soon as she is gone, his dark eyes harden. He is barely recognizable as the man who kissed me softly behind the punching bag a short time ago. “What the fuck are you doing here?”
“I don’t appreciate the swearing,” I huff. “And I’m keeping it light, if you must know. Doctor Death gave me the okay.” I push myself to my elbows when his mouth opens again. “Don’t even think about asking me to leave. I don’t answer to you, Zack. I do what I want.”
“I realized that when you got involved in something that wasn’t your fight.”
Ah. He was annoyed. “I’m sorry, but I’d do it again, because you aren’t ready for that fight. And I don’t care if you hate me for saying it, because we both know that if you were, no one could have stopped you from climbing into that ring.”
Zack stares down at me, lying on my back on the floor. Emotion flickers across his face but disappears so fast, I wonder if my words affected him at all. “Since you’re down there, we’ll see how you escape a choke from the guard.”
“With you?” My heart races as he kneels at my feet, and I take a deep breath and try to keep it below the seventy percent threshold.
“Yes, with me.” His dark eyes glitter as he rests a hand on each of my knees and unceremoniously pushes my legs apart. “Spread.”
I’ve done this move countless times in countless classes, but never has my partner set my mind ablaze and my body on fire. Never have I felt that word like a rush of heat in my core.
“Legs around my hips.” His voice catches, and I am perversely pleased by the fact that this highly suggestive position that has never seemed suggestive until now is having some effect on him, too.
Acutely aware that we are being watched by the other people in the class, I wrap my legs around his hips. Zack grabs the edge of my gi and rolls, pulling me down against his chest with his right hand until I am lying on his body, my cheek against his chest, my hips pressed against what I hope is a cup.
“Breathe,” he whispers.
I let out the breath I didn’t know I was holding and pray this is over soon.
Zack bumps his hips up until they are tight against mine and grabs the back of my gi with his left hand. Then he pulls his elbow around my head for the choke.
But I don’t want to escape. I want to stay here, wrapped in his arms, pressed tight against his body, indulging in years’ worth of Zack-on-his-back fantasies in one fell swoop.
“Do you know how?” he murmurs.
Before I can answer, I see pale feet, decorated with perfectly pink nail polish and not a callus in sight.
“Hey, Slayer.” Sandy’s voice drags me back to the cold, harsh reality of jiu-jitsu class and my conniving and unfortunately single friend. “If you need a partner, I’m free. Renegade had to take Jill to the first aid room. I was a little too rough with her.” She laughs. “But I heard you like it rough, don’t you?”
And…I’m going to heave.
Before he can answer, I use the distraction to slip my head free. I twist into half guard and scissor my legs around Zack’s body. His eyes widen, and suddenly, I have his full, undivided attention.
Zack is stronger and vastly more experienced. He easily evades my every attempt to put him in submission, and our grapple becomes one of chase and evasion.
“Don’t let him at your back.” Renegade has returned and crouches beside us, calling out helpful tips, because Zack is no longer teaching. He is on the hunt, and I’m the prey.
I quickly turn to protect my back, and Zack rolls and mounts me, straddling my hips, deliciously heavy in just the right place. He looks down at me and gives a satisfied growl as he places his hands on my collarbone, his fingers dangerously close to my neck.
A thrill of desire shoots down my spine, and I bite back a moan.
“Don’t just lie there,” Renegade barks. “He’s giving you a chance.”
“Actually, I’m giving him a chance. If he doesn’t get off me in three seconds, he’s going to suffer like he’s never suffered before.”
Renegade grins. “Looking forward to it.”
I bring both arms inside Zack’s guard and slide his arms off my chest. He drops his head, and I wrap my right arm around the back of his neck and grab my left bicep with my right hand. His cheek is against my cheek. His chest is against my chest. His cup is pressed tight against the curve of my sex. With every breath, I inhale his scent of soap and sweat, and every muscle in my body tightens with need.
Somewhere out there, Renegade shouts, “Finish it.”
I slide my left hand under his neck, trying to decide whether to use a scissor hand or a fist to crush his throat. And in that moment, Zack moves. Before my brain can process what’s happening, he’s back in full mount, and I’m flat on my back, hands pinned to the mat above my head.
Oh. My. God. Not again.
“Submit,” Zack whispers.