Used to the average Joe, Caitlyn Moore is overwhelmed when the supremely masculine Dante Jones walks into her life and expresses an interest in her. At first she pushes him away, refusing to encourage the attention of a cage fighter. Then she learns Dante has a love ‘em and leave ‘em reputation. What better way to fine-tune her non-existent flirting skills than with a male who won’t stick around? But Dante has no intention of being a practice dummy; he’s out for all or nothing. Now Caitlyn must accept Danteviolent career and allor let him go.
Dante “Inferno” Jones has one goal: win the Welterweight Championship. At a time when focus is crucial, the last thing he needs is a distraction. Yet Caitlyn Moore becomes a challenge he can’t resist. When the light-hearted pursuit shifts to a battle to win her heart, his focus is shot. Faced with losing the biggest match of his career, Dante must decide if his extreme life also has room for Extreme Love.
About the Author
Abby Niles has always loved to read. After having twins and becoming a stay-at-home mom, she started doodling stories to keep her sanity. She didn't plan for writing to become an obsession, but it did. Today, she juggles work, home life, and writing. It's not always easy, but hey, who said life was easy?
When Abby's not writing, you can find her playing 'Just Dance' with her kids or trying to catch up on her never-ending to-be-read list. She also loves Zumba, and refuses to admit she looks more like Animal doing his Muppet flail than a sensual Latin dancer.
Read an Excerpt
Thunderous screams filled the arena as a dark-haired fighter twisted his blond opponent's arm. The man struggled to free himself but only succeeded in cranking the twist tighter. Unable to watch any more, Caitlyn Moore slapped her hands over her eyes.
How could her friend bring her to such a barbaric event?
"You suck," she said to Amy through her hands.
She couldn't watch this. She'd already endured two bouts. Luckily, they'd been quick. Not this one, though. Two brutal rounds in, blood stained the canvas as well as both fighters, making them appear as if they'd emerged from the aftermath of a Scottish war movie.
But with real blood.
Amy laughed. "Jesus, lighten up." Then she gasped. "Oh my God! Bash his teeth in!"
The beefy man to Cait's left roared, "Come on, Majestic! Take him down!"
Droplets of cold beer splattered on Cait's arm. She grimaced.
"Rip him apart!" a woman behind her screamed.
The volume in the arena reached deafening levels. The way the floor shook, she knew even without opening her eyes that everyone was on their feet, jumping up and down, waving their colorful signs.
The crowd booed then roared again.
Cait spread her fingers to see what everyone was excited about.
The fighters grappled on the mat of the wire-meshed enclosed octagon. The blond on top lifted his elbow high in the air before crashing it into the temple of the poor soul beneath him. The other man's head jerked to the side, his arms splaying wide before he brought them back to protect his skull from the relentless punches raining down on him.
Why didn't the referee stop this?
Cait glanced at Amy, who stood with her hands cupped to her mouth, screaming, "Come on. Choke him out!"
Then Cait peered around the packed arena. As she guessed, everyone was on their feet, arms raised high in the air, chanting for these two men to knock each other out.
How could any of these people enjoy watching such violence? It was inconceivable. But if the last hour and a half was any indication, every person packed into the sold-out arena got some sick thrill from watching two men beat the crap out of each other.
Cait turned back to the spectacle just in time to see the blond land a nasty right hook on the jaw of his rival, which sent her friend into another bout of screaming, "That's my baby!"
Cait stared at the hulking man on top. Blond hair? Check. Tribal sleeve on left arm? Check. About two hundred pounds of solid muscle? Check.
No freaking way.
She'd accompanied Amy for one reason and one reason only: to meet her new boyfriend, who just happened to be working at the arena tonight.
Cait had assumed Brad was a security guard, but now everything made sense. The man straddling the other guy, beating him with a left-right combination, was none other than Amy's Brad.
Brad "The Majestic" Sanders.
Cait didn't know much about mixed martial arts — or MMA, as Amy referred to it. The violent sport was too painful to watch, and she avoided the television anytime her friend had the sport on.
From what Amy said — and from what Cait could see with her own eyes — these men were the elite of the elite, warriors in their own right. Some of the most well- defined, tattooed eye-candy a girl could ask for.
She jabbed her friend's side with her elbow. "Why didn't you tell me he was a fighter?"
Amy winced and rubbed her ribs. "Would you have come?"
She turned back to the octagon. "Well, there you go."
A grin broke over Amy's face, and she squealed. Not sure what was going on, Cait focused on the ring. A medical team and coaches surrounded the dark-haired man lying on the ground then helped him sit up. Brad stood beside the referee, hands on hips, breathing deeply, satisfaction rolling off him.
A commentator with a microphone strode into the ring. "Ladies and gentlemen, this fight has ended in the third round declaring the winner by knockout, Brad 'The Majestic' Sanders."
As the referee lifted Brad's arm high into the air, the crowd went wild, and a horrifying thought occurred to Cait. Of the bits and pieces she'd caught while trying to avoid the fights on television, she'd heard these men liked to party. Bloody. Bruised. Stitched. The injury didn't matter. There was drinking to be done and they invited the entire arena during their victory speech.
Brad took the microphone and thanked his manager, fans, and God. Then, as she'd feared, "Please join me tonight at the Boot Scoot to help me celebrate my victory."
Their favorite country bar! Oh, this was very bad.
Cait grabbed Amy's arm. "We're just watching the fights, right?"
"No, we're going to the after-party, too."
Cait groaned and leaned back in her seat. As soon as the fights were over, she'd march her ass right out front and hail the closest cab, semi, heck, even U-Haul she could find. She didn't care what the mode of transportation was, just as long as it carried her far away from this overwhelming sense of panic.
Amy sat and took her hand. "These are all great guys. You're really going to like them."
Cait had no doubt they were great. One on one, she would have been fine getting to know them, but she knew what was going to happen next. She'd be the fat girl in a sea of skinny minis.
She rested her head in her hands. Amy, of course, fit right in. Her long, blond hair fell past her perfect, non- double chin. Her tight, black tank top hugged her pert breasts and tiny waist. She'd never known the feeling of being self-conscious around a group of fit people.
"I really want you to go."
Cait remained silent. After a minute, she looked up. "You will keep an endless supply of booze in my hand. Got it?"
Amy grinned and hugged her. "You won't regret this."
Cait doubted that.
Music vibrated throughout the country bar. In the corner, Cait sat on a wooden stool, feeling like a fish out of water. She hated being an outsider in her own local hangout, but the crowd was different tonight. The after-party had brought in an influx of MMA followers, some of the prettiest, most petite, flesh-baring women she'd ever seen. She envied their confidence. Every one of these women was comfortable in her own skin.
Maybe one day she would be, too.
Cait snorted and took a swallow of her beer. Not likely, since she wasn't even comfortable in the clothes hiding her skin. Damn Amy anyway for making her wear this stupid outfit. She tugged at the too-tight pink top and shifted on the stool.
Amy bounced up to her. "Cait, come and dance."
"No, thank you. I'm quite comfortable right here."
"Please. You haven't said one word to anyone since we arrived."
Cait held up her empty glass. "You've been slack in your duties."
Amy glanced down at her full bottle, shrugged, and traded beers. "Now, come on. I really want you to meet Brad."
"Fine." Cait slid off the stool. Better to just get it over with. Amy wouldn't leave her alone until she did. She'd do a quick, hi, bye and then get back to her corner. Simple as pie.
Amy grabbed her hand and yanked her along. Moments later, they stood before a group of such hotness Cait thought she might hyperventilate. Testosterone engulfed her while she surveyed the wall of broad shoulders. These men were men.
Her gaze landed on the one with the clipped-short brown hair who stood directly before her. All the others faded into the background.
He was watching her, blue eyes alight with curiosity. Unable to glance away, she felt her heart stutter then pound in her breast.
Amy walked in front of her, breaking the man's unwavering gaze. Cait blinked. Where in the world had that reaction come from?
Her friend pulled the blond guy from the earlier fight forward. "This is Brad."
He extended a bruised hand, his left eye swollen shut. "It's a pleasure to finally meet you. Amy talks about you all the time."
Unfortunately, Cait couldn't say the same about him. Thanks, Amy. She grasped his hand. "Nice to meet you."
She stuffed her hand in her pocket and tried not to study the floor, but the wood planks were too enticing to resist. Could she just go home, for God's sake? She didn't like this feeling of not belonging. Never before had she felt as out of place as she did right now. And it was all because of these overinflated men staring at her, most likely wondering what an overweight girl like her was doing here. She tugged on her shirt.
Amy introduced two other fighters: Mac "The Snake" Hannon and George "The Crusher" Hart. Cait politely smiled. Then Amy introduced Blue Eyes.
"This is Dante 'Inferno' Jones."
"Fitting, since I feel like I've entered the seventh layer of Hell." The words were out before she could stop them. Her skin turned to fire. Damn her mouth.
The man's eyes widened, and he sputtered a laugh. "I can honestly say I've never had a woman react that way to my name before." Amusement lit his face. "It's intriguing to say the least."
His words flustered her, as did the strange interest gleaming in his eyes. The attention was unnerving. Men his type — the type who should never wear a shirt — rarely noticed her. She cleared her throat. "Sorry. Been a long night."
Dante moved forward and offered his hand. Biting her lip, she hesitated. Touching him was a bad idea. If she reacted the way she did with a look, a touch would ... She shivered.
But with his hand outstretched, she knew ignoring the gesture would be rude. Tentatively, she slid her palm into his. Electrical currents zipped up her arm to charge her stomach in a thrilling little quiver. She snatched her hand away.
This was not good. From the jeans hugging his muscled thighs to the gray T-shirt straining against his chest and biceps, he was practically a god. She had absolutely no experience with this kind of man.
Dante moved to stand by her side, making her pulse quicken. "Is there anything I can do to make the night more bearable?"
Seriously? Was he flirting with her?
Oh God. Oh God. Oh God.
"I-I don't think so."
"How about a dance?" he asked.
She glanced over her shoulder, certain he was talking to someone else.
The breath whooshed from her lungs as those mesmerizing blue eyes snared hers again. "You want to dance with me?"
As if it had a mind of its own, her head nodded. What in the hell was she doing? Before Cait could take back the impulsive agreement, he took her hand and led her onto the dance floor. The farther they entered the crush of dancing bodies, the more Cait's nerves pinged.
She was thankful the country hit song "Save a Horse (Ride a Cowboy)" pulsed from the speakers and not a slow song. Then she grimaced. Maybe not. Right now, her body would have more than welcomed taking a ride on this man.
Still, the rocking country tune was better than a slow song, where her body would press against his. She trembled at the thought.
They reached the center of the floor and Dante pulled her to his chest. Her nipples hardened on contact. The feel of his hard pecs beneath her palms caused a dull throb between her legs.
Ah, jeez. This was way too close.
He brushed against her as he moved to the beat of the music, taking her with him.
Holy hell, she'd been wrong. Fast and furious dancing was not better than slow. Each rock of his hips whipped fire through her lower anatomy. She slid her hand down his bicep — strong, chiseled biceps — trying to create a little distance. The move only brought her pelvis closer to his and increased the throbbing to a full- fledged ache.
Dear God! The song needed to end. Now.
He bent close to her ear. "Is Cait short for something?"
Distraction. Exactly what she needed. "Caitlyn."
Spoken from his lips, her name was beautiful. Too bad the name didn't fit the person.
She tensed. Damn it. Why'd she go and do that? She'd promised no more demeaning herself. Yet, his perfectly toned and muscular body made her very conscious of the extra pounds she carried. Made the old securities flare to life even though she'd made progress with the new Cait.
His smile faded. "You okay?"
She forced herself to meet his gaze. "Of course."
He's a fighter. Remember that. These men were used to attention, used to women falling all over them. Skinny, fat, old or young, they all probably swooned when he was near. So it wasn't like this dance was a huge deal to him.
She tried to relax and move with him, but she only felt stiff and awkward. Her face heated in embarrassment. He, however, just smiled and went with it. His tight body was anything but tight as he danced against her. Loose. Flowing. Grinding. Oh, my.
Cait swallowed and stared at his chest. She wasn't used to dancing with a man, didn't know anything about the bump and grind. When she came out on the floor she usually danced with Amy and they just acted stupid. Dancing with Dante was not stupid at all. If anything, it was like a sense of foreplay.
When the song ended, Dante led her back to the group. The feel of his fingers wrapped around hers burned her skin. Panic churned her stomach at the frightening amount of attraction she was experiencing.
Attraction, my ass. Try downright lust. This was so far outside her comfort zone. Hell, he was outside her comfort zone. He was more man than she'd ever dealt with and it was overwhelming. She needed to breathe.
As she pulled her hand from his, she whispered, "Excuse me," then pushed through the crowd and headed for the restroom.
She was prepared to spend the rest of the night alone, in a corner, far away from this alarming man who made her body sizzle with one touch.
* * *
What had he done wrong?
Frowning, Dante watched the curvy redhead weave her way to the other side of the bar. Things had been going great, then she tensed, and it felt as if she couldn't get away from him fast enough.
Women didn't run away from him. Ever. They tended to flock around him, whether he wanted them to or not.
Yet, she wasn't like most of the single women who hung around the MMA crowd. There'd been no coy smiles, batting eyelashes, or breasts shoved in his face. Instead of turning him off with the blatant invitation, which happened more and more these days, she'd been shy and standoffish. He liked the difference, the hint of a challenge.
Besides, her "seventh layer of hell" comment had been enough to pique his interest. His mouth twitched at the memory of the shocked surprise rounding her eyes and plump lips when she realized she'd spoken aloud. Yes, the woman was definitely worth getting to know.
Amy came to stand beside him.
"What's her story?" he asked.
She bit her lip then sighed. "Are you interested?"
"Be patient, then. I'm not going to tell you Cait's story. But I will say she's shy. She gets spooked very easily."
An explanation for her hasty retreat. "How would she react if I asked her out?"
"Spooked times ten. Take it slow, big boy. Get to know her, become her friend, and then she'll open up."
Dante nodded. He'd be around for the next two months, training. He could do slow.
"Excuse me for a minute," he said.
He walked to the bar and took his place at the end of the line. He glanced around the club designed like a saloon. The place was balls to butts tonight. The fighters' presence probably had something to do with the crowd. But even for a huge club the place was overly packed.
Someone jostled Dante from behind and he bumped the man standing in front of him. The guy glanced over his shoulder and did a double take. His eyes widened. "Oh, man."
Used to the reaction, Dante smiled. "Sorry about that."
"N-no worries." He turned around, still staring at Dante as if he weren't real. "I knew there'd be fighters here, but you, wow."
"Just got into town tonight. Thought I'd check the place out."
"John Smith," the man said, thrusting out his hand. "I'm a huge fan, Mr. Jones."
Dante shook the outstretched hand. "No need for formalities. Call me Dante."
John grinned. "So what brings you to Georgia? You're a long way from Connecticut."
Dante blinked then shook his head. It always surprised him when complete strangers knew facts about him, not that a simple Google search wouldn't bring up a variety of "Inferno" fan sites with some of the stupidest things about him listed. It was the way fans said those facts so conversationally, as though they had been buddies for years, that always startled him. "I'm training here for the next couple of months."
John's mouth dropped open. "He's one of the toughest coaches out there. He doesn't put up with any bullshit."
The line moved and they stepped closer to the bar. "That he doesn't."
Excerpted from "Extreme Love"
Copyright © 2013 Abby Niles.
Excerpted by permission of Entangled Publishing, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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