The last place I wanted to be is at my ex’s MMA club, especially since I’ve sworn off fighters.
But I never anticipated meeting the De La Cruz twins. And damn, is there anyone who could resist a chance at a night of mind-blowing sex with them? With their tattoos, muscles, and the fact that there’s two. Besides, I’m getting the hell out of Vegas as soon as I’m done with college in a few weeks, so why not indulge until then?
It felt good to forget the rules…until I woke up to find out they were my new stepbrothers.
It’s about to get complicated.
About the Author
C.C. Wylde believes in wonder, imagination, and fantasies where happily ever afters are real, and finding the one is guaranteed…even if the one is really one plus one, plus two, or plus three.
She's always been impressed by the influence stories have on people as individuals and society. Sometimes in real life, rules can be strict. Thoughts and situations can limit us. But she knows that between the pages of a good book—just like in between the linens of our own private sheets—we can all have happy endings.
Read an Excerpt
The phone in my pocket dings impatiently for the third time in as many minutes.
Ignoring it, I push open the passenger door and lament leaving the air- conditioned car. The Las Vegas air blasts me, like stepping from a walk-in cooler into a pizza oven. The smell blasts me, too. Stale smoke, car exhaust, crushed hopes and dreams, and the unmistakable metallic ozone of too many bright, neon lights.
Grabbing some cash, I tip my Uber driver and watch as he expertly dives back into stop-and-go traffic on the Strip. After he pulls away, I palm my cell and glare at the screen, the recently received messages bold in my notification bar.
Sucking in a deep breath — and mentally preparing for the wrath I'm about to receive — I open the texts from my best friend, Daisy Richardson, and read them in quick succession. Like ripping off a Band-Aid, it's better to just get it over with.
Dukes: Where are you? You're supposed to help me get ready! You know there's going to be coaches here scouting for new fighters. This is my chance to go pro. Do not fuck this up for me, El.
Dukes: Seriously? You better fucking show up. I don't care if this fight is at your ex's gym. Suck it up, Buttercup.
My jaw clenches until my teeth ache at the mention of my ex. That's a low blow. She knows I don't miss her fights, no matter what. Not even Asshole Ex Extraordinaire could keep me away.
The last text is in all caps, which means shit just got serious.
Dukes: ELLA FUCKING PRICE! DON'T YOU DARE STAND ME UP OR I WILL KICK YOUR ASS INTO NEXT WEEK!!!!! YOU KNOW I CAN.
"Shit, Daisy. Calm the hell down. I'm coming," I say to my phone, as if it's a proxy for my pushy, overdramatic best friend.
Opening her text, I type back.
Me: Just got dropped off. Walking to gym now. Take deep breaths. Start your stretching routine. The scouts are going to love you. Everything will work out. I'll be there soon.
She texts back immediately.
Dukes: My fight's in 30. I'm freaking out. You're my Zen. I need you.
Guilt mixed with bitter anger bubbles up from the pit below my stomach and creeps along the underside of my skin. I've never missed one of Daisy's fights, and I'm almost never this late. It's a promise she's made me keep ever since my father — a now retired, former pro MMA athlete — left my mother and me for one of his many groupies. When that happened, I'd threatened to walk away from fighting forever. Daisy took none of my crappy attitude. She insisted I should hate the player, not the game.
Easier said than done.
My father's betrayal poisoned the best thing we had between us. The one thing I loved because he did. He'd started training shortly after I was born. Growing up, I'd always go with him to the gym. I learned the moves. Eventually, I started training on my own.
I never had a chance of a career at it, and I didn't want one, but I was decent enough to help coach some of the newbies for their first matches. Fighting was fun. A way for my father and I to connect. Once his career took off, and the distance between him and me and mom grew, fighting was the only thing between us.
After he left, fighting was the only thing we did. The only thing he and my mother had been doing for years. The way he left destroyed me, and it broke something inside my mother. Neither of us has been the same since. Somehow, I ended up being the responsible one, and she the reckless teenager.
Case in point: she was supposed to come with me tonight. After we checked into the hotel room she'd won from some casino in a contest — a room we don't really need because we live ten minutes from the Strip — she took off. I haven't seen her since. Waiting for her is the reason I'm late.
Typical Mom. Typical nowadays, anyway.
Huffing out an annoyed breath, I push away that train of thought and shove my phone into the back pocket of my black, cutoff jean shorts. My money, hotel key, and ID I stick into my knee-high combat boots. I adjust my studded tank before twisting my very dark, very curly hair into something more manageable and off the neck.
Taking a shortcut through the casino, I exit into an alleyway and follow it until it dumps me at the gym. As I approach, the sounds of cheering and the announcer's booming voice tell me another fight's about to start. The one right before Daisy's.
The digital marquee out front, advertising the evening's event, lists the various matches. Sure enough, Daisy "Dukes" Richardson is midway down on the docket, matched against someone I've never heard of. That isn't surprising. I don't follow the sport like I used to. Haven't in years. Other than the strength training and technical workouts, the spark of excitement I used to feel about fighting is gone.
It's Daisy's fault I'm still active in the scene at all. It's also her fault I met Marquan Sanchez, recently retired welterweight champion turned trainer/gym owner. Mr. Asshole Ex Extraordinaire himself. Dating him was clearly me playing out my daddy issues, believing I could change him in all the ways my father had failed me.
Marquan and I were never meant to make it for the long haul. Our relationship was destructive from the beginning, even if it didn't feel that way at first. I just wish my heart had known how we'd end up. Could've saved myself a shit-ton of pain.
I snap a quick pic of the marquee and send it to Daisy.
Me: You're famous! I always love seeing your name in lights. :-)
Dukes: If you have time to take pics, you have time to get your ass in here! Stop being a scared bitch. M will be too busy to notice you, but I'm sure in hell noticing my BFF isn't here.
She's right. I'm stalling. This is the first time I've been to his gym since we split six months ago. Damn Daisy. She knows me too well. I both hate and love her for that.
Taking a deep breath to steady my nerves at the likelihood of seeing my ex, I stare at my combat boots, try to blend into the wall, the night air, anything that can hide me, and make my way to the front door. Maybe if I stay small, attempt to be invisible, my ex won't notice me. Then again, staying small was all Marquan wanted me to do. It was all I wanted to do to stay with him. Thank God I'd finally realized I wanted more out of life before I'd wasted too many years on him.
Glaring at the backlit sign advertising the gym's name, I try not to roll my eyes. The Fight Club.
"Stupid name," I mutter and shake my head.
I'd told Marquan the same thing when I helped him start this business. No big surprise, he didn't give a shit about my opinion. Though, in a way, the name fits. It's as unoriginal and uninspired as the owner.
"You don't like the name, beautiful?" says a deep, sexy growl of a voice that sends shivers to all my girly bits. That he could do that with just his voice, when I haven't turned around to see what he looks like yet, makes me wonder what else he could do. And the way he called me "beautiful" with genuine respect, not as some cheap throwaway line, has me wanting to find out.
Wow, El, I say to myself. Horny much? I know the answer. Hell. Yes.
Six months of abstinence after breaking up with Marquan — much longer if I count the time at the end, when the sex was mediocre at best — is plenty long enough. It had taken me almost five of those months to heal most of the damage we'd done to each other. I'm only now realizing I'm a person worthy of love and respect. That the people I choose to be with should feel the same way. I have value. I'm worth it, and all the other pep-talk mantras people spew on Facebook.
I shift my gaze from the sign to the man leaning against the side of the building, cigarette in hand, leg kicked up against the wall like he owns the place. How can such a simple act inspire so much lust? I'm more desperate than I thought.
A flush of want ignites my skin, heating me from the inside out, which isn't helpful. It's already hot as hell. But the Vegas heat has nothing on this guy.
The carved muscles in his chest and abs bulge against his black tee. Dark- washed jeans hang low on his hips, hugging well-defined thighs. Ink snakes its way down one arm, all the way to his wrist. The design is difficult to make out at this distance, but that doesn't stop me from wanting to run my fingers along the mark, tracing not only the tattoo but the definition in his forearms as well.
Forearms are my weakness. There's nothing better than a strong man putting his weight on you, watching his effort pop the veins supplying blood to so much more than muscles. My mind instantly goes to how this guy would feel between my legs. What his forearms would look like as he cages me under him.
Pulling myself from that fantasy, I finish devouring him with my eyes. His dark, tousled hair falls across his forehead, almost obscuring his deep, piercing eyes. Stubble covers his jaw and upper lip in a rugged, I-don't-give- a-damn-look. His expressive eyebrows and high cheekbones give his face character, but it's his lips that draw me in. Full. Pouty. Twisted in a grin that tells me he knows I'm looking and that I like what I see.
"Not exactly." I answer his question, surprised I can even talk with how hard my heart is pounding. Not only from nerves about running into my ex, either. This guy has it pounding for a different reason. The pulse point between my legs drums out its own chant. Six months. Six months. Six months. I squeeze my thighs together and try to ignore it.
"It isn't that I don't like the name," I continue. "It's that I hate it." I twist my lips into a bitter smirk. "Then again, there isn't much about this place I don't hate." I say the last under my breath.
Dude's expressive eyebrows tilt down, making him more handsome than any man has a right to be. "What was that, beautiful? I didn't catch the last."
There's that word again. Should hearing it make me feel this nervous or shy? I'd always thought I was slightly above average in the looks department, until Marquan. Toward the end, he'd made sure I knew I was a constant disappointment to him in every way possible. To hear a stranger contradict that is both freeing and depressing. Guess I have a lot more healing to do than I thought.
Rubbing my sweaty palms against my shorts, I say, "Nothing," while diverting my gaze. More like my obsessed stare.
This guy is exactly my type. Rugged. Strong. Gorgeous as sin. But he's a fighter. His crooked nose and scarred ears give him away. I'd sworn off ever dating a fighter again. But the voice inside my head connected to my pussy reminds me I can still have fun for a night.
Not that he's offering me a night of fun. He hasn't offered me anything, including his name.
I watch as the guy brings the cigarette to his lips. Lips I imagine are soft, but firm when they need to be. His strong fingers flick the filter with practiced ease and a gentleness uncharacteristic of his build. I bet those fingers know how to flick many soft, gentle things.
A thrill of excitement at that thought sends shivers down my spine and dampens my panties. Fuck. I really need to pull myself together. Some random dude calls me beautiful and I'm practically ready for him to put a dog collar on me so I can beg for attention at his feet.
I had no idea my situation was this dire. But staring at this guy has me cursing the fact I hadn't masturbated before coming out tonight. In fact, it's been over a week.
"You know, I'm on the fence myself," he says, exhaling a puff of smoke. It curls around his cheeks and weaves through eyelashes any woman would envy.
"About what?" I ask, hating how unsure I sound. It isn't my fault. My irrational mind is acting out every paranormal romance book I've ever read. It has me convinced he's some supernatural being who can read every naughty thought in my head. Why does this guy have to be so damned tempting?
He cocks an eyebrow, his lips twisting into another smirk. "About the name. But you've helped convince me. If you hate it, I hate it, too."
"I bet you say that to all the girls," I throw back, trying — and failing — to be playful. I have too much resentment in my not-so- distant past, dredged up by the fact I'm outside his gym, to be playful at the moment.
He shakes his head. "You aren't a girl. You're all woman." His gaze touches on the places that prove his point. "And there aren't other women like you, beautiful. Trust me. I've looked."
"Why do you keep calling me that?" I ask, unable to keep the question from exiting my mouth in a flurry of self-doubt and passive-aggressive compliment seeking.
Pushing off the wall, he crushes the cigarette with his shoe and stalks toward me. One hundred percent predator. A part of me wants to roll over and show him my belly. The other part — the reformed, healing, determined never to be screwed over again part — wants to meet him head on.
Stepping into my personal space, he stops only when I take a step back. The smile he flashes is devious and triumphant, as if he just won some silent contest I hadn't realized we were playing. I should've, though. A top five rule of fighting is to always look for the weakness in your opponent and never reveal yours.
"I call things like I see 'em," he says, that damn voice of his vibrating the air between us. "And I thought calling you beautiful was less chauvinistic than calling you hot as fuck, seeing as how we just met, and all."
Placing one hand on my hip, he takes his time raking his hungry gaze over every inch of my body. Typically, I don't let random guys touch me without express permission. But something about this guy makes me want his hands on every part of me.
Without thinking, I wrap my arms around his shoulders to steady myself, to pull his body flush with mine. I'm surprised at my boldness. He doesn't seem to mind.
"Less chauvinistic?" I stroke the scars on his ears making the cartilage swollen and puffy, proof positive he's part of the scene I've tried so hard to leave behind. His grip on my hip tightens at my touch, but he doesn't move away. His dark brown eyes hold mine, mirroring some of the fierce lust he must see in me. "I didn't know fighters knew the definition of the word, and you don't look like you know how to be less of anything," I say, trying to hold onto a shred of my sanity while in his grip.
He parts his lips and chuckles. When he does, his scent slams into me. A mix of smoke, soap, and woodsy cologne. As if I needed anything more about him to turn me on, another voice sounds from over my shoulder. A voice that sounds just like his.
"Gorgeous and smart-mouthed. Damn, brother. I hope you saved some of her for me."CHAPTER 2
I must be dreaming. That's the only explanation. None of this is real.
The hungry stare of the man in front of me, which had penetrated straight to my core only a moment ago, flicks to the person over my shoulder, amusement replacing the lust.
Stepping out of the possessive grip of my mystery guy, I turn and almost bump heads with the man behind me. The exact same man, only not exactly.
The same piercing eyes and full lips greet me. Same expressive eyebrows and deliciously enticing body. But instead of the shaggy dark hair of the first guy, this one's hair is short, impeccably styled. He has smooth skin instead of several days of growth on his jaw, allowing me unfettered access to gawk at his enticing jawline. He's a fighter, too. His nose and ears tell me as much, but he's either no longer competing, or he hasn't been in as many fights as his brother.
"Holy fuck. There's two of you," I gasp and press my palm into number two's chest to keep from tripping over my own combat boots. His muscles flex under my touch as he brings his hand up to cover mine.
"Twice the pleasure," guy number one says from behind.
"Twice the fun," Two says, lifting his lips and eyebrows to match the smile on One's face.
"Twice the trouble," I answer, knowing better than to let the fantasy forming in my mind get too far.
If I thought my body was out of control wanting one of them, having two of them would probably make me spontaneously combust. I've never been with two men before. Two of anything before.
Marquan had tried to bring in another woman for a bit of fun. I originally agreed, thinking I'd be okay as long as he was happy. I chickened out when the time came. Told him I wasn't interested. Truth was, the idea made me sick.
Not the idea of being with another woman, though I definitely prefer men. It was the realization that I'd never be enough for Marquan, no matter what I did or didn't do. His suggestion, and our subsequent fight, was the final nail in the coffin of our failing relationship. Things fell apart for good a few months later. Now, here I am outside his gym, being seduced by two gorgeous, strong fighters. Twins.
"True. We are twice the trouble," One says. "But the good kind." He leans in close, his lips grazing my ear as I stare at his brother. "We would take good care of you. Promise." Two nods his agreement to his brother's words.
Desire slams into me, forcing my awareness to my clit with every beat of my heart. Is this really happening? Are they asking what I think they are?(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Fight Twice for Me"
Copyright © 2018 C.C. Wylde.
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.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Well, this book was smokin' hot! I had never read a C.C. book before, but I absolutely would again. This book is very well-written and I loved the voices of all of the characters. Though purposely not "textbook perfect," she wrote in a way that most people think and speak which, as we all know, is anything but textbook perfect! I enjoyed the plot and story line, specifically that Ella was a trained fighter and how that fit into the story. She routinely faced some pretty tough situations which required even harder decisions. That being said, I felt Ella was a little too martyr-esque for me. She also seemed irrationally skeeved out about the whole stepbrother/stepsister nomenclature, especially given how well Ella and the twins "knew" each other. But, all in all, I liked the book and would definitely read more! Like maybe Daisy's story! (wink wink) (I received a copy of this book in consideration of my thoughts)
I received this book in exchange for my honest review. Ella has a history with MMA fighters and wants to steer clear. She has to go to her ex's fight club to support her best friend Daisy, an up and coming fighter. Avoiding going in Ella meets the sexy Rigo and Diego, who just happen to be twins. She leaves them standing outside with out her name. After a rough encounter with her ex she decides to hit the club at her hotel. Imagine her surprise when the twins are there. After the night of her life imagine her surprise to find out that they are her new stepbrothers. The story takes you through the 3 of them deciding if they can have a relationship with their new family situation. Daisy tells her she is in her own way. This story is hot and steamy as well as making you feel for Ella as she learns not to run from life. I recommend this book.