"This sweet New Adult book is sure to leave you with a smile on your face.” –USA Today bestselling author Cindi Madsen
Katie Capwell is a bright and accomplished recent law school graduate, and she has her shiny future all mapped out. It’s brimming with courtroom victories and creating change. Ryan Brincatt is a tattooed and impossibly cool martial artist, and he’s mastered a fierce roundhouse kick.
Their paths never should have crossed.
But when Katie lurks outside the kickboxing gym where Ryan works as a trainer, she’s immediately drawn to his casual confidence and playful green eyes. Without making her usual list of pros and cons, she impulsively signs up to train with him.
She never imagined that one decision would change. Absolutely. Everything.
|Entangled Publishing, LLC
About the Author
Stacy Wise *wrote* her first book when she was six. It was completely plagiarized, but she spent hours copying it word-for-word in her best printing, so that should count for something.
She devoured books as a kid, but never considered she'd be lucky enough to call herself a real author. Nonetheless, she kept writing. Years later, she graduated from UCLA with a degree in communication studies. Thanks to an internship at NBC, she dropped her plans for graduate school and pursued a career in television casting. She worked on shows including The X Files, Married...With Children, and Party of Five. She continued to write (really bad) stories. After nearly a decade, Stacy left casting and returned to school for her teaching credential and masters. She taught kindergarten and third grade. One marriage and four kids later, Stacy finally decided that maybe one of her stories was worth sharing. "Beyond the Stars" is her debut novel.
She lives in California with her husband and children. When she's not writing, you can find her walking her dogs, Bailey and Rex, kickboxing, or lost in a good book.
Read an Excerpt
The blades of my kitchen shears are sharp and shiny, and I give them a trial snip to the air. I suppose I could decapitate him. He stares from the glossy photograph with a smug look in his eyes as if daring me to do it. Tilting the photo to get a good angle, I decide decapitating is probably unnecessarily cruel. My shears slice the picture easily, and I begin to clip Brad out. He looks like a scrawny version of a paper Ken Doll. We were dressed in red, white, and blue, our smiles big (though mine certainly not smug) as we stood on his friend's deck on the Fourth of July.
When I'm finished cutting, his shoulder is concave — I didn't want to chop off my own hand and a good chunk of my long hair. But overall, I feel good about my work. Lighter somehow, now that this colossal ass is no longer weighing me down. I start to toss him into the trash, but at the last second, think better of it.
Brad saw me lose my job, and he can watch me as I find a new one. Propping him against the pencil holder on my desk, I flip open my laptop. I can almost hear him saying in his ridiculously deep voice, "Technically speaking, Katie, you didn't lose your job. The offer was retracted because of a merger."
"I know that!" I want to shout. God, it was like he was embarrassed that I lost my first job before it even started. Whatever. His smirk remains, and anger slithers into my bones again. "Oh, no you don't." I should burn the stupid photo. It could be symbolic, like a phoenix rising from the ashes.
Tapping my laptop to life, I type "how to start an indoor trash can fire" into the search bar. Results appear — Smoke inhalation! Third-degree burns! House fires! — and I cringe.
Clearing my search, I stare at the computer screen, my mind whirring with alternate possibilities. I could run him through the paper shredder. Less showy, but it'll get the job done. And God knows I don't want my apartment to go up in flames.
"Hey, Katie!" I jump. My roommate, Lauren, smiles in greeting, her ever-present canvas tote slung over her shoulder, chock-full of leafy greens. It's Wednesday, so that means her greens are fresh from the farmers market. "Sorry to interrupt, but my yoga studio is having a one-year anniversary celebration tonight. They're doing a free vinyasa class at five. Want to join me?"
I take in her shiny blue eyes and rosy complexion. She positively glows, and I'm one step past starting a trash can fire. Yoga might be peaceful. Healing. "Sure. I'll go."
Her face breaks into a smile. "You won't regret it. I promise. We'll leave in twenty!"
Flicking a glare at the photo of Brad, I flip him facedown. He doesn't get to see me change my clothes. "I'll deal with you later."
Our small downtown area bustles with the sandy foot-traffic that marks the end of a lazy summer day at the beach. Lauren and I stroll past cafés, boutiques, and souvenir shops on our way to the yoga studio. There's a happy bounce in her step, and her yoga mat bops along behind her in the special pouch she has for it, like a baby in a backpack. Gathering her mass of wavy brown hair into a ponytail — the kind I aspire to have but never will achieve with my stick-straight locks — she gushes about the guest teacher from Seattle who will teach the vinyasa class. I'm not sure what vinyasa is, but I hope it's not too hippy dippy. Or hot. I've heard about the hot yoga studios that smell like sweaty socks. Maybe I should've googled it, or at the very least thought to ask, before agreeing to join her.
"It'll be so much fun." Her eyes shine with a vibrancy I wish I felt. "And don't worry if you can't do some of the moves. He'll suggest modifications for the advanced poses."
Oh God. This is going to be a disaster. One more thing to make me feel like a failure. Nonetheless, I take a breath and reach for the door.
"Whoa. Not there," she says. "That's a kickboxing gym. The yoga studio is next door."
I peer in the window of the gym. Sweat-soaked men and women pummel bags with kicks and punches. A woman wearing pink boxing gloves catches my attention. She's beating the hell out of a bag.
I step closer, fingers to the glass, wishing I could channel a fragment of her power.
Lauren taps my shoulder. "We should go. They're expecting a big turnout."
Without taking my eyes from the window, I say, "I want to check this place out."
"Really? They're all intense and grunty."
Which is why I love it. I turn to face her, my confidence flickering to life for the first time in weeks. "Go on ahead. I'll be there soon."
"Just ... don't get in anyone's way. They look violent." She holds out a hand. "Give me your mat. I'll save you a spot." Technically, it's her mat. I'm just borrowing it.
After passing it to her, I resume my window gazing, imagining how it'd feel to punch like the girl with the pink gloves.
"Are you going in or just window shopping?" a male voice rasps.
I whip around, ready to make a snappy comeback, but my voice gets locked somewhere in my throat when my eyes meet his. I've seen green eyes before. Obviously. But something about the combination of his soulful gaze and the dark-brown hair that falls to his jawline is mesmerizing. "I, uh ... I was on my way to yoga next door, but this looks interesting. All the punching and whatnot seems therapeutic." I'm not sure how to decipher his piercing stare. "I'm not a creeper, if that's what you're thinking."
A smile tugs the corner of his mouth, and he leans against the glass door, all casual and cool, his arms crossed in front of him. They're covered in tattoos. "A creeper? Nah. I wasn't thinking that. You want to come in and have a look?" A full smile emerges. His incisor tooth overlaps his front tooth just a bit. It makes his smile less than perfect, but in a charming sort of way. I'm sure women would swoon at his allure. But not me. My swooning was a temporary first- glance situation. I'm done with men at the moment. He reaches out a hand in introduction. It doesn't escape me that his knuckles are tattooed, too. "I'm Ryan Brincatt, one of the trainers."
"Katie Capwell." A tentative smile hovers on my lips when I shake his hand, but I inwardly cringe as I imagine a needle piercing his skin. I still have the occasional nightmare about getting my ears pierced, and that was nearly ten years ago. He moves his hand from mine, and I sneak a look at the words, but he slips his hands into his pockets before I can decipher them. His arms are impossible to miss, though. A row of Chinese symbols lines his inner left forearm, and a thorny vine climbs its way up his outer arm, punctuated with fat, blood-red roses outlined in black. His right arm is covered with an elaborate scene of a winged angel draped in a sweeping gown. Her eyes seem to glisten like they're holding back tears. The beauty of it makes me forget all about the stabbing pain he must've endured. I've never considered tattoos as art before, but whoever did his is ridiculously talented. Below the angel, an antique timepiece emerges from a skull with Roman numerals drifting off it, like the florets of a dandelion blowing in the wind.
He clears his throat, amusement glimmering in his eyes. "So you want me to show you around, or do you need another minute to check out my arms?"
Oh God. I press a hand to my chest, covering the red spots that are surely appearing on my eternally pale skin. I don't have to see it to know it's happening. Every time I was called on in law school, nerves erupted in scarlet across my chest. It didn't matter if I knew the answer or not, which to be honest, I always did. The simple act of being singled out was enough. "I wasn't —"
He cuts me off. "I'm kidding. Come on, I'll show you how to throw a badass punch."
A finger of fear tickles my spine. Can I do this? He waits for my answer, the picture of confidence, like he could teach even the clumsiest of individuals how to throw a badass punch.
"So, you in?"
"Sure. It looks hot." I press a hand to my mouth. "Fun!" I say through my fingers. "As in fun, but that it'd make you hot." He shifts his feet and scrubs his hand across his mouth, as though trying to wipe off his smile. "Sweaty hot." I swallow hard. "Like the people in the class."
A low chuckle rumbles from him. "It is fun. And hot," he deadpans.
I follow him inside, trying to reel in the random flirtatious threads he's unraveled. I'm certainly not one to fall under the spell of a rebelliously attractive guy. More likely it's the thrill of trying something new.
"That's Javier," he says, motioning to the guy with tight muscles who's teaching the class. "He's legit — a Muay Thai kickboxing world title contender and a world champion in Krav Maga. This is one of our advanced classes, but we offer all levels. You ever done any kickboxing?"
I wish. "No."
"That's cool. The first class is free, so you can try it out before committing. I'll grab you a schedule." He stops at a desk where a girl with cropped platinum hair sits. Tiny studs line both her ears, from the lobe to the tip-top. I shudder at the thought of the piercing gun popping an earring through the upper part.
She flashes a dimpled smile. "What's up, Ry?"
"Hey, Jazzie. I need a schedule." He reaches for it from a neat stack on her desk, but she swats his hand before he can take one. As he pulls his hand back, I can read the word tattooed across his knuckles: "love." Shifting my eyes to his left hand, I can make out that it says, "live." Not exactly what I expected. He feigns a hurt look. "Didn't your mom teach you to share?"
"Shut up. Those are the waivers." She passes him a sheet from a neighboring stack. "This is the schedule." Her dimples and smiling blue eyes contradict a harshness that hovers around her. She looks like the kind of girl whose favorite word is "bullshit." I wonder if he taught her how to throw a badass punch. Maybe she already knew.
"Thanks, Jazz." He hands me the paper.
"Can I see one of those waivers?" I ask.
"Um, sure." Jazzie exchanges a look with Ryan as she hands me the document.
"It's pretty standard stuff," Ryan assures me.
"Oh, I know. It's just ... I'm an attorney. I like to read the fine print." I fold the paper into a tiny square and tuck it into the zippered pocket of my yoga pants along with the schedule, vowing to pore over it line for line when I get home.
"Fair enough," he says, leading me to the back of the gym where a boxing ring resides. As we pass it, he tells me it's top-of-the-line. My mother appreciates top-of-the-line anything, but I'm fairly certain she wouldn't be impressed with a boxing ring. She'd raise her brows with a sniff and tell me to get out of this barbaric establishment.
"I'm staying," I say under my breath.
"It's cool. The boxing ring."
"Yeah. Wait till you see what we have outside. Come on."
He holds open the back door, revealing turf set up with fat ropes that look like something Indiana Jones would use to capture bad guys, a monster truck-size tire, and several racks holding exercise balls. I reach for a rope. "These are heavier than they look. Are they hard to use?"
"You tell me." He takes it from my hand. "I'll show you how. Stand back." He lifts the second rope, tightening the slack in them. "You'll need to use your legs. Don't just whip your arms. It won't work." He squats, then pops up, raising his arms and slamming the ropes to the ground, forcing them to ripple across the turf before he repeats the action. His biceps and triceps contract with every move. He must be a fantastic trainer to achieve such perfect muscles. Those didn't happen by accident. And I bet they'd feel nice beneath my fingers. Whoa. Where'd that come from?
He finishes and passes the ropes to me, our hands touching in the process. He glances at my flip-flops. "Might be tough to get any traction in those."
I slip them off, and he nods. "It helps to get a little angry."
A little angry? Ha! If he only knew. I adjust the ropes in my hands and step back just like he did.
"Bend those legs and keep your back straight. Chest up."
"Yep. But reach your ass back like you're sitting in a chair."
The tension burns in my thighs as I sit back, holding in a grin. I'm pretty certain a yoga instructor would never tell his students to reach their ass anywhere. I lift my arms and whack the ropes to the ground, but where he made giant ripples, I barely cause a stir. Gritting my teeth, I channel all the frustration that's built inside me since the day Bradshaw, Burke and Doyle retracted their job offer due to a merger. Slam!
Better. A quiver zips through the ropes, but I want more. I need more. The competitive part of me surges to life. The ropes are heavy in my hands. Rough fibers scratch my palms, but I don't care. Lifting again, I use all my strength to blast them against the ground. Take that, Brad!
We were in a bar having drinks with his friends when he grabbed my hand, kissed it, and told me he loves being single in the summer.
"Wait. What?" I asked, certain I hadn't heard him correctly over the carefree laughter and clanking bottles.
A door seemed to slam shut in his eyes, and he shrugged. "It's the perfect time to meet people."
"Meet people? But you're dating me."
"You?" he spat, as if he'd eaten a hot pepper.
I almost wish he'd flicked my hand instead. The sting would've lasted seconds. But his voice reverberates in my head. "You? You? You!" Like I was unworthy.
Readjusting my grip, I muster every ounce of strength to slam the ropes again. Unworthy?One more for you, Brad.
"Try for five, Katie. Come on. You've got this!"
His words spur me on, and I slam my memories of Brad into the ground. Finally, blissfully, I let the battle ropes fall from my hands. Rubbing my palms against my yoga pants, I walk in a circle and blow out a breath. "That was awesome."
Ryan lifts a hand to high-five me. "Hell yeah. I like your attitude. So that's La Playa Mixed Martial Arts Training Center. What do you think?"
"I think I got more out of the past five minutes than I'll get from the vinyasa class I'm going to next."
"Yoga's cool. It's great for strength and flexibility. But wait till you try kickboxing. It's a rush." His smile lights his entire face. It's the way Lauren looks when she talks about yoga. "Check out the schedule and come try a class when you have time. Or if you want, I can do a trial training session with you." His eyes are wide, questioning.
"A trial session with you sounds great." The words roll out so fast I bite my lip to stop myself from saying anything more. My mind whirs with the need to whip up my usual list of pros and cons, but a quiet voice inside shushes me, telling me it's not necessary — I've already gotten it right.
He slips his phone from his pocket and opens the calendar. "How's next Friday at five?"
Wow. Just like that. "It's a date — I mean, session," I stammer. "Next Friday it is. I'll add it to my calendar." I toss him a smile that says, Because I have such a busy schedule.
The girl with the cropped hair appears, a cordless phone in hand. She has the mouthpiece covered, but she whispers harshly as she thrusts the phone toward him. "Dude, have your ladies call your cell. I'm not your social planner."
Taking the phone, he smiles. "No prob, Jazz." He looks my way and winks. "I'll see you in a week," he says before taking the call. His raspy voice trails after me as I hurry from the gym. Of course he has "ladies." He probably has an entire fan club. All the cool guys do. And he's impossibly cool.
The lobby area of the yoga studio is packed with spandex-clad women. After a cursory glance, I find Lauren, who's seated front and center. She motions to me from her mat, and I sink next to her. "How was the boxing gym?"
"Honestly? It was amazing. I'm doing a trial next Friday."
She reaches forward, stretching her hands to her toes. "Cool. And don't forget we have Tracey's birthday celebration that night."
"Is your trial with that big guy who was teaching the class?"
"No. It's with someone named Ryan." Even I can hear the excitement in my voice.
She twists to face me. "Why is your face getting red?"
"It's not." I touch a hand to it, feeling the heat.
"It is!" Before she can say more, students flood in, followed by the instructor. A hush falls over the room as he stands facing us, hands clasped in front of his slim chest, wearing a sage-like smile. I stifle a nervous giggle. His pants reveal everything. Like the entire package. I laugh out loud at my choice of words and cover it with a cough. Really mature, Katie. I straighten the end of my mat as he welcomes us.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Maybe Someone Like You"
Copyright © 2018 Stacy Wise.
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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