Author M.A. DeOlmos

This is the page to check out the latest from The Oceans Series author M.A. DeOlmos. Oceans Collide & Oceans Submerged are the first two books of the series and now available for purchase. Hawthorne’s Calm, book three of the series, will be releasing soon! Here are the first FIVE chapters of Oceans Collide, Book One of The Oceans Series!

Oceans Collide

Chapter One

Livie

“Hey kid, you almost ready to go?” My dad’s Yankee accent called to me from downstairs.

Staring blankly into my mother’s room, I leaned against the doorframe. “Yeah, Dad. Just give me a second.”

“You got it, kid,” was the only response I heard.

In my hand, I held an envelope that was found on my mother’s dresser the night she died. My name was written on the front in her perfect cursive handwriting.

I still couldn’t muster the courage to open it… especially, if it’s her suicide letter. I didn’t think I could handle that much pain despite my coping mechanisms or lack there off. At the end of the day, I didn’t want to end up like her. So I decided to wait. I would wait until I was emotionally stable to read the honesty she’d written on this one piece of paper. Until then, I would keep it hidden and locked away with the rest of my demons.

My dad sold the house after I convinced him that I would not live in it. It was too painful. I was thankful when he didn’t put up a fight about it.

He understood me better than I thought; he always did, actually.

Taking one last glance at the empty room in front of me I turned on my heels and walked away.

“Hey kid. Ready to go now?”

“Dad, you do know I’m twenty three years old, right?”

Slapping me on the shoulder, he laughed as if I just said the funniest punch line ever. “You’re twenty three and still my little girl. So get over it, kid,” he said still laughing on his way out of the door.

I climbed into his rental car waiting outside and sat in silence for a while. My dad was a great man. I never blamed him for leaving mom and me. He tried to make it work and stuck it out until I turned eighteen. So I really couldn’t be mad at him for that. I knew he tried and I knew he loved us both.

After my eighteenth birthday, he sat me down and gave me two options. He told me I could go live with him in upstate New York or I could stay with my mother. If I stayed with mom, then he would open up a bank account locally so I would never need for anything.

At that time, I decided to stay with my mom thinking I could help her. Boy, was I mistaken.

“Have you thought about coming up to live with me yet?” he asked interrupting my trip down memory lane.

“Yeah, Dad. I did,” I said shyly.

I didn’t want him to think I didn’t want to spend time with him. I just hated the thought of becoming his baggage.

After leaving mom, he turned himself into a very successful and well-known realtor in New York.

It was bad enough I was using the money he was setting aside for me. I was twenty-three now not eighteen.

“Dad, please don’t be upset with me, but I don’t think I can impose on the life you’ve made for yourself.” His lips turned up into a frown. “I think its best I stay here and maybe go back to school. Starting my own business like you’ve done doesn’t seem like a bad idea either; you know, to keep me busy.”

He looked at me with a blank expression. I took it he was trying to figure out how to keep from making me feel bad.

Once he was done contemplating, he smiled. “Okay, kid, you got it. On one condition though.”

Uh oh, here comes the boom.

“You have to promise me to come home for all major holidays. I’m serious, Livie.” he said sternly looking at my raised eyebrow. “I’ve already missed so much of your life after you turned eighteen. I can’t live without my Livie.”

The laughter that followed made my heart melt. Yes, my dad was a good man, I thought watching him laugh. I took the time to take in my dad’s face.

He was forty-two and blessed with some very handsome and good looks. My dad was that tall dark and handsome Latino man all women swooned for. He was born in Brazil, so he had a very exotic look to him. I guess that’s where I got it from too. He had that George Clooney look going for him and at times, I think he actually thought he was Clooney.

***

“Alright, kid. Here are the keys to your temporary suite. All your clothes and belongings are there and you don’t have to worry about Tara. I’ve paid her your half of the rent for the rest of the year.”

“Dad!” I started but he put his hand up.

“Shut it. I know how much you wanted to move out. Here is your chance to start over. To start fresh,” he said shoving the room cards into my hands.

“I paid for the first three weeks for your suite. So that’s how much time you have to get yourself together.”

“Dad, you don’t have to do this. I can take care of myself, you know.”

“Yeah, I know. I saw the mace, pocket knife, and brass knuckles you keep in your car,” he said frowning at me.

I rolled my eyes at him. It was his idea I learned how to defend myself in the first place.

“I can’t take this, Dad,” I said firmly pushing back the room keys to him.

“Yeah, okay, kid. You can take this and you will. I have added all my contacts to your phone. All you have to do is call me for anything, Livie. I will drop everything for you, kid. You do know that, right?”

Oh, crap was he getting ready to cry on me?

“Don’t try to use your bad George Clooney acting on me, Dad.” I joked trying to lighten the mood. “I’ll accept this offer just this time but after this, no more freebies. Okay?”

“You got it, kid.” He walked me to the set of glass revolving doors of the Four Points Sheraton he pulled in front of. “Give your old man a hug, kid.”

I nearly jumped into his arms. “Dad, thank you so much for everything. Thank you for always being here for me when I need you most. I mean it. I love you, Dad,” I said into his shoulder.

He cleared his throat trying to hold back his tears. “Love you more, kid. Take care of yourself, Livie. You don’t have to get through this by yourself. You still got your old man.”

“I know I do. Now go before you miss your flight. I’ll be okay. Call me when you touch down, too.”

“Yes, ma’am. You sure you don’t want to be my personal assistant? I’ll let you work from here if you’d like.” The offer sounded good, but I couldn’t accept it. He already had four personal secretaries that I knew of.

“No more freebies, Dad.”

“Okay, okay.” Giving me one last squeeze and a kiss on the forehead, Antonio Acosta climbed into his Mercedes rental and drove away.

Love you, dad.


 

Chapter Two

Lawrence

“Lawrence! Lawrence, wake up!”

“Ten more minutes,” I growled into my pillow.

“Law, get your overgrown butt up, you’re going to be late!”

I loved my mom but she had the most annoying voice in the world! “Lawrence Nathaniel Hawthorne, get your ass up! You’re going to be late!”

Flinging my comforter off me, I sat up.

Why couldn’t the woman wake up and go to work? Note to self. Find an apartment today!

“I’m up, I’m up!”

“Don’t you raise your voice at me, Law! What you need to do is make yourself useful and move out!”

“Love you, too, Mom!”

I really did love that woman. No matter how annoying her voice was.

Looking at my radio clock, the time read seven twelve a.m. I didn’t have to be at the studio until nine a.m. Abruptly, I got up and stormed out of my room in search of my mom.

The smell of fresh coffee hit my nose and I followed it into the kitchen. There she was. My mom was frantically searching the kitchen drawers for something. She wore her burgundy RN scrubs and her auburn hair was perfectly clipped up into a neat bun.

She was a tiny woman. Five foot two on a good day, but boy, could she pack a punch.

I would know!

How she was the mother of a six foot two handsome lad like me was a mystery.

She had delicate features and fair skin. I loved the freckles on her cheeks. It made her look so cute when she was mad and frantic. Like right now.

“You know, Mom, just because you’re running late doesn’t mean the whole world is, too,” I said leaning against the counter crossing my arms over my chest.

Her head snapped up to look at me. When I saw her flustered freckled cheeks, I couldn’t help but laugh.

“You know the rules, Law. If I’m up, you’re up, end of story. Now help your mother and carry those boxes in the living room out to my car.” I sucked my teeth at her out of bad habit. She froze from rummaging through her purse. “And Law, that means putting the damn boxes in the car. Don’t just leave them in the drive way.” She stormed off into her bedroom mumbling random things about my lazy ass.

She was the only woman I would ever take shit from, no doubt, so I did as instructed. Once she was gone, I figured I could sleep for another thirty minutes.

***

My alarm clock went off at eight a.m. I slammed my hand over it to silence the ridiculous rooster. I didn’t think it was funny, but my mom was corny like that. I reached back to grab my cell phone and the led indicator was going crazy.

Shit!

I had a feeling breaking up with Julissa wasn’t going to be easy. No break up should be, but unfortunately, my girlfriend for the past year was crazier than most.

I probably would have stayed with her but opening my own martial arts studio was a big step in my life. I honestly didn’t see where she fit into that kind of lifestyle.

I cared about her a lot, but I wasn’t in love with her. The sex was good, but it wasn’t earth-shattering sex so a clean break for me was easy, I guess. I think what sent her over the edge was when I gave her the ‘we can still be friends’ line.

As cliché as it is, I really meant it. We started out as friends, so I didn’t see why we couldn’t end it as friends. I exhaled a loud breath, afraid to open the twelve texts she’d sent.

Rubbing the scruff on my chin, I searched through my missed calls. I had four voice messages from Julissa, which I was planning on deleting. There was no need to encourage her crazy tantrums.

My body stiffened when I saw a missed call from the studios landlord. I quickly selected the voice message to hear it.

Hey, Lawrence, it’s Mackenzie. I just wanted to let you know that something came up at my property downtown. If you don’t mind, I was wondering if you could meet me at the Starbucks downtown where my office is. I will have the lease and keys ready for you. I promise it’ll be quick. If I don’t hear from you, I’ll be waiting for you at Starbucks at noon sharp. See you then, son.”

Relieved that he wasn’t backing out, I set my phone down and made my way to the shower.

My cell phone went off again, and it was Julissa’s Lady Gaga ringtone.

Another note to self: Find an apartment today and change my phone number ASAP.


 

Chapter Three

Livie

I woke up to the soothing sounds of waves crashing from the hotel’s fancy alarm clock. The time read 9:45 a.m.

Rolling over onto my back, I stretched working out the kinks of my muscles. I could not believe a week had gone by since my dad dropped me off at the front door to the Four Point at Sheraton. Every day I pretty much hit the hotel’s gym for at least three hours. I ran on the treadmill and practiced my rusty yoga poses. Keeping myself busy and exhausted was the only way to keep my brain occupied. I was afraid to be idle for too long. I was afraid of what I would do to myself.

Today was Friday though and I decided I would start my quest on figuring out my future. I figured I would take baby steps to start out with. I couldn’t picture myself working an office job or nine to five. So I made a list of the closest gyms and studios to apply.

I didn’t mind getting hired at any of the gyms on my list given my personal training experience, but there was one studio I couldn’t stop thinking about. It was featured in the paper as the next local soon to be hotspot for mixed martial arts. There was no grand opening date or contact information in the article. Only the physical address. That was good enough for me because it was a start.

My dad would text me about twice a day to check up on me and Skype me at least once a day. I knew he was worried about me and I did my best to be brave for him.

I hadn’t told him of my nightmares I was having about Mom and probably never would. A vision of my mother covered in blood flashed before my eyes. I squeezed them shut pulling the pillow over my head. No! No! No! I screamed into the pillow. My heartbeat was thrumming against my rib cage trying to bust out. My head was pounding and I had to ball my fists into the mattress to keep from thrashing around. I was having a panic attack. I needed to cut! It was the only thing that could take the pain away.

Willing myself, I jumped up off the bed and headed for my bathroom. I flung open the medicine cabinet and froze when I saw the silver razor blades staring back at me. I took several deep breaths to calm my heart. If I didn’t calm down, I was sure I’d pass out soon.

Before I could change my mind, I grabbed one of the razors and doused it with the alcohol I kept on the counter. I frantically pulled down my sweats and leaned back against the wall.

Taking one last look at my pitiful self in the mirror, I slumped down hard to the bathroom floor. Steadying my gaze on the blade, I took a deep breath and slid the razor against my upper thigh near my panty line.

The burning and the pain were instant. My breathing slowed as I saw the blood pool out of the cut and trickle down my thigh. One cut was not enough so I made another cut under the first. The pain was euphoric to me.

I leaned my head back and closed my eyes. I let the pain take over erasing all my thoughts and taking away with it all my emotional pain.

The sound of a text coming in on my cell woke me up from my sedated sleep on the bloodied bathroom floor. I knew it was my father and I didn’t want to give him reason to worry.

Looking down at my thighs, the blood had dried so I crawled over to the nightstand. Grabbing the phone, I opened my dad’s text.

Dad ~ hey kid u up yet?

Me ~ yep now I am L

Dad ~ L kid its noon! U ok?

Me ~ never better I’m fine old man J

Dad ~ wat r ur plans 4 2day?

I never knew my dad texted like a teenager until now. He always had me laughing. I felt like I was texting my best friend… if I actually had one.

Me ~ find JOB apartment…boyz

Dad ~ LIVIE MARIE ACOSTA!!!

Me ~ ouch dad j/p. job apartment n gym. J Gotta run have a gr8 day Clooney ❤ U!

Dad ~ LOVE YOU TOO KID

Tossing my phone onto the bed, I crawled back to the bathroom.

Okay, Livie, clean up this mess, shower, and off to find a job.

After cleaning the crime scene in the bathroom and showering, I decided I needed to head out right away. The less time I had on my hands the better.

Making my way over to the walk-in closet filled with my nicer clothes. I frowned at my selection. I didn’t really consider myself a tomboy, but there was no better attire than some comfy sweats and a cami.

I was going to be applying at gyms, so showing off my physique was probably a good thing. My dad started my martial arts and jujitsu training when I was eleven. I always appreciated the lifestyle. Staying in shape was important to my father and me.

It’s as if we both needed the thrill and adrenaline of martial arts in our life. It was in our blood to fight.

Turning around on my heels, I headed for the dresser. I pulled out my drawer that held my dearly beloved Joe boxer sweats. I glanced over at my yoga sweats, which were much, more form fitting.

Nope. Can’t look like a slut for my first impression.

Who was I kidding? My mother’s reckless behavior with men cured me of wanting to have sex. I was still a virgin and saw no need to change that anytime soon.

Just because I wasn’t sexually experienced didn’t mean I couldn’t love my sexy as hell body. I worked hard for it and I very much enjoyed googling at myself.

I was five foot four. A little on the short side, but who cared. I could handle myself with the best of them.

Knocking assholes flat on their backs was second nature to me. My dad made sure of that. Since I worked out so much I had great abs and my ass was perfect. It wasn’t Jennifer Lopez massive, but it was a nice round solid ass.

My skin was naturally tan and my straight jet-black hair fell a little past my mid back. I always had it in a ponytail, so the length never bothered me.

Settling for the black and pink Joe boxer sweats and a pink TapOut fitted sports top; I quickly dressed myself. I pulled my hair up into a ponytail and side swipped my bangs over my right eye. I applied a natural tinted shimmering lip gloss and grabbed my fairly new air force high top sneakers out of my gym bag.

Just to be safe, I put extra surgical tape over the gauze covering my cuts. I would be extremely embarrassed if it bled through, so I always took extra time dressing my cuts properly.

Taking a satisfying glance in the mirror, I grabbed my across-the-shoulder Hello Kitty bag and phone. Reaching for the doorknob, I took a deep breath.

Today is going to be a great day. Stay positive, Livie. You can do this.


Chapter Four

Lawrence

Too excited to sit around and wait at home, I decided to head into downtown. I was so amped up I needed to burn off some of this nervous energy.

It was ten-thirty-ish so I figured I had enough time at least to go get my number changed. Julissa hadn’t stopped texting me shit and leaving ridiculous voice messages. I get that she was hurt, but acting like a fucking schoolgirl wasn’t getting her anywhere.

She even had the nerve to insult the size of my dick on her last text. The same dick, of course, that had her ass balled over in pain every time I fucked her. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t a front either, because every time I went Rambo in her pussy, she cried after she came.

Nothing she could say would hurt my ego. If my shit were that small, she wouldn’t be trying so desperately to get back on it.

I pulled into the closest spot nearest the Starbucks where Mackenzie would be in a little over an hour. Switching off the ignition, I just sat in my truck.

I couldn’t believe this was actually happening. Two years after graduation, I had saved all my money and suffered the embarrassment of living with my mom.

Now, I was going to finally own my first martial arts studio. The world of MMA fighting was nothing new to me. My father was a beast in his prime. When he still gave a shit about me, he taught me everything he knew. He trained me to be a champ and a champ I was.

By the age of seventeen, I was ranked number three in the Strike force heavy weight class. There was only one son of a bitch that could out rank me in my own weight class. That just so happened to be Ocean Grant Hawthorne, my cousin.

We practically grew up together and did most everything together. We trained, fought, cried, laughed, loved, hated, and even screwed the same chicks. That all changed when Stormie died and then Ocean wasn’t Ocean anymore.

I shook away the memory, swung open the door to my F-150 Raptor and jumped out.

Time to get this day fucking started!

***

Heading into the Starbucks, I spotted Mackenzie right away. He was an old school dude with a chick’s name, but he was an honest man, and I trusted him.

“Hey, Lawrence, glad you could make it. Ready to start the business?”

“Hey, Mackenzie,” I greeted him and shook his hand. “I’ve never been ready for anything in my life. You know that.” I joked.

Mackenzie knew my dad and my history as a successful fighter, so I could be myself around him.

“Alright, have you gone over the draft I gave you at our last meet?”

“Of course, I read that damn contract every flipping night, just to make sure it was real.”

I wasn’t joking about that, but he didn’t have to know.

“You have any questions son?”

“No, sir. I just want my keys, Mack.” He laughed his hearty southern laugh.

“You got it kid. Sign and date.” He said tossing me three sets of keys. My heart was in my throat and my sight was blurring.

Fuck this was really happening!

I quickly scribbled my signature and grabbed the keys. My legs started to shake bouncing up and down under the booth from the excitement.

“Calm down son. You’ll end up giving yourself a heart attack before the grand opening.”

I laughed nervously. “Mack, you know I don’t like being rude, but are we done here? I really want to go to my studio.” Shit, I just said my studio.

Mac’s laughter had my face feeling red from embarrassment. “Go on, son, get out of here. You need anything, anything at all, you just let me know.”

“Got it!” I yelled back, running out the door.

 

Livie

Finally reaching downtown, I decided to park in the parking garage. I wasn’t sure what the day had in mind for me yet, so I figured it was the best option.

Wouldn’t want my precious Lucy to be towed. Yes, I named my beat up car.

Walking out of the parking garage, I pulled out my phone. It was a little past eleven. I pulled up the list of gyms I saved on my phone and scrolled down the list reading the names again.

~ Cross Fit Gym

~ DeFranco’s Gym

~ Peak Performance

And my list went on. The only name that stood out to me was the new martial arts studio located on Placid Drive. It was about a forty-minute drive and I loved a good drive.

Deciding to follow my gut feeling, I walked back to Lucy, jumped in, started her up, and drove out of the garage toward the studio.

Merging onto the highway, I plugged in my phone and opened my Pandora station. Scrolling down the hundreds of the stations I’d created over time, the Pink station called out to me.

I selected the station and of course, the first song that played immediately spoke to my soul. Grabbing tightly onto the steering wheel, I belted out the lyrics to Sober as I raced down the highway toward a new beginning.

Coming off the highway, I was minutes away from the studio. I started to get nervous. The studio wasn’t even open. There was a good chance that no one would be there. I tried to convince myself, but I still felt jumpy. I slowed down not wanting to miss my right turn onto Vineland Street. Taking a few deep breaths, I tried to calm my nerves.

Come on, Livie, there probably isn’t anyone there. The damn studio isn’t even open!

Turning onto Placid Drive, I saw the studio up ahead. It was in a nice area and the maintenance of the building looked really good. The previous owners had really taken care of the place. The large glass windows that covered the complete front of the building looked really attractive and the studio looked huge from the outside.

As I pulled into the lot, I noticed a badass truck parked up on top of the curb. It was a totally customized all black Ford Raptor. The huge rims were gunmetal black. Even the taillight and headlight caps were black.

Darth Vader all the way.

I parked Lucy and opened my door looking around. I didn’t see anyone outside, so I guessed the owner was inside somewhere.

I took a quick stretch and grabbed my portfolio. I wasn’t a professionally licensed trainer, but I had the experience and the recommendations to be qualified.

When my dad was still home, he introduced me to the world of martial arts. I like to think I trained with the best. I squared my shoulders and closed my car door behind me.

Alright, girl, let’s make this happen!

 

 

Chapter Five

Lawrence

As I pulled up to the studio, my heart was threatening to fly out of my chest. I rode up on the curb by the studio’s front door and I didn’t give a shit. This place was mine and I wanted to get inside!

I jumped out of my truck quickly, grabbing my phone and new sets of keys. Sprinting to the door, I unlocked it pausing for a second to take a deep breath before I walked in.

As my eyes took in the main entrance, I knew I had made the right decision. The place was still in really good shape. Mackenzie was a bastard when it came to the maintenance on his properties.

The previous owner tried to establish an athletic training facility but failed miserably. Usually, the people that failed were the people that honestly knew nothing about fitness training. Some of the equipment was left behind from the looks of it. It was equipment I wouldn’t need or have any use for, but I wouldn’t get rid of it right away.

I flipped on the lights and my heart stopped all over again. I felt the tears sting my eyes, fighting to be released. I knew I was acting like a little bitch, but I couldn’t help it. I was twenty-five years old and had nothing to show for my life besides my MMA titles. I still lived with my mom, which was going to change soon. Very soon. Still, this was big.

It wasn’t just a big accomplishment for me, but for many people. For all of the people who supported my decision and put up with my shit until this point. It meant something to them, too. I knew it did.

I wiped away the tears and shook my head to clear my thoughts. My eyes swept over the open space. It was really a nice size studio. With about fifty-eight hundred square feet, I had more than enough room.

As soon as you walked in, the opening led you to the reception area, which, by the way, was awesome. Mackenzie customized the reception area to fit the needs of a training facility, so that much I didn’t have to touch.

The telephone and cable ports were easily accessible. The lighting in the place was perfect. The floors were tiled when you walked in but then changed to rubber flooring.

The deep gray color was perfect. I hated training in bright colored facilities. It was too much of a distraction.

Walking behind the counter, I poked around at everything. The space had room for at least three complete computer stations. There were customized file cabinets built into the reception desk. There were very well organized glass shelves with chrome brackets holding them in place. It looked really clean and classy.

Toward the back of the reception area and behind a half wall, was an office. I figured it was the manager’s office because through the glass door you could take in the whole studio. Or most of it anyway, which was nice considering I would want my space but still have the ability to keep an eye on things. I frowned looking at the glass door.

What if I wanted to bring a girl by and bend her ov… Stop. Refocus.

I rubbed my jaw and ran my hand through my hair.

Moving on.

I walked into the main training area. There were six really pricey treadmills, three elliptical machines, and three spinning bikes. All really good brands. I most definitely planned to keep them.

The studio had five rooms that broke off the main training area. I figured I could turn each room into a specialized conditioning or training area.

I still had a lot of planning to do and I was okay with not having all the details set in stone. I brought my hands up behind my head interlocking my fingers. Spinning around the room in place, I started to lose it again.

Wanting to explore the entire space, I took off at a jog toward the rooms.

THIS PLACE WAS FUCKING MINE!

 

Livie

Taking one last glance at the huge truck parked between the door and the curb, I grabbed the front door handle. I gave it a light pull to test if it were open and it sure was. I looked behind me again just to make sure no one was in the phantom truck watching. No one was there, so I pulled the door open and stepped inside. I turned to catch the door so it wouldn’t close too hard.

When I spun back around, my eyes nearly bugged out of my head. This place was beautiful.

The designer tile along with the work on the reception area was awesome. It was clean and sheek with a touch of masculinity. It was very appealing.

I let my eyes wander as I stood frozen in place. My blood was racing through my body and my heart was beating to a new rhythm. The rhythm of excitement.

Man, working in a place like this would be a dream!

In that moment, the sound of wind chimes came from my phone.

Dad

I pulled out the phone from my back pocket.

Dad ~ hey kid. How’s the JOB search going?

Me ~ just started but looks promising… let u kno soon. K?

Dad ~ k gud luck J

Me ~ thx tlk ltr

I heard someone clearing their throat, causing me to snap my head up from my phone.

Coming around the corner was a tall and very, very hot guy. I must have turned into a deer caught in some kind of bright and sexy as hell headlights.

Since when did Alex Pettyfer buff up and open an MMA studio?

“Can I help you?”

Realizing my mouth was open, I snapped it shut and nervously stuffed my phone in to my pocket. “Yes. I was actually wondering if the owner was hiring for staff yet. I saw an article in the paper highlighting a new MMA studio opening. Do you know where I can find the owner?”

“You’re looking at him, Sunshine.” I looked him up and down from head to toe again.

“Serious?” He looked a little offended by my response, but he looked so young to be in this business. He should be modeling or catching some hang ten waves as a professional surfer. He had that look about him.

“Ouch, Sunshine. What’s wrong with me being the owner?” He asked honestly while crossing his thick arms across his chest, and those biceps were oh so yummy.

“Sorry… I didn’t mean for it to sound so rude. You just look very young to be in this type of business. I hope I didn’t offend you.” His smile returned and it instantly calmed me.

“Sunshine, you don’t have to apologize,” he said as he made his way toward me.

He extended his hand out and I took it in mine shaking it firmly. Dad always said a firm handshake was a sign of respect.

His touch was warm and soothing. Something about him made me feel extremely comfortable. It wasn’t just that he was sexy and looked like the delicious Alex Pettyfer. His energy enveloped me and calmed me for some reason. “Lawrence Nathaniel Hawthorne at your service. Nice to meet you.”

Letting go of his hand, I smiled back. “Livie Acosta. Nice to meet you, too.”

“So you say you’re looking for a job? Here at my studio?” He asked this in a rather incredulous way.

I ignored the dumb look on his face, because honestly, he didn’t know I could put him on his ass in a second. I reached into my shoulder bag and pulled out my portfolio. “Yes. I am interested in working for you, especially, if you are going to turn this studio into an MMA training facility. That’s what I read in the paper.”

He took my portfolio and opened it, keeping an eye on me as he perused it. He flipped it open and skimmed through it.

This guy was tall and I had to tilt my chin up just to make eye contact.

God, I hated being short right now!

As quickly as he opened the folder, he closed it and handed it back. “Okay, Livie. You seem to have some experience in martial arts and if you want to work for me, you wouldn’t mind showing me what you’re made of, would you?”

Cocky son of a bitch!

I reached over, pulled my shoulder bag off and laid it on the counter. I emptied my back pocket of my phone and car keys.

Smiling, I looked up at him. “I thought you’d never ask.”

His laughter made my heart sing. He really did have a strange effect on me. It wasn’t sexually charged or intrusive. I could see myself trusting this man with my life if I had to and I kind of wanted to at the moment.

“Follow me, Sunshine.” He turned on his heels and I followed.

He walked me to the center of the studio where the rubber flooring was the thickest.

Aww… he was trying to make it easy for me.

He really didn’t need to, but he didn’t know that yet. “Alright, I don’t want either one of us to get hurt, so go ahead and stretch. I’ll do the same.” He turned his back to me so I could stretch.

“You got it.” I responded and immediately bent my body forward at the hips. I didn’t stretch for too long, because my body was restless and craving for the physical contact.

He turned to face me and the grin on his face said it all. He was dying for physical contact, too.

A fighter always knew that look in another fighter. That hungry predatory look.

He stepped forward opening his stance. “You ready, Sunshine?”

As my response, I jumped up and did a roundhouse kick to his face and only missed it by inches.

His smile widened showing all his pearly whites. Once he regained his step, he swung his leg wide trying to drop me to the ground. I quickly jumped and rolled on the rubber matting, bouncing back up once my feet hit the ground again.

He came in fast with a jab and hook that I dodged with my quick footwork. I palmed him hard to the sternum and brought my shin up to contact with his left rib cage. They were clean shots and stunned him a little, but not enough.

Before I could pull back, he caught the back of my calf and held it firm.

Shit!

I dropped my body backward, extending my arms to reach for the ground and brought my left leg up fast, kicking him in the chin.

He let go of my leg as he stammered back. Not wasting any time, he lunged for me picking me up and slamming by back hard against the mat.

I grunted from the impact. Taking it as a sign of weakness, he shifted his weight to pin me, but I pulled my arms up hard snapping his elbows up and out from under him.

Before he could come down hard on me, I took my elbows and buried them in his trapezius muscles, pulling myself up.

Once his face was nearly buried in my cleavage, I kneed him twice to the ribs and was able to fling myself around him putting him in a firm chokehold.

Thinking quick, he rolled onto his knees, pulled his arms around my waste and then flipped me up and over his head.

I came down hard on the mat again. I huffed my bangs out of my face completely hell bent on putting Mr. Pettyfer on his ass.

As he backed up to stand, I kicked my legs under me, propelling my body upright. I bent my left leg and used my right to sweep his legs out from under him and I nailed him.

He fell hard on his ass. When he fell, I bent backwards using my hands to hold my weight and planted both high top sneakers on his chest sending him flying to the treadmills behind him.

“Fuck me!” was all I heard as he slammed into the machines. He didn’t look mad at the moment, just shocked.

Grabbing his ribs, he coughed. I walked up to him and extended my hand out to him. I was a good sport… once I won, that is.

Taking my hand, I hauled him up, propping his shoulder over mine to help him stand. Laughter erupted from his chest and I couldn’t help but to join him. I pulled away from his body once he was on his feet.

“You most definitely are hired.” He breathed heavily.

I wanted to jump up and down, but I wouldn’t allow myself to do it in front of him. I simply gave him a ridiculous smile from ear to ear.

“So now that you’ve officially laid your new boss flat on his ass, do you care to join me for lunch?”

Without even thinking about it, my mouth opened and responded for me. “Yeah, sure. Mind if I go home to get cleaned up first? I’ll meet you anywhere just name the place and time.”

“Yeah, no problem. I need to put some ice on these ribs.” He said laughing. “Why don’t we make it dinner? Give me your address, and I’ll come pick you up. We can talk about the studio and get to know each other better. Is that cool with you?”

“Yes, of course. I have some things I need to do before then, so that works out perfectly.” He walked me to the reception desk where I picked up my stuff.

We exchanged numbers and I texted him the address to my hotel. He gave me a funny look when he read the address, but before he could question me.

I thanked him for the offer and bolted out the door. As my body sunk into the driver seat, I could still feel his eyes on me. Ignoring his stare, I cranked Lucy up and drove away.

I got the fucking job!

 

**PURCHASE LINKS!!!**

Amazon US: http://amzn.to/1CdSLXw

Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/1qs8UQj

Amazon CA: http://amzn.to/1rjfAUK

Kobo: http://bit.ly/1snKvmy

B&N: http://bit.ly/1ukpIjJ

iTunes: http://bit.ly/1xbcwyW

 

 

**DON’T FORGET ABOUT BOOK TWO!!**

 

Oceans Submerged

 

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