In celebration of Sequels in September, I bring you an excerpt from COLLIDE, my second Romance Revisited novel. While COLLIDE is a sequel to SWAY, they can be read as standalones. A minor character from SWAY makes a brief appearance in COLLIDE. (Both books will come together more in the final novel in the series, which is yet to be titled… or finished.) COLLIDE, coming in November, is a modern-day story about Maggie: a dancer from a small town who moves to Vegas to make it big, and Jay: a loan shark’s enforcer who wants to own his own boxing gym one day. It’s inspired by Elizabeth Gaskell’s NORTH & SOUTH.
I headed down the stairs and into the gym. Sunlight streamed through the glass wall but the whole place looked lonely. It was still morning, classes probably didn’t start until later. Someone moved near the front, at the desk, turning toward me as I picked my way around the mats.
“I’m starting to think you’re stalking me,” Jay said.
I hadn’t noticed before how deep his voice was, or how it reverberated through my entire body. “I was thinking the same about you.”
“I work here, remember?” He pointed to the Eastside Boxing shirt he had on. The shirt was sleeveless, highlighting his tanned and perfectly ripped biceps. I tried not to look.
“I have a friend who lives here, remember?”
“Friend?” Jay made it to the door before I did. He leaned against it, ever-so-casually blocking my way.
“I have to work,” I said, ignoring his question. Nico was a friend, sort of. I felt sorry for him. And I liked Bronwyn—she was a friend. But maybe getting sucked into Nico’s world hadn’t been such a good idea.
Too late now. And nothing I wanted to discuss with Jay Thornton.
Jay crossed his arms, his biceps flexing. I really tried not to look. “I wouldn’t think that diner paid you enough.”
I tugged on my uniform’s miniskirt, which only drew Jay’s attention to my legs.
“To get Officer Ting’s money, you mean?”
Jay didn’t move. Maybe he liked having this bit of power over me.
After a few seconds, I decided to just push around him. He didn’t let me. Instead, he grabbed onto my elbow. His fingers trailed the back of my arm, leaving me breathless. His eyes softened. His whole face did, hard lines melting away as if he were becoming someone else.
“You don’t get it. Simon Ting isn’t someone to mess with.” He paused, the silence punctuating my beating heart. “I don’t want to see you get hurt.”
“Then don’t hurt me.”
“I don’t want to.” It was practically a whisper.
I’d gotten closer without realizing. My hips flush with his. He smelled like soap and sweat. My eyes were on his lips.
Annoyed, I stepped back. Jay was doing his job. Making sure I paid. Instead of his usual beatdown, he was playing nice. Drawing me in. Anything to get the money I owed his boss. And I was falling for it.
“I’m not stupid,” I said.
His lip curled. “Prove me wrong.”
I moved his hand from the knob. “I don’t have to prove anything to you.”