Today we are proud to publish the latest book by author, Carly Fall: Against the Ropes.
Winning the next fight will mean nothing . . . if he can’t win back the heart of the woman he loves.
Five years ago Dylan Gomez had it all. He was an up-and-coming boxer with a loving girlfriend, and his sights were set on the big league. Then he let the hype of the fans inflate his ego—he thought he was invincible. That all changed when an alcohol-fuelled decision altered the course of his life. He lost his girlfriend and then bit-by-bit his life crumbled around him.
Physical therapist, Regan Holloway, has coasted through life for the last five years. She’s been in the same place all that time and most of her things are still in boxes. Agreeing to a “friendly” date with a co-worker, she ends up ringside and face-to-face with the man she’d fled to forget—Dylan.
Dylan’s turning his life around and working his way back up the ranks; he’s got a big fight lined up in thirty days that will be his ticket back into the pros—if he can win. The only thing holding him back is an old shoulder injury and Regan not being by his side.
When Max, Dylan’s manager, convinces Regan to come with them and work on his shoulder for the fight, she knows she needs to keep things professional so that she won’t be hurt again.
In the thirty-day countdown to the big fight, secrets are revealed, their passion is reignited, and the past threatens to haunt their future. On fight day, Dylan and Regan are truly against the ropes.
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Unfortunately, she knew ten minutes into this date that he wasn’t for her. Hell, she knew it when he’d asked her, but the thought of spending another Saturday night alone didn’t appeal to her at all, and on a whim, she had said yes.
She looked around the casino bar. Slot machines rang and whistled in the background, along with the hum of people talking and the eighties music trickling out through the speakers above. People were standing two deep at the large, oak bar, and excitement crackled in the air for the night’s festivities. A month ago, she’d been talking to Brett about sports over lunch when he asked her if she enjoyed boxing. Regan had cringed at the question. She used to love the sport, but that had changed. She had nodded and smiled absently and a week later, Brett asked her to this boxing match.
Currently, they were waiting to be called for their dinner reservations. Afterward, they would go to the match. There was a time in her past—a time she didn’t like to think about—when she’d spent many days and nights in the boxing community. Now the closest she got to the ring was her kickboxing class at the local gym.
“I’m looking forward to tonight. There’s a couple of really good fights on the card,” Brett said, leaning forward with a smile. “I’m glad you came with me, Regan.”
She returned the smile. “It was nice of you to ask.”
He prattled on about some office gossip and Regan became antsy. Honestly, Brett was everything a woman should want in a man, but he was boring her to tears. Finally, after twenty more minutes, she stood. “I’m going to the bathroom,” she said. At the same time she heard the maître-de call Brett’s name. “I’ll meet you in the restaurant.”
“Sounds good,” he said, standing, and Regan could feel his stare on her back as she walked away.
Once in the restroom, she used the toilet, and then put the seat down and sat. Why had she agreed to come to a boxing match?
Her head swam with memories of Dylan, her former lover and the one that no other man could compete with, even though he had hurt her worse than anyone ever had in her life. Being of Mexican descent, his skin was sienna brown, his eyes almost black. They were warm, and she swore that they sparkled when he laughed. Dark hair framed high cheekbones, full lips, and a nose that bent slightly at the bridge. He had considered his body his temple and worked out religiously, weightlifting and hitting the heavy bags. With his good looks and rock-hard body, he was truly the most beautiful man she had ever seen. Regan had been certain Dylan was going to make it big in his boxing career, but she hadn’t seen or heard anything about him in years. It was as if he had just . . . disappeared.
She shook her head as if doing so would get him out of her mind. Most days she was able to keep thoughts of him at bay, but deciding to attend a boxing match had brought up hurt, anger, and memories of their time together. Really, she just wanted to leave, but she knew she couldn’t.
Brett had made reservations at the most expensive steakhouse in the hotel, and she had caught a glimpse of the boxing tickets lying on the table when they were having drinks. He’d paid seventy bucks per ticket for ringside seats. The amount of money he was spending on this night, combined with his excitement for the fights, made her feel like she couldn’t let him down.
Sighing, she stood up, left the stall and washed her hands. She studied herself in the mirror and ran her fingers through her shoulder-length hair. Her eyes were sad, but memories of Dylan always did that to her. She opened her purse and put just a touch of pink blush on her fair skin and a little balm on her lips. Tucking her chocolate brown shirt, which was the exact same shade as her eyes, into her jeans, she decided she would get through this night, let Brett down gently, and that would be the end of it. Or, who knew—maybe Brett would grow on her.
Feeling a little lightheaded from the wine, she opened the bathroom door and looked around for a moment to get her bearings. Out of the corner of her eye she saw a red duffle bag, and a shiver traveled down her spine as goose bumps crawled across her skin. Slowly, she turned.
Dylan strode toward her, his big body gliding through the crowd. At his side was his trainer, Max, carrying the red bag. She looked Dylan up and down. He wore loose, black sweatpants and a black T-shirt that hugged the ridges of his chest. Sweat glistened on his face and wet tendrils of black hair were plastered to his neck. His dark eyes were focused straight ahead.
Was he fighting tonight?
Oh, no. Why hadn’t she looked at the fight card?
Because she never thought in a million years that he would fight in a casino located in Indio, California. His fights had always been held in larger cities, like Los Angeles or Las Vegas. Never had he fought in a place like the small Dreaming Casino in the middle of the desert.
He hadn’t seen her yet, and she tried to head back into the bathroom, but it seemed her feet wouldn’t move. She felt panic well within her as he approached, now about fifteen feet away. His gaze fell on her, and she detected a hitch in his smooth gait. Their eyes locked as he approached, and she felt as though she were about to be swallowed up by the massive man coming toward her.
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