Graham entered the gym with sweating palms. It was yoga day, which translated in his mind to Kara Day. Capital letters, because it was that important. He scanned quickly for Zach, but reminded himself that wasn’t to be expected. It was enough that she was here.
Reagan clacked in behind him. He knew it was her before he turned around. The heels she wore habitually were unlike any other sound in the sweltering, dark gym. “Good morning, Graham. You’re a bit early.”
“Extra yoga practice.” He flashed her a grin when she smiled. “You’re here early,” he shot back at her.
“Extra . . . never mind.” Her smile turned a bit sly, and he shook his head and walked toward the pile of mats Kara had brought out from the storage room. He grabbed one and found her face down, arms at her side, doing a good imitation of a plank of wood on her own personalized mat.
Her back moved, a sign of her breathing, but she said nothing. Assuming she was deep in some trance, he left her to it and rolled out his own mat in the front. He normally preferred the back, because the more distance he created from Kara, the easier it was to watch her without her noticing. The easier it was to keep his hands to himself.
But, despite no longer being in charge of a mini platoon of Marines trying out for the team, he knew he should be in front. Yoga wasn’t his thing . . . in fact, he sucked at it. But he still wanted to be a leader to the younger guys. Being one of the oldest meant he assumed the responsibility of being a good example. A task that wasn’t all that difficult, under normal circumstances. He’d lost his wild edge years ago.
That long lost wild edge seemed to flare back to life anytime he caught Kara in a compromising position . . . yoga-related or otherwise. As she breathed deeply enough for him to hear, and rose her torso up from the mat, palms flat, arching her back, he bit back a moan. The position thrust her breasts forward, and the look on her face, eyes closed and serene, was akin to the look of a woman after a good, satisfying lovemaking session.
He’d be fighting a semi for the rest of practice at this rate.
The sigh of relief as she rotated her hips back and sank into Child’s Pose—and wasn’t it a kick he knew what it was called—made him smile. Then she rolled up, graceful as an otter in the water, and gave him a small smile of her own. “Hey. Sorry I didn’t answer you earlier. I wasn’t quite ready to move on yet.”
“No rush.” Except he felt the rush inside him, pushing him to move faster. It was like having a hive of bees rolling inside his skin, pushing every direction, and mostly toward her.
“How are you?” she asked, brushing her hands off and sitting cross-legged to fix her ponytail, which didn’t look like it needed fixing to him.
So they were really going to play the Nothing Happened game. Fine. He could play for now. “Good. Great. Getting ready to morph into another scrimmage match this weekend. What are your plans for the week?”
“Nothing, really.” She twisted, pulled and secured until her hair was in a silky bun at the top of her head. Having watched her work before, he knew it wouldn’t be long into their yoga session before strands were falling down around her temples, framing her heart-shaped face. It was the hottest thing he’d ever seen. “Relaxing with Zach, for the most part. New school year means I’m at the ready for problems.”
“He’s a great kid. I’m sure there aren’t too many problems.” He heard a short bark, almost like a yell, but ignored it. “Maybe this weekend you could bring Zach to catch the match. We’re just competing against the local Lejeune team. No travel.”
She bit her pink bottom lip, looking worried. “I don’t know. It’s a violent sport, and—” She turned as he did when a heavy door at the opposite end of the gym screeched open and shut, finding the source of the shouting as it grew louder.
Coach Ace, a burly black man who had muscle and heft and moved like a ghost, walked in, pointing directly at Graham. “You.”
He stood slowly. “Yes, Coach?”
“What have you seen since you got here?”
Graham blinked, then looked down at Kara, who remained sitting on her mat. “Uh, nothing. Just talking with Kara, sir.”
“You,” he pointed at Kara, still speed-walking their way. “What have you seen?”
Graham bristled at the tone. She wasn’t one of the Marines, or a teammate, to be barked at. But Kara unfolded her legs gracefully and started to stand. He held a hand down for her, and she accepted it on autopilot, barely giving him any of her weight to bear. “I’ve seen nothing, sir. I was in the training room, and then I came out here to stretch. Gra—I mean, Sweeney has been the only Marine to come through so far.”
Coach Ace grunted, as if in disbelief. Graham wanted to ask, but he also didn’t want to get in the middle of anything. But still . . . “Sir, is there a problem?”
“You could say that.” Rubbing a hand over his dark face, the coach rocked back on his heels and looked heavenward. “Someone’s vandalized the wall of fame.”
by Jeanette Murray
Released: March 1st 2016
Series: First to Fight #3
Published by Berkley
Kara is a single mom working hard to keep life running smoothly for herself and her son, but a custody battle is wearing her down. When her friend suggests asking a JAG officer for some unofficial advice, Kara agrees—and soon finds herself officially head over heels...
As a Judge Advocate, Graham has seen his share of nasty custody disputes—and he plans on keeping his distance from this one. But this purposeful, passionate woman has a way of drawing him ever closer to the edge. And when Kara’s ex starts to throw his weight around, Graham will have to choose between toeing the line or stepping into the ring...
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