Take Me On (Pushing the Limits #4)
by Katie McGarry
Publisher - MIRAInk/Harlequin
Release Date - May 27th 2014
Champion kickboxer Haley swore she'd never set foot in the ring again after one tragic night. But then the guy she can't stop thinking about accepts a mixed martial arts fight in her honour. Suddenly, Haley has to train West Young. All attitude, West is everything Haley promised herself she'd stay away from. Yet he won't last five seconds in the ring without her help.
West is keeping a big secret from Haley. About who he really is. But helping him fighting for her is a shot at redemption. Especially since it's his fault her family is falling apart. He can't change the past, but maybe he can change Haley's future.
Hayley and West have agreed to keep their relationship strictly in the ring. But as an unexpected bond forms between them and attraction mocks their best intentions, they'll face their darkest fears and discover love is worth fighting for.
I ASK WHY MORE THAN I SHOULD, some days I regret the decisions I make and most mornings I wake up on edge. The three don’t often combine, but today I hit the shit trifecta. Leaning against an aging telephone booth, I withdraw the envelope from my coat pocket and ignore the chill of the evening wind. The University of Louisville logo stands out in red across the top. I snagged the envelope yesterday before my parents figured out it had arrived. They’ve been stalking the mailbox, desperate for news that isn’t bad.
My bruised and cut knuckles scream in protest as I unfold the paper. Each joint in my fingers pounds in time with the muscles in my jaw. A few hours ago, I got expelled from school for fighting.
Mom and Dad should know better than to expect good news from me. Mom holds on to hope. Dad, on the other hand…
I’m not a rocket scientist and don’t need to be to know thin letters aren’t good. My head literally throbs reading the words. I silently swear and slouch farther against the glass. It’s only February and the rest of spring is going to bring more rejections.
I crumple the paper and toss it into the ashtray sitting outside the doors of the Laundromat. The remains of a smoldering cigarette char the edges of the letter. Ironic. The rest of my life is also going up in smoke.
My cell rings and I snatch it out of my coat pocket. “Yeah.”
“Your father said you haven’t come to the hospital.”
It’s Mom and my eyes narrow at the entrance of the shit-hole bar at the end of this decrepit strip mall. She steps out of the bar and onto the sidewalk, a black scarf hiding her blond hair. Huge designer sunglasses disguise her face, and she sports a tailored coat that costs more than every car parked in this dump.
Mom is high-end, high-style and high-maintenance. And this landfill? I glance around the gray lot. Not a car made in this decade in sight. A Laundromat, a dollar store, a grocery store, a pharmacy with bars over the windows and, down toward the end, the bar.
She stands out here. I blend in better with my sagging jeans and hat on backward, which is good because she doesn’t know I’m here. Mom’s a petite thing, and I tower over her at my six feet. I inherited Mom’s looks with the blond hair and blue eyes. If I need to, I can defend myself, but Mom has no business being here. Yet she shows once a month. Same damn time. Same damn day. Even with her youngest daughter, Rachel, in the hospital in intensive care.
“You’re not staying with Rachel?” I ask. Mom has no idea I’ve been following her for the past ten months. I came to this hellhole last spring to buy pot from a potential new dealer, someone cheaper than the guys at my school. Private school equates to marked-up.
“No,” she answers.
Shocked doesn’t describe the reaction I had when I saw my mother walking into the bar the first time. After that near encounter, I keep a tight watch on her. It’s my job to protect my family. I failed with Rachel and don’t plan on failing again.
“Your father arrived,” Mom continues. “He told me to take a break and eat.”
Take a break. Eat. Screw the guy she’s been meeting. A year ago, I would have laughed if anyone suggested my mother would have an affair, but what else could be the explanation for the wife of one of the wealthiest men in the state to be hanging out in the armpit of the city? I can’t say I blame her. My father has a habit of ignoring his family.
Mom freezes by the door to her car and I silently urge her to get in. A guy a few steps from me has become too interested in her, her Mercedes or both.
“West.” She sighs into the phone and her shoulders slump. “You need to visit Rachel. When she’s awake, she’s asked for you. Her condition is serious, and you need to come.”
TAKE ME ON is coming to a bookshop near you on May 27th!!!