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Exclusive Excerpt from Always Beautiful

“So, what do you know about fighting?”

“Not a damn thing.” I admitted, keeping my hands loose at my sides.

He nodded. “Okay, not surprising. Let’s start with the basics. What do you do if someone comes at you?”

“Turn around and run like hell.” It sounded like a question.

He closed his eyes, muttering something unintelligible under his breath. When he opened his eyes again, they were serious, cold.

“No, Angel. I mean, sure that could work, but what if someone grabs a hold of you?”

“I don’t know. Kick them?”

“Okay, that’s solid. Here, let’s see what you’ve got.” He didn’t even give me a chance to prepare before attacking. One minute he was in front of me and the next he’d pulled me into him, turning my body so that my back was to his front and his arm was around my shoulders, pulling me back against his chest.

“Holy shit.” I gasped.

“Yeah,” he lowered his head, his lips brushing the shell of my ear when he spoke. “How do you get out of this hold?”

I tried to ignore the way his voice sent a ripple of pleasure through my body. I felt my cheeks warm with the contact. Stepping back into him, I drew my arm back, attempting to elbow him in the ribs. He shifted out of the way while maintaining his hold on me. I kicked my leg back, tangling it with his to try and trip him. He was as solid as a freaking statue. Damn it. Growling in frustration, I wiggled in his arms, trying to free myself. All that did was somehow bring me closer to him.

Zeppelin released me, turning me back around to face him.

“Maybe running is your best bet. If you can keep someone from grabbing you.” His lips twitched as if trying to fight a smile and that pissed me off.

“I’m capable of defending myself.”

He raised a brow. “Really? I don’t see how that’s possible.”

“I am,” I bit out, stepping forward and punching his bicep. He didn’t even flinch.

“That all you got?”

“I hate you.”

“No you don’t. Here,” he held out his hand, palm up. I stared at his fingers. “Give me your hand. I’m going to show you how to make a proper fist.”

Relenting, I put my hand in his. His skin was warm, and the faintest spark flowed through me at the contact. He curved my hand into a fist, placing my thumb on the outside of my fingers.

“You’ll break your thumb if you tuck it in.” He said softly. He molded my hand into a proper fist. “Now, hit me.” He released my hand.

I kept it extended in front of me, blinking at him in confusion. “For real?”

He chuckled. “Yeah, Angel. For. Real. Hit me.”

“Where?” I asked, eyes scanning his face, arms, and chest.

“Preferably not my face. I know how fond of it you are.”

Rolling my eyes I punched forward, hitting his right peck. The left one had that delectable looking piercing and I didn’t really know if that would hurt or not. Not that I was worried about hurting him. He probably deserved a little pain anyway.

He wasn’t fazed when I landed the punch.

“Good follow through, but it’s more than just your fist. You need to punch with your whole body.” He crouched down in front of me, his fingers curving around my left ankle. “Keep this foot planted here,” he adjusted it accordingly before grabbing the right ankle. “Step back with this foot.” I did as he said. “Good,” his hand tightened briefly before sliding up my calf.

I shuddered at the intimate touch. His fingers slid off my calf slowly and he stood in front of me again. “Now try again. Aim and punch. Step forward with your right foot. It will add more strength to the hit.”

Following his instruction, I connected with his chest again earning a grunt, but he’d barely moved back. We practiced the move a few more times and each time, I’d hit him somewhere on his chest. After about seven punches, he lifted his hands.

“Alright, you’re enjoying that too much.”

I kind of was. Shrugging, I shook out my arms. “So I can kick your ass now?”

Zeppelin rolled his eyes and my stupid traitorous stomach filled with those damn butterflies.

“You wish. When someone is coming at you, the first thing you want to do if you can’t run, is tuck your arms in with your shoulders squared and feet spread wide. This will help give you more momentum so you’re capable of getting out of the hold.”

I practiced the stance as he helped position me. After a few tries, I had it down pretty well. Zeppelin grabbed me from behind like he had before, and I was able to slide out of the hold easier. I even managed a connecting elbow to the ribs. Go me.

Hannah and Josh eventually came back to sit and watch, giving pointers to both me and Zeppelin as he attacked me. He came up behind me again, locking his arm against the top of my chest, his hand fisted against my shoulder. I was sweaty, and my stomach grumbled loudly.

“Hungry?” He chuckled low in my ear.

My stomach dipped. Every single time he held me close, I lost all train of thought. “Starving,” I grunted against him, trying to break the hold.

He released me easily, stepping back. I huffed out a breath. Hannah tossed me a bottled water and I nearly drained the entire thing. That was a different kind of workout and I was exhausted. Zeppelin drank from his own water bottle before tossing it on top of his bag.

“You should totally have him train you more, Lucky. You could be badass.” Hannah said.

“Yeah, maybe,” I really didn’t like the way my heart was pounding a million miles a minute. Especially when I wasn’t sure if it was from the exercise or the guy training me.

“Call me any time you want to try kicking my ass again. I’d love the entertainment.” He smirked and I rolled my eyes.

“Then I’d have to get your phone number.” I cringed. “Nope. I’m good.”

Zeppelin arched a brow. “Wow rejected before I even get to ask. You’re brutal.”

I planted the sweetest smile on my face, cocking my head to the side. “Oh, did I offend you, king of everything? Not used to girls turning you down?”

He shrugged. “Just surprised the queen of Snobville, would reject such royalty.”

“It’s called standards. Maybe you should get some.”

“I’d rather not stoop to your level.”

“Woah! Snark showdown at the gym. Babe, grab the popcorn.” Hannah giggled.

I snapped my head in her direction. She grinned at me. “You two should just quit the arguing and get a room already.”

“Whatever.” I muttered, stepping off the mat. I made my way into the locker room to grab my stuff.


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