𝗧𝗮𝗸𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗙𝗶𝗴𝗵𝘁: 𝗮 𝗚𝗹𝗼𝘃𝗲𝘀 𝗢𝗳𝗳 - 𝗡𝗲𝘅𝘁 𝗚𝗲𝗻𝗲𝗿𝗮𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻 𝗡𝗼𝘃𝗲𝗹 by L.P. Dover is releasing on July 26th! Read the #chapterreveal and #preorder today!
I didn’t want to walk away, not with Reagan alone with that cocksucker. The way he looked at her pissed me the fuck off. He wanted her.
“So tell me,” Annika murmured, rubbing her leg against mine, “how does it feel to be the hottest athlete in the country?”
Tearing my gaze away from Reagan, I clenched my fists underneath the bar. I didn’t give a shit about that list anymore. All I cared about was getting Reagan as far away from that fucking brother of hers as I could. I was a good judge of character and there was something up with him—and Annika, for that matter. There were too many red flags.
“Braden?” Annika called out.
I loosened my hands and took a deep breath. “It feels great,” I replied, tossing back my glass of bourbon.
Annika placed a hand on my arm. “Tell me about yourself. I know your parents are MMA royalty and your sister’s a Hollywood starlet. Is your dream to fight until you retire?”
The young lady behind the bar reached for my glass. “Want another?”
I nodded. “Yep.”
I thought the alcohol would help, but it only worsened my rage. I wanted a lot more but couldn’t be drunk while driving Reagan and Annika back. “So, you’re asking if it’s my dream to fight until I retire?” I repeated, thinking about the question. Then, turning to Annika, I shrugged. “For the most part. One day I’ll take over my dad’s share of Fightanium. I want to train new and upcoming fighters, maybe even coach my own kids one day, if I ever have any.”
Annika sipped on her raspberry martini and smiled. “I can totally see you having a son. He’ll be a heartbreaker just like you.” Annika was beautiful and I had no doubt she knew how to use that body of hers in bed, but she wasn’t what I wanted.
“What’s your story,” I asked her. “Why do you want to learn to fight?”
She shrugged. “In today’s time, it’s a good thing to know how to protect yourself. Especially being a woman.”
I agreed with her there. “Well, you seem to know what you’re doing. You’re a natural in the ring.”
Annika beamed. “Thanks. I’ll never be as good as Reagan, but it’s my goal.”
Glancing over my shoulder, I focused on Reagan and Finn, drinking champagne and conversing as if they had a million fucking things in common. What the hell could they be talking about?
“What does your brother do exactly?” I questioned.
Annika peered over at Finn. “He and my father own several large construction companies on the east coast, and they just bought out a huge firm here in California. It’s where I’ll work once I find my own place to live. Right now, I’m staying at Finn’s.” She looked back at me. “We should go house shopping together. I’m sure you know the area well.”
I wasn’t about to fall into that rabbit hole. “My real estate agent found my place. I have his number if you want it. He’s the best.”
Her lips turned into a pout, but she nodded. “That’d be great.”
I knew what she was trying to do, but I had no interest in spending more time than necessary alone with her. Carter told me I needed to show Reagan she was the only one I wanted, but Annika wasn’t helping. Of course, I could always be a dick and tell her I wasn’t interested. However, I had a feeling Annika wasn’t the type to back down, nor was she the kind of girl to get turned down by men.
Once Annika finished her martini, she moved closer to me. Any closer and she’d be in my fucking lap. “Do you have plans Friday night?”
I was right, she wouldn’t give up. “I do,” I answered her.
“That’s a shame. I’m attending a charity ball with my brother, and I was hoping you’d be my date. Finn plans on asking Reagan.”
Motherfucker. Every muscle in my body tensed as I focused on my drink. Reagan wouldn’t say yes to that douche, would she? Finn was wealthier than me, educated, a businessman, and a few years older, but that was all he had going for him.
“We’ll have a great time,” Annika said, biting her lip seductively. “I have a limo coming to pick me up.” She slid a hand down to my thigh. “And I rented the penthouse suite at the hotel where the event is taking place. I can think of several things we can do together there.”
I tossed my bourbon back and stood, causing her hand to drop from my thigh. Then, reaching into my back pocket, I pulled out my wallet and set a wad of cash on the bar.
“I don’t know if I can make that happen. I’m sorry.”
Annika stood and pursed her lips. “No worries. I know it’s last minute.”
“Should we join them now?” I said, nodding over at Reagan and Finn’s table.
Plastering on a smile, Annika looped her arm with mine, but I could tell she was pissed at my rejection. “Sure.”
We walked over to the table, and I took the seat beside Reagan while Annika sat beside her brother. Reagan tensed and looked at anything and everything but me.
“Would you like some champagne?” Finn asked, glancing back and forth from his sister to me.
Annika nodded, her tone clipped. “Yep.”
Finn poured her some, and she downed it quickly. Reagan stared at her curiously and then at me. I wished like hell we were alone so I could talk to her; it was time to put everything on the table.
Finn held up the champagne bottle. “Emerson?”
I shook my head. “No, thanks. I have to drive the girls back.”
He waved me off. “I can do that.”
“No,” I snapped. “I got it.”
Gaze narrowed, Finn set the bottle down and turned to his sister. “Did you ask Braden to the charity ball?”
Annika’s hazel eyes pierced into me. “I did. He doesn’t think he can make it.”
Reagan stiffened beside me, and Finn smiled. “I hate to hear that. Reagan and I would’ve loved to have you both join us.” So, Reagan said yes to him. What the fuck? It took all I had not to punch the smug smile off Finn’s face.
With pleading eyes, Annika stared at me. “Are you sure you can’t figure out a way to go? What could be more important than charity?”
“You know what? You’re right. I think I will go,” I said, grinning at her.
I thought I was doing the right thing by turning Annika down, but lo and behold, I couldn’t have been more wrong.
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