Title: Fighting Dirty
Series: Worth the Fight #5
Author: Sidney Halston
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: January 5, 2016
In Fighting Dirty, a geek-chic cage fighter proves that appearances can be deceiving . . . and oh-so-tempting.
With his preppy clothes and horn-rimmed glasses, Enzo Silva is the last guy anyone expects to find in a mixed martial arts gym. A wealthy Brazilian banker who never had to fight for anything, Enzoâs stuck in the amateur circuitâbut he burns to make the pros. Maybe that explains the heat he feels whenever heâs around Jamie Lynn Calhoun. The pint-size, magenta-haired bartender with the Texas drawl is everything heâs not . . . and everything he craves.
Tough as nails and independent to a fault, Jamie LynnâJL to her friendsâworks hard to pay her bills and keep life simple. Enzo is doing his best to complicate that. Even though she likes to bust his balls, heâs got some kind of a nerdy-hot vibe that makes JL wonder if she might finally be able to let her guard down. It might do the boy some good to spend some time in her world, where blood, sweat, and victory are as sweet as the first taste of real love.
Lorenzo Silva sat on a stool at the Pier, the local bar where everyone in the small town of Tarpon Springs hung out. Not an hour ago, heâd signed his divorce papers and overnighted them to Brazil where his ex-wife, Marianna, still lived with his now ex-best friend. And all he could think was that he was finally free.
He almost wanted to stand up and do a little happy dance.
That would be something very unbecoming of a Silva.
Instead he stared across the bar at the object of his insane attraction for the last year: Jamie Lynn Calhoun, or JL, as everyone but him called her. She was five foot nothing, and today her short pixie-like hair was a light pink, with red nails on one hand and black on the other. The liner around her blue eyes was heavy, and her red lipstick contrasted quite severely against her pale skin. Her overall style made her seem a decade younger than her actual age, thirty. She had on the required shorts and T-shirt that all employees of the bar wore, but sheâd added black combat boots that went past her ankles and werenât even completely laced. She had an intricate tattoo along one entire arm that resembled a lace pattern, while the other arm was bare. He wondered where her other tattoos were hiding. His eyes roamed up her body as her legs moved in his direction.
She leaned her forearms against the bar, giving Enzo a peek at her small, perky breasts. âWere you starinâ at my ass, sugar?â
What he liked most about her was that southern drawl she had from being born and raised in Texas. It seemed out of character with her punk rocker image; it made her seem . . . softer.
âI may have been.â He lifted his beer at her and winked.
She reached forward and straightened his glasses. âYou seem different today. Happy?â
âHappy isnât quite the word Iâd use. More like ecstatic.â
She leaned closer, her familiar flowery scent flooding his senses. âWhat couldâve possibly been that exciting at the bank that would make you ecstatic?â She loved to tease him about his job, which for some reason she thought was at a bank. Probably because he was always wearing suitsâunlike most of the laid-back people heâd met in town.
âYou do know I donât work at a bank right?â
She tilted her head to the side, genuinely surprised. âReally?â
He laughed. âYes, really. I help run my familyâs business. We acquire properties and businesses andââ
She held out her hand and cut him off. âYeah, banking seems to sum that up nicely.â Then she leaned over the bar and gave him a once-over. âDamn, are you wearing flip-flops? Are those cargo shorts? On a Wednesday at one in the afternoon? Whereâs the rest of your business suit? Oh my God.â She put her hand over her mouth in an over-the-top gesture. âDid you finally have that stick up your ass surgically removed, Pretty Boy?â She slid back down to her side of the counter but reached her palm to his head. âOr maybe youâre sick or something? Fever?â
âHa ha. No, I took the day off,â he said looking down at his clothes. He was wearing his favorite designer polo shirt and linen shorts. It wasnât like he was wearing a ratty shirt with holes on it or anything. âI signed my divorce papers today. Iâm finally free of that evil witch.â He pumped a fist into the air. âCome, have a drink with me. Iâm sure you can cut out early.â
âJust because this doesnât seem like a lucrative career choice compared to the small empire youâre running, it doesnât mean I donât have responsibilities. I canât just âcut out early,ââ she said with an indignant glare.
âI wasnât being judgmental. Sorry if it came across that way. I just want to have a drink with you, maybe even a meal.â
After making him suffer a little, she finally relented and said, âJust a quick one. Gotta work.â She lined up two shot glasses, filled them with tequila, and handed him one. Then they clinked glasses. âTo divorce!â she cheered before tipping it back.
He held his by the rim and laughed. âNo. Thatâs a terrible toast. Not to divorce. To getting rid of my money-grubbing unfaithful ex-wife. May she rot in hell!â
âNah.â He shrugged. âIâm over itÂ. Just wanted to get that out. Iâve never done that before.â
âCall her out. I just really needed to get that off my chest.â
She laughed. âThat was it? You can do better than that. Last guy I broke up with, I burned all his clothes.â
âDamn,â he said, looking worried. âWell, Iâm done talking about her. Go out with me, Jamie Lynn. I want to celebrate.â
âCanât. Told you, Iâm working.â
âWhat time do you get off?â
âOkay, hereâs the plan. Iâm going to get in my workout at the Academy, then Iâll meet you back here at five. Youâll spend the rest of the day with me.â
She snorted and rolled her eyes as she walked away to tend to another customer. âKeep dreaminâ, darling,â she said over her shoulder. âThe answer is still no. Just âcause you rule that little empire of yours with an iron fistââ
âWhat?â he said with a snort.
âJust assuming from your usual staid personality that youâre some sort of a hard-assed boss. But thatâs not the point. The point is that Iâm not one of your employees, someone you can dictate orders to,â she said as she mixed drinks. âBesides, I have plans.â
This was the second time sheâd rejected him because of âplans.â Heâd asked her out repeatedly for months. And five weeks ago, he had even grabbed life by the balls and kissed herâa brazen act that had surprised both of them. The kiss had been off-the-charts hot, startling even him. Sheâd melted into his arms and given herself over to him completely, and for the minute their mouths had been connected, heâd thought there was no possible way sheâd turn him down again. Except she had, even though he knew she wanted him as much as he wanted her. That kiss had said it all. The way sheâd trembled in his arms and moaned softly couldnât be denied. Why she was so hesitant to go out with him was something he couldnât understand. He didnât know what was holding her back; he didnât think there was another man, though he couldnât help but wonder.
Enzo finished his drink, slapped more money than necessary on the counter, waved goodbye, and left. He wasnât going to give up. Not at all. Tomorrow heâd try his luck with the little pixie again.