For Her Protection(5)

By: Amber A Bardan

This day was getting worse by the second.

“It was one maneuver. I thought we’d have time. You can let the ladies in, I’m ready.” He ran his fingers from Charlize’s elbow to her fingers and pressed his lips to the top of her hand with an infuriating wink.

She snatched her hand away.

“I guess I’ll take that apology next time?”

Her spine stiffened and her cheeks grew hotter. Not likely. She turned and stormed to the doors. Outside the studio women of all ages crowded the gym. Great, no wonder he was cocky, women swarmed to him in droves. She headed for the locker room.


She paused and glanced over her shoulder at her cousin.

“We’re not done yet. I want to talk to you.”

“I’m going to be late to work.”

Alicia gave her a stiff smile. “Good thing you’re the boss then.”

“Five minutes,” she said and followed Alicia into her office.

Alicia sank into the chair behind her worn wood desk but Charlize simply leaned against the wall. She didn’t plan on staying long enough to sit down. The office was neat but in dire need of refurbishment. Besides threadbare carpet the room also smelled faintly of oil. Alicia’s didn’t seem to be doing so well.

“First I get called out of a PT session because there’s been some kind of accident then I hear someone’s been carted off shrieking and then I find you of all people, in the studio grinding your ass against my self-defense instructor? What’s going on?”

Despite being two years younger than Charlize, Alicia knew how to exercise authority. She’d always been that way, in charge of the games they’d played as kids. Charlize would give anything to be like her cousin. Alicia was all Keira Knightley wielding a broadsword—narrow body coated in tight muscle, high cheekbones and perfectly pointed canines.

Alicia leaned back and tapped the fingers of one hand on the toned biceps of her other arm. Her slight curves disappeared under her shirt instead of straining against the material. Alicia would never look better suited to dangling her legs over the edge of a giant champagne glass than leading an executive team consisting of men. No one would underestimate Alicia. No one would think her incapable of running her family business—she looked like a boss.

“The Anabolic Twins loaded and left the machines again, this time someone got hurt.”

“Well I know that and I’ve dealt with it. What happened with you?”

Charlize snorted. “Nothing happened with me. I was just giving the wankers a piece of my mind then that Neanderthal you made the mistake of letting work for you tossed me over his shoulder and carted me off.”

Alicia let out a laugh then attempted to mask it with a cough.

“It’s not funny. You should sack him. He’s completely belligerent.”

“Let me get this right. You were losing it at two bodybuilders so pumped full of drugs they’d probably attack their own mother for looking at them, Connor stepped in and removed you from the situation and he’s the bad guy?” Alicia brushed a lock of short blonde hair off her forehead.

“He threw me over his shoulder.”

“If he’s so terrible what was the dry-humping I walked in on?”

Charlize leaned her hip against the wall. “That was nothing.”

“If you say so. I don’t know what the deal is with you and Connor, and you’re my cousin and I love you but I won’t get rid of him. He’s the best thing that’s happened to this place.” Alicia sighed and held up her palms. “I mean where else am I going to find a former cop, taking time out from his own business to give free women’s self-defense classes? He’s bringing in a whole new clientele.” Her hands rose higher. “Not to mention he’s also a former Judo champion.”

Charlize sucked in a breath. He’s a what now? She lifted her hip from the wall and placed her hands on Alicia’s scarred wood desk. “Judo? You mean like that Karate-type thing where they throw and wrestle people?”

“Actually it’s not Karate, it’s a form of—never mind, yeah it’s a takedown form of self-defense. But actually Connor teaches more than the traditional techniques when it comes to women’s protection.”

Charlize’s pulse hummed again and she clenched her jaw. Sneaky, lying prick. She’d never stood a chance. He was a champion at taking people down.

“Actually the class is out of this world. Like him or not you should attend a couple sessions. Could save your life one day.”

“Not a chance.” She removed her hands from the desk and straightened.

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