Fighting the Fire (Warrior Fight Club #3) by Laura Kaye
Instead, Dani tugged her hand free. “Are you going to spar with me or did you want to braid my fucking hair while you keep talking?”
He knocked his gloves together and scanned his gaze around her face to where the length of her French braid trailed over her shoulder. “Looks like you already took care of your hair, sweetheart. So let’s spar. My turn to punch.” His grin was so annoyingly satisfied. He knew he’d gotten to her.
Dani rolled her eyes. “You’re still talking,” she said launching a round house kick at him. And then it was on again. The fighting. The focus. The fire deep in her belly.
But, damnit, the heat was still there, too.
The kind of soul-deep, bone-melting heat she’d only ever felt with one other man, one who’d died six years before.
And Dani freaking hated Sean Riddick for that. For making her body want something her head and her heart weren’t about to allow her to have. Not again. Because she didn’t want a relationship, a man in her life, or a frenemies-with-benefits situation, and certainly not any of those with a man who drove her freaking batty ninety percent of the time and made her worry about him the other ten because he raced into every burning building he could. That was all way more aggravation than any woman needed.
Nope. She’d done the whole relationship thing with a hot-headed warrior and ended up a widow at the age of twenty-eight, thank you very much. So the last thing she needed was to set herself up to be left again.
Sean landed a kidney punch that stole Dani’s breath. Because you’re thinking about him and relationships and Anthony and not fucking focusing. Damnit.
“Shit, Daniela. You okay?” Sean asked, his face blanched, his expression full of regret.
She forced a deep breath but reveled in the pain. Little made it easier to focus than pain. “It was a perfectly fair hit, Sean. I’m fine.” Her voice didn’t sound quite right even to herself.
“I’m sorry,” he said, shoulders down, hands slack at his sides.
The last thing she wanted was sympathy. That reminded her too much of the way people had treated her right after she’d learned that IEDs had taken out a third of Anthony’s convoy. “Let’s go already.”
“Dani, just take a minute—”
“Sean, I’m fine,” she snapped. Of course, she did it in a way that made it clear she wasn’t fine. But whatever. She could handle hot Sean Riddick being an asshole, but not hot Sean Riddick being a good guy. The hot good guy was a whole helluva lot harder to resist.
“Yeah, okay,” he said, not at all sounding convinced. Which probably explained why he backed off on the power of his punches after that. And that just pissed her off even more.
“Stop holding back,” she finally bit out. Because he wasn’t blocking as aggressively anymore either.
He ignored her. His punches felt more like taps.
Dani inhaled to tell him exactly what she thought of that when the whistle blew again, marking the end of the drill. She arched a brow at him and silently told him everything she thought about his treating her with kid gloves. He arched a brow right back telling her what he thought of her I’m fine routine.
“Fine,” she bit out.
“Fine,” he retorted.
Coach Mack gave them their next drill instructions, which fortunately didn’t involve partners this time.
But before she and Sean parted ways, she turned to him. “You know what? Next time treat me like I’m your equal in here, okay?”
Sean’s whole face slid into a frown and something she couldn’t read roiled behind those dark eyes. “Fuck that, Dani. You think I wouldn’t go easy on anyone I just hurt? I more than see you as an equal. Hell, I think you’re a lot fuckin’ better than me.” With that, he walked away.
Well. She blinked. Fuck.
“Everything okay?” a deep voice said from beside her.
And Dani…literally had no idea. She wasn’t sure which had her more gobsmacked—the flash of hurt she would’ve sworn she saw in Sean’s gaze, the guilt and regret she heard in his voice, or that he thought she was better than him.
She turned to Moses, a former Army Ranger and another mountain of a man who’d joined WFC at about the same time Dani had. “Yeah, everything’s fine.” There was that word again. It wasn’t true this time either. Because now she felt bad about being bitchy toward Sean when he’d just been looking out for her. Apparently. Damnit. “Thanks, Mo.”
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