Fighting the Fire (Warrior Fight Club #3) by Laura Kaye

Tara was right. Things had gotten more intense between them since the night they’d shared. And Dani wasn’t sure what to do about that. It wasn’t like she could avoid the man altogether. Not when they both belonged to WFC, and not when Sean’s work sometimes brought him to Dani’s emergency department.

Mo nodded and ran a towel over the deep brown of his face and bald head. “You coming out afterwards?”

“Uh, yeah, I think so,” she said. A group of them usually went out to dinner after WFC, and Dani often joined. Her frenemies situation with Sean aside, she liked these guys. And it was the one time in her week when she got to be around people who understood a whole side of her life that her civilian friends really couldn’t.

Even in its quietest moments, going to war was a visceral experience that couldn’t be fully understood without going through it. It was living under the constant threat of violence. It was constantly knowing your actions could lead to life or death for others—men and women you cared about and who were counting on you to have their backs. It was a head game that forever changed how your brain assessed and handled stress, threats, and even basic day-to-day sensory input—noises, smells, flashes of light.

“Yeah, I’ll be there.”

Mo nodded. “Good. Now go kick some more ass.” He winked at her.

Dani managed a chuckle, then got in one of the lines for the spinning side kick drills they were running.

And she began planning the apology she owed to Sean that she knew he would hold over her until the end of time. That didn’t mean she didn’t owe it, though.

Chapter Two

Hurting other people seemed to be Sean Riddick’s fuckin’ specialty.

Standing in the shower, he braced his hands against the wall, closed his eyes, and let the scalding water rain down on him. The other guys were laughing and talking as everyone cleaned up after WFC, but he could barely hear it for how his brain kept replaying the gasp of pain Dani made when he punched her. The way the light golden brown of her face went pale. How her arm instinctively cradled her side.

Daniela England was tough as nails. No question. But Sean was a fuckin’ tank. And he should’ve known better than to allow his aggression to ramp up in response to hers.

And that was to say nothing of the way he’d taken her to the mats. He wasn’t sure why he’d done that—

Scratch that. He knew exactly why he’d done that. They’d been in that clinch. And her cheeks had gone flush and her lips had parted, her gaze latching onto his mouth.

Whatever that moment of desire was had unleashed something inside him. Something he’d kept boxed up where Dani was concerned ever since their one night together eight months before.

Sheer base animal need.

That was why he’d done it. It didn’t matter to his body that Daniela didn’t like him nor that he tired of her ball-busting him all the damn time. And his cock didn’t give a shit if Sean himself hadn’t ever had a real relationship because he was convinced that he was destined to hurt those around him.

Nope. None of that seemed to matter when Sean got close to Dani. Because that night he’d spent with her was quite possibly the best he’d ever felt in his whole miserable life.

“Yo, Riddick, you need us to send the Coasties in after you or what?” Billy called out to a round of laughter.

“Fuck all y’all,” he responded, turning off the water. He ran his hands over his face, then grasped the towel and gave himself a quick onceover before securing the terrycloth around his waist.

“There he is,” Mo said when Sean turned the corner to the group of lockers where the other guys, mostly dressed already, were hanging out. Among them were Mo, Billy Parrish, and Noah Cortez, the three guys Sean knew best of anyone in the club. Jesse Anderson was also there, a WFC newbie and fellow prior navy guy like himself who Sean liked a lot.

“You look beat,” Billy said. Parrish had been an Army Ranger who now worked as a private investigator, and while they’d known each other for about two years through WFC, it was only in the past few months that they’d finally gotten closer. Largely because Billy’s girlfriend, Shayna, brought them together. Last fall, she’d witnessed and been the first photojournalist on the scene of a four-alarm apartment-building fire caused by a natural gas explosion. And Sean’s company had been called to the scene, which was how he learned that Shayna was hurt but still doing her job and helping the residents out, too. After it was all over, working that fire had brought the three of them closer. Crisis did that, sometimes. “You okay?”