My mom always said it was just something about the way he moved.
The same swagger Archie Valentine wore in the ring when he took his opponents down followed him like a halo everywhere he went. But make no mistake about it—he was no angel. He was like a drug. My mother was his addict.I never understood it…how love could make you blind and convince you to drink the poison. Not until I met Memphis Delaney.
At first, it was the familiar form. He’s a fighter, built like a god from the past, the kind of man the universe doesn’t make anymore. His eyes hide a story, and every time I’m in his presence I want to keep reading him until I get to the end. And then…there’s the way he moves. His boxing is violent but beautiful, and his body is a seductive weapon. When he’s in the ring, he wears the stare of a man committed to the battle until his very last breath.
He could end me; turn me into her. Too much of him will leave me as a shadow, and I’ve lost so much of myself already.
But I have discipline. It came the hard way. Lessons learned, scars left behind, and trust stripped away from life.
I will breathe his air, but I won’t fall for a man like him. The only boxer who’s ever going to break my heart is the one who gave me my name.
I turn so our feet are squared and glance at his home that I think he probably knows I went through while he was gone. Somehow the money he paid for it seems not enough and too much all at once. My gaze shifts back to his, and he steps forward until the toe of his left shoe rests against the right side of mine.
“That’s a nice story, Memphis. I’m glad you found the bike, but I’m not sure what that has to do with me,” I say, my breath catching as his fingertips trace along my jaw, his touch so faint I find myself leaning my head to encourage his palm to rest along my cheek more boldly.
He brings his other hand up with more confidence, and I’m caught. The other option I had, to walk away, is gone. I never really wanted it, though.
Memphis dips his chin, hunching slightly to bring his eyes in line with mine. We’re so close that I can feel the tickle of his breath against my lips, and they tingle at the familiar. Each experience with him weaves itself into my heart in this way that terrifies me. This is how people lose themselves.
But I let it in—each breath, each sound, the smells and words. His story. I am surviving on the very being of him, and I think I have been for a while now.
“I was eighteen when I tracked down that bike. I knew it was mine…”
“I don’t belong to you, Memphis,” I cut in, my heart pounding.
His mouth forms a crooked smile. He holds my eyes hostage in silence for few long seconds. “Maybe it works the other way,” he says, his eyes moving over my face with a softness that feels intimate and vulnerable. His forehead falls forward until it rests gently on my own, and I let go of the grip I have on myself, exchanging it for fistfuls of his T-shirt. My knuckles run along his chest as I gather the material and close my eyes, his muscles hard from discipline.
“I can’t watch you get hurt. I can’t…”
His hand moves to my chin, and he lifts it until our eyes meet. Suddenly, breathing just got a lot harder to do.
“I won’t lose, Liv. I work too hard, and I study too much, and I will never be in a ring I’m not supposed to be in,” he says, and I breathe out what sounds like a laugh but feels like hurt.
“My fifty-year-old uncle kicked your ass in some display of alpha-male, teacher-student bullshit. I couldn’t watch that…how am I supposed to watch you step in with some guy who really wants to kill you? How am I supposed to kiss you knowing that your lips might never be the same after a fight. How…”
Memphis’s mouth takes mine before I can protest anymore, nothing like our stolen moment from earlier. His hands cup my face and his mouth moves possessively over my bottom lip, sucking it in and letting it slide loose through a graze of his teeth. He turns my head with a gentle nudge and kisses me deeper, and his hands fall from my face in long, possessive drags down my shoulders to my waist, stopping with his thumbs just above my hips and his fingers splayed out around my sides.
My hands roam up his chest and neck until my thumbs run along the roughness of his chin, and my touch seems to somehow make him hungrier.
“My god.” He breathes the words against my lips, restraint giving way…
Ginger Scott is an Amazon-bestselling and Goodreads Choice Award-nominated author of several young and new adult romances, including Waiting on the Sidelines, Going Long, Blindness, How We Deal With Gravity, This Is Falling, You and Everything After, The Girl I Was Before, Wild Reckless, Wicked Restless, In Your Dreams, The Hard Count, Hold My Breath, A Boy Like You and A Girl Like Me.
A sucker for a good romance, Ginger’s other passion is sports, and she often blends the two in her stories. (She’s also a sucker for a hot quarterback, catcher, pitcher, point guard…the list goes on.) Ginger has been writing and editing for newspapers, magazines and blogs for more than 15 years. She has told the stories of Olympians, politicians, actors, scientists, cowboys, criminals and towns. For more on her and her work, visit her website at http://www.littlemisswrite.com.
When she’s not writing, the odds are high that she’s somewhere near a baseball diamond, either watching her son field pop flies like Bryce Harper or cheering on her favorite baseball team, the Arizona Diamondbacks. Ginger lives in Arizona and is married to her college sweetheart whom she met at ASU (fork ’em, Devils).