Home > Chasing Shadows (First Wives #3)(6)

Chasing Shadows (First Wives #3)(6)
Author: Catherine Bybee

He laughed and sized her up. “I’m twice your size.”

Brenda glared. “Size means nothing.”

“Do you study krav?” Avery asked him.


Avery turned to Brenda. “Then I could get away.”

“You think you can get away, but you’ve never tried. How do I know if anything I’m teaching you is useful if you don’t exercise it?”

“You’d be surprised at what I exercise.”

Brenda narrowed her eyes. “I know about the drunk at the bar.”


“Leslie told me. In group. Right after she fought off two—not one, but two—of my best male students. So you can put a drunk into his drink. Good. I’m glad I taught you that much.”

Liam watched the women arguing in silence until that moment. “If you can’t teach her any more, then why do you keep taking her money?”

Both women turned to him as if they’d forgotten he was in the room.

“So I can pay you to stand around.”

“If I can get him off of me, will you let this go until I’m ready?” Avery pointed toward him.

He was pretty sure she’d just suggested that he straddle her while she tried to squirm away. This idea he could get into.

Brenda cocked her head to the side and shook it. “Too much liability.”

“I won’t hurt her.”

Brenda looked at him like he was an idiot. “Not her. You!”

Liam laughed.

That had both women glaring.

Without words, Brenda stormed into her office and returned with a piece of paper. She shoved it in front of his face and handed him a pen. “Sign this.”

“What is it?”

“Waiver. You get hurt? You don’t sue.”

He was cocky enough to think the blonde in spandex wasn’t big enough, fast enough, or strong enough to get him off of her. He was cautious enough to know he could lose a nut in the process.

He signed the paper. “I might wanna have kids one day.”

Brenda walked across the room and produced a jockstrap.

He held no shame in strapping on the ball barrier on the outside of his clothes, which was what this one was designed for.

The whole time Avery watched with her hands on her hips, determination in her eyes.

When he was ready, Brenda pulled him onto the mat. “You.” She pointed at Avery. “On your back.”

Liam had to admit, this was a first.

Avery lay down.

A hard-on in a jockstrap is probably not the best idea, Liam.

Talking to himself was a thing. And this time the voice told him he was an idiot.

Brenda knelt on the ground. “You remove him three times and I won’t harp on you for six months. No punches to the face. He doesn’t have padding.”

When she stood, she patted Liam’s chest. “Straddle her. Don’t let her up.”

Yup, definitely a first.

Liam puffed his chest out and smiled. Only that cockiness subsided as he knelt beside her. A combination of annoyance and vulnerability lurked in her eyes. And while Liam had no problem attracting women, he never purposely hurt them. “You okay with this?”

She motioned with her hand to climb on up.

The moment he straddled her hips, his dick waved. She was hot, sweaty, and flushed from her workout, or maybe that was the anger. One pass by in the bar a week ago and he’d already thought about this moment.

Well, maybe not this exact moment, but one with her under him with the aforementioned thoughts swimming in his head.

He clenched his jaw and waited for some signal to hold her down.

There wasn’t one. He counted to maybe three, and Avery was on the move.

Liam attempted to squeeze her with his thighs and instead found her knee in his chest, his balance thrown off, and she was two feet away on the balls of her feet, and he was on his back.

“How the hell . . . ?”

“I said hold her down.”

It was Avery’s turn to smirk while looking at her fingernails.

“Okay, Princess. I see how this works.” Liam jumped to his feet and motioned to the floor.

Brenda stood back.

He admired the swagger in Avery’s hips as she moved to the same position on the mat.

This time when he positioned himself on top of her, he immediately grabbed her hands and pinned them to the ground.

She went limp as if giving up, and then, like a cat who was done being petted, she bucked with strength he didn’t see coming. He braced himself with one hand to keep from falling off of her, and she used it to her advantage. She wrapped her leg around his, and then she was on her side, his arm in a hold that threatened to bend it backward.

He’d like to say he didn’t cuss in that moment, but he’d be lying.

She let go and jumped to the balls of her feet.

“You know, the last time I was beaten up by a girl, it was my sister, and titty twisters were involved.”

Avery laughed and Brenda scowled.

“That is your problem. Avery isn’t your sister. She isn’t someone you protect and let win. She is having a seizure, and if you let go, she will fall off a cliff into the Grand Canyon. Hold. Her. Down.”

Brenda slammed her hand on the mat beside him.

Liam pulled himself together as he stood. He had half a foot on Avery. He easily had fifty pounds over her.

But damn, she was fast and cunning. He was pretty sure the pain on the left side of his body was a bruised rib from her knee providing the space she needed to escape.


He could do this.

She took her position and he took his.

He pinned her hands and she bucked. Only he was ready for that this time. He flattened his body against hers. Would have enjoyed it if she wasn’t trying to head butt him. He dodged what would have been a headache for both of them.

She attempted to use her leg to wrap his. He pushed away until he could capture it under his. His distraction gave her the opportunity to get out from under one of his hands. She attempted to leverage herself and twist him off.

He held her tight.

When he had her pinned again, Brenda hit the mat.

She moved two inches from Avery’s face. “You cannot beat strength with strength. There will always be bigger opponents than you out there.”

Liam lifted his hands from Avery’s arms.

She was breathing hard, her jaw set in a firm line. Vulnerability overtook the anger in her eyes.

Liam stood and backed up when Avery squirmed away.

“Whatever!” Avery released the tie that held her hair back and shook her head. She stormed out of the gym and into the locker room. Liam found his feet following.

“Leave her alone.”

Yeah, Liam wasn’t one to follow orders.

Chapter Five

With both hands on the lockers and her head hanging between her shoulders, Avery attempted to push back her anger.

She had him.


She shoved her fist into the locker, accepted the pain that came with it.


It was him, the man who proved Brenda right. “Girls’ locker room. Or can’t you read?”

He didn’t respond and didn’t leave. She could feel his eyes staring at the back of her head.

“No one likes a sore loser.”

Avery twisted on her heel. “I took you.”

He hunched his shoulders. “Surprise is something you can only use once.”


He chuckled.

The anger inside of her started to ebb, and she voiced what she’d been thinking since she saw him watching her warm up. “Were you at the bar the other night?”

Was that a smile? “What bar?”

“One block up?”

“Pug’s Pub?”


“I’ve been there. You don’t seem the type to go to Pug’s.”

She closed her eyes and turned her back to him. “And what type is that?” She twisted the combination on her lock and pulled her bag from the locker.

When he didn’t immediately answer, she looked at him.

“Let’s see . . . the women at Pug’s haven’t had a manicure in a long time, therefore the color of their nail polish would be red. Yours is beige. Highlights in your hair . . .” He glanced at her bag. “Is that Gucci?”

“I don’t know a lot of heterosexual men who know Gucci from Walmart.”

He winced. “That would hurt, except I have a Gucci-style sister and I’m as hetero as they come.”

She turned toward the locker, removed her Prada handbag, and stuffed it into her Gucci duffel. Heat boiled in her veins.

“I came in here to see if you were okay.”

She lifted a hand in the air without turning around. “I’m fine.”

“Oh, hell . . . Did I do that?” He took a step closer and touched her arm.

Avery twisted like a cornered cat and nearly struck out.

Mr. Handyman stepped back and stared at her arm.

Tiny purple bruises emerged where he’d pinned her hands to the mat.

“I’m fine.” She pulled her hands away. “Part of the deal with these classes.”

He shook his head. “Years of my mother telling me not to hurt girls makes this everything but okay. I was here to put up shelving, not manhandle the students.”

She took one step toward him and looked up. He did have half a head on her. “Well, be sure and tell your mother that you’re keeping your promises.”

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