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“How long ago were you a newbie white belt in Ju-Jitsu class?” Robert asked.

“Six years—”

“Melissa?”

That voice!

She turned around. “Mr Kane.” Here? Now? Why?

Alexander crossed the small gym in quick strides, gloriously normal in a white T-shirt, pale blue jeans that caressed the defined shapes of his long legs, and Nike trainers. The T-shirt’s cotton emphasised the physique below, its sleeves revealing the lightly tanned flesh of his muscular arms, the coursing veins that fed their thickness.

He glanced at Robert as he stopped before her. “Can we talk?”

“How did you know I was here?”

“I called at your home first. Tony pointed me in the right direction.”

Damn you, Tony! “What do you want to talk about?”

He cleared his throat. Robert folded his arms, going nowhere. Alexander looked at her and she saw tiredness behind his stare, though its intensity made her cheeks burn. “About what happened the other day.”

“Would you excuse us, Robert?”

“No problem.” He glanced at Alexander. “You know where I am if you need me, M.” She nodded and he left them.

Alexander kept his distance, moving around her. She felt his caution, her own twinned with it.

“You never said you were the instructor of your Ju-Jitsu class, Melissa.”

“You never asked, Mr Kane.”

“Touché.” He knocked his hand against the punch bag on the wall. The simple movement made his bicep bulge. The bag’s blue body rocked like a clock’s pendulum, counting the seconds before he spoke again. “I acted hastily the other day, Melissa. I should have given you a chance to prove yourself.” He turned to face her. “Will you come back to the hall and teach me?”

Her muscles tensed. Fear she knew, its taint and disharmony . . .

“Please, Melissa?” Billionaire playboy or not, he was astonishingly handsome.

Melissa swallowed. It wasn’t fear she felt in Alexander Kane’s presence . . .

It was attraction.

“You made your sentiments very clear, Mr Kane. You need someone with more experience than me to teach you.” She turned around.

“Do you hate me, Melissa?”

Hate? Wells in her psyche may still be full with the stench of her past experiences, but her body needed like any other woman’s. Felt arousal. That overwhelming power of want. And this stranger, this playboy, this billionaire, it could not be allowed to crave. She had to get out of here. Get away from him . . .

Because she was attracted to Alexander Kane and she could never trust a man like him with her painful secrets.

There’s your gym bag. “Of course I don’t hate you.” Get it and get out. “I don’t even know you.”

“Then you’re afraid of me?”

She halted. Attraction was not fear. She owned her fear. Melissa turned around. “No, I’m not afraid of you.”

“Then fight me.”

“What?”

He gestured to the red floor mats with his hand. “Fight me. You win. I walk away. I win. You come back to the hall and teach me for the agreed time limit of three months.”

“Mr Kane, adding physical assault of previous employer to my CV isn’t going to help my job prospects. But thanks for the offer.” She turned and reached for her gym bag.

“So you are afraid of me?”

She spun around. “I am not afraid—of anyone.” Now this feeling she knew. Anger.

“Then fight me,” he baited.

“No.”

“I take full responsibility for any injuries I receive.”

The arrogant arse deserved to be thrown across a room. “No.” She turned—his heavy footsteps scorched her awareness, his arm coming around her neck and instinct kicked in.

Melissa grasped his tricep and upper bicep, pulling with elbows in as she stepped forwards. The sudden dip of her shoulder weakened his chokehold before it began and she hauled Alexander over her hip and shoulder in one swift, rolling movement. He hit the mat with a clattering thump.

He looked up and saw her fist readied to strike him. Alexander smiled up at her. “Ow!”

Her adrenaline refused to subside. He raised his hands in surrender and she backed off. She saw only a shadow of movement and Melissa slapped her palm precisely against Alexander’s carotid artery and he crumpled to the floor.

“Mr Kane?” She’d purposely put power behind the strike. “Mr Kane, are you okay?” He was out cold. She knelt beside him. “Alexander!” He’d flipped her onto her back before she realised he’d fooled her.

Alexander laced his fingers through hers, levering her arms above her head as his hard, muscular body took over hers, caging her thighs with his own.

Panic and want collided in her brain. Her next defensive move slipping away from her like a greasy spoon from her grasp.

His body heat radiated through his jeans and into her. Hot. Flaming. The fight leached out of her, confusion and confidence combusting in her brain, burning Melissa’s caution back.

“You let your guard down, Melissa.”

No replies came as every muscle and sinew in her softened despite her will.

“Men lie. You should remember that.”

His eyes were opal circles, the pupils fully dilated. Did her hazel orbs betray her to him too?

“I win, Melissa.”

Indecision etched Alexander’s face. He leaned closer. She felt his true want and Melissa closed her eyes, ready, aching to taste his kiss.

“Melissa!”

Robert’s voice soured the moment. Alexander let her go, rising as she scrambled up from the mat.

“What the hell do you think you’re doing!”

“Stop, Rob.” She grabbed his elbow, steadying his anger. “We were sparing. Alexander moved faster than I expected, that’s all.”

“Did he?”

“Yes.”

He looked down at her. “Are you okay?”

“Fine.”

“Right, well, we need to shut up shop here, M,” Robert said, his eyes like magnets on Alexander’s steely countenance. “Do you need a lift home?”

Alexander stared at her. “No. I’m not going home.”


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