Grace for Drowning
Contemporary Fighter Romance
Hope is a dangerous thing. I know that more than most. Everything good I've ever had has been stolen from me — my friends, my fiancé, my innocence, some would say even my sanity. All I have left is the cage. Fighting is the only thing that eases the ache inside me even a little. It’s the only thing that keeps the bottle at bay.
I was content to ride out my life alone. I was done dreaming that things could be better. But then I met Grace, and suddenly, all I could do was dream.
She's battling those same demons, only she's losing. I don’t want to care, but something about her calls to me. That pain in her eyes is so sharp, so familiar. I know it’s only a matter of time before it pulls her below the surface.
I can help her, and maybe, just maybe, she can help me too. For the first time in what feels like forever, I’ve got hope, and that scares the hell out of me.
This is a full length novel with no cliffhanger. There will be a sequel, but this book resolves all the story elements by the end. It is written with dual perspectives, so both Logan and Grace get their say.
Sexy Excerpt (Grace POV):
I gave a tiny shake of my head. It felt like a big gesture, one that should have set the earth shaking and the sky falling, but it was strangely liberating at the same time. A moment of clarity in an ocean of confusion. I wanted him. I couldn’t deny that anymore. I wanted everything those absent words implied. His hands on my body, his lips on mine. I knew that given a few days, a few hours, maybe even a few minutes, my pain and self-loathing would resurface and start sabotaging this again, but right now, in that moment, I was free of that.
Before I could talk myself out of it, I lunged towards him. He was so tall that I had to stretch up onto my toes, wrapping my hands around his neck to pull his mouth down to mine. It sent a powerful longing through me, that height, that sheer bulk. I normally hate to be reminded how diminutive I am, but I liked how small he made me feel. There was something strangely comforting about it.
His body stiffened and he mumbled a curse against my lips. For a moment, he barely moved. I could feel the war playing out behind his eyes. But then the fight drained out of him, and his arms enveloped me as he began kissing me back with an urgency strong enough to be almost frightening. Part of me expected it to feel wrong, a betrayal of everything I’d had with Tom, but instead my body simply melted against his like it had always been there, and all other thoughts disappeared.
All my other first kisses had been timid affairs, but this was something else entirely, fierce and hungry; an explosion of everything that was simmering inside us. Though I’d initiated it, Logan quickly seized control. This wasn’t a man who simply stood by and had things happen to him. Leather-rough palms ran amok across my back and shoulders, pulling me against him as though he was afraid I’d be snatched away at any moment. I moaned involuntarily into his mouth as his tongue darted and teased. In some distant part of me I felt ashamed, but it was dwarfed by the fire that was coursing through my veins. I’d never been kissed like that before. Not by Tom. Not by anybody. It felt like a matter of need rather than want. Life or death.
I’d seen him shirtless plenty of times of course, but the sight was different now. Erotic, sensual, and above all, mine. I could barely breathe for how magnificent he looked. Sculpted and tanned and lit with moonlight; a living breathing Greek statue. I wanted to touch all of him, to feel each inch between my fingers, in my mouth, in every part of me. I’d never been so intoxicated by another human being.
My hands took on a mind of their own, dancing hungrily across his bare chest. His muscles were so hard, like his entire body was just skin stretched over stone sculpture. Everything inside me seemed to clench as my fingers took it all in, the perfectly defined grooves between his pecs and his abs, the mountainous curl of his biceps. He was still slick with sweat and hot from the night’s exertion, but that only excited me more. Images played through my head of him in the arena, his body a perfect primal machine leveling all of that power at his opposition.
My lack of control seemed to trigger something in Logan. He reached for my shirt, tugging it over my head, and then his hands turned ravenous, squeezing my breasts, my ass, the curve of my hips. It felt like his fingers were everywhere at once, and my body tingled and burned in response. It was so good to be touched again. I hadn’t realized how long it had been or how much I missed it, but there was something exquisite about it — a tactile euphoria that kept me centered in that perfect moment and scattered all my problems to the wind.
He broke away, breathing heavily, his face twisted into some bizarre combination of pain and desire. Pressing his forehead against mine he locked eyes with me. “Are you sure?” His voice was low, the primordial growl of a man who was just below the cusp where words were no longer relevant.
Tamer Excerpt (Logan POV):
She stared up at me with wide, glistening eyes. The fear in that look wrenched at my heart like nothing I’d ever experienced before. You know the saying ‘a deer caught in the headlights’? Well that’s how she looked, only magnified a thousand times. I could almost see the last dominoes of her life tumbling over in her mind. It took every ounce of my willpower not to reach out and pull her against me.
“I know it’s embarrassing,” I continued, “and I know it hurts like hell and all you want to do is get through the day so you can knock yourself out and forget, but this right here, this is your chance to take a step forward. That’s the way to beat this thing. One step at a time. I can’t promise miracles. You’re not going to wake up in a week and feel like a million bucks. But doing something is better than doing nothing.”
She didn’t speak for a long time. “You keep saying you know what I’m going through,” she said eventually, her voice barely more than a whisper. “What do you mean?”
I closed my eyes momentarily. It was easy enough to tell someone else what they needed, but opening up myself was a whole different kettle of fish. I had my own triggers to worry about, and this was diving right into the center of them. But she had to hear it. She had to understand that we were on the same page.
“A lot of us veterans wind up with substance abuse problems once we’re back on home soil,” I said. “You know how if you go on vacation for a while, then come back home and try to do something like drive a car, it takes time to adjust?” She nodded. “Well, imagine that sensation, except you haven’t been in The Hamptons for three weeks. You’ve been in a combat zone for years, with bullets and IEDs and death all around you.”
I leaned back against the wall as images flashed unbidden across my mind. I hated that sensation, not being in control of my thoughts, like someone was playing a horror movie in the back of my head that I couldn’t pause or stop. “That shit leaves scars. And then you come back here to a place with supermarkets and traffic jams and street performers, and none of it makes any fucking sense. I felt like a god damn alien. Some days I still do. You try to explain it to someone, and they nod like they get it, but they don’t. How could they?”
I drew a deep breath, feeling myself getting choked up. I hadn’t talked about this in detail with anyone, not even Charlie. He was a vet too, so words weren’t necessary. He understood. Saying it out loud was painful. It made me feel weak, like I couldn’t handle my shit.
“I drank like an Irishman for the better part of a year, just trying to wash all that away. Looking back now, it’s pretty obvious I was in self destruct mode. A bomb with the timer ticking steadily down to zero.”
Her face was pulled tight, although I couldn’t tell if it was with grief for me or fear for herself. “And Charlie really helped you get that under control?” she asked.
“Yep. I have no doubt I’d be six feet under now if not for him. He’s a family friend. Served twenty years before mustering out to open the bar. He’s one of the reasons I enlisted in the first place. He saw I was circling the drain, and for some reason he decided he wasn’t going to let that happen.”
Her eyes fell to the floor and she leaned back against the wall, her body deflating like a balloon. “You make it sound so easy.”
I shook my head. “It wasn’t easy. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Still is. It never goes away, not completely. I’m probably going to be fighting it for the rest of my life, but at least now I know how to fight it.”
There was a long pause, and when she spoke, her voice was trembling. “I don’t know if I have the strength to fight this.”
Maya Cross is a writer who enjoys making people blush. Growing up with a mother who worked in a book store, she read a lot from a very young age, and soon enough picked up a pen of her own. She’s tried her hands at a whole variety of genres including horror, science fiction, and fantasy, but funnily enough, it was the sexy stuff that stuck. She has now started this pen name as an outlet for her spicier thoughts (they were starting to overflow). She likes her heroes strong but mysterious, her encounters sizzling, and her characters true to life.
She believes in writing familiar narratives told with a twist, so most of her stories will feel comfortable, but hopefully a little unique. Whatever genre she's writing, finding a fascinating concept is the first, and most important step.
The Alpha Group is her first attempt at erotic romance.
When she's not writing, she's playing tennis, trawling her home town of Sydney for new inspiration, and drinking too much coffee.