Have you ever hit a point in your life where everything looks good from the outside but there’s this feeling deep in your gut that tells you something is wrong?
Dane Roberts was just an ordinary guy—so he thought. Best friend to MMA fight sensation Xander Todd, and all round decent guy. But now a restlessness surrounds him. Dare he reach for more? Could he too emulate his best friend’s results in the cage?
Arianne Le Flegg was a woman starting over, with her son. Running from a past littered with broken promises, manipulation and violent abuse at the hands of family. Violence terrified her on every level. She longed for an “ordinary life”—safety for herself and her son.
Can there ever be a future for two people who view violence so differently? One embraces it, the other dispels it. One is seeking the extraordinary, the other ordinary. She longs for the type of man he’s trying to leave behind.
For there to ever be a future together, they’ll need to dig deep and decide what really is important to each of them.
To do this, they must first accept—The hardest demons to defeat are the ones inside.
They’ll have to Believe.
About the Author:
A confessed readaholic and romantic junkie, Natalie spends her time juggling a busy career as an IT professional and author. In between staring at a computer screen (she spends lot time doing that!) Natalie, enjoys living the Gold Coast life with her very tolerant husband and two school aged children.
She loves spending time with family and friends, hitting the beach, cooking, working out and curling up with a good book. Her pet hates are cleaning and anything else that can be considered “domestic dullness”. If she could have one wish it would be to be able to fit 48 hours into 24.
Natalie is the author of the Centre Games Series. A fast paced, romantic suspense series set on the Gold Coast, Australia. The series tells the stories of the Centre, a quasi government agency established to fight environmental, biological and agricultural threats. The Centre Games books are filled with hot alpha males and the feisty independent females strong enough to capture their hearts. Natalie’s books pack lots of action, hot romance and surprises.
Natalie is currently working on her fifth instalment for the Centre Games Series and a brand new series for 2015. Look out for her new release BRAVE, coming very soon and a couple of surprise projects.
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Have you ever hit a point in your life where everything looks good from the outside, but there’s this feeling deep in your gut that tells you something is wrong? It’s a strange hollow feeling. Sometimes it feels a little like fear, other times excitement and often just plain damned empty.
That’s how I felt then. My life looked good from the outside and it was. But if that was really the case why did I feel like that?
My feet kept hitting the pavement in regular strides. The weather was still warming up to spring. I liked jogging; it’s all part of the martial arts training that makes up such a big part of my life. Long ago I reached the point of not even really knowing why I did it anymore. The training and commitment becomes more a habit than anything else. Something I’d done most of my life. I guessed I was okay at it.
My belt was black and it carried a few stripes and some fancy arse embroidery that told me and the rest of the world, that apparently this was the case. So I figured it must be true, but why didn’t I feel it? Why didn’t I really believe it?
To me, I was just an ordinary guy. Ask anyone. They would tell you, there was nothing special about me. My best mate Xander, he was extraordinary, but me—no. Xander’s always been special. Ever since I’ve known him, which is about twenty years, he’s always known exactly what he wanted to do. Xander’s known what it was he wanted, gone after it and achieved it. Quite frankly it was both awe inspiring and fucking intimidating—not that I’d ever told him that. The guy had won more martial arts titles and fights than I could remember. And then when that shit went down with The Cobra, did he curl up and crawl into a ball? Hell no. He started his dojo Onigashima the next week.
That took guts and balls of steel. Shit, I often thought The Cobra’s death shook me up more than him. Don’t get me wrong. I loved Xander as a brother and I was so fucking proud of him, but it can be hell on your confidence having him for a best mate.
I’ll never forget that conversation. Xan still had the faint discoloured bruises on his face from the hits The Cobra had managed to land before he…well…died from a punch Xander landed in the cage.
He’d come over one night and told me he was starting a dojo and he wanted my help. He offered me a financial stake, but I turned him down. The dojo was Xander’s baby. At the time, I was content with my online martial arts supply business which I started just out of high school.
Hell, regardless of whether I had a financial stake or not, I’d help him anyway I could. That was never the question or an issue. Deep down I knew Onigashima was something Xan needed to do for himself. We’d talked some more and cracked open a couple of cold ones. Neither of us drank much because of all the training. That was one of those nights which warranted a cold beer with a mate.
It only took a couple of beers and we had the name…it was hardly a stretch. We’d both been fascinated by the Japanese folk legend of Onigashima for years. It fit. Onigashima is what the dojo had been right from the start and so that’s how it had come about. Just as I’d expected, it had gone from strength to strength. There’s no way anything Xan did would be less than rock solid and stellar. I wish I had his confidence and that unrelenting drive. Oh, it can be taught and practised, but there was just something in Xander that took it all to the next level. That special something was the bit I agonised over.
I didn’t think I had it.
Me, I was just your average everyday guy. I was just plain Dane Roberts. And about the most extraordinary thing about me was that my parents didn’t call me something like Barney. I’m sure that was a fluke rather than good management. Thank God mum had a thing for romance novels and picked my name from some “hero” she’d been reading about twenty six years ago. I’m just incredibly grateful she wasn’t reading about some dude called Barney. Shit, I would have been Barney Roberts. Could you imagine that?
Barney Roberts, now that would have taken ordinary to a whole new level. Yep, definitely counted my blessings on that one. But getting back to the ordinary thing, I guessed if you get told something all your life and you’re brought up in a household that was “normal” and “ordinary” then that’s exactly what you believe. It becomes your reality. Why would you think anything else?
I lived my life like others did—day to day, with a moderate amount of planning for the future. Somehow I’d managed to create a reasonably comfortable life for myself. Nothing spectacular, but I did okay. Regardless, nothing seemed to be enough anymore. Everything seemed empty and meaningless and I didn’t know why. What was wrong with me? It just felt well—weird.
That was what played through my head as I ran that early spring day. Does that happen to you? It does to me. I kind of have these little conversations with nobody but me in my head.
Right there was a pretty good summary of where I was at before Arianne Le Flegg came crashing into my life and turned it upside down.
Man did she hit me for a six…knocked me clean out of the park.
Arianne Le Flegg: now there was a name that’s anything but ordinary.
I’d find out very soon just how far from ordinary we both were. This is our story.
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