In For the Win
Against the Cage Book 5
by Melynda Price Genre: Sports Romance, Romantic Suspense
To win his heart, she’ll have to give him the one thing that could drive him away—the truth…
Kyle Scott’s talent for fighting paved the way for a career he never wanted, but needed to survive. Five years later, he doesn’t recognize the man he’s become. All his focus and energy has been poured into raising his little sister, leaving no time or interest for anything beyond a casual hook-up—until he meets a woman who sends his life spiraling out of control.
Penelope Cantrel isn’t looking for love, but she’s always ready for a good time. If she keeps everyone at a distance, they can’t discover how broken she is, or the secrets she’s running from. When she crosses paths with the sexy MMA fighter, Kyle’s reputation as a cage-banging manwhore doesn’t concern her. She isn’t interested in a commitment. But after their white-hot attraction leads to a night of mind-blowing sex, neither of them will ever be the same again.
When Pen starts receiving threatening messages, her deepest fears are realized as she becomes the obsession of a man who will kill to possess her. Concerned for her safety, Kyle offers to pose as her boyfriend to deter her unwanted admirer, but his heated touches and those not-so-innocent kisses don’t feel like he’s acting. Could the infamous playboy be falling for her?
As the threat against Pen escalates, her stalker is closer than they thought. Kyle is the only thing standing between her and a madman, but she fears trusting him with her secrets could be a fatal mistake.
Tonight, when Pen had crawled into his bed, Kyle foolishly hoped she was feeling it too. But as hot as the sex had been, something was still missing. An emotional connection? He didn’t really know, because he’d never felt or wanted one before. But he’d sensed she was holding a part of herself back.
Their disconnect hadn’t been physical. Fuck, he’d never felt so much pleasure—ungloved and coming inside her. The sensation, the intensity…there were no words. Even now he was growing hard just from the memory. No, that definitely had not been their problem. The issue, he feared, was emotional. And the struggle to synch Pen’s body with her mind was going to be a challenge. Question was, could he do it? Because he was starting to wonder if his efforts wouldn’t be fought at every turn.
Something in her past had broken her. He didn’t know what, how, or by whom, but her reaction to him earlier left little doubt in his mind. And even the possibility that she’d been abused—physical?—sexually?—filled him with such protective rage, a part of him almost feared discovering the truth. But how could he be the glue to help mend her broken pieces if he couldn’t figure out how they fit back together? She was a puzzle, a complex enigma he wanted to solve because deep down he knew the prize would be her heart.
Pen shook her head, looking utterly and completely lost. “I don’t know, Kyle. This isn’t supposed to be real. And it scares me that you’re changing the rules.”
“And you didn’t change the rules when you climbed into my bed? What the fuck was that about, then? You think because you made them, you can break them without consequence? Or is it because I fuck around that you think you get a pass—that this means nothing to me.”
As each word flew out of his mouth, he could see it ratcheting her fear. And yet he couldn’t seem to shut the fuck up. Her defenses were high and there was no getting past those walls, but he kept battering them with his verbal ground and pound assault. He wasn’t leaving this room until one of them tapped. Unfortunately, he was starting to get concerned that someone was going to be him.
She shook her head in denial, stepping back. And because he was a fighter, he advanced—countering her move for move until her retreat was halted by the bed.
“It was a mistake… This was a mistake…”
“Oh, now it’s a mistake? Because I’m not interested in being your boy-toy? Because you’re scared I might actually want something from you, like, oh…an ounce a trust?—a glimmer of emotion? Something to tell me that I might mean something more to you than a cock to get off on!”
Her eyes narrowed, little hands tightening into fists, and he knew he’d pushed her too far.
“What the fuck, Kyle? I thought I was the one with the vagina! Just because we fucked that doesn’t give you a one-way pass into my life. You don’t have any more right to my secrets than I do yours. You don’t see me trying to pry into your private life, do you? We’re friends—with benefits—and if you want us to stay that way then respect my goddamn boundaries.”
“With benefits? Thanks anyway, I think I’ll pass. I can fuck anytime I want, I don’t need you for that.” He turned to storm out, but her parting words won that round and had him tapping out.
“I was talking about the friends part…”
Melynda Price is a bestselling and award-winning author of contemporary romance. Her Against the Cage series has finaled in many awards such as the RONE, USA Today BBA, Golden Quill, National Readers’ Choice, and New England Readers’ Choice.
What Price enjoys most about writing is the chance to make her readers fall in love, over and over again. She cites the greatest challenge of writing is making the unbelievable believable, while taking her characters to the limit with stories full of passion and unique twists and turns. Salting stories with undertones of history whenever possible, Price adds immeasurable depth to her well-crafted books. She currently lives in Northern Minnesota with her husband and two children where she has plenty of snow-filled days to curl up in front of the fireplace with her Chihuahua and a hot cup of coffee to write.
If you had 3 wishes, what would they be?
I’m going to have to go with very unoriginal answers here. 1.) I’d wish for world peace. Who wouldn’t want that? 2.) A cure for cancer. There is far too much suffering in the world. And 3.) More wishes of course. ;)
Given unlimited resources, what would be your ideal writing environment?
On a sandy white beach with a beautiful view of the ocean, a lawn chair, a pina colada, and my laptop.
Where do you actually write?
I mostly write on the couch in my sun room. My laptop makes me portable, so I can pretty much write anywhere. I can’t sit in an office, or in one of those high-back chairs. It would make this feel like too much of a job.
How long does it normally take you to write a novel?
I usually write a book in three months, but some stories flow better than others. I’m not a plotter, and sometimes I can hit some hellacious writer’s block. It also depends on the genre and deadlines. Romantic suspense takes me the longest to write. I’ve written books in as little as two months and taken as long as four.
What are your inspirations?
I don’t have any specific inspirations per say. But in order for me to write, I need my mind clear and my stress level low, otherwise I can’t concentrate. That’s a pretty tall order some days.
How did you come to write this particular book or series?
I’ve been an MMA fan for years, and it never ceases to amaze me the amount of training, discipline and punishment these fighters put their body through. Every one of these fighters has a story and I thought it would be fun to write about a camp of MMA fighters putting it all on the line, inside and outside of the cage.
What was the hardest part of writing your book, and how did you overcome it?
The hardest part of writing any book for me is always the ending. I have a hard time letting my characters go and wrapping the story up in a way that feels fulfilling to me and the reader. That is why in my Against the Cage series, although each book is written as a stand-alone, you’ll often see those characters in each other’s stories. They’ve been woven together like a tapestry that gives each story more depth and a well-rounded feel if they’re read in order.
But the most difficult part of In for the Win specifically, was writing Pen’s character. Tackling her issues and traumatic past with a different twist, while maintaining credibility and realism was a challenge. She is an incredibly complex, broken character that exhibits remarkable strength and yet vulnerability without being seen as a victim. It was a though balance but I believe her characters really shines in this story.
What is your writing drive? The power that keeps you going when your writing gets difficult?
What drives my writing are the voices in my head. No, I’m not crazy, lol. But my characters come alive when I’m writing them. They do and say things that surprise me and oftentimes tell their own story. That’s why I’m a pantser, although I think it’s a more difficult writing style than plotting. But for me, I find it gives my characters more freedom to be real. When the voices go quiet, then I really start to worry. Some of my characters are more outspoken than others. That’s how Nikko was for me when writing Fighting for Control—the third book in my Against the Cage series. This book quickly wrote itself. He had so much to say and such a story to tell.
How did you come up with the title?
In for the Win was the perfect title of this book because it encompasses the theme of this story—important things like rarely come easy, and you have to fight for the things worth holding into.
Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family member?
My agent, Nalini Akolekar. She’s wonderful and completely amazing. I wouldn’t be where I am today without her. She’s believed in me, supported me, and stretched me as an author. I’m incredibly grateful to her.
If you could travel anywhere in the world for thirty days and just kick back and relax, where would you go, would you take anyone with you and why would you chose this vacation spot to go?
I would go to a beach house in Grand Cayman with my family. I love the ocean, the quiet atmosphere, the culture, and of course the pina coladas.
What is your favorite late night snack?
Hands down, mint chocolate chip ice cream in a waffle cone.
Where do you see yourself in 5-10 years?
I don’t know. Definitely still writing novels, but I don’t often think that far into the future. I try to live and love life one day a time. I find if I get too focused on tomorrow, I fail to appreciate today.
Tell us 5 random things about yourself.
I graduated with my BSN with honors, but did not attend the ceremony because I’m incredibly introverted.
I met my husband and we started dating when I was sixteen.
I have a terrible sense of humor and laugh inappropriately all the time.
People say I’m a great cook but I hate to do it.
My Chihuahua has been called my third child. He’s my little writing buddy. ;)
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