In the first installment of bestselling indie author Katy Evans’ searing New Adult series REAL, Brooke Dumas has reinvented herself after a shattered Olympic dream and is now a sports rehab specialist. But when she meets Remington “Riptide Tate–a famous underground fighter who has danger written all over him–she discovers he has the power to bring her new, carefully built facade to its knees. She wants him more than she’s wanted anything in her life, but he’s holding off for more than a casual one-night-stand: he wants something real, but first Brooke needs to know every part of him–even the dark secret he’d prefer to keep hidden.
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EXCERPT

The private jet is enormous, and Pete signals for me to board before he does. He picked me up at my place less than an hour ago, and he looks sharp in a Men in Black suit. I head up the stairs and realize you can actually fit standing up inside the plane, like in a larger airliner. No commercial plane I’ve ever been in has had a fraction of the luxury this one does. Suede, leather, mahogany, gold trimmings, and state-of-the-art screens adorn the interior. It’s all extravagance in this big, amazing, rich man’s toy.

The seats are arranged in sections that resemble small living rooms, and in this first section there are four plush ivory leather seats, each bigger than a first-class seat. They contain a smiling Riley, who stands to greet me, as well as the other two members of Remington’s staff—his personal trainer, Lupe, a fortyish, bald man who looks like Daddy Warbucks from the movie Annie, and the chef and nutritionist, Diane, who I recognize as the woman who came to my apartment.

“Nice to meet you, Miss Dumas,” Coach Lupe says, with a kind of scowl on his face I somehow figure is his natural expression.

I shake his hand. “Likewise, sir.”

“Oh, bah. Call me Coach. Everyone else does.”

“Well, hello again,” Diane says, her grip smooth and gentle.

“I’m Diane Werner, the chef slash nutritionist slash ticket-delivery girl.”

I laugh. “It’s so nice to meet you, Diane.”

The air between them is actually very open and real, and a twinge of excitement flits through me at the thought of belonging to a team again. Truly, what would make me enormously happy and satisfied as a professional is that if from now on, when Remington Tate fights in a ring, he flows like a ribbon with the strength of a dozen oxen, and I just love knowing I’m working with other specialized people whose goals and energy are on par.

“Brooke.” Pete gestures toward to the back of the plane, and down the long carpeted aisle, passing another section of four more seats and a large TV screen and an enormous wood-paneled bar, is a bench that looks remarkably like a sofa. And there, in the middle of it, with his dark head bent as he listens to his headphones, is Remington Tate, six-foot-plus tower of testosterone.

An unexpected heat shoots directly into my bloodstream at the first sight of him in daylight. He wears a black T-shirt that clings to his muscles, and low-slung worn denim, and his ridiculously ripped body wears it all with centerfold perfection as he lounges on the spacious taupe leather bench.

My heart gives a wild kick, because he looks just as impossibly sexy as ever, and I really wish I didn’t automatically notice. I guess you just can’t hide something as blatantly sexual as him.

“He wants you back there,” Pete tells me. And I can’t help noticing he almost sounds apologetic.

Swallowing the moisture in my mouth, I make my way uneasily down the plane aisle when he looks up, his eyes catching mine. I think I see them flare, but fail to read anything in his expression as he intently watches me approach.

His stare makes me so nervous I feel the tingle once again, right in my center.

He’s the strongest man I’ve ever seen, in my entire life, and I’m familiar enough with the subject to know that wired into my genes and DNA is a natural desire for healthy offspring, and with it comes a desperate urge to just full-out mate with whoever they deem the prime male of my species. I have never in my life met a man before who sparks up my crazy mating instincts like him. My sexuality burns with his nearness. It’s unreal. This reaction. This attraction. I’d never believe it if Melanie was explaining it to me and I wasn’t feeling it like a bubbling cauldron under my skin.

How am I going to get rid of this?

Lips curling slightly, as though amused at himself over a private joke, he pulls off his headphones when I stop an arm’s length from him. The rock music trails into the silence, and he abruptly clicks off the iPod. He signals to his right and I take a seat, fiercely trying to block his effect on me.

Bigger than life, like that of a movie star seen in the flesh, his charisma is staggering. He has an aura of pure raw strength, and every inch of him is lean and muscled, which gives off the impression of his being a man, but with a charming playfulness in his expression that makes him look young and vibrant.

It strikes me that we’re the youngest people in the plane, and I feel even younger than I am as I sit next to him, like I’ve just become a teenager again. His lips curl, and honestly I have never, ever, met a more self-assured man, lounging back almost sensually in his seat, his eyes missing nothing.

“You’ve met the rest of the staff?” he inquires.

“Yes.” I smile.

He stares at me, his dimples showing, his eyes assessing. The sunlight hits his face at just the right angle to illuminate the flecks in his eyes, his lashes so black and thick, framing those blue pools that just suck me right in.

I want to start this new relationship off professionally, since that is the only way I can see it working, so I loosely fasten the seat belt around my waist and get to business.

“Did you hire me for a particular sports injury or more to help with prevention?” I query.

“Prevention.” His voice is rough and invites a surge of goose bumps on my arms, and I notice, by the skewed way his big body is turned toward me, that he doesn’t deem it necessary to wear a seat belt on his plane.

Nodding, I let my eyes drift to his powerful chest and arms, then I realize I might be staring too blatantly.

“How are your shoulders? Your elbows? Do you want me to work on anything for Atlanta? Pete tells me it’s a several-hour flight.”

Without answering me, Remington merely stretches out his hand to me, and it’s enormous, with recent scars on each of his knuckles. I stare at it until I realize he’s offering it to me, so I take it in both of mine. A buzz of awareness feathers from his hand and deeply into me. His eyes darken when I start rubbing his palm with both my thumbs, searching for knots and tightness. The skin-to-skin contact is staggeringly powerful, and I rush to fill in the silence that suddenly feels like deadweight around us.

“I’m not used to such big hands. My students’ hands are usually easier to rub down.”

His dimples are nowhere in sight. Somehow I’m not sure he hears me. He seems especially engrossed in watching my fingers on him. “You’re doing fine,” he says, his voice low.

I become entranced by the planes and dips of his palms, every one of his dozens of calluses. “How many hours do you condition a day?” I ask, softly, as the jet takes off so smoothly I barely realize we’re airborne.

He’s still watching my fingers, his eyes at half-mast. “We do eight. Four and four.”

“I’d love to stretch you when you’re done training. Is that what your specialists also do for you?” I ask.

He nods, still not looking at me. Then his eyes flick upward.

“And you? Who pats your injury down?” He signals to my knee brace, visible beneath my knee-length skirt, which rose slightly when I sat.

“No one anymore. I’m done with rehab.” The idea of this man seeing my embarrassing video makes me queasy. “You Googled me too? Or did your guys tell you?”

He pulls his hand free from mine and signals down. “Let’s have a look at it.”

“There’s nothing to see.” But when he continues staring at my leg through those dark lashes, I bend and lift my leg a couple of inches to show him my brace. He seizes it with one hand and opens the Velcro with the other to peer down at my skin; then he strokes his thumbs across the scar on my kneecap.

There’s something wholly different about him touching me.

His bare hand is on my knee, and I can feel his calluses on my skin. I. Can’t. Breathe. He probes a little, and I bite my lower lip and exhale what little air remains in my lungs.

“It still hurts?”

I nod, but still can only really think about his large, dry hand. Touching my knee. “I’ve been running without a brace, and I know I shouldn’t yet. I just don’t think I’ve ever really recovered.”

“How long ago was this?”

“Six years ago.” I hesitate, then add, “And two . . . the second time it happened.”

“Ahh, a double injury. So it’s sensitive?”

“Very.” I shrug. “I guess I’m glad that by my second, I’d already started my master’s for rehab. Otherwise I don’t know what I would have done.”

“It hurts not to compete anymore?”

He looks at me with complete openness and interest, and I don’t know why I’m even answering. I haven’t talked about this openly with anyone. It hurts in every part of me. My heart, my pride, my very soul. “Yes. It does. You’d understand, right?” I ask, quietly, as he lowers my leg back down.

He holds my gaze as his thumb lightly strokes across my knee, then we both glance at his hand, as though equally stunned to realize how easy it was for him to leave it there while we had an entire conversation—and for me to allow it. He lets go and we say nothing.

I put back my Velcro but underneath the brace, I feel like he’s just doused my skin with gasoline, and it will burst up in flames any second he touches me again.

Shit.

This is so not good, I don’t even know what to do. My relationships with the clients I’ve had have always been informal. They call me by my name, and I call them by theirs. We do a lot of work and have a lot of contact, but they never touch me. Only I touch them.

“Do this one.” He puts his far hand out to me in a fist as he speaks, and I’m kind of grateful for the opportunity to get seriously accustomed to touching this man for work purposes.

 

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Remy manages to be dangerously sexy, even when he’s in the ring. Who is your ultimate sexy dream athlete?

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