Author: Natalie Gayle
Genre: Contemporary/MMA Romance
Release Date: December 1, 2015
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
GOODREADS LINK: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/26217716-believe
EXCERPTS (3 to choose from)
#1 Excerpt that sets the Scene
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.
#2 Excerpt with a little danger
Once we were alongside the car I opened the back passenger’s door for Isaac and leant in to make sure he was buckled in properly. That was when the familiar smell of a cologne I’d never forget invaded my nostrils. Every muscle in my body tensed and terror streaked through me.
Ever so slowly I straightened and went to close the door, and that was when his hand landed on my arm and my heart rate spiked to a level that I knew was off the charts.
“Hello Annie, you’re looking beautiful as always and how’s the retard?” His voice was silky and seductive even with his strong French accent—all that ran through my veins was hate and cold hard fear.
Slowly my eyes met the icy, evil hardness. I read the calculating smirk and all I felt was dread.
Marcel Beauchamp was back in my life—not only was he very bad news, he was also my ex-husband and the father of my son.
I pulled into the carpark of the local shopping mall. No sooner had I shifted into park and shut off the engine of my truck, than my mobile rang. I didn’t even need to pick it up from the centre console to know it was my mum. Each member of my family had their own tone in my phone. It was a little quirk of mine and easy to do. Small minds and all that.
I’m fine admitting that I’m easy to keep amused, particularly with anything “shiny”; like mobile phones, video games and technology.
“Hey Mum,” I answered. My eyes flicked across the carpark to a good looking woman who had a young boy with her. My truck being higher than just about every vehicle in the carpark, gave me a distinct height advantage. Yeah the woman was attractive, but that wasn’t what caught my attention. She was acting nervously about something. Her gait was choppy and her movements tense, as her eyes darted back and forth. There was something about the kid as well—I couldn’t quite pick it.
“Dane are you still coming to dinner tonight?” I glanced at my watch, instantly annoyed that I needed to glance away to check the time. There were still a few things I needed to do today before I took the 5:00pm class at Onigashima for Xander.
“What time Mum?”
“Well you know your father likes to eat at 6:30 but I can stretch it to 7:00 if it means you’ll be here.”
The woman had stopped at a compact hatchback, parked in the next row over. The car was a few years old, but looked to be in decent condition. The number plate caught my eye, 847–ISV. I had a memory for stuff like that.
She was putting the boy in the car when my peripheral vision tagged a guy getting out of a blacked out Mercedes two cars down. Immediately he started moving purposefully towards the woman who had her attention on her kid.
Two things screamed through my head. One, this bloke was too interested in the woman, and secondly, a car like that was unusual in a carpark in a Logan shopping centre. Logan wasn’t exactly the most affluent area; the high end sedan stood out like a sore thumb—well to me anyway. Couple that with how nervous she looked and something was about to go down.
“Got to go, Mum. See you tonight.” I ended the call and slid the phone into my pocket. My eyes didn’t leave the guy. There was a look on his face that I didn’t like one bit—something was off about everything I was seeing.
His voice was thick with some sort of foreign accent and it came clear across the distance and through my open window. “Hello Annie, you’re looking beautiful as always and how’s the retard?”
I watched her slowly straighten, her body rigid with fear. She started to look around with wild eyes and before I knew it, I was opening the door and moving.
For a split second my brain asked the obvious question. “Why was I getting involved?” and I hesitated for just a moment at the door.
“Marcel, what are you doing here? I have a restraining order against you. You aren’t allowed to approach us!” Her voice was clear and pitched with the intent that others in the vicinity could hear. At the moment, she was standing her ground, but there was no doubt in my mind she was terrified and trying to figure out how to get out of this situation. Basically, she was looking for someone to help her. That’s why she was projecting her voice. I started to move closer.
“I’m here to talk to my wife.” Once again I briefly hesitated. Was this some sort of strange marriage spat?
“Ex-Wife Marcel. Very ex and for the millionth time your son has Asperger’s—he’s not a retard. We’ve had no contact for over a year. I have full custody of Isaac, why are you here?”
Smart girl. She was giving lots of information, making her situation very plain to anyone that might hear—perhaps could help.
Now she just needed a rescuer and I decided that was going to have to be me. The other few people that had looked up, just as quickly looked back down and hurried on.
No one wanted to get involved. Well that wasn’t how I rolled. This woman was asking for help and I was going to give it. She hadn’t reverted to screaming yet—probably trying to keep the situation stable with her child in the car.
I sized the guy up a little more as I approached. He was a smidge under 6 foot but the wiry type. If he had any skills, my guess was he’d be fast. My brain raced trying to decide the best approach. I was confident I could take him out if it got to that. But I didnt want it to escalate if I could avoid it—particularly when there was a woman and a child so closely involved.
“Annie, I don’t understand all this anger…” He noticed me just as I came level with the front of her car. His eyes shot to mine and I gave him a grin. I needed to get myself between the woman and him first, before I did anything further.
The woman’s head spun around and I could see the relief on her face. I gave her my biggest, friendliest smile. My mum and sisters always told me it made women “melt”. Whatever the hell that meant. I hope it didn’t fail me now.
“Hey gorgeous, sorry I’m late,” I said moving in beside her and putting an arm around her. I dropped a kiss on top of her head for good measure—trying to act familiar. “Who’s this?”
I watched the other man’s eyes narrow and work at summing me up.
“This is my ex-husband, Marcel. The one I told you about. The one that I have a restraining order against for beating me half to death.” I glanced down at her, she had her face turned toward me and I could see the pleading look in her eyes.
Then I did what any “boyfriend” or “partner” would do when his woman was threatened, I squared my shoulders and prepared for battle. I relaxed my arm from around her shoulders.
“We got a problem here Mar…” Fuck, before I could get the word out he’d lunged forward at me. My immediate reaction was to step in front of the woman and I pushed her behind me with my right arm while I blocked the punch, Marcel threw to my head, with my left.
I slipped the arm I blocked with, over and under his and brought my hand up on the inside near his armpit, locking up his arm. Then I pounded a punch directly into his nose, and he staggered back with me still holding him in the lock up.
A shrill scream split the air, so loud and high pitched my ears rung with the assault.
Was it the woman?
#3 Excerpt with some HEAT
The drive home was a killer. Although the restaurant we’d gone to was amazing, I didn’t really think it through. Mount Tamborine road was definitely a two hands on the wheel type of drive with its succession of hairpin bends and drop offs. There was no chance to have my hand on her leg or up her skirt.
“How are you doing over there? Sulking? Plotting my demise?”
“I can’t believe you left me like that!”
I chuckled, “Building anticipation, Miss.”
“I so want to reach over and grab you by the crotch just to see how you like to be tormented. This is not a road to be doing that.” She wriggled in her seat a little more suffering from frustration.
“Spread your legs, Miss.”
“What did you say?” She was playing coy because I’d left her hanging. Ari loved it when I started bossing her when it came to sex.
“You heard me! Push your hips forward and hike that skirt up. I want to look over and see your naked pussy. I want to know that’s what I’m going to have anyway I want it when we get home.”
I noted her sharp intake in of her breath, as she did as I asked.
The road evened out into the long straights on the flat. I could take a hand off the wheel now and be safe, although I had something naughtier in mind.
“Touch your pussy for me, Miss.”
“Don’t Dane me. Do it!” I growled using my Sensei voice. She called it my Get it on voice. It was my Sensei voice but hey...whatever worked for her.
“I’ve never, in front of…” She was looking at me all concerned. The other day I’d demanded her hands on her tits. Today I wanted more.
“What’s the big deal? You let me do all kinds of stuff to you. I want to see you do it.”
I glanced across and she still looked unsure. “Give me your hand, Ari.”
She took my offered hand and I placed her hand directly on her mound. Then I let my fingers trail lower.
Oh wow, she was so wet. I teased her slowly with my fingers, letting them slide through her slick flesh. A couple of times her hips jolted forward and I knew I’d hit a particularly sensitive spot.
My eyes remained focused on the road, the driving was easy—all straight roads and gradual bends. Her other hand was gripped on the armrest of the door. Not in fear, but in a need to ground herself to something. Ari liked something solid to hang onto when she was into it. There was no way I could resist sliding a finger into her hot, wet channel.
“Oh, Dane.” Her voice caught and my dick flexed in my pants in response to the sound.
The hand she had on the door was now locked around my forearm. I eased my hand upwards and covered hers. Then I slowly moved it down over herself.
I spread my fingers lightly on top of hers. “Now show me what you like.”
“Why? I love everything you do!”
“Because I want to know what you do. Come on, Miss. You didn’t spend two years on your own without at least using your fingers occasionally. Or have you got a secret cache of toys you haven’t told me about?”
She tensed briefly, then relaxed as I guided her fingers lightly.
“This really turns you on?”
“Yep! Like you wouldn’t believe. Anything that involves you and sex is an instant turn on for me.”
“And I thought you were such a gentleman!” she huffed out in shaky breaths.
“I am.” I pushed her finger against her clit and rolled it in circles the way I knew she liked. “I just like to get a little wild and demanding when it comes to sex. You love it, don’t deny it. You’ve got even wetter since we’ve been talking if that’s even possible. I can’t wait to get home and lick all that sweetness from you.”
Ari let out a few long pants and her body had gone rigid. She was almost there and I couldn’t resist moving my hand back to the wheel. It was up to her whether she came now or later. I was kind of hoping she’d finish herself off; it would be another little hurdle we jumped together.
“Dane!” she shrieked.
“Finish it, Ari. Come for me. Let me see you, hear you,” I demanded of her.
Her fingers wriggled in her pussy and she started to groan and pant all at once.
“Oh God Dane, I can’t believe you made me do it,” she cried as the orgasm racked through her. I couldn’t help the chuckle that slipped out. From the corner of my eye, I watched the spasm fire through her body and her face contort in passion.
“I just encouraged you, Ari. Miss, that was hot! My dick is so hard right now.”
“I should make you return the favour,” she grunted.
“Anytime you want. Just not tonight and not when I get home from Vegas. They are definitely my cock in your pussy kind of days.” I chuckled, and pulled her fingers from her pussy and sucked them into my mouth.
I loved pushing her and she loved me, too, for doing it.
AVAILABLE NOW IN THE ONI FIGHTERS SERIES
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.
She recently released Brave—the first in her Oni Fighters Series. This series is MMA contemporary romance with inspirational themes. The series is about people overcoming tragedy, pain and circumstances—fighting their inner demons. The next book, Believe, will be released late 2015 with another early 2016.
There is a giveaway for 2 x $20 Amazon gift cards, a signed paperback of Believe + swag
@givemebooksblog and @nataliegayle1