Ruby's back hit the mat, and a gush of air burst free from her lungs.
"You've gone soft." Tommy frowned down at her, his lips twisted. "Seven months of no training, just pining away, and I knock you down in seconds. You're off your game."
That's not all she was off. Her fiancé Paul had recently played her. Things like that happened to other people, not her. Westridge, the CEO and his board of directors at Westridge Corporation, was pending trial after she revealed their crimes of embezzlement, framing Ruby and Crystal's father, and murdering their foster parents and more - she and her sister had left their thieving lifestyles behind, yet the Uncles and Tommy called out of the blue, insisting Ruby come in for a sparring match. So, hell yeah, she was off her game.
"I'm not pining." Even if she had sat on the couch with ice cream or a store bought bag of cotton candy most nights. Sometimes both. It was none of Tommy's business.
"Let's try that again." Tommy held out a hand to her.
Why had she agreed to this again? Oh right, to get her mind on a different focus other than Paul. She could beat Tommy if she concentrated. Plastering a pained expression on her face, she accepted his hand. When he relaxed his guard to help her up, she jerked his arm forward and kicked him in the shin. But her timing was off, and his upper body landed on top of her instead of beside her. His hands slammed on either side of her head as he caught himself. She'd known him since he was a teen working for the Uncles and saving her and her sister from Westridge when they were kids, and this wasn't the first time she got a slight upper hand over him. He never saved her from bruises though while he trained them in Krav Maga and other martial arts.
Instead of scowling at her, like he usually did, something flashed in his eyes. Admiration? Pity? No, couldn't be. His breath of vanilla and mint washed over her, and she couldn't stop staring at his mouth. Had it always been full with a dimple on the side of his cheek when he smiled?
"Guess I took you by surprise that time." She forced her gaze from his mouth to stare into his gold-flecked brown eyes. "Maybe you need to up your game?"
His gaze intense as he stared restlessness grew inside her. What was he thinking? Uncomfortable with his silent scrutiny, she pushed against his chest. Then he lowered his head and brushed his mouth across hers. Tingles spread through her. Before she could react, he pulled away and stood.
"Now who's off?" Tommy smirked and his dimple deepened.
"What the hell was that? Are you playing dirty?" Tommy didn't like her, not in a romantic way. He couldn't. They'd spent years together ever since the Uncles feigned her and her sister's death and became their guardians. After their foster parents were killed, the Uncles and Tommy were the only ones she trusted. So what was Tommy playing at?
He lifted her chin until she met his eyes.
"Don't bring him into your thoughts." His brown eyes softened. "He's not worth it. You are so much better than that scum."
She shrugged. So that was his intention all along. Shock me out of thinking about Paul. Tommy doesn't like me. That was crazy.
Instead of saying anything else, he hauled her into a hug. She'd always thought of Tommy as lean and strong as steel, she fit into his embrace. Closing her eyes, she relaxed, taking in his warmth. He was just a friend providing comfort.
Then why did her lips still tingle from his kiss? Was she so starved for male contact that she forgot good sense? She needed a date, not a rebound.
Ruby's cell buzzed, and she eased away from Tommy, unable to look him in the eye. If she did, he'd see her flash of desire brand new to her. Was she that desperate? She rummaged through her gym bag and clicked on her phone. A missed call from her sister, Crystal. Later, when she didn't have words and overrunning emotions crammed in her throat, she'd call her back.
At least Crystal had found love. She and Kade ran their own private detective agency. Ruby was happy for her sister, but right now, she couldn't take her fraternal twin's cheerfulness.
"Was that about your jury duty?" Tommy's rich baritone voice caressed across her back. What the hell was the matter with her? Fixated on a guy who paid her attention...even if he was more than just a guy, he'd been her trainer. She really needed to get a date.
Ruby shook her head. "No, that's been over for weeks now. It's Crystal. I'll call her back later." Ruby's jury duty recently ended, and the guilty guy got off on a technicality. She rubbed her arms.
Zipping up her bag, she stood and frowned at Tommy's closeness. Maybe she was losing her edge if she didn't hear him approach. "Thanks for the session."
He smirked. "Same time tomorrow?"
"If I can walk." She grinned and hiked up her bag on her shoulder.
He jerked his head to the far window. When she started to turn to see what he looked at, he lunged at her.
"What the hel - " Her butt hit the mat and she found herself pressed under the length of his body. His shoulder length hair tickled her nose as she buried her face into the side of his neck.
A gunshot shattered the warehouse window behind her.
"What was that?" She panted. "Westridge?" Had he paid someone while in custody and put a hit out on them? It would be just like the sleazebag and his corporation to come after her. Afterall, she and her sister did expose him and his company to the authorizes and both he and his board were warming jail cells now.
"No." He pulled back slightly to look at her. His frown deepened, but didn't move. "If it had been anyone he paid, they'd have used a scope and not missed. This was an amateur."
Someone was trying to kill her? "Great. Who have I pissed off now?" Or were the shots for Tommy? That thought made her throat dry.
"Don't know. But I intend to find out." He pushed up to stand. "Stay here."
Like she'd obey when someone just tried to kill one of them.