At a boxing gym in Chicago, Mary Monahan accidentally knocks out the most handsome man she’s ever met. After she wakes him up with a few slaps and some smelling salts, the very first thing he does is ask her out for ribs and beer. His name is Jimmy. He looks like a Gillette model. And he’s just too hunky to resist.
Jimmy “The Falcon” Falconi is mystified that Mary has absolutely no idea who he is. Mystified and refreshed. He is, after all, not your everyday NFL quarterback. He shops at Costco, has a soft spot for Pinterest, and is in the midst of an epic losing streak.
Jimmy falls for Mary fast and hard, the way he does everything—balls out and like it’s fourth and long. And he realizes he’s finally met his match. That stamina he’s so proud of? Doesn’t stand a chance against her Kegels.
But what they don’t know is she’s also his new physical therapist, recently hired by the Bears to work on his rotator cuff…and groin injury. If she can’t help him, he’ll be traded faster than they can say “offensive penetration.”
In spite of the thousands of internet memes featuring Jimmy’s face with captions like: “HEY GIRL, WANT TO TOUCH MY BALLS?” Mary finds herself falling for him and his unrelenting desire to make her his.
Until a toddler shows up at Jimmy’s door.
And throws their lives into total chaos.
To the reader: Contents includes love, sweetness, naughtiness, honey, champagne, and an HEA. Safe.
Joe Namath said it: “When you win, nothing hurts.”
And I might be flat on my back with a headache like I just sucked down a smoothie too fast, but I’m fucking winning. Because look at that goddamned face. Fucking gorgeous. Freckles, those lips. Everything. Her body is hella hot, but that face. That face seals it.
Also, those tits. I groan and pretend I’m rubbing my temples. Actually, I’m looking at the curve of her stomach—the crease across her belly button. The edge of the tattoo just wraps around her side, accentuating the line of her waist. God, yes.
“I’m so sorry,” she says. “I’m not allowed to fight my own weight class anymore, but I thought you’d be able to take it.”
“Oh no.” She puts her hand to her mouth. “I mean…sorry. Just…I’m really sorry.”
I know she’s lying. She’s probably left a trail of unconscious guys from here to wherever she came from, but I’m not proud. I’ll be the next man in line. I sure fucking will. “What do you weigh? A buck fifty? And you knocked me out like that?”
“One fifty-seven!” The way she says it, she’s proud of it, and I love that. A buck fifty-seven. Sold.
“You can hit.” I explore the damage with my tongue. The hot, metallic taste of blood fills my mouth, and my saliva stings the cut on my bottom lip.
I glance around. Nobody’s paying any attention at all. Further proof that she’s done this before.
“Sorry. I wasn’t even thinking. Let me…” She dabs at my lip with a washcloth. I can smell the sweat, the salt, the heat. The sharp lingering smell of ammonia in my nostrils. A drop of her sweat runs down off her neck and lands on my chest with a plop.
She takes my face in her wrapped hands, looking from eye to eye. “I don’t think you’re concussed.”
Okay, so I know I’m not—I don’t know much, but I do know a concussion when I get one—but I’m going to go along with it because I need her to stay exactly like that. “Might be.” I follow her eyes with mine. “Head trauma can be very complicated.”
Slowly, a smile creeps up across her face, and a little dimple crimps her cheek. But she bites it back. “Your pupils look normal.”
Coconut. I can smell it. Definitely coconut. Good thing I’m already flat on my back. She holds up one finger and moves it to and fro in front of my eyes. I don’t follow it. I leave my eyes right there, on this fleck of brown in her left iris.
“If you can’t follow my finger, I think we have to call 911…”
I sniff, the ammonia still stinging my sinuses. “If I let you knock me out again, can I get you to keep doing this all night?”
She pouts and makes a fist of her wrapped hand. “Let me? Let me knock you out?”
“Oh yeah. Let you.”
She cocks her head, her eyes saying, Bullshit!
“Fuck, yes, I took the fall. Sometimes you got to throw the fight to get what you want.”
She lets go of my face, and my head lands in her lap. The curve of her thigh supports my neck. She gives me that look again, the one she gave me right before the lights went out. “Yeah? And what do you want?”
“I think you know.” I let my stare fall to her cleavage.
She presses her lips together, like she cannot believe I just said that.
Booyah. Now who’s on her heels?
I rip off the Velcro cuff from the glove on my right hand and shake it off. “I’m Jimmy.” I hold out my hand to her. She shakes it softly, and then her grip tightens and she pulls me up to a sitting position in the middle of the ring. She keeps her right hand knitted in mine, thumb over thumb, and gently supports my back with the other. “I really am sorry about that.”
“I’ll deny it forever.”
“There were witnesses.” She glances over her shoulder at the assorted groups of guys around the gym.
“Are you familiar with the down-low?”
“They took pictures. For the Knockout Wall,” she says, grinning.
Fuckers. Great. Just great. JIMMY FALCONI KNOCKED OUT BY GIRL IN PINK GLOVES. I can see it on Bleacherreport.com right now. “Polaroids burn super easy.”
Now she’s really smiling, and fuck is she pretty. Like, drop-dead gorgeous. The knockout with the knockout punch. “I’m glad you’re okay. If you never woke up, that would have been a lot of paperwork.”
I grunt-laugh, which also hurts because of that one-two-three combination to my spleen earlier. I grab my stomach and flop back down on the mat.
“Let me die with dignity.”
She gets stern. “Ten-four. We’ll remember you fondly.” And then she salutes me.
All this and she’s funny?
Alright, Falconi. Time to head for the end zone. Time to bring the Super Bowl ring home. “Fine. I’ll give you the win if you let me buy you dinner.”
Her eyes move over my face. “Dinner? There’s a blizzard coming. Also, you might need a stitch for that lip.”
“No way. I’ll get some superglue. Fuck the blizzard. Come out with me.”
I study that hollow at the base of her throat and then meet her eyes to hold her stare. “Dinner and drinks.”
She stands and offers me a wrapped hand. Toe to toe, she sizes me up like we’re locked in some full-body arm-wrestling match. Christ.
But she still hasn’t said, “Don’t you play for the…” like everybody else always does. So I ask, “You like any other sports besides knocking totally unsuspecting strangers unconscious? Like maybe…football?”
I hold the ropes open for her and she steps through. Goddamn, those hips. That skin. The curve of her waist. The petals of the lace that barely touch her spine. And my mind kind of unravels in imagining where that tattoo goes and how sexy that ink must be on the skin of her ass.
“Nope. Is that a problem?” she asks. “That I wouldn’t know my touchdown from my…whatever? Going to put a cramp in our conversation, champ?”
“No problem at all.” Doesn’t matter if she knows me or not, because pretty quick here, I’m planning to have her saying my name. Over and over again.
Nicola Rendell writes dirty, funny, erotic romance. She likes a stiff drink and a well-frosted cake. She is at an unnamed Ivy and prefers to remain mostly anonymous for professional reasons. She has a PhD in English and an MFA in Creative Writing from schools that shall not be named here. She loves to cook, sew, and play the piano. She realizes that her hobbies might make her sound like an old lady and she’s totally okay with that. She lives with her husband and her dogs. She is from Taos, New Mexico.