Release Date: September 17, 2014
Publisher: Sweet Cravings Publishing (www.sweetcravingspublishing.com)
Genre: Contemporary/Sports/Sweet Romance Novel
MMA Bad Boy Rico Choate falls for Avery, a deaf Marine – but will she stick around when she learns of his career in the octagon?
Rico Choate is a MMA bad boy with a love them and leave them attitude. That is until he meets Avery Walker, a deaf Marine who lost her hearing when her transport is destroyed in an I.E.D explosion in Afghanistan. He falls hard for her, even learning sign language from his friend, Chloe, so he can talk to her. However, Avery’s hatred for all celebrities forces Rico to keep his career in mixed martial arts a secret. How long can he keep such huge parts of his life separate? And if she does find out will she leave him or put her stubborn pride aside to stay with the man she loves?
The next day didn’t fare much better for Rico. Another late shipment meant another afternoon arriving late at the gym. Fortunately, there was no class for him to teach. It was just a night to work out and answer questions, if need be. And it was the last day he needed to worry. By noon tomorrow, Max would be home and back at the helm of his own ship.
At the off ramp red light Rico noticed a text message. He clicked to open it.
Can you pick me up a cup of coffee on your way here?
Rico sighed. Now I’m Chloe’s delivery service? I didn’t agree to this. He quickly typed on the screen.
He waited for a response. As the light turned green, his phone chimed. He glanced at it before the traffic moved.
That cute coffee shop down the road. Thank you.
Rico sighed as he tossed his cell on the passenger seat. Driving past the gym with a growl, he didn’t stop until he reached the strip mall.
He stepped into the small shop with a gleaming smile. He glanced around. The dark stained shelves were lined with mugs, bags of coffee, and other trinkets. Another set of shelves was lined with books for patrons to read. Sofas and overstuffed recliners were scattered among the tables with mismatched chairs. Sitting on those chairs and sofas were lovely ladies already cooing at his presence. He laughed. I might just have to get a date or two before I leave.
Rico sauntered to the counter, where a tall, lanky redhead waited to take his order. After paying for a cup of coffee, he stepped back, winking at a girl sipping on a glass of iced tea. His eyes raked over her as she giggled. He grinned then glanced up behind the counter again.
He lost his breath. He felt his pulse pick up a notch. The last thing on earth he believed in was love at first sight. But in this moment, he was a true convert.
The barista barely came to his chest. Her long, blonde hair wisped in curls around her shoulders. Her frame was small, with perfect curves in all the right places. Her lips were a soft, very kissable pink. And when she looked up at him to hand him his drink, her eyes glittered a clear, crystal blue. She smiled then turned to fulfill the next order.
She never said one word to him. Him. Rico Choate. MMA superstar Rico Choate. His picture was on posters, in magazines.
And she didn’t say one word.
He was baffled. He gripped the coffee and rushed out the door. It wasn’t until he parked his Jeep at Hard Drive that he realized he hadn’t gotten one number, not from any of the women in the shop.
He rubbed his forehead, puzzled. He didn’t want any number. He just wanted the barista’s. But for the first time in his life, a woman wasn’t interested in him. He was still shaking his head when he strode into gym and plopped the paper cup down in front of an equally perplexed Chloe. Before she could even utter a syllable, he stormed out of her office and onto the mats.
Rico spent the rest of the afternoon working the speed and punching bags, hoping for a little bit of relief from his memory of the barista. He couldn’t get her out of his head. After a couple of hours, he couldn’t take it anymore. He jogged up the steps two at a time then ducked his head into the office.
“Need another cup of coffee?” he volunteered.
Chloe lifted up the empty cup. “I just finished this one. I’m—”
“Another cup coming right up.” Before Chloe could object, he was down the stairs and out the door. He hopped in the front seat of the Jeep, fired it on, and sped away. He brushed his fingers through his thick, brown hair as he waited at the lone stop light that separated Hard Drive from the coffee shop. He glanced at his reflection in the rearview mirror.
Then, he checked again. Yes, he looked incredible. The barista may have been able to blow him off before. She certainly wouldn’t miss him this time.
Rico stepped inside the cool, dimly lit store and glanced around. There were fewer people lounging than there were earlier. A couple of girls that had been there before waved in his direction. He ignored them as he approached the counter, frowning as he did so. The redhead greeted him with a goofy grin. “Need another jolt of java, bro?”
“Ummm…yeah.” Rico scanned behind the counter as he paid for the coffee. “Where’s the blonde who was here earlier?”
The redhead shot him a puzzled look. “Avery? You know her?”
“Not yet. But I’d like to.”
“Her shift is over. She’s heading to class. She just left to wait for the bus.” The barista handed him a paper cup. “Hey, aren’t you that MMA guy? I think I’ve seen you fight.”
“Yeah, probably.” Rico grabbed the drink and raced outside, never looking at the girls who now were vying for his attention. He searched up and down the sidewalk for the blonde barista. He picked up his pace again as his eyes landed on her standing at the corner, still dressed in her white blouse and khakis from the restaurant. A large, sky blue backpack nearly bursting at the seams was slung over her shoulder. She checked her watch as the bus crawled to a stop before her.
“Hey! Hey!” Rico shouted as she stepped on. She never turned, never acknowledged him. The door closed behind her, and the large beast chugged on its journey, leaving a dumbfounded Rico behind.
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Tricia Andersen lives in Iowa with her husband, Brian and her three children – her sons, Jake and Jon, and her daughter, Alex. She graduated from the University of Iowa with a Bachelor of Arts in English and from Kirkwood Community College with an Associate of Arts degree in Communications Media/Public Relations. Along with writing (which she loves to do), Tricia practices mixed martial arts, coaches and participates in track and field, reads, sews and is involved in many of her children’s activities.
Tricia is one of the hosts of the Blog Talk Radio show Freshly Booked, a part of Writers Online Network. She is also a member of the Romance Writers of America.