Breaking The Silence (Hard Drive Series #2)
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 ‘em and leave ‘em attitude. That is until he meets Avery Walker, a deaf Marine who lost her hearing when her transport was 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.
Avery has worked hard to overcome her deafness. She doesn’t need anyone’s sympathy. She’s living a perfectly normal life and has no time for celebrities who have everything handed to them on a silver platter.
Because of Avery’s pride, Rico to keep his career in mixed martial arts a secret. But how long can he keep such a huge part of his life separate from the woman he loves? And if she does find out, how will she react? Can Avery set her stubbornness aside, or will secrets and pride keep these two apart?
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.
The weekend finally arrived, but it was no break for Avery. She still had her early Saturday morning class to attend. She trudged down the steps wearily. Of all the times for the air conditioning to go out, this was the worst by far. The ninety-degree day seeped into the building, making the rooms hot and stagnant. Every last person in the classroom was drenched in sweat. Even for one class, it was unbearable.
Her face brightened as she stepped out the door and found Rico in his Jeep waiting for her. She nearly ran for the vehicle. Dropping her backpack on the floor, she climbed in beside him.
He looked at her concerned. Are you all right?
No air. I baked for the last hour.
Do you still want to do something?
Yes. You are the highlight of my day.
Where do you want to go?
Rico thought for a moment then grinned. I know the perfect place. But you are going to want to bundle up.
It is the middle of summer. Where are you taking me?
You will see.
Rico drove her home then waited in the Jeep for her to get clothes. Apparently, he wasn’t about to push his luck with Lindsay.
He then stopped at his place. Instead of having her wait in the car, he escorted her inside. His apartment was a loft in an old, renovated warehouse, complete with the freight elevators. It was sparsely decorated with a leather sofa and chair. It was the typical guy’s apartment.
There were several MMA magazines scattered on the end tables. He must really be into mixed martial arts.
It only took a moment for Rico to come out of his bedroom changed. Instead of the shorts and T-shirt he had worn before, he now had on a pair of jeans and a snug fitting Henley that accented his muscles. She swallowed back a moan. She hadn’t thought he could get any hotter.
He smiled. Ready?
Yes. Avery took his outstretched hand in hers. She waited as he locked the door then walked with him to the elevator.
Rico weaved from one interstate to the other until they were in Saint Paul. The entire time, he held her hand in his. He parked the car in front of a large, concrete building lined with windows.
Ice skating? she signed
He laughed. You wanted to be cool.
That is true. But I can’t do this.
He frowned. Why not?
I can’t ice skate.
You do not know how?
I do. When I was young, I was very good at it. But I cannot do it now.
Because you are deaf?
He smirked at her. I did not realize that you ice skate with your ears.
That is not funny, Rico.
Come on, Avery. We’ll have fun. I promise I will not let you fall.
She gazed at him as he grinned at her. Her eyes wandered over his chiseled physique. He certainly could keep his word. She sighed as she hopped out of the passenger seat and turned back to him. All right. Let’s go.
Absolutely! Rico jumped out with her and raced around the vehicle to take her hand. He pulled her close and wrapped his arm around her waist as they strolled in.
Rico paid their admission as Avery slipped into the restroom to change into her lightweight sweater and jeans. She watched his eyes wander over her head to toe as a smile spread across his face. He certainly seemed pleased. He took both pairs of skates the attendant offered before following her to a bench. Then, they tugged on their skates and, carefully stepping on the thick, black mat on the floor, they made their way out to the ice.
They skated around the rink laughing, sometimes hand in hand, sometimes trying awkwardly to race each other. Avery hadn’t been ice skating in years, not since she’d lost her hearing. It had ended up on the virtual list of activities she stubbornly believed she could no longer do. Rico had proved to her she could.
She gazed up to him as he smiled at her. He certainly was turning out to be her hero. Not that she needed one. She didn’t. But it was definitely nice to have one, just in case.
They were so wrapped up in each other, neither of them noticed the little boys that flew between them until it was too late. The last one hooked his skate with Avery’s. She was off her feet in a split second. She clenched her eyes in anticipation of the cold impact on her butt. Instead, two strong arms kept her from falling. Her eyes fluttered open, and she glanced around.
Rico had caught her just as he’d promised. Her eyes locked with his sapphire blue ones. She wanted to protest, to joke just how cliché this was. Here he was, cradling her in his arms after saving her from falling, his lips dangerously close to hers. They must have looked like they belonged on the front of a romance novel. But her breath caught in her throat as she clung to him, her gaze drifting to his mouth.
She gasped as he gathered her closer and softly kissed her. Her fingers buried into his hair as he deepened it, his lips parting hers as his tongue slowly grazed across her teeth then tangled with hers. Their eyes met for a moment as the kiss broke. Avery fought against her breath coming out in ragged gasps, but it was no use. So, that’s what kissing Rico Choate is like. It was light years better than she had imagined.
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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.