I’ve got a little tradition over on my Facebook page where I post updates on Wednesdays about my Work In Progress (WIP). Today, I’ve got an excerpt to share so I’m putting it here! This excerpt is hot off the pages of Out of Step (Grant Wolves Book 2). It’s really hard to find passages from this book to share that aren’t spoilerific. I hope you enjoy this one.
The gym was blissfully empty when Joey stepped inside. The scent of old sweat, disinfectant and canvas tickled her nostrils as she walked over to the supply cabinet and retrieved the hand wraps. It’d been years since Sam taught her how to do it, and her fingers fumbled with the wraps until she gave up and flung the strips of white fabric on the floor. She didn’t really need the padding, did she? She’d heal. Besides, what was a little physical discomfort compared to the ache in her chest?
Joey approached the punching bag and brought her fists up. The smack of her knuckles against the bag was satisfying, but it barely moved. This was a special bag, reinforced to handle the heavy blows of supernaturally strong arms. She punched it again and again, even kicked it a few times, venting some of her overwhelming emotions. A few tears slid down her cheeks, unbidden and barely noticed. Her knuckles started to ache, but she pushed the pain aside. Each punch was both punishment and salvation.
“Wow, whoever’s face is on that bag is in a world of hurt.”
Joey whirled to find Ben standing nearby in workout attire, his toned arms folded across his chest. She hadn’t even heard him come in, wasn’t even sure how long she’d been going at it.
“You don’t know the half of it,” she said, flexing her aching hands. Her knuckles were bruised, scraped and bloody, but the skin was already tingling as it healed.
Her brother’s eyes lowered. He walked toward her for a closer look and whistled low. “Damn, girl. Anything you want to talk about?”
“No.” Joey’s answer was swift and firm. “Did you want some time with the bag?”
“Ha! No. I’m not getting in between you and… whatever this is. But if you want someone to hold the bag, I’m here.”
Joey considered it, then shrugged. “How about giving me a few pointers?”
He smiled and nodded, but the concern didn’t leave his eyes. Of all her brothers, Ben was the most empathetic. Normally, he was also the easiest to talk to but she didn’t want to talk to him about this. She didn’t want to talk to anyone about this. Just thinking about it made her chest tight.
“Let’s get you cleaned up and wrapped first,” Ben said.
Joey ducked into the bathroom to wash her hands, then let Ben wrap them for her before they approached the bag once more. Ben gave it a quick wipe down, then draped the bloodstained towel over one shoulder.
“Okay, slugger. Fists up, elbows down. Dominant hand in back. There you go, perfect. Your stance is really good, have you done this before?”
“Sam gave me a few lessons before I moved out,” Joey said. She remembered the body positioning better than anything else—she was a dancer, after all.
“That explains it.” He moved behind the bag and leaned one shoulder into it. “Okay, remember to start from a relaxed position. Exhale as you punch and tighten your fist and body when it hits the bag.”
Joey did as instructed, wincing as her battered hand impacted with the weighted bag. The wraps did help, at least. She tried a few more jabs, correcting her arms or feet movements according to Ben’s advice. The lesson proved a better distraction than her frustrated amateur poundings. It gave her something to focus her mind on as well as her body.
By the time her ringing phone interrupted the lesson, she’d worked up a sweat. Her fingers had difficulty extracting her phone from her pocket with the wrap still snug around her knuckles, but she managed to fish it out before it stopped ringing. She glimpsed Dean’s name on the display as she swiped her thumb to answer.
“I’ve totally been meaning to call you,” she said, right off the bat.
“Aw shucks, I’ve been on your mind? I’m flattered. Is this a bad time? You sound winded.” The familiar cadence of his voice brought back memories of their time together, working to free Chris’s spirit from bondage on the astral plane.
“I’m at the gym. Anyway, I still need to pay you, but also… I’ve got news for you. I can’t really get into it on the phone. Can you come over?”
“Your place your your parents’?”
“This isn’t just some ploy to get me where your mom can intimidate me some more, is it? Mum’s the word, I swear.” Dean had been rather roughly exposed to the family secret while under her employ, something Adelaide didn’t take lightly.
Joey rolled her eyes and ambled toward the water cooler. “I can intimidate you just fine on my own, thanks. But seriously, strictly a social visit. Aside from the payoff anyway.”
“Alright, alright. I’m meeting a client over dinner, but I can swing by afterward. Around eight?”
“That’ll work. I’ll see you then.”
Joey hung up and stuffed her phone in her pocket again after goodbyes were said, then filled a paper cup with water.
“Dean?” Ben asked. He’d begun taking a few bare-fisted swings at the bag while she was on the phone.
She turned to give him a quizzical look. “How’d you know?”
Her brother shrugged. “Context.”
“Ah.” Joey downed the water and tossed the cup into the trash, then strode back over to the bag. She smacked her fist lightly against her palm. “Okay, ready for round two.”
You’ve read book one, right? If not, grab a copy and get ready for the electrifying sequel you won’t want to miss!