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He's given up on love...

Updated: Oct 23, 2022

She padded across the mats and stopped in front of me. I wanted to pull her to me. I wanted to feel her curves. I wanted her to feel what she did to me. Shifting a few steps back, I flexed my fingers to keep my hands and thoughts to myself.

I cleared my throat, realizing I hadn’t said anything. “Looks like you’re my only student. Ready to get started?”

“Sure.” Her tone was uncertain as if she didn’t trust herself alone with me.

We ran through the warm-ups. I held the paddle while she kicked it methodically. Her eyes focused on her form and the point where her heel struck the paddle. She’d tuned everything out. I was sure she needed the release karate gave her—a physical outlet and a way to de-stress. It was what brought me back to the sport a few years ago too.

“Do you want to practice your kicks?” Hadley asked, taking a step back, falling out of her fighting stance.

Usually, I didn’t participate in classes. I worked out on my own when everyone was gone and the studio silent. I preferred solitude when I worked out, but there was another reason. We weren’t matched strength-wise and I didn’t want to hurt her. “I use the bag after class.”

Hadley glanced at the red bag hanging in the back corner and shrugged. “You don’t have to today. I’m here.”

“You can show me your moves.” Something about the breathy way she said those words caused heat to gather in my limbs and my body.

“Alright.” My agreement was out of my mouth before I could think better of my decision. I handed her the paddle.

Her brow raised, she asked, “Are you going to show me what you can do?”

My eyes narrowed on her as I moved into my fighting stance, focusing on the paddle. I began my litany of kicks. She counted the repetitions as I reveled in the satisfying thud on the paddle. I dialed back my force slightly so that I wouldn’t hurt her.

Out of breath with sweat dripping down my back, I took a step back to recover.

“That was impressive.”

My hands were on my hips as I tried to take a deep breath. “Yeah?”

“Yeah, can you teach me to kick like that?”

“That’s why you’re here, right?” My eyes met hers. There was a challenge in her eyes combined with a spark of desire.

She was here to learn. I was here to teach, but these classes felt like we were dancing around our feelings. My body was primed for a workout. I wanted to take her to the mat, press my body over hers, and kiss her. I wanted raw fucking. Blood pounded in my head.

I took another step back, my breaths coming easier. I tried to focus on anything but the primal need flowing through my body. I couldn’t get the idea of touching her out of my head.

The bell over the door rang. Our heads swung in the direction of the sound. One of my regular Saturday students, Dean, came in. “Sorry I’m late. I overslept. Do you mind if I get a little work out in on the bag?”

“Of course not.” The moment was gone. The awareness between us dissipated with his arrival.

I forced my attention back to Hadley as Dean walked out onto the mats to warm-up.

Robotically, I went through a few defensive moves with Hadley, aware that there was another person in the room with us. I didn’t allow myself to dwell on the way her body felt in my arms the second before I’d grab her arm and she’d practice her moves against me. I didn’t focus on the smell of her hair or her soft skin. I kept my attention on the sound of Dean kicking the bag.

“Looks like it’s time.”

Hadley glanced at the clock. “Right. Thanks for inviting me to class. Always nice to be the only student. I get all the attention.”

“Right,” I managed to croak. She was the only student. She was here to learn karate and I was lusting after her like a teenage boy. I needed to get ahold of my feelings for her.

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