X-Treme Loves Series, Book 3
Welcome back Dana Di Grazio. You fell in love with her in Extreme Risk. Now it’s time to tell her story.
Dana Di Grazio is fearless and feisty, but struggling to find her purpose in life. Hiding behind a hardened exterior, she’s erected walls to protect herself from the devastating losses of her past. When thrust into the role of caretaker for pro motocross rider, Peter Fontenot, she must sacrifice her own boundaries in order to care for him. Fear soon sets in when Dana realizes Peter may be the first man capable of breaking down her walls.
When a motorcycle accident forces extreme sports champion, Peter Fontenot to rely on a foul-mouthed, Italian spitfire, he’s surprised to find himself drawn to someone so crass and ill-suited. Suddenly, Peter must rethink the expectations of his well-planned life. Dana is the one thing he doesn’t want, but the only thing he can’t live without.
Can the spark between two opposites create a lasting fire? Or will it detonate an explosion that leaves them both alone…forever.
Extreme Sacrifice is not a stand-alone book. Find out the dramatic conclusion to part 1 of Peter and Dana’s story in Extreme Trust, X-Treme Love Series, Book 4, available now.
Read an Excerpt
I barely recognized the once dilapidated warehouse as I entered the skating venue, located on Austin’s east side of town. The area wasn’t exactly the safest for a single gal like me, but I wasn’t going to let that stop me.
This was the first time our city had hosted the X Games and people were coming out for the event like dollar bills at a titty bar. Most of these idiots didn’t know shit about extreme sports. They were only here for the cameras. My reasons to brave this crazy-ass crowd ran deeper than the event itself though.
My good friend Leif Jennings had done an amazing job refurbishing the space into an extreme skate park. Leif’s company, Fly by Nite Skate Park Development, won the bid to design this year’s skateboarding venue. It was really a no-brainer—he lived here, he employed people from here, and he was the best at his craft.
“Dana!” someone shouted from down below. I turned my head toward the familiar voice that had been a part of my life for over twenty years, ever since Ms. Alferia had paired us up as badminton partners in second grade. As our eyes connected, we both traveled back in time, turning seven all over again—jumping up and down, and squealing like we hadn’t seen each other in ages. I flew down the stairs in double-time, nearly tripping over myself to get to her.
“Hindley!” I screamed as I wrapped her in my arms.
Hindley Hagen was my best friend. Well, now her name was Hindley Gregor since marrying Leif’s best friend, pro skateboarder Rory Gregor. Hindley and I had been inseparable since elementary school, done everything together our entire lives, and we held no secrets.
Well, almost none.
“Oh, my God, I can’t believe you’re here!” I yelled, holding on to her like the security blanket she’d always been for me. “I’ve missed you so much.”
“We’ve missed you too,” she whispered.
“Oww!” I shouted as a searing pain shot through my scalp. The familiar tug on my hair was an instant reminder of the bundle of joy I really wanted to see, the reason I’d braved the crowds. I leaned back to gaze at the most amazing face I’d ever seen. Her bright blue eyes, blonde ringlet hair, pouty, rose-tinted lips and chubby cheeks were my reward. I didn’t want to admit it, but she looked a lot like her daddy, and acted like him too. There was no denying it. This little creature belonged to my best friend and her husband, and I loved her every bit as much as they did.
“Hey, Squirt,” I teased as Hindley’s daughter, Abbi, giggled in devilish joy. Hindley and I couldn’t help but join in.
“Don’t encourage her,” Hindley admonished.
“Who, me? Auntie Dana, encourage my niece’s unruly behavior? What in the world would ever make you believe I could do such a thing?” Hindley stared at me for a nanosecond before we both burst into laughter.
“Come here, Abbi Wabbi,” I cooed, yanking her out of Hindley’s arms. “Who loves their Auntie Dana?” I asked in my most genuine baby talk. Usually I made fun of dumbasses who talked to babies like that, but when it came to Abbi, I willingly tossed out every ounce of self-respect.
“Meh, meh, meh!” Abbi replied. I lifted the toddler high in the air, placing bubbly kisses along the exposed skin of her belly. Her laughter filled the air and was just as infectious as her mother’s. God, I missed Hindley and Rory and their beautiful baby girl, Abigail Adele. She’d been named after me, both of us sharing the same middle name as my mother. Everyone called her Abbi though since the day she was born.
“I can’t believe how big she is.” It always amazed me how much Abbi had changed every time I saw her.
“She’s almost sixteen months now and has eight teeth,” Hindley proudly announced.
I’d always wondered why new moms gave the age of their kid in weeks and months, instead of years like the rest of us. And why had milestones like how many teeth they had, how many hours they slept consistently through the night, or if they were pissing and pooping in a toilet, suddenly become major news stories? Hindley was my best friend though and I loved every morsel of information she offered me about anything related to my precious Abbi.
“Show Aunt Dana all your teeth, big girl,” Hindley encouraged her baby. Abbi locked her lips and shook her head and I couldn’t help but laugh at her reaction. If Abbi didn’t want to do something, she wasn’t going to do it, just like her momma.
“You don’t want to show Auntie Dana your teeth?” I sulked in the most pathetic voice I could muster, hoping to coax her. There was no way Abbi was going to show me her array of teeth, no matter how much I pouted. I’d have to try another approach if I wanted to see her new pearly whites.
“Well, if you had teeth, I was going to take you downstairs and get you some nachos, but…” Suddenly, Abbi clapped her pudgy hands together and squealed in anticipation, folding her arms around my neck like we were magnetized.
“Well, I guess we know what she’s motivated by.” Hindley smirked.
“Like mother, like daughter, apparently.”
“You know she can’t eat nachos, right?”
“I’ll let the cheese soak ’em until they’re good and soggy, won’t I, Abbi?” I poked my finger in her belly, tickling her relentlessly.
I had no idea you could love something or someone as much as I did Abbi. Right from the start, I’d worshiped the little squirt. If she wanted it, I got it for her, no questions asked. That’s what aunts were for, right?
Hindley and Rory were on the road so much with his skating, I didn’t get to spend nearly enough time with Abbi. I had to take every opportunity I could to spoil her rotten. Thanks to webcams and mobile chatting, I never went more than a few days without seeing her precious face.
Rory and Hindley lived in California, but rarely stayed there. Rory was constantly on the road, competing in extreme sports competitions around the world. After they discovered Hindley was pregnant, they started flying back to Austin at least once a month, wanting to spend time with family and friends and keep a watchful eye on Rory’s youth center.
The facility, Shelly’s Hangout, was named in memory of Rory’s sister who’d died of a drug overdose as a teenager. The center helped at-risk youth get the tutoring, counseling and playtime they needed in a fun, nurturing and safe environment. It was equipped with large classrooms and an amazing skatepark designed by Leif. I even volunteered there from time to time.
The entire project had been Rory’s idea, brought on by his own struggles with illiteracy as an adult. The facility was such a huge success that the City of Austin actually asked Rory and Hindley to work in a joint venture with them to develop other centers around town. It was a major accomplishment for Rory and a testament to how far he’d come in such a short amount of time. He said he owed all of his success, whether in the classroom or on the track, to his beautiful wife, Hindley. They were inseparable, and although I was so gloriously happy for the two of them, I’d be lying if I didn’t confess I was a little jealous too.
When Hindley’s pregnancy progressed to the point where she could no longer travel, she and Rory decided to stay in Austin until the baby was born so she could be around her family, which included me. Before I could even bat an eye, they were back on the road again with infant Abbi in tow. Rory said there was no way he’d leave either one of them behind, and Hindley said there was no way she’d ever stop him from competing. As long as they were all together, they were happy, and that made me happy, even though I missed them all terribly.
Sometimes, it hurt that Hindley had moved on without me. But then other times, like these, when I could revel in all that was Abbi and spend time spoiling her, I forgot about my own desolate future.
Since Leif lived in Austin full-time, his parents, Kara and Jack Jennings, decided to trade in the cool mountain air of Denver for the stifling heat of Austin. They wanted to be closer not only to Leif but to Rory as well. Kara and Jack had basically adopted Rory at the age of sixteen when they found him living alone in a skatepark, a scared and abandoned teenager.
I also think Kara and Jack moved here because they secretly hoped Leif and I would someday tie the knot and have a shitload of kids, but that was never going to happen.
Leif was my best friend, second only to Hindley, and I loved him dearly. Everyone wanted Leif and me to become romantically involved and that only made our decision to remain just friends even harder for people to understand as they tried to push us together.
Leif was everything to me, but it had never been like that for us. We tried to tell everyone but no one ever listened. Instead, they were insistent that one day we’d realize our friendship had blossomed into something much stronger. They were so fuckin’ clueless. I could have assured them that day would never happen, but that was Leif’s story and was best kept close to my heart.
“Ready, Squirt?” I asked Abbi as I bounced her on my hip. She nodded enthusiastically. “Let’s go. See ya, Momma!” I shouted over my shoulder, giving Hindley no opportunity to resist the kidnapping of her daughter.
I half jogged down the ramp toward the concession stand, watching Abbi’s beautiful blonde ringlets bounce with every step, her giggles echoing throughout the vast underground cavern.
Rory’s first event wasn’t scheduled for another few hours, but already, the crowds were growing. Since the X Games was an international event, everyone was primping and priming, getting ready for the cameras. Normally, the crowd wouldn’t have affected me that much. But now it meant the lines at the concession stand were longer and that made people more unruly than usual. Abbi would turn irritable and impatient if we didn’t get nachos quick, and I knew those two things combined would turn lethal for me and those around us.
“You’re just like your daddy, you know that, Squirt?”
“That’s right. He’s your daddy, isn’t he?” She bobbed her head in silent jubilee. Abbi adored Rory. And he was such a wonderful father. I laughed, remembering him as he blubbered and cried the minute they placed Abbi in his arms. Rory was a natural, his fatherly instincts kicking in the second Abbi was born, and it hurt me that he’d ever doubted his own parental abilities. Hindley and Rory had overcome so many obstacles. Knowing their lives were so full now, after going through such turmoil in the beginning of their relationship, brought immeasurable joy to my heart. It also brought out the green-eyed monster in me a little too. A little? Girl, you’re a lotta green-eyed jealous.
“Dah-nah,” Abbi called out to me in distress, stroking my face with her pudgy hand, her gentle act bringing me back to the present and reminding me of the good things in my life.
“Oh, my God, I can’t believe you just said my name.” I grinned. She slid her chubby little arms around my neck and nestled into my shoulder as I inhaled her delicious baby scent.
I rubbed Abbi’s back, working my way up through her curly locks. “I love you, little Squirt,” I whispered in her ear. One of her hands slowly slipped down my back as she began to rhythmically pat me. This was exactly what I needed, unconditional love from the little girl who’d captured my heart the instant she was born.
“What can I get you two pretty ladies?” The attendant’s voice rang out from behind the counter, breaking our moment.
“One order of large nachos, please.”
“Yah!” Abbi clapped.
“Anything to drink, hun?”
I turned my attention to Abbi. I’m sure Hindley packed some type of nutritious, kiddie fruit drink shit for Abbi, but it was my turn to spoil my niece. “Whatcha want, Squirt?” She looked at me with the most adorable frown. “What do you have?” I asked the attendant.
“For the little lady there,” he said, looking over at Abbi, “we’ve got Sprite, Coke, Dr. Pepper and Hi-C Fruit Punch.”
“See, see, see!” Abbi exclaimed. We both started laughing at her enthusiasm.
“Hi-C it is, I guess,” I answered. He filled a small cup and secured it with a lid, pointing toward the side of the counter.
“Straws and napkins are right over there, ladies,” he instructed, giving Abbi a wink as she took the cup in her hands. “And for you, Momma?” he asked.
“Oh, thank you, but I’m not her mom,” I corrected. “I’m not anyone’s mom at all, actually.” The words rang through my soul with an echo of finality so sharp, my breath caught as my heart spasmed in pain. “I don’t think her momma would ever agree to Hi-C Fruit Punch.” My nervous laughter gave me away. “I’m actually her aunt. Well, not by blood, but still.” Why did I suddenly feel the need to explain my relationship to this guy? Shut up, just shut the fuck up, please.
“Well then, what will it be for you, sweet Auntie?”
“What do you have on tap?” I asked. My nerves were beginning to get the best of me already and I knew alcohol would cure what ailed me, even if it was only temporary.
“Let’s see,” he answered, turning around to look at the choices. “We’ve got Bud, Bud Light, Miller Light, Coors Light and Heineken.” I laughed to myself. Leave it to Texas to carry all domestics and one lone German brew.
“’Fraid not, sweetheart.”
“All right, give me a Heineken, please.”
“One Heineken, comin’ up. I’ll just need to see some I.D.”
Oh, shit. I’d left my purse back with Hindley, only shoving money in my pocket, not my I.D. I looked back at the line that was now twenty people deep.
“Nah-toe, nah-toe,” Abbi begged. Well, fuck! There was no way I could hold up the line to run back to the grandstands. Abbi would have a shit-fit.
“She’s cool,” a deep, rich voice rang out beside me. The hair on my arms stood on high alert as my raw, animal desire kicked in. I turned my face to see who was speaking, not at all surprised to find a man whose very presence screamed Sex-on-a-Stick.
He was tall, but then who wasn’t compared to me? I was only five-foot-one on my best day. His hair was jet black and wavy, like mine, but cut short so the natural curls were barely visible, unless you gawked at him like I was currently. He had a strong jaw littered with stubble that you knew he kept just for effect, and it was working. The gray T-shirt he wore was semi-loose, but underneath I could make out a buff chest, rock hard, with biceps that stretched the sleeves to their max. His jeans were black and form fitting, but not skin tight like those stupid skinny jeans pop singers wore. Even though he hadn’t put much effort into the ensemble, he still looked like a model that had just stepped out of a GQ Magazine.
Every part of him was sexy as hell and the buzzing between my legs made me realize it had been way too long since I’d had sex.
Everything about this creature was deliciously enticing, but it was his eyes that really captured my attention. They were each a different color, and at that moment, locked on mine. At first, I was thankful because it gave me the opportunity to study them without looking like an obsessed psycho. One eye was hazel green with golden bursts shooting out from the center, the other a dark blue with chocolate brown flakes scattered around the pupil. I’d never seen eyes so foreboding, yet so cordial and soothing, all at the same time. I could sense from the glow deep within their unique colors, a connection of kindred spirits that mesmerized me in a way that should have sent me running for the exit.
“Nah-toes! Nah-toes!” Abbi cried again, waking me from my lurid thoughts.
“All right already, Squirt. Um, forget the Heineken,” I offered up to the attendant, but it was too late. A clear plastic cup was sitting next to the nachos filled with a familiar amber liquid. “I thought you needed my I.D.?”
He nodded toward the mystery man. “If Pete says you’re good, I believe him.”
Pete? Who the fuck was Pete and why was his word golden?
I turned to face this mystery man, who, with two words, had approved my request for alcoholic refreshment, afraid that my mouth may drop open at his raw beauty. “Uh, thanks, I guess,” I said, trying to avoid direct eye contact at all costs.
“Need a holder?” the attendant asked, waving to the drinks and nachos. I’d completely forgotten only one of my arms would be free while holding Abbi. How the hell was I going to carry all of this shit and her too?
“I have it,” Mystery Man offered, reaching over me to take my beer in one hand and the nachos in the other.
God, his scent was divine, a sensual mix of the outdoors, hickory smoke and honey. What the fuck kind of combination is that? Sounds like an ad for barbecue sauce. Well, he was definitely a condiment I’d love to dip myself into.
“Don’t you need to order?” I asked, trying to avoid his face.
“Pee-tah, Pee-tah,” Abbi cried out, reaching for Mystery Man, nearly falling out of my arms.
“Nachos or Abbi?” he asked me, as if I had an imminent choice to make. God, his voice was just too sexy to be legal. His eyes remained fixed on mine, awaiting my decision.
“How do you know Abbi?” I asked, still overwhelmed by all my senses, which were on complete overload. I mean, come on—his scent, his voice, his face, his eyes. Shit!
Without answering my question, he set my beer and nachos down and slid his large man-hands under Abbi’s arms, scooping her up from my grasp and shaking her high above his head, the shrill of her laughter ringing through the basement of the stadium. His face transformed from sultry and mysterious to jovial and playful in a nanosecond, his lips curving up into a smile revealing teeth so white they could light up the entire arena.
Holy fuck, this dude was hot. I couldn’t remember being this instantly attracted to anyone ever. I thought that only happened in those sappy-assed romance movies. Snap out of your lust-filled erotic fantasy. This asshat just took your baby girl right out of your hands and you have absolutely no idea who he is.
The momma bear in me erupted as I reached up, trying to take Abbi back from his death-like grip. Who was I kidding? The man was a giant, and with Abbi held up so high in the air, it would have taken a fire-engine ladder for me to reach her.
“Give her to me,” I commanded, but he remained unfazed by my demand. “Now!” I shouted, listening as my own voice echoed like a shotgun, causing the entire concessions line to snap their heads toward us.
Immediately, Mystery Man brought Abbi down, but refused to surrender her to me. Instead, he held her close to his chest, his face wrinkled with disappointment because I’d interrupted their playtime. I shoved my hands out toward Abbi, but she shook her head and curled up in a tight ball, hiding her face in his neck. I envied the little shit for being so close to this dude, but he was really starting to piss me off. “Abbi, come on,” I tried to coax. “Mommy will be worried.”
“Pee-tah go,” she argued, pointing back to the arena.
“Looks like you’re stuck with the nachos and drinks,” Mr. Sex-on-a-Stick said, his smug laughter surprising me. The sound should have infuriated me, but instead, it made my body burn and the juncture of my legs throb. Fuck! Not now, Di Grazio, this is your baby, for Christ’s sake. Go get that motherfucker. Before I could think straight, he was halfway up the ramp to the arena and I had to run to catch up with his long strides.
“Miss, don’t forget your food!” the attendant hollered.
I dashed back to the concession stand, scooping up the food and drinks. “Wait!” I shouted, turning around to chase after the sexy man-devil who’d just kidnapped my baby. Instead I ran smack dab into a lean, hard body and I gasped in shock as the beer splashed all over both of us. It was Mystery Man
“Shit!” I shouted.
“Shit!” Abbi repeated with perfect clarity. Oh, double shit! Hindley was gonna kill me if she ever heard Abbi say that. What the hell are you worrying about? Her dad’s favorite word is fuck. It was probably the first word she learned. I howled at the thought of Abbi screaming ‘fuck’ and Hindley having a field day ripping Rory a new asshole.
“Is spilling beer all over me funny to you?” Mystery Man’s voice was low and irritated, any trace of playfulness gone. What? Was he serious?
“Fuck you, asshole, you’re the one who stole my baby,” I spewed, my eyes colliding with his in a myriad of emotions as his face contorted and he lurched back in disgust. I knew I should have chosen better language being in public and in front of Abbi, but this fuckwad deserved it. He was the one that ripped Abbi out of my hands and then planted his beast of a body in front of me.
After staring into his hypnotic eyes for what seemed like an eternity, I drew my attention away from his face, his features morphed into shock from my outburst. My eyes landed squarely on his shirt, which was soaking wet and solidly stuck to his abs. His body underneath was just as I’d envisioned, rock hard and all man. The dude lit my crotch on fire without even striking one match. Now I felt like the asshole.
“Sorry,” I whispered, trying to save my own ego.
“It’s all right,” he said smugly, tugging at his shirt and fanning it in the air, trying to help dry the stain. This guy was obviously not used to such sordid language. What are you talking about? The dude’s an X Games competitor. He knows Rory fucking Gregor. It was true, he probably was used to foul-mouthed dudes, but not chicks. Oh well, welcome to the world of Dana Di Grazio.
After I’d taken in my fill of this sexy hunk of a man, my eyes focused on my own shirt, horrified to discover my chest completely soaked and my nipples hard pebbles. I reached to cover my boobs, turning another shade of red at the realization that my hands were full, one holding nachos and the other a half-empty cup of beer. I had no way to cover my protruding nipples. Shit! Be cool, maybe he didn’t even notice.
Slowly, I lifted my head, not surprised to find his eyes fixated on my shirt, his gaze lingering on my puckered nipples. I wanted to die of embarrassment right there on the spot. Or maybe it’s the most aroused you’ve been in a long time. His eyes lifted, connecting with mine, and I drew in a sharp breath as the burning hunger within him spread through my body like a nuclear reaction. He was just as needy for me, no matter how disgusted he’d been by my earlier outburst. His focused eyes and flared nostrils left no doubt in my mind.
“We better get you back to Mommy.” Mystery Man broke the silence, shaking Abbi out in front of him, her infectious giggles reverberating through the underground area.
My eyes settled in on his plump ass as it sauntered up the ramp, leading us back to the skate park. The view from behind was every bit as delicious as the one from the front and I knew I was in trouble. Deep trouble. Read more…