Bruiser:A FIGHT NIGHT Romance

By: Simone Scarlet
Part 1


Chapter One


“Yo, Mrs. Cassidy!”

With a groan, Ava Cassidy forced one eye open.

Looming above her, hook-nosed and handsome, was her kickboxing instructor, Ben.

“Mrs. Cassidy,” he repeated, apparently not remotely bothered that one of his clients was lying on the vinyl mats, practically comatose. “You’re good with accounts, right?”

Ava groaned.

That last hour-long class had literally kicked her butt. Her yoga pants and sports bra were plastered to her sweaty body. Her heart threatened to burst as it hammered away inside her chest. Each gasping breath she made had the coppery, metallic taste of blood in it.

“Bookkeeping, y’know?”

And yet despite her impending death, Benjamin Broderick was attempting to have a fucking conversation with her.

“B-ookkeeping?” Ava groaned, finally. She accepted the enormous, calloused hand Ben offered her, and let the big man haul her to her feet. “I used to be a bookkeeper – before the kids, and all that.”

Ava was swaying slightly from side to side, and she honestly worried that she was going to toss her cookies at any second, but Ben just kept talking.

“I thought you mentioned something about that.” He suddenly stepped in close to her, so the other customers in the karate center wouldn’t hear him. “You mind looking over my books tonight?”

Ava blinked.

Was that a proposition? Or did he really want to her to look at his books?

At nearly 35-years-old, Ava was finding it increasingly difficult to tell these days. On the one hand, Ben was a young, fit, flirty man – a great big beast, who the other leering moms had nicknamed ‘the Jewish Gerard Butler.’

Part of her was flattered by the idea that he asked her to ‘look over his books’ in the same way leering old men used to invite college girls up to ‘look at their etchings.’

But, on the other hand, Ben was also a 25-year-old entrepreneur struggling to keep a martial arts center afloat. He might legitimately just need some bookkeeping advice.


Whichever one it was, Ava decided it might be fun to find out. After all, she’d always had a thing for martial arts guys – ever since she’d dated one in college – and Ben was an intriguing guy.

“Let me drop the kids back home,” she nodded, and then peeled her sports bra away from her large, sweaty breasts. “And maybe have a shower. Then I can come over when my husband’s home with them.”

Ben’s enormous hand – as big and meaty as a bear’s paw – squeezed her arm. Ava felt an illicit thrill.

“Thanks,” he smiled crookedly. “I’ll get some pizza in. I won’t keep you too late, I promise.” His brown eyes flashed. “I just really need some advice.”

And then he was gone – wheeling around to assemble students for his next class.

Sticky, sweaty and red-faced, Ava watched him go with curiosity. It had been a long time since she’d done any professional bookkeeping – but she had a feeling volunteering her services to this young entrepreneur could be interesting.

Chapter Two


It had all started two days earlier.

Ben Broderick had come to work early that Sunday to catch up on paperwork and escape his parent’s basement. The money he’d once spent on rent was now tied up in this place – BB Martial Arts Center.

He’d picked the name himself.

A nondescript concrete building in a mostly-deserted development, Ben had taken the karate school over three months earlier, when the former owner had an unfortunate run-in with the IRS.

A martial arts obsessive, Ben had been a student there for most of his life, and worked there since he was 14. When he’d heard that the last owners had been hauled off in handcuffs, he’d leapt at the chance to keep the center open rather than let it shut its doors after 25 years.

But the problem was; running a business wasn’t as simple as it seemed.

That’s what he’d come to realize, that Sunday morning.

As he ate leftover pizza, and peered through the ledgers the former owners had left, he started to come to a depressing conclusion.

This place was going down. Fast.

He didn’t understand it. The previous owners had always paid their bills. He and the other members of staff there always got their paychecks on time. But according to the cash-flow penciled in the books, there was no way that could have happened.

Maybe he was adding it up wrong. Maybe there was another source of revenue he was missing.

Somehow, he had to be getting this wrong.

Because if he wasn’t, the school was going to be closed and he was going to be bankrupt in a matter of weeks.

Pushing back his chair, Ben stared up the MMA posters and trophies lined up on the walls and shelves.

He’d pulled these from his parents’ basement when he’d signed the lease for the karate school – all trophies he’d won over the course of a lifetime studying martial arts.

Karate. Taekwondo. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. From four years old, until he went to college, he’d spent more time in a karategi than regular pants.

And these trophies and posters? They were an advertisement to the parents who brought their kids here, and the moms who came for cardio kickboxing class.

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