With: Cindi R. Wilson

One of my favorite parts about writing STING was creating the scenes between the main character and the love interest. They are wildly different people and yet have the same goals at the heart of it all. I enjoyed writing them when they were getting along and when they weren’t—especially because it heightened the romance aspect of the story. Tessa and Pike spar both mentally and physically, and here’s a sneak peek at one of those times.


His fingers brush mine when he takes the knife, and I fight back a shiver, trying to hold my ground.

           “Scorpion,” he says softly.

           I brace myself for more Pike wisdom, or maybe even a mention of the kisses we’ve shared that we haven’t mentioned.

           Instead, he smiles. “You’ve been a very good teacher. Are you sure you want to do this?”


           “If you say so.”

           He takes his stance, gaze zeroed in on the board. He’s wearing a simple blue shirt, cut off at the shoulders, and his muscles flex when he lifts his arm.

           I exhale just as he throws and the knife zooms to the board, hitting inside the widest ring, but not in the middle.

           His eyes narrow. I smile.

           “I’d like to see you do this with a distraction,” he says.

           My heart flutters, but I nod. “No problem.”

           I step to the line, a whole head shorter than Pike. I feel his eyes on me. In fact, he’s so close, I feel the heat from his body. But I’m focused, and all I can see is the red circle I’m aiming for.

           I squeeze the blade between my fingers and hold my breath, preparing to throw.

           Pike blows on my neck.

           Chills race across my skin even as I fling the knife. The blade hits the board with a thud, straight in the middle.

           Pike curses softly and shakes his head. I turn to him, unable to help the smile stretching wide across my face. “See? I know a little something about focus.”

           “I’m impressed.”

           “Looks like you could use some practice.”

           “What about on the mat?” He lifts an eyebrow. “Do you have focus there?”

           Uh…no. But Pike doesn’t need to know that. “I have focus anywhere.”

           He points. “Mat. Now.”

           I lift my chin, toss the last knife at the board, and smirk when it hits the center. Then I walk to the mat. I get into my stance before he joins me. I wouldn’t put it past him to attack right away. Pike’s a big fan of not being caught off guard, and he’s taught me accordingly.

           Pike stalks the edge of the mat, knees bent. He feigns a lunge, then laughs when I tense.

           “You’re lucky I don’t have a knife,” I say, mock warning in my tone.

           He takes a step closer. “Luck has nothing to do with it. It’s all about being prepared. Besides, I don’t want a hole in my side like Mongo.”

           “He deserved it.”

           Pike gives me his dangerous smile and takes another step. Almost close enough to reach me. “You’re not saying I deserve to be stabbed, are you?”

           My chest vibrates with a low laugh, but I’m still on guard. “No, Pike. Not today, anyway.”

           His smile lights his eyes. And suddenly he stands fully, shoulders relaxing, and closes the gap between us.

           I draw in a sharp breath. “What are you doing?”

           “What does it look like?”

           His hands skim my arms, making me shiver. I lift my chin to meet his eyes, lips parting slightly.

           “Pike,” I say, my voice coming out breathless.

           Then he sweeps my legs from beneath me. I hit the mat hard, banging my elbows. I kick out and almost catch Pike’s leg, but he’s too fast. He bends and snags my arm, twisting it behind my back as he pushes me flat on my stomach. My breath whooshes out, but I don’t struggle. Crap. So much for proving I can’t be distracted.