Wrapped Up in You - Jill Shalvis
No, she would not stay down. Mostly because Ivy Snow didn’t know the meaning of the words. Not once in her hard-knock, scrappy life had she ever “stayed down.” So she popped back up, using a spin and a roundhouse kick to level her opponent.
Her kickboxing partner and friend hit the mat and grinned from flat on her back. “That’s gotta be worth at least a donut. You’re buying.”
“Can’t,” Ivy said, eyeing the time. “I’ve gotta get to work.”
“Well damn.” Sadie sat up and yawned. “I’ve still got a whole hour and a half before I have to do the same, which means I’m going back to bed. And if I’m lucky, Caleb’ll still be in it.”
Caleb was Sadie’s fiancé. Ignoring the little spurt of envy at the thought of having someone waiting in bed for her, Ivy hit the locker room to shower and change.
Fifteen minutes later, suitably beaten up by their four-times-a-week kickboxing session, she left the gym. It was six a.m., her very least favorite time of the day, and she shivered unhappily. It was two weeks before Christmas, which for San Francisco meant it could be any weather at all. Today it was forty-five degrees and she’d forgotten her jacket. She was on a budget, a tight one, but it wasn’t worth freezing to death for a couple of bucks so she decided to forgo walking and hopped on a bus rather than turn into a human popsicle.
A guy in a suit, sneakers, and holding a huge energy drink took the seat next to her, giving her a not-so-discreet onceover. “Morning,” he said with a charming smile.
And yes, she’d just felt a little wistful about not having anyone waiting for her in her bed, but that was fantasy, and Ivy was nothing if not grounded in reality. These days she prided herself on her sharply honed survivor skills, but in the past, she’d definitely failed herself in the man department. This was in good part thanks to a wanderlust lifestyle and a weakness for sexy grins that promised—and usually delivered—trouble.
Like this guy’s.
But that was all behind her now. She’d promised herself. So she gave him a vague, not-interested smile and turned away to look out the window. Rude? Probably. But she was calloused, and—as every guy she’d ever let in too close had complained—a tough nut to crack. The words cold and scary had also been thrown around.
She didn’t mind. She actually liked it, even if the image went completely against her Disney princess-like moniker, Ivy Snow. Maybe especially because it did. Her name had been a bone of contention for a long time, but it wasn’t like she’d named herself. Her mother had done that, reportedly on some good prescription meds at the time.
At her stop, she exited the bus and walked the last two blocks to work, getting a little happier with each step because one, exercise was over for the day, and two, she loved her job.
For as long as she could remember, her entire life had been transient. This was mostly thanks to a dad who’d taken off a long time ago and a lounge singer mom who changed bar gigs like other women changed nail polish. As a result, Ivy had gone to a bunch of different schools, managing to slip through a whole bunch of cracks while she was at it. Luckily, she had been insanely curious and loved reading, and had taught herself most of the time. As a result, she was a pro chameleon and excelled at temporary. Temporary friends, temporary jobs, temporary life. It had suited her for a long time.
Until it hadn’t.
She’d woken up one day about a year ago and had realized she’d changed. Moving around no longer suited her and she was over living out of a backpack. So at the dubiously mature age of twenty-eight, she was trying a new lane. She’d settled in the Cow Hollow District of San Francisco, running a thing called The Taco Truck and living in an apartment that had her name on the lease.
Roots. After a lifetime of running, being invisible, and just barely getting by, she was growing roots. She was going for a life that until now had existed for her only on TV and in the movies, meaning friends and family, real family who’d stick with her through thick and thin. And maybe . . . maybe even someone to love.
Unnerving that she was actively working toward the very things that had