With a wide smile our sensei called in a loud voice, 'Catherine wins!'

SIAN GLANCED UP in time to see Cat straighten to standing. She took her time, ignoring Nathan scowling on the ground, his face almost as red as Cat's hair. With an indolent grace Cat stepped over the prone man and walked to the bench seats to join their friend Kassie who'd finished in the last round of sparring. Chuckling to herself, Sian forgot the man beneath her own thighs, squirming uncomfortably face down against the mat.


The indignant growl made Sian smile and she tightened her hold a hint more.


The hold she had on Grant's arm meant he couldn't move, even though he really wanted to. Every time they sparred together they ended up in this position; funny how he still hasn't figured out what it is he keeps doing wrong, Sian thought smugly. All Grant had to do was tap out. Then they'd separate and start again. But Grant hated to tap out. Maybe it's small man syndrome, Sian pondered as she sighed and settled in for the long hold.

A couple of the guys sparring nearby began to laugh and sensei rolled his eyes at Sian, who grinned evilly.

KASSIE AND I watched in amusement from our sideline position while Grant grunted and groaned, legs flailing and head banging against the mat. Sian didn't budge from her position and her petite size meant she easily kept out of reach of his legs. Though how he meant to hook her off that way, I didn't know.

'Why do you think he gets so stubborn with her?' Kassie whispered in my ear. 'He acts normal with me.'

'I think it's the tiny blonde aspect.'

'But I'm the same height.'

'With boobs and an attitude to boot. Sianny looks like a fairy in comparison. Tiny, adorable and blonde, I just don't think he has the mentality to handle losing to her.'

We continued watching, along with most the others sitting out, many of them making bets against Grant. A loud thud and yelp from the other side diverted our attention.

'Laura wins! Making her this evening's champion,' sensei crowed triumphantly. Kassie and I hollered, clapping for Loi.

Our friend climbed to her feet, accepting sensei's congratulations with a flushed face, sweat gleaming on her brow. Her waist length ponytail swung forward when she bowed before leaving the mat and she flicked it back over her shoulder as she walked our way.

One of the guys sitting with us called teasingly, 'Watch out! Here comes the Amazon.'

Kassie snorted before glancing sideways at me. 'Ever seen an Amazon with a Scottish accent?'

I chuckled. At five foot eight with a figure like a fifties pin-up girl and beautiful long ebony hair, Loi certainly made people look twice. The Scottish accent only added to the appeal.

CAT HANDED HER a towel as she sat between her friends and Loi gratefully accepted it, mopping her face. She kept her gaze on those still sparring, her heart pounding from the exertion of her last fight.

'Well done, Loi.' Kassie reached under the bench then passed a drink bottle to her. 'All five, in under a minute each! Clever girl.'

Loi beamed at Kass before tipping her head back, bottle high. The water had warmed to room temperature but it still hit the spot. Her heart rate slowed and she mopped her forehead again, slouching back against the wall.

In front of them Sian wore a stoic, bored expression as she swatted away another attempt by Grant to right himself. The utter disinterest on Sian's face made Loi laugh and those around them joined in. Sensei stood near the pair, now the last on the mats, and crossed his arms with a long, suffering sigh. It took another five minutes and a sharp twist of the arm Sian held, before Grant finally tapped out. The class broke into applause, mainly relief, as Sian stepped daintily off the stocky figure and bowed to sensei.

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