Robyn Monroe is the Valkyrie, one of Chrystal Valley’s most notorious street fighters, and she never taps out. But she dreams of freedom for herself and her sister—a peaceful life where she can pursue her lost dreams of becoming a ballerina. Working off her late mother’s debt to a corrupt bookie is taking a terrible toll, and things are changing in the city’s underworld. The stakes keep rising, while her freedom proves more elusive every day.
When first-year resident Dr. Andrew Alexander finds a half-dead Robyn in his ER, the cruel, merciless side of Chrystal Valley opens up before him. He’s drawn to the street fighter’s fearsome courage, but being near her awakens warring emotions of attraction and long-dormant guilt. Watching the fiercely independent Robyn get pulled deeper and deeper into this world makes only one thing clear: If she keeps fighting, he’ll lose her forever.
Fight Club meets Flashdance in this vibrant debut novel from up-and-coming talent Cecilia Johanna.
by Cecilia Johanna
“Readers looking for an edge to a star-crossed-lovers story will enjoy this debut.” — Library Journal
Sensuality Level: Sensual
Cecilia Johanna lives in Sweden where she studies nursing by day and writes romances by night. Find Cecilia Johanna at www.cecjohanna.wordpress.com, on Facebook, and on Twitter @CecJohanna.
An excerpt from Underground:
The emergency room at Chrystal Valley Hospital was a chaotic, overcrowded mess. Dr. Andrew Alexander sighed as he checked the clock on the wall. It was almost midnight, and his shift had ended several hours ago. Working overtime was a part of the job description for a first-year resident, but at some point, he had to call it a night.
He paused in front of the glass doors separating the waiting room from the rest of the ER, looking over the patients one last time. Coughing elders, a man cradling his wrist, a woman with a rash—nothing out of the ordinary. He was just about to head home when he noticed two red-haired women on a couch in the corner of the room. One of them was crying but looked perfectly healthy. His gaze moved over to the other woman, and then he froze.
Her face was covered in bruises. Some of them were fresh, while others were turning green and yellow. Her eyes were closed, but he could see that her left one was nearly swollen shut. He’d seen injuries like these before, and he knew exactly what caused them.
He caught a nurse as she rushed by and pointed at the woman. “Why is she waiting outside? We need to get her a room.”
The nurse glanced at the clock and then back to him. “She’s low priority. Fever. Uninsured. She can wait.”
Andrew clenched his jaw. “What about her face? Someone has obviously beaten her up.”
“The bruises are several days old. Not an emergency. Besides, she’s here for the fever. We don’t have time to treat a fever right now.”
No, they didn’t, but Andrew still couldn’t let it go. “Where are the attendings?”
She checked the clock again. “They’re still working on that cardiac arrest. I’m sorry, but I really have to leave. If the guy with the second-degree burn doesn’t get his morphine he’s going to start yelling again.”
She picked up a tray with a syringe from the medical cart and half walked, half jogged down the corridor. Andrew turned his gaze back to the red-haired woman. Her skin was pale, but her cheeks were flushed. Pearls of sweat trickled down her temples. She had a fever, all right—a bad one.
He entered the waiting room and approached the women on the couch. The healthy-looking one grabbed his white coat in a desperate grip.
“You have to help me,” she said, her voice trembling. “Robyn is sick. Really sick. She’s my sister—I know it’s not just a fever. Please, you have to help us.”
“I’m fine,” Robyn mumbled. “Lucy worries too much. I’m fine.”
“I’m fine. The words echoed in Andrew’s head. He’d heard that lie way too many times.
A discoloration on her wrist caught his eye. He carefully took her hand in his and raised it from her lap. His eyes widened as he rolled up her sleeve. A badly healed cut went from the bend of her arm down to her wrist, stitched together with something that looked like ordinary sewing thread. He’d never seen a wound so inflamed before.
“What the hell happened here?” he asked, staring at the arm. “These stitches… Who did this to her?”
Lucy sobbed. “She did.”
Robyn opened her mouth, but before she could say anything, she collapsed against her sister. Andrew didn’t think—he just acted. He scooped her up in his arms and carried her through the glass doors.
“I need a gurney over here,” he yelled to whoever might be listening. The nurse he’d just spoken to stuck her head out from one of the examination rooms.
“Dr. Alexander?” She stared at him, then at the woman in his arms, and then at him again. “What on earth are you doing?”
“Sepsis,” he said, ignoring her question. “Most likely going into shock.”
Understanding dawned in the nurse’s eyes. “I’ll get the gurney.”
Andrew watched as two nurses rolled Robyn’s bed away from the ER toward the ICU. He’d saved her life, but something still gnawed at him. According to her medical records, she was only twenty-two. Most of her bruises were fresh, but some of her scars had to be several years old. There was no record of her ever visiting the ER before. Someone was hurting this woman, and she was handling it all by herself.
Robyn Monroe’s life was no longer in Andrew’s hands, but he still couldn’t get the image of her bruised face out of his head.