Hello, please, could you tell me if I understand correctly the bit in bold? Does it imply that that he was automatically prepared to, metaphorically speaking, "fight" (i.e. he was alert and prepared for whatever was going to come up)? Many thanks. G.M. Malliet: Wicked autumn Cotton jumped up. As usual, his default mode was one of combat readiness. The line of his jaw and the cords of his neck looked as taut as wire.