Reckless Love Page 13

Steel bobbed in front of me, throwing punches I knew were fake because I was familiar with his fight style, I’d watched it so many times. I easily avoided his swings, remembering that he would soon try to grab me and bring me to the ground. I whirled before he got the chance and gave him a strong kick to the side of his head.

Contact.

His whole body floated sideways from my kick and fell into the cage wall.

Steel pushed himself back on his feet, and I went at him again. He really had lost some of his fight, almost falling as he came at me.

He raised his fists again, and I thought he was about to go for my kidney so I moved to block, but instead he punched me right in the fucking throat.

I spun back, grabbing at my throat as if that would get me the air that I needed. Son of a bitch, that hurt. I clutched the side of the cage and gasped for breath. A pinch of air, then another. I was breathing, sort of. The ref came over and put a hand on my shoulder, and I waved him off. I just needed some room so that I could breathe. Please.

Kenzie was suddenly right in front of me, grabbing the links of the cage as she stared at me, wide-eyed. I didn’t want her getting close to Steel. I didn’t want her anywhere near this shitball. I waved her off, or tried to. Stubbornly she held on, and Chris had to step in and pull her away.

“Are you okay?” the ref asked.

I nodded, but put my hand up between us to let him know I needed a second. It must have taken me too long, because he held up his hand as if he was about to announce the winner.

Fuck. I didn’t want this. Steel’s fist to the throat was a foul. And if I could no longer fight because of his move, I won.

He was about to announce my win, but I didn’t want to win this way. It was like winning a pool game because the other guy scratched on the eight ball. It would say nothing about my skill level, only that Steel was a dirty fighter. I wouldn’t get the recognition I needed, and I wouldn’t get the new fights I wanted.

“Wait,” I said, the word coming out scratchy because my voice didn’t want to work. “I’m good,” I whispered.

Damn, I sounded like shit, but as I spoke, my breath started to come more easily. The ref relented, and the fight was back on. My neck hurt like a bitch, but there was only fifty seconds left in this round. If I could just hang on until then, I might be able to win this. I hoped. Fuck.

I led with a kick and managed to corner him against the fence, pounding his face several times in rapid succession. He curled up to hide his face, and I punched him in the side. He sank to the floor, and I rolled him over and put a hold on him.

With a surprising burst of energy, Steel pushed back and rolled us over, landing all his weight on my shoulder. I heard the crunch. It hurt so bad, I fucking yelled. But I managed to pull him off with my other arm, wrap my legs around him, and secure the hold around his neck. He waited a beat before he tapped out.

Yeah, bitches!

The bell rang, and I let Steel up.

The crowd roared to its feet, but as I stood up, my shoulder screamed in pain. It hurt so badly, I pounded my fist into the cage, as if that would make the pain stop.

Kenzie was in the ring as soon as the fight was called. She stopped in front of me, her eyes all red and wet.

What? What happened? What made her cry? I didn’t understand.

Ten

Ian

“Ty, you’re not on a Sunday drive. Could you step on it, please?” MacKenzie cried.

I sat in the backseat with her—in serious fucking pain—while Ty drove us to the emergency room. My left eye was swelling shut and my face was bleeding in a few places, but that wasn’t what worried me. My shoulder had been crushed during the fight, and now I couldn’t move my arm. Which meant it was bad.

“Don’t bleed on my upholstery, please,” Ty said. “This is a new car.”

MacKenzie wiped at my face with a sterile pad. It was pointless since the blood was now mostly dry, but I let her do it because it seemed to calm her. Her touch was so gentle, it pulled my mind off the pain.

“We’re almost there, Ian,” she said.

I shouldn’t have noticed it, because there was so much of my own blood all over, but as she dabbed at my face I saw several crescent-shaped wounds in her palm. I pulled her hand away from my face to get a better look.

“You’re bleeding,” I said. “Who did this to you?” Damn it, was this why she’d been crying earlier? Did that jerk do this to her? “Who did this?”

“It was an accident,” she said and balled her hand up in mine. That was when I made the connection. She’d done it to herself. Her own nails matched up with the tiny cuts on the palm of her hand.

“What happened?” I opened her hand and held it gently in mine, lightly stroking the marks with my thumb. She blinked and a tear ran down her cheek. “Why did you do this?” I asked, and another tear fell down her cheek. “God, Kenzie, what’s wrong?”

“It’s allergies.” She shook her head and sniffed, wiping at her eyes.

This was not fucking allergies. I couldn’t stand watching a girl cry. Hell, normally I would run in the other direction, but with Kenzie it was different. I didn’t want her to cry because I didn’t want her to feel pain, ever.

I wrapped my good arm around her and pulled her head to my chest, then immediately wondered if she wouldn’t gag at the fact that I had blood, sweat, and grime all over me from the fight. But she didn’t resist, instead she surprised me by folding up closer to me. I touched my lips to the top of her head and took a deep breath. She smelled like honey and vanilla. Damn it. I knew she was sweet, and this was fucking killing me.

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