Reckless Love Page 3

“Are you hurt?” I asked, not sure why he hadn’t yet responded. Maybe there was something wrong. “Ian?” My voice shook again as I moved to check the rest of his body, but he put up his gloved hand and turned my face back to his, making me lose myself in his eyes once more.

“I’m fine, Kenzie,” he said in a low, raspy voice that made my insides melt. He took my hand in his and squeezed it gently. His fingerless gloves allowed the tips of his calloused fingers to scrape gently against the palm of my hand.

Then something changed in his eyes, and he pushed my hands away from him as he chuckled. “Don’t worry, hon. I was just trying to give Cade a confidence boost.”

He laughed, dropped my hand, and sat up. Ignoring me, he rubbed his hand over his short golden-brown hair as he looked at the floor, then turned his back to me and stood up.

What the…?

Then I remembered why I was mad at Ian, why I’d been burning him with icy glares ever since that night. The night that I didn’t let myself think about.

“You really do think you’re all that, don’t you?” I said. “You don’t need a nurse. Your injuries are all mental. I can’t help you, you need a shrink.” I got up and turned to walk away as I fought back tears.

Damn, I was such a baby. Why couldn’t I just get over him? Why did I have to keep on getting pulled back in? Maybe I should have never taken this job. Of course, being near him was part of the draw, if I was being honest with myself.

The gym owner, Chris, came over and put an arm around me. “You okay, MacKenzie?”

I nodded and balled up my fists, digging my fingernails into my palms. It was a trick I’d learned to hold back the tears. I hated crying in front of people, showing them how weak I was. The pain of my nails biting into my skin pulled me out of the emotional drama and back to the real world.

“Sorry. I know I shouldn’t bring my personal crap into work. It won’t happen again.” I moved to go, because I wanted to run to the bathroom and clean myself up, but Chris stopped me.

“Don’t worry about it. You know you can talk to me right?” he asked.

I looked up at him. Chris had hired me last month, shortly after I was laid off from the hospital. Cade hooked me up with the interview, even though I was pretty sure it pissed Ian off that I was here. Chris interviewed me and after hiring me, had oriented me to the gym, but I still hadn’t spent that much time with him.

Chris was in his late twenties. Before he was injured, he fought as a heavyweight, which meant he was the size of a frigging fridge. He needed a cane to walk now, but that didn’t stop him from working out and keeping in shape. Whenever he had free time from his appointments, I’d find him working out. His shirt more than hinted at the firm muscles he maintained. His jawline was strong, and his head was shaved. I preferred my men with hair, but he wore it okay.

He gave me a smile. “Why don’t we go out to lunch and you can tell me about it?”

Ian

Cade’s punch had caught me by surprise, knocking me off-balance, and I couldn’t recover my footing so I went down. But apart from a sore jaw and bruised ego, I would live. That didn’t stop MacKenzie from rushing over to check on me.

She leaned over me, resting gentle fingers on my bare chest. Her long honey-colored hair brushed against my skin, and just like that, I was hers. Totally dumbstruck and hers. I couldn’t even fucking talk.

But when my dick jumped up just as she turned to look at the rest of my body, I had to stop her. That was all I needed, for her to see me with a post-knockout boner. Here she was trying to make sure I wasn’t hurt, and all I could do was get hard, as if she were some piece of meat. That made me just as bad as all the other turds at the gym. So I’d pulled her face back to look at me, only there was so much worry in her eyes, and all I wanted to do was take her in my arms and hold her and tell her I was okay.

God, I should have. I was an idiot. Why didn’t I?

I knew she didn’t want that, though. I traveled all the time for fights, and my career would always come first. Kenzie wanted more than I could offer, and she certainly deserved more. So I pushed her off. I turned and I sent her away, even though I knew she would be hurt. Somehow, I channeled the shit-bag in me and hurt her.

I was such a fucking dick.

And then Chris—I loved the guy, but he was a smooth bastard—was right there to pick up the pieces.

“Why don’t we go out to lunch and you can tell me about it,” Chris said. “Or we can talk about something else entirely, if you’d rather.”

I held my breath, waiting for her answer. I wanted it to be no, but I knew it would be yes.

“Sure.” She nodded.

“Great,” Chris said. “We can—shoot. I have an important conference call this afternoon.” He put his arm on her shoulder and said, “Let’s make it dinner.”

That made me want to hit something. Hard. I’d been hit so many times in my life, but nothing stung quite as much as hearing a friend ask out the girl you…

Okay, so I didn’t know exactly what she was to me. And maybe that was for the best. It wasn’t like Chris knew anything about me and her. Hell, it was probably a good thing that Chris asked her out; maybe now I could forget about Kenzie. Besides, I needed to focus on my upcoming fight. I didn’t have time to worry about her. And Chris was a good guy. He would be good to her.

I could let her go. I should, even though it was the last thing I wanted to do.

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