Reckless Love Page 4

Three

MacKenzie

Would someone please tell me how the heck that happened?

One minute I was tending to Ian on the floor, and the next minute I was agreeing to go out with Chris, of all people. Sure, he was a nice guy, but I’d never thought of him that way. Not at all.

When he’d asked me to have lunch with him, of course I said yes. Because that was what you did when your boss asked you out for lunch. But then he switched it to dinner.

So here I was, walking by the river after dinner with my flipping boss. The night was cool and I had forgotten my sweater in his car, so I folded my arms in front of me to stay warm.

“Are you cold?” he asked.

I nodded. “A little.”

He paused, took off his dinner jacket, and handed it to me. I shrugged it on. It was big and warm, and smelled strongly of Old Spice. A bit too strongly.

“Thanks.” I started walking again, and Chris moved around me so that his cane was on the outside.

“Do you mind if I ask what happened?” I motioned toward his leg.

“No. Not at all. It was a fight.” He paused, then chuckled. “Of course it was a fight.”

“When did it happen?”

“Just over two years ago. I was on the fast track to becoming a pro fighter, and my manager lined me up with a guy—Billy Goat was his fighting name. He’d been fighting pro for a while, but because of the way he fought, my manager was sure I could take him. Heck, I was sure I could take him. Every defense weakness he had, I was strong at that offense. I should have won.”

Chris stopped and leaned against the railing by the river. I wondered if his leg needed a break, or if he just wanted to stop and admire the view. So I stopped and leaned against the railing alongside him.

“What happened?”

“I was too cocky. I should have taken my time and waited for just the right moment to strike, but instead I went in fast and eager to get it done. I wore myself out in the first round, and by the second, I had become his punching bag.”

I looked at Chris. He was a head taller than me, even in my six-inch heels. I couldn’t imagine anyone turning him into a punching bag.

“He had me on the ground and was pummeling me. I should have tapped out of the fight and given it to him, but I wanted the win.” He winced as if the memory of that moment pained him more than anything. “I managed to wrench my way out of his hold and get back up on my feet. I was so out of it at that point, I hardly remember a thing other than trying to remain standing. And then there was an insane pain as he came at my knee from the side, full force with his foot.

“His move was a foul, and lost him the fight. I won, but my knee refused to heal properly. I won the first and last fight of my pro career.” He forced a chuckle, but it looked like he wasn’t quite ready to laugh about the whole thing.

“Wow,” I said. “You’ve tried physical therapy?”

“Too much scar tissue and not enough tendon left. It won’t work right. I still do exercises with it, but it’ll never be back to where it was.”

He leaned forward and took my hand in his. For the first time that night, I didn’t feel like I needed to pull away from him.

“It’s all good, though. I found my calling. I opened up a gym, and it turns out I’m a much better trainer than I was a fighter.”

Chris was a good trainer and well connected. I’d heard the guys at the gym talk about how his connections could help any good fighter work his way into the pro fighting circles.

I looked at him, inspecting his face. He had a mostly smooth complexion with a few freckles sprinkled across his slightly crooked nose. He couldn’t be more than five years older than me, so he was maybe twenty-seven.

Could I like this guy? It had been a while since I’d dated anyone. I hadn’t met anyone I really liked lately, but maybe I was just in a funk. Maybe I just needed to start dating again, and the liking, the wanting, would come. The way Chris looked at me told me he was more than game if I was.

“I just secured Ian his first pro fight,” Chris said, his eyes lighting up with pride.

My heart filled with pride too. Pride for Ian, who’d been working so hard for this, and he would finally get his break. “That’s great,” I said.

“It’s still two and a half months away, but we’ll be heading to Vegas before you know it.”

My mind flooded with thoughts of Ian. How would he feel when he heard the news? Most likely he’d play it off like it was no big deal. But he’d take this fight seriously and redouble his training so that when it came time for the fight, he’d be ready. I caught myself smiling at the thought.

Chris wove his fingers through mine and pulled me away from the wall. “Let’s go grab a drink somewhere,” he said smoothly, his eyes hooded.

A drink might loosen me up and help me stop my thoughts from constantly redirecting to Ian, but I was nervous that Chris would try to move too fast if we started drinking.

“I have to work in the morning,” I said.

Chris chuckled. “I know your boss. Maybe I can talk to him and see if he’ll let you come in late.”

I stopped walking, making him stop too. “Chris…” I trailed off, not sure what I meant to say. “I don’t want any special treatment.” I let go of his hand. “I need this job, so I don’t want this”—I pointed at each of us—“to get in the way of keeping my job. If you can do this, without being my boss, then I…”

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