Truly helpless, p.8
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       Truly Helpless, p.8
 

         Part #10 of Nature of Desire series by Joey W. Hill

  It was the wrong way to prove it, no matter what it was. Fuck it, she wanted him out of that ring. But her wants didn't count here.

  Snarling, Marius swept his opponent's leg and flipped them both, landing on Killjoy. Using elbows and fists to good effect, he spun around to straddle him, punch his face, his torso. He went after him like Rocky Balboa after a slab of meat. Blood, more blood, and then a muffled shout from Killjoy that had several brawny men lunging into the cage to pull Marius off Killjoy. Marius shoved away from them immediately and paced the other side like a caged animal as they carried Killjoy out. His teeth were bared again and he was snarling a word she couldn't make out until he looked up at her with eyes made up of hellfire.

  "Next."

  Did he view Mistresses the same way?

  He hit his chest with both open palms, a quick, demanding slap, and shouted it even louder, until the crowd, probably even those betting against him, were chanting it.

  Skullface had a tattoo on his visage that matched the name. Though he and Marius started out much as Marius had with Killjoy, it wasn't long before she went past the point of any mixed emotions to one emphatic one.

  Stop. Please just stop.

  They'd obviously saved their best opponent for last. Skullface bided his time, drawing it out longer and longer, taking advantage of short openings to land blows on wounded areas and important motor points. He made Marius work for every return strike. Though Marius had showed he had the ability to think and strategize when he fought, Skullface was better at it. When Marius's bloodlust was up, tenacity and brute power took over as his strongest fighting assets.

  At the beginning, she'd wondered if the organizers fixed some of the fights to ensure the house took home enough of the profits, but not so much that their audience wouldn't leave satisfied enough to come back. It probably did happen, but nothing in this event with Marius suggested the four fighters had anything on their minds but winning. Marius had been aware of her earlier, but now, she expected the two fighters were as isolated as if they were on a mountaintop together, seeing who could throw the other off the edge.

  The crowd roared as Skullface spun and hit Marius mid-body with a kick that knocked him back, then rushed him like a roaring bull. In a move worthy of a professional wrestler, he caught Marius about the waist and thighs and heaved him against the cage door so hard it gave way. Marius slammed into the floor on the outside, shoulder and face thudding against the concrete.

  Those clustered near the gate had scattered. Good thing, because Skullface pounced, not intending to give Marius any breathing room. But Marius somehow was already up on one knee. He bulled into Skullface with an enraged roar of his own, and reversed their momentum, taking them both back into the ring. They rolled, and Marius ended up on top.

  She saw it happen, exactly what the Aussie had described. Marius hit a different gear, raw power called up from a reserve inside him that simply refused to be beaten, no matter the cost.

  He was hammering Skullface with his fists, the blows a blur of motion. He grabbed his opponent's slick cranium and slammed the man's head against the floor, hard enough to daze him.

  If Skullface wanted to call it, Regina didn't see how he could. Marius was punching him again, turning his face into meat. Surely...good Christ, she wasn't going to stand by and watch him kill someone. Up until now, the fighters themselves had seemed mindful of just how far they should go, even in this environment. Until one of them was past the point of caring.

  She was pushing, shoving, moving along the rail. Then she muttered "screw it" and went over it, onto the top of the bleacher seating just below. She ignored the startled glances of those crowded upon it, gripping shoulders as needed to keep herself steady, get to the ground level fast and push closer to the cage. She was a tall, big-boned and powerful woman, and she wasn't shy about using that when needed.

  She emerged right where she intended, at the corner only a few feet from where Marius was going after the nearly unconscious man. Thank God, they'd realized the same thing she had, that Skullface couldn't call mercy to save himself. Now the same men who'd retrieved Killjoy were in the ring, pulling Marius off. They'd left the cage door open, and she had an odd sense of deja vu from earlier in the night, when she'd stood in the doorway of Room 7 at The Zone.

  The man in the top hat shouted for--had she heard that right--a shot of freaking ketamine? A horse tranquilizer? She was pushing through the doorway, not thinking about it, just acting on instinct. Perhaps she was as insensible to the wisdom of her course as Marius seemed to be toward everything right now. She wouldn't realize until later her skinny runner and Tal helped her get into the cage with him, obviously deciding something else beyond the norm was required to defuse the situation.

  She was driven by conscience, an unsettling feeling she'd somehow caused this. First by not defusing him properly after his session with Siren, and then triggering something in her boy with her presence and that Focus command.

  Her boy. Christ, yeah, she'd made her decision, hadn't she?

  She put her palm flat on Marius's heaving chest, the only clear space between the arms of the three men holding him. Her touch snapped his gaze to her, his silver eyes as brilliant as lightning in a black sky.

  "Stop," she ordered. "That's enough."

  Chapter Four

  She'd had subs who called her a sorceress for her ability to command obedience from them. But those were men who ultimately wanted to obey, no matter what personal shit they had to wade through. She thought Marius had that in him, but in comparison, her other subs had been jumping a babbling brook to get to a compliant state. He was in the center of a vast, churning whirlpool ocean of sewage. She could almost smell it coming off him. It took three times for the sharp command to reach through the violence and hook his attention.

  She felt it when it happened, when he wasn't merely looking at her blindly through that haze. His gaze sharpened and locked. A runner arrived with a full syringe of ketamine, she assumed, and she pointed an emphatic finger at him, a don't touch him with that gesture she backed up with a look. Maybe that alone wouldn't have succeeded, but since each time she'd issued her command, Marius's struggling had lessened, Top Hat waved off the tranq.

  The crowd loved the drama, since to them that was what it was. She supposed they interpreted it like an action film, the hero caught up in a just rage. They didn't see the reality, a man so lost to his most base instincts he would have killed the man who was there for no different reasons than himself. Skullface had been transported out of the ring on a stretcher, probably to be placed in the back of some van and taken to a hospital.

  The dwarf snapped his fingers in front of Marius's face, drawing his eyes. "Good, Rabid? Can we let you go?"

  When Marius jerked his head in assent, the man wasn't completely satisfied. He turned to her.

  "What do you think, Legs?" Since his head barely reached her waist, she was relieved he came up with a nickname based on the most evident part of her anatomy, rather than what was at eye level.

  She was studying Marius's face. Skullface's removal had defused his most obvious trigger. But to be sure, she laid her hand back on Marius's chest. His heartbeat was still fast, his pulse jumping in his throat as she shifted to a light clasp over it. His gray eyes swiveled down to her arm and back up to her face. When she lifted her thumb to his mouth, brushing his split lip, he didn't flinch. His tongue flicked out and took the blood that had been transferred onto her skin. A spark in his gaze told her he'd done it consciously, but maybe not entirely to be a smartass. When he dropped his head back and closed his eyes, she felt him draw a couple deep, leveling breaths.

  "He's good," she confirmed. "But can he go somewhere halfway quiet here?"

  "For the money he earned us tonight, we'll give him the champion's suite," the emcee said dryly.

  His affable sarcasm made sense when she saw it. They had a sectioned-off area next to the locker room for the fighters, made possible by more of the temporary divi
der panels they'd used in the foyer. There was a padded table, a cabinet, jugs of water and a big basin. All the men but Tal left them there. Barely a moment later, she heard the dwarf announcing the final fight of the night over the dull thunder of the crowd. She thought anything else would be anticlimactic after Marius's performance, but there was no telling what spectacle they'd arranged. Probably a fight between a pair of paraplegics in high-powered wheel chairs, one knife thrown down between them.

  Tal slapped Marius on the shoulder. This time Marius did flinch, but not from pain. It was as if the friendly contact was startling. Tal overlooked it with an understanding expression.

  "Good fight, Duncan. You did good. Top Hat about shot his load when you took down Tank."

  Duncan? She glanced at Marius.

  "Don't give a shit." Marius grunted the insult and acknowledgment as he moved toward the padded table.

  "Which is why I handle the money and your fight schedule. So you don't piss off the wrong people and end up chained to a bunch of concrete blocks at the bottom of the bay."

  Marius didn't bother to respond to that. He bent stiffly to pick up the basin and one of the jugs of water, putting them on the table. Regina met the Aussie's gaze. She could handle this part, and she wanted some privacy. He picked it up so quickly she thought he'd be an excellent submissive. Who knew? Maybe behind closed doors, he was. With that "lovely girl" who'd made him stop fighting.

  "First aid kit and cloths are in that cabinet." He pointed. "Along with a shitload of peroxide for cleaning out wounds. Got some broad-spectrum antibiotics and ibuprofen in there. He can help himself."

  Was Duncan Marius's real name? If he and Tal knew each other well enough, perhaps the older man had used it to help ground him further. Calling him Rabid right now definitely didn't seem to be a good idea.

  As the Aussie took his leave, she drew Marius's attention with a gesture. "Sit on the table," she said. "You're in no condition to tend to yourself."

  "I always do," he said, his tone flat.

  "Yeah. I bet you do. But I'm offering. Once the adrenaline leaves you, you're going to be close to collapse. So don't be a shit. Sit your ass on the table."

  He pivoted to square off with her. "Women line up to fuck fighters fresh out of the ring. You're at the front of the line, Mistress." He lifted his arms to his sides, sweeping his gaze down his own body. "Have at it, sweetheart."

  "You call me sweetheart ever again, I will feed you your own nuts." She leveled a stare on him. "Hard as it may be to believe, a man stinking of sweat and blood is not my dream come true. You can't manipulate my emotions, Marius. I see you coming with that shit from a mile away. So accept my help, or go fuck yourself."

  Some or all of that might be a lie, but one part wasn't. She wouldn't be played by a sub. He might pull this shit on a Domme who expected fair play from her partner, but Regina was forewarned and forearmed. He didn't know the meaning of fair play. Not yet.

  She didn't know which way he'd go on it, and so was prepared to turn on her heel and depart, no matter how difficult she might find it to leave him in this state. After a long moment that stopped short of her doing just that, he moved to the table and lifted himself onto it. Spreading out his hands in another exaggerated motion, he gave her a look that said, "Here I am. So?"

  There was a case of drinking water in the bottom of the dusty cabinet. She brought two bottles of it, the first aid supplies, peroxide and meds to the table. "Here. Hydrate. Slow so you don't vomit."

  "I know that."

  "I don't have the best opinion of your brain power. I'd rather tell you the obvious and remove any risk."

  He muttered something uncomplimentary into the top of the bottle, but he was drinking. He did know what needed to happen after a fight, she could see that. That was somewhat comforting, when so much of this wasn't.

  She cleaned the blood off his face and dabbed peroxide on one nasty gash. Killjoy had been wearing a ring with a spike on his left hand. "This could do with a few stitches."

  "Naw, it'll be fine. Just use the stitch tape. I'll sew it up later if that doesn't work." He used the back of his hand to wipe his nose, which was also still bleeding sporadically. The graceless gesture made her cluck and take his hand, wiping it clean before she rolled up two small pieces of gauze.

  "Here, stick those in your nostrils. Tip your head back. Barbarian. In the habit of giving yourself stitches, are you?"

  He complied with the head tipping, his gaze moving to the ceiling as he packed his nose around her ministrations. "It's easy. Like fixing holes in socks, if the socks were a tough-skinned kind of Jell-O."

  Her gaze slid to his face. He'd offered a faint, lopsided smile when he said it, thanks to the split lip. Strange as the setting and topic was, it was the first dialogue they'd had as normal people in the vanilla world, a side of him she'd not yet discovered. If his behavior now was real, not charm.

  "What's your favorite flavor of Jell-O?" she asked. She turned her attention to wiping the blood off his left shoulder and arm, but also took the time to tuck another gauze pad in his callused hand and guide it to his lip to put pressure on it. It kept bleeding. The gesture muffled his words, but they were still intelligible.

  "It's a non-food."

  "What does that have to do with anything?" she asked. "So's a Twinkie. Everyone loves that. And you can play with Jell-O. Make molds."

  He grunted. "Black cherry, then."

  She slanted him a glance. "Seriously?"

  That half smile came around the gauze pad. "Seriously. It wasn't a line, no matter that you are a fine black woman."

  "With you, everything is a line. But black cherry is a good flavor. Particularly for wine slushies."

  "Don't know. I don't drink, except for an occasional beer."

  She screwed the top back on the peroxide. His words surprised her, but so did he, when he collected the assortment of stained gauze pads she'd left next to him to toss them into the trash. The fighters were probably required to clean up after themselves, part of the deal of getting their cut from the fight. However, letting her do it would have been an excellent way for him to snub her, the way he had when he cut in front of her at Tyler's office. This time, he hadn't taken the opening.

  "Why don't you drink? Recovering alcoholic, health nut, control freak, or you just don't like the taste?"

  He blinked. The silver and red beads threaded through her hair seemed to have caught his attention. His eyes tracked the sparkling movement as the black locs spilled over her shoulder. "What do you think?" he asked in the unreadable monotone he was favoring.

  "Control freak, definitely." She put the first aid supplies back in the cabinet. "I can't imagine what amount is worth going through all this, but I hope you get paid well tonight."

  He grunted. She wondered if it mattered to him if he was paid at all. Whatever his day job was, it didn't visibly pay him well, if the condition of his car meant anything. During his playtimes at the club, he wore street wear and stripped out of it. If he wore any "fetish wear," it was either the clingy style shorts, or an outfit provided by the Domme. For his job there, he wore The Zone staff shirt with his jeans.

  So he didn't spend his money on fancy sub outfits like some of the other males. He didn't seem to spend money on much of anything. Except the tattoo. She wondered what had inspired him to get it, because she was sure something had marked the occasion. He had no other body art.

  She touched it with light fingers after making another pass with the gauze to wipe a missed smear of blood off the shoulder. "That's some good work there."

  Another grunt of assent and an irritable twitch. She stepped back. "You'll do. I suppose you know a hot shower when you get home is the best remedy, on top of the ibuprofen you just took. Though I'd highly recommend a tetanus update and having your head examined."

  He kept staring at her. He wanted to make her nervous with his silence. Tough luck with that, boy. You want to self-gag, it doesn't bother me.

  Answering
in kind, she tossed one final wipe into the trash and headed for the door. Embracing her Mistress side meant understanding there was an energy flow between Dom and sub once a connection was made, even if the connection was the rope in a tug of war. She rode that energy the way it was meant to be ridden, not forcing her own expectations on it. It worked better that way. She'd accomplished what mattered most to her here, which was confirming he'd released that surfeit of potent energy from his session. He was leveling out. While he could use a lot more aftercare, they were quite a distance from him welcoming or earning that kind of treatment from her.

  "You don't want to talk about what happened in Tyler's office?" he said abruptly. "Or why you followed me here?"

  "No." She continued to move toward the opening between the panels that would lead back to the cage and, even better, out toward the parking lot. She didn't need to stay any longer, and what she really wanted was a deep breath of clean air.

  She didn't anticipate that he would do or say anything to hold her there longer, so it was a pleasant surprise when he did.

  "You didn't say what you thought of the fight."

  She pivoted at the opening and met his gaze. "No, I didn't. Would you like to know?"

  He could look wary, like an animal being baited into a trap. He had thick, dark lashes. Though he'd let his face get pummeled too often, nothing could dim the impact of his eyes. They were like the mirror surface of a lake. "Yeah," he said at last.

  "Okay." There was a pen sitting next to the tray of gauze. Returning to him, she picked it up and extended her hand, looking pointedly at one of his. When he offered it, she clasped his wrist and wrote an address on the inside of his forearm, along with Friday, 6:30pm.

  His fingers flexed above her grip. She was aware of his breath stirring tendrils of hair against her cheek. Her hip pressed against his knee. She let herself imagine sliding between his spread thighs, tasting the metallic flavor lingering on his lips, feeling the flex of his shoulder muscles under her splayed fingers and firm palms. His hands would curve over her hips, his own fingers digging in, showing he wanted and needed her.