Fighting to be free, p.8
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       Fighting to Be Free, p.8

         Part #1 of Fighting to Be Free series by Kirsty Moseley
 

  She just shook her head and carried on picking up my clothes, throwing them on the bed. When she had them all, she kicked off her shoes and sat on my bed cross-legged, starting to fold them, setting them in a pile. My heart melted at the sight of it and how thoughtful that was. She really was incredible. I’d honestly never met anyone like her in my life. She was so innocent in some ways, so oblivious to the danger of this place and the people who lived here. I sighed, watching her, in awe of her and her generous spirit.

  “Well, don’t just stand there watching me! If you don’t need to call the police, then you need to fix your room,” she ordered, nodding at the furniture on the floor. I snapped back to reality and lifted the drawers and dresser back up, putting them back in place. Ellie soon finished with my clothes, so she helped me put them in the drawers.

  “Oh no, your photo got ripped,” she said suddenly, stooping to retrieve something from the floor.

  Photo? Oh, shit, not the one of Sophie! “What? No!” I cried angrily. She handed me two halves of a photo. I closed my eyes, so angry that I couldn’t speak. This was the only photo I had of her; it was the only thing that mattered to me. I hadn’t thought to take it out with me; I’d been too preoccupied with nerves about meeting Ellie to even think about it.

  “Who is that little girl?” Ellie asked, setting her hand on my arm.

  “That was my sister, Sophie. She died,” I said quietly, not really wanting to talk about her.

  Ellie gasped. “Oh, Jamie, I’m so sorry. How?”

  I took a deep breath and put the ruined photo down on the side table. “She was murdered, four years ago,” I replied, watching Ellie’s face fall and her eyes widen in shock.

  She wrapped her arms around me tightly and hugged me. “I’m so sorry, that’s awful. What happened?”

  I sighed heavily. “I don’t want to talk about it, Ellie. Really, you should go; it’s not safe for you here.” I hugged her back, just enjoying being close to her. The last thing I wanted to do was endanger her, yet that was exactly what I’d already done by bringing her to this shitty little place. I wouldn’t ask her here again; this just proved that she was too good to be in a place like this, with a guy like me.

  “I don’t want to go.” She pulled back to look at me, her expression stern and confident.

  “Ellie, really, I think—” I started, but she put her hand over my mouth to stop me speaking.

  “Do you want me to go, and you’re just saying you’re worried as an excuse to make me leave?” she asked.

  I smiled sadly and pulled her hand off my mouth. “I don’t want you to leave. I just don’t think a girl like you should be in a place like this. I shouldn’t have brought you here, I should have known better.” I was incredibly angry with myself for putting her in danger like this for my own benefit.

  She pressed her lips to mine, silencing me. “I’m here now, so let’s just stop talking, huh?” she whispered, running her hands down my chest, hooking her fingers into my belt loops.

  I shivered at her light touch. I had no idea how she could do this to me when I’d never even been interested in dating a girl before. It was crazy how one girl could just blow apart everything I thought I knew in life.

  She bit her lip, looking at me lustfully, sending shock waves through my whole body as she walked backward, pulling me with her by my belt loops. She stopped as her legs touched the side of the bed, obviously leaving the final decision to me.

  With the easy decision made, I smiled and pushed her down onto the bed, climbing on top of her. I needed her so much. This girl had me completely under her spell already; I wouldn’t have been able to stop even if I wanted to.

  CHAPTER 7

  I WOKE UP with Ellie’s beautiful face inches from mine; she was lying on my arm. Smiling, I scooted closer to her, grabbing my cell phone from the side table and checking the time. It was only six thirty, which meant I had another couple of hours with her at least.

  I sighed and let my eyes drag over her. Ellie made me forget all the things that had happened to me. She made me want to be good enough for her.

  In her sleep, she stirred and pressed her face into my chest, moaning an unintelligible word before she sighed and snuggled even closer to me. Tangling my fingers in her hair, I kissed the top of her head. As I lay there, I couldn’t stop thinking about what a pile of shit my life was. Today was going to be incredibly hard; I needed to find another twenty-five bucks somewhere so I’d have enough to pay my rent tomorrow morning. The car I’d fixed wasn’t due to go to auction until Wednesday, if that even made a profit at all. I’d been foolish. I’d wasted all week on something that might not even work out, chasing a pipe dream when I should have been looking for a solid, guaranteed income.

  I refused to go to Brett for the money; I refused to owe anyone anything. If I had learned anything from my shitty life, it was that the only one you could depend on was yourself. I needed to get the money, get a job, get the hell out of this hellhole, and be a better person. Maybe then I would deserve a shot at the beautiful thing lying in my arms, because I sure as hell didn’t deserve her at the moment.

  I brushed her hair off her face, pushing it over her shoulder so I could see the hickey on her neck. Grinning proudly, I dipped my head and kissed it, pulling back quickly when she stirred.

  “Hey, what time is it?” she mumbled, planting a soft kiss on my chest.

  I frowned distastefully, wondering how she could do that with all of my scars there. She didn’t seem bothered by them at all. “It’s about quarter to seven.”

  She smiled and pulled me closer, kissing me gently. “Good morning,” she whispered against my lips.

  “Good morning. Sleep all right?” I asked, hoping she hadn’t heard the fight that had started outside at about three o’clock this morning.

  She nodded and yawned. “Yep, you tired me out. I slept like the dead.”

  “Well, I slept like the dead, too,” I lied. In all honesty, I had barely slept last night. I’d kept a vigil into the small hours of the morning, listening avidly in case someone broke back into my room so I could protect Ellie if needed. A little bit of tiredness today was nothing if it meant she was safe.

  She pulled me closer to her, running her hands up my back, fingering the scars there. The curiosity was easy to see on her face, so I kissed her before she could ask me about them. I didn’t want to talk about it, not with anyone.

  * * *

  An hour and a half later, we were dressed and ready to leave. I watched as she leaned over and began making my bed.

  “Ellie, why are you making my bed?”

  She shrugged and finished straightening the pillows. “Habit, I guess. It’s one of my mom’s rules at home, the bed has to be made, room tidy, blah blah blah,” she mocked, waving her hand dismissively.

  I laughed and grabbed her so we both fell onto the bed. “Well, I like an unmade bed. Want to help me mess it up again?” I smiled at her suggestively, loving the feel of her body under mine. Touching her and kissing her seemed to be all I could think about. I was almost turning into an addict.

  She laughed and grabbed my wrist, looking at my watch before she shook her head. “I need to get to school, sorry. Maybe another time,” she offered, arching one eyebrow. My insides danced with happiness because I would get to see her again. The agreement was: sex, no strings. What man would turn down an offer like that from a girl like her?

  I sighed dramatically. “Come on then, little girl, let’s get you to school,” I mused, pulling her back up. She laughed and let me drag her from my room to my truck. This place didn’t really wake up until midmorning, so there was no one around.

  As we pulled into the parking lot of her school, she unclipped her seat belt and scooted closer to me. When she leaned in and kissed me, I put my hand on the back of her head so she couldn’t pull away. Kissing Ellie was incredible and I would happily do it all day if she would let me.

  I pulled away when we were both breathless and kissed the tip o
f her nose. “So, do I get your number this morning?” I asked hopefully. She nodded and held out her hand for my phone. As I passed it to her and watched her type her number in, I couldn’t keep the smug grin off my face.

  She pushed the phone back into my pocket, patting it teasingly. “There you go, stud. Now you can give me a booty call whenever you want.” She winked at me as she climbed out of the truck and then sashayed off through the parking lot.

  People immediately swarmed around her, begging for her attention. Boys and girls, they were all trying to talk to her. She didn’t look too comfortable with the attention; the easy smile that she’d been wearing all morning was replaced by an obviously fake one. Judging by the way other students were crowding around her, she was some sort of queen bee at her school.

  I frowned, more than a little surprised that she would want me to drive her to school in my crappy truck if she had some kind of image to uphold. As I pulled out, she waved good-bye. A smile slipped onto my face just because she’d acknowledged me in front of her friends.

  My day was spent walking around trying to find a job. I went into every single store, bar, restaurant, and office, trying to find something, but there was literally nothing, not even cleaning toilets. As the day dragged on, the worry built.

  I sat in the park and considered my limited options. There was no other solution I could come up with. I couldn’t lose the place I was living. Sure it was dank and nasty, but it was better than sleeping in my truck. Gritting my teeth indignantly, I pulled out my phone and called Ray.

  “Hey, Kid!”

  I put my head in my hands and squeezed my eyes shut. This needed to be done. “Hey, Ray. Listen, I need some help.”

  “What’s up?”

  “I need money.”

  “Sure, how much you need?” he asked.

  “I don’t want to borrow money, Ray. I have no idea when I’d be able to pay it back. But I need to get my hands on some cash, quickly.”

  “I’ll lend you some, you don’t have to worry about paying me back, just spot me when you can,” he offered.

  I shook my head. I couldn’t owe anyone; that wasn’t going straight, in my eyes. Even owing Ray I would feel a debt. I needed to do this on my own.

  “Ray, I don’t want to borrow money. I was actually wondering if you could call Jensen and set me up for tonight?”

  He gasped. “No fucking way, Kid. I’m not doing that! Those things have moved on a lot since you last saw one. No way. Nope!”

  I’d known he would react like this. Ray’s cousin Jensen ran an illegal fight club every night. People bet on the fights and the fighters got paid to enter. Just entering would be enough to pay my rent. I didn’t even need to win, just get the shit kicked out of me for a few minutes.

  “Ray, I need this. Does he still run it or not?”

  “Kid, seriously, you know I’ve always hated those things. The fights now are brutal; it’s not just a couple of guys wanting a bit of spare cash anymore. These guys that enter, they really want it, they want to win. I’ll lend you what you need,” he protested.

  “Look, thanks for the offer, but please can you call Jensen for me? I need this to happen tonight if he still does it. If you won’t do it, then I’ll have to find him on my own. C’mon, Ray, do this for me?” I nervously ran my hand over my almost nonexistent hair. I had no idea how to find Jensen myself, so I prayed Ray would help get me in.

  “Kid, you know you’re gonna get fucked up, right?”

  I frowned. “Yeah, I know, totally fubar. How much they pay now? It still thirty bucks for weekday fights?” It was a shame it wasn’t a weekend; weekend fights were higher profile and paid a lot more, but I’d take what I could get.

  “It’s fifty now, I think. The rules have changed, there are no rules,” he said quietly.

  I winced. That didn’t sound good at all. There always used to be a “no hitting in the balls” rule—I quite liked that one.

  “Okay, will you call him for me and get me in?” Please say yes, please say yes.

  He sighed, and the line was quiet for a while before he answered, “Yeah, okay. I’ll call you back.”

  I breathed a sigh of relief. “Thanks, man.” He disconnected the call and I sat back on the bench, feeling my stressed muscles starting to relax.

  By now it was almost four in the afternoon, so I decided to text Ellie.

  Hey, have a good day at school?

  A minute later she replied.

  I did, other than having to see my ex. *groan* How was your day? Did you find out anything about who broke into your place? x

  I smiled at the kiss at the end, loving that she actually cared enough to ask about my day. After sending back a quick lie that I’d had a good day, I headed to my place and flopped on the bed, waiting for the phone to ring and for Ray to tell me good news about the fight that night.

  * * *

  At a quarter to ten, Ray picked me up. He used the excuse of wanting to see his cousin as a reason to go with me, but in all honesty, it was probably so he could drive me home in case I was too messed up to drive myself. The whole journey there he tried to convince me not to do this, but I just ignored him, trying desperately to change the subject.

  When we pulled up at the venue, an underground parking lot, I followed behind Ray, needing him to introduce me to his cousin. I’d met Jensen only once, so he probably wouldn’t remember me. I’d grown up a lot since I last saw him.

  I vaguely recognized Jensen when Ray stopped next to him and gave him a man hug. After they’d exchanged pleasantries, Jensen motioned toward me. “This your boy?” he asked.

  Ray nodded, gripping my shoulder, looking like he was in pain for letting me do this. “Yeah, this is the kid, Jamie Cole.”

  A smirk crept onto Jensen’s face. “I remember you. You were the only thirteen-year-old I ever let enter one of these. You made me a fortune that night. Every single person bet against you, so I raked it in when you kicked ass.” He held out a hand for me to shake.

  I nodded. I’d needed money then too, different reasons but still no other option, just like now. “Yeah, thanks for letting me in tonight, I appreciate it.” This was short notice; fighters usually had to put their names down and wait to be chosen, so I knew Ray had called in a favor for me.

  “No problem. So, you know there are no rules now, right? Anything goes. Fight ends when you tap out or are unconscious. Eight guys, four fights, the winners from each fight then enter a semifinal. You get a hundred bucks if you get to the semi. The two winners from that go on to the final round. If you lose the final it’s two hundred, if you win then you get five. Feel free to bet on yourself, too,” he explained, shrugging.

  My heart leaped in my chest. “So just for entering I get fifty, but if I win the three fights, I get five hundred?” I clarified. If I won the final, I wouldn’t have to worry about rent again for a while, even if the junkyard thing didn’t pan out.

  “Yep. You interested?”

  Hell yeah, I’m interested! My earlier plan was to enter and lose, taking the fifty, but five hundred bucks sounded like a lifesaver right about now.

  I nodded eagerly. “Yeah, definitely. So, who am I up against?” I asked, looking around at the guys standing around waiting for the fights to start. Most people were here to watch; you could tell which ones were competing because they were standing off to the side trying to focus.

  Jensen pointed out a fairly well-built blond guy. He was sitting on a chair, his narrowed eyes totally focused and hard; he wanted to win. “That’s Kurt; he’s a regular, pretty tough. Think you can beat him?” Jensen inquired.

  I studied Kurt again, assessing him, weighing my options. From the way he was sitting I could tell he was arrogant, cocky, and overconfident. He thought he would win, no problem; he was probably well trained in some sort of martial arts, judging by the dragon tattoo on his upper arm.

  But I could take him.

  “Yeah,” I said confidently, watching a small smile spread across Jens
en’s face.

  ELLIE

  As I climbed out of Jamie’s truck, the sweet taste of his tongue still lingered on mine. I actually didn’t even want to leave him; I wanted more of his time.

  Closing the car door, I took a deep breath and made my way across the parking lot toward the school building, keeping my eyes peeled for Stacey so I could collect my books. People immediately swarmed around me, worse than usual. Today would be hard. This was the first school day since I’d broken up with Miles, and I wasn’t looking forward to seeing him at all. Girls and guys immediately started talking to me, wanting to know if it was true, had we broken up, were we getting back together, did I want to go out tonight … it was never-ending. I plastered on a fake smile while silently wishing I were back in the truck with Jamie; he was so
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