Fighter, p.6
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       Fighter, p.6
 

           Tijan
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  He grinned. “Yeah.” He shifted closer, and his hand lifted to cup the side of my face. “Merry Christmas, Doily.”

  I groaned. “Why am I starting to enjoy being called that again?” I needed to ignore how his thumb brushed over my cheek. I swallowed a knot and felt the ache forming in the pit of my stomach again.

  Nope. It was lower.

  Heat surged to my cheeks, but I couldn’t turn away. Jax held me hostage with the palm of his hand. His thumb branded me as he continued to rub it back and forth, caressing my cheek.

  My god. I still loved him.

  That realization exploded inside of me, sending debris everywhere. It was like an earthquake that kept shaking at my core. I started to tremble, and when he saw how his touch had affected me, his eyes darkened. They went to my lips, and his hand curved tighter around me, pulling me toward him. He moved closer, and then I felt his breath on me, just beyond touch but so damn close.

  This.

  This was what my body had been waiting for since I saw him poised to jump out of that window. Too damn long. Then my brain switched off. A primal need had built up within me, and it was taking over.

  “Dale,” he whispered before his lips touched mine.

  Holy fuck. He was a drip of water in a desert.

  I needed him. I wanted him. I didn’t care what happened after this, and with that thought—my last rational one of the evening—I whispered back, “Merry fucking Christmas to me.”

  He chuckled. Then his lips applied pressure, and I was gone.

  When I woke up, my legs wouldn’t move. My arms wouldn’t move, and yep, I checked—my neck felt like it was sandwiched between two boulders, and neither was moving. It was embarrassing that a night of sex could do this to me. I needed to go back to the gym.

  A towel landed next to me in bed, and I heard Jax somewhere behind me. “That’s your last clean one. If we’re staying here tonight, we need to pick up some more from the store.”

  He sounded cheery.

  I wanted to murder him. Instead I yelled, “What did you do to me? I can’t even move.”

  The bed dipped with his weight, and he touched my hip. “Yep. Still smooth as silk. What are you talking about?”

  “What?” I growled. I wanted to flip over so I could see him, or at least stop him from copping any more feels.

  His hand left and returned with a smack. On my ass. “Good bounce there. Still not sure what you’re talking about.”

  Oh god. He was going to continue to grope me until I forced myself to sit up. This was going to hurt. I pushed myself up and around to face him. That went easier than I thought it would. Wait, nope. A guttural scream formed as the pain hit me in the next second.

  “Oh my god!”

  Jax was unfazed. He smirked at me, wearing only his lightweight sweatpants. They rode low on his hips and as he kept grinning, I wanted to curse at him and jump him all over again. Images from the night came to me, helping to ease some of the pain.

  Jax had been above me. He’d pinned me down on the bed as he moved inside me. He’d gone slow, purposefully drawing everything out, and watching me the entire time. Oh yeah. That memory helped take away a lot of the pain.

  Suddenly I was drenched in heat again. Pulling at my shirt, I fanned it around me and looked over the room. Staring at him would only persuade me to pull him back down on top. Not good. I couldn’t walk after one night. I wouldn’t be able to sit if we went another round.

  “You’re out of shape.”

  My eyes snapped to his. “Excuse me?”

  He laughed, standing from the bed. Raising his arms above his head, he flexed, and as he did, his sweats dropped another inch. I could see the tops of his hips as they molded around his obliques, and if the pants slid another inch down, I’d see him him. Even now, as I stared, a bulge began to grow there.

  Jax laughed some more, drawing my gaze back to his. “Keep watching, Doily, and I’ll be stripping you naked all over again.”

  Yes. He had done that too. I tried to snort back. “Whatever. You can think all you want, but…” I stopped talking. He was at full mast now.

  His arms dropped, and he came to the bed. Bending down, he rested his arms on both sides of me and leaned over, his face mere inches from mine. His eyes went to my lips.

  I couldn’t breathe when he was this close. The heat must’ve been on. Wait, our cabin doesn’t have heat… “Jax?” What was he going to do? I wanted him to kiss me. His lips were so close.

  He leaned back just a few centimeters and trailed his gaze up and down my body. Then he sighed softly. “I want to bend you over, run my hands down your backside, and slide right in,” he breathed. “I want to ride you so hard you won’t be able to walk for a week, Dale.” He closed his eyes and rubbed the side of his cheek against mine.

  I gasped at the intimacy, the feel of him there.

  He moved again—another sensual graze—and his lips found mine. He kissed me and whispered against my lips, “I want to do so much more than that, and I’m having a hard time convincing myself to walk away and let you be. But if I don’t, we’ll never leave this cabin. I won’t let you go.”

  Please don’t.

  His voice was intoxicating. “But I can’t do that. I can’t miss the fight tonight. You know why?”

  I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t even try. I just stayed there, feeling his lips on mine. I never wanted to move.

  He murmured, “It’s because I’m doing the right thing—for my sister and for you, too. I want to do the right thing now, Doily, for you. And I want to continue to do the right thing, for you.”

  For me. He was doing this for me too.

  Fuck that.

  I grabbed hold of his sweats and yanked him to me. His lips slammed onto mine, and as our bodies fell back to the bed, he caught himself so he wasn’t crushing me. Right before he pushed inside me, I said, “We’ll do the right thing in an hour.”

  Or two.

  Or three.

  Or after the entire afternoon.

  When we finally made it there that night, as per usual, Sally’s was packed. The parking lot was filled, and a crowd waited to get in. We kept driving, but the two parking lots next to it were also full, and in the end, the first spot we found was five blocks away.

  We didn’t have a genius plan of getting Jax in this time. We’d given everything we had yesterday with the mascot. The only thing I did know to do was ditch Haley’s car—and by ditching, I mean I left it in the parking lot of a grocery store a block away from her place. Then I slipped her car keys under her door with a note attached. We hadn’t talked for the last two days, so I didn’t know the status of her relationship with my brother. I just hoped he didn’t see the key first, if he’d slept over. But it wouldn’t matter too much. He’d just know we got a new car, which we did.

  I’d rented an old-timer’s black Camaro. That was all they had at the rental office, and when Jax realized which car was ours, he’d burst out laughing.

  “Now that’s a ride-in-style kind of car,” he said, patting my shoulder. “I’m thinking this is awesome for my last ride to jail tonight.”

  Ah. Jail. Good times. I needed that reminder of why I was spending all this time with him. Not to jump him—well, not to jump him in that way, but in the bail jump kind of way. Get your head out of the gutter, Doi—Dale. Fuck me. I shook my head and put a scowl in place. It was time to round third base and head on home.

  After parking, we headed down the sidewalk toward Sally’s with a crowd. After a couple double takes, Jax cursed softly and reached back to pull up his hood. He stuffed his hands in his pockets and hunched over, trying to look inconspicuous. I rolled my eyes. No matter what he did, he couldn’t camouflage his lean build or charismatic presence. He had an almost animalistic draw to him. The people who looked at him hadn’t recognized him as the fighter—not yet. They were just drawn to him, as I’d always been. Catching a few seductive looks sent his way, I gritted my teeth. Jax must’ve sensed my growing
irritation because he shot out a hand and caught my arm.

  I glanced down at where he’d grabbed me, then realized I’d started moving toward one of the girls. The desire to rip off her arm had been first and foremost in my mind, and when it clicked that I’d been about to do just that, I flushed and pulled back, purposefully moving right next to Jax.

  “Who’s the fighter tonight?” he asked under his breath.

  I sighed. “I know. I know.” The old Jax would’ve let me confront the girl. It was nice to know he really had changed. “Thanks.”

  He nodded, his eyes going to my lips. “I should get extra credit. Watching you initiate a chick fight is the hottest thing I can think of right now.” He slid his gaze down my body and back up, lingering on my breasts, then rising to my lips. “Well, maybe not the hottest thing, but you get my drift.” He winked at me and bumped his hip into mine. “Don’t get me wrong. I’d love for the cops to come and you to join me in jail tonight. The cops love me. I can out-benchpress them. I bet I could get us a shared cell. But you know…” He gestured around the block to where we could see the beginning of Sally’s parking lot. “We’ve got a fight to finish first.”

  I groaned. “You just ruined it for me. I thought you were a stand-up guy and poof! There went the halo around your head.”

  He laughed, drawing attention again, so he ducked farther down and quieted. “No halo unless I’m the male equivalent of a Victoria’s Secret Angel. Then hell yeah. I’d wear the whole costume. Wings too. They just have to be black. I’m not a white-wing type of angel.” He’d gone back to gazing at my lips, and his voice dipped low and promising. “I’m more like a fallen Angel, if you know what I mean.”

  I did. Too well.

  A disturbing tingle filled my body, warming my blood, and swelling my chest with warm fuzzies—the warm fuzzies I still didn’t want to deal with because they had nothing to do with our sex-filled afternoon and everything to do with the emotions that continued building in me.

  I cleared my throat and pulled my gaze away from his. Yes. As soon as I looked away to the growing crowd, I could think better. Then I remembered what we were doing and grasped Jax’s arm. “Oh, shit.”

  “What?” He searched the crowd. “What’s wrong?”

  “What if my brothers are here? We haven’t been looking for them.” They could’ve already spotted us. Glancing around for them, I spotted a familiar face and my heart lurched. It couldn’t be…not here…

  “Nah.” Jax shook his head, pulling me forward. “I talked to one of the guards yesterday. I told him the scoop, and he said he’d sneak us in through the back door.”

  I shot him a look. The familiar face had disappeared. I was wrong about who I thought I saw. I had to be. “We’re bounty hunters. Backdoors are our specialty.” Catching the quick smirk on his face, I shot my hand up. “Do not go sexual with that one.”

  The smirk lessened. “You make it so hard.” And the smirk was back.

  We weren’t going to get anywhere productive with this conversation. “What are we going to do?” I asked. “Just sneak through the crowd?”

  “Yep.” He pulled me forward into a light jog with him. “Hurry.”

  Trusting him, I followed his lead, and Jax led me through the parked cars until a big truck passed by. It slowed and began looking for a place to park and deliver its food. Using it as cover, we approached the back of Sally’s, hidden from most of the crowd. When it parked, the kitchen door opened, and two guys came out. One was the manager of Sally’s. When he recognized Jax, he waved us in. “Turgo’s waiting. He’ll lead you to the box.”

  Jax nodded.

  The manager eyed me. “The box is for you too. You’re his girl, right?”

  I stopped, pure panic blasting my insides, but Jax curled an arm around my waist and kept me following him. His mouth pressed in a flat line, and we moved through the kitchen to find a guy the size of a giant wearing a black shirt that said STAFF on it.

  “Stop thinking about what he said,” Jax whispered under his breath. “We’re having fun, right?”

  Fun. Right. I bobbed my head up and down.

  Jax now asked—I guessed this guy was Turgo—if any of my brothers were around, and the security guard/staff member skimmed a hard look over me, then tipped his head to the side. “We haven’t seen any Holdens except her in here.”

  “What about Monroe?”

  “Yeah, he’s around. He wants to talk to you.”

  Jax gave me an uneasy look. I agreed, but we’d figured this would happen.

  Turgo stopped talking and waited. Jax gave him a nod, and he led us down another back hallway. When we got to the closed door, Jax opened it and went inside. I got a glimpse of Chris Monroe, but when I started forward, Turgo stepped in front of me. He folded his arms over his chest. “Sorry. He wants Cutler alone.”

  That didn’t sit well with me. “Where’s my taser gun when I need it, huh?”

  He grunted, but didn’t seem too worried.

  I had no choice. I waited right alongside him.

  Jax wasn’t long. When he came back out, I straightened from the wall. I was about to ask what happened, but I caught his clenched jaw and stiff shoulders. He grabbed my arm, pulling me close. Turgo started forward again, this time leading us out into the main bar area. Jax shook his head, ever so slightly, and I knew he was telling me to wait until we were alone.

  I did.

  Pathways had been cleared through the crowd with ropes on either side, and Sally’s had been transformed to look like a real boxing venue. Turgo led us to our box, and more than a few girls called out to Jax, reaching to touch him. He ignored them, holding me even tighter. His hand pressed so firmly into my arm that I knew he would leave a bruise. I didn’t tell him, though. He didn’t know. He was holding onto me for comfort, and that was a good feeling—too good a feeling, to be honest. I should’ve been more concerned about how right it felt, but it felt too right for that. I wasn’t going to fight it.

  I still loved Jax. I’d realized it earlier, and I’d slowly started to accept it again.

  The rope sectioned off a little sitting area near the ring, and I knew this was the box they’d referred to. Turgo lifted up an end of the rope to let Jax and me through. Once we’d moved inside, he put it back and asked, “Anything to drink or eat? It’s on the house.”

  Jax shook his head and started to sit.

  Turgo nodded and turned to leave.

  “Wait!” I called. “Water. For him.” Come to think about it… “I’ll take a couple shots, too.”

  He left, and Jax frowned at me. “I can’t take anything. Not right before a match.”

  I sat and let out a sigh. A knot twisted inside of me. I needed to know what had been said in that back room. “They aren’t for you,” I told him.

  “Oh.” He smiled. “Planning on taking me up on that shared cell tonight?”

  I fixed him with a pointed stare. “Start talking. What’d Chris say?”

  “Nothing about the match. He told me Libby went to see him.”

  I scooted next to him. “She did?”

  A haunted look came to his eyes. “Yeah. She offered to be one of his whores if he’d let her boyfriend off the hook.”

  My eyes went wide. “What’d he say?”

  “No. He held up his end of the deal. He told me to crush my opponent, and he’d do one better: he’d make her boyfriend dump her if he wanted to keep gambling with them. Knowing that dipshit, I bet it’d work too. He’d toss my sister to the curb for the next big game.”

  I frowned. “He’s probably betting on this match with you.”

  Jax jerked a shoulder up. “I don’t care. As long as my sister is out of his life, I’ll do what I need to do.” He skimmed an eye over me. “You okay?”

  I nodded. “Yeah.” My fuzzies, butterflies, and twisted pretzel insides were getting along famously. “I’ll be fine. So Chris didn’t say you had to throw it?”

  “No. He said to crush him.”

&nb
sp; “Oh.” That was odd. “Who are you fighting?”

  Jax shrugged. “I have no idea. We’ve been out of the loop. I’ll find out when they announce him, I guess.”

  And that’s what happened. Turns out Jax wasn’t fighting just another fighter. He was fighting Charles Monroe, Chris Monroe’s older brother and also a part of the local Monroe mafia family.

 
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