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Chapters 1-5 The Final KO

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The Final KO Chapters 1-5

Chapter One

Everyone loves a good ice cream body sundae

“Does it hurt when you get kicked in the face?” asked Holt, the man I was currently on a date with. I bit my lip trying to not just blurt out that he was an idiot. After mentally counting to ten, I felt like I could answer nicely.

“Yes, getting hit anywhere hurts, but you don’t really think about it much when you’re in the octagon.” I took a sip of my wine and prayed the waiter brought us the check soon.

It wasn’t that Holt wasn’t attractive, or that he was a bad guy; he was pretty nice, actually. He was around six foot, a little on the smaller than average size, and he wasn’t built, but you could tell he worked out. He had pretty brown eyes and sandy blond hair. He had opened doors for me, held out my chair, treated me with respect, and tried to engage in conversation with me. I should have been begging him to give me his babies, right?

Wrong. He was too sweet, and while I was sure he would make some librarian woman very happy, I, on the other hand, fought in the MMA for a living. I loved it; it was a passion. My friend Cammy had set me up with this guy, thinking he would sweep me off my feet, but as soon as I’d seen him I had called how the date would go. He just wasn’t man enough for me.

The sound of his cell phone ringing brought me back to reality. He reached down into his pocket to see who it was, then pushed it back into his slacks.

“Sorry, my mom was wondering how the date was going.” He smiled knowingly, like I knew the feeling of having a caring mother. I did, but she wasn’t involved in my love life. I tried to keep that information from her because she was a sex therapist, and she loved to try and help me in the love department. I smiled and sipped some more wine. I was going to have to pee really bad after this date.

“So, I’ve probably got a few more hours before she will wonder when I’m coming home; would you like to do something else? Maybe see a movie?”

I almost spit that sip of good wine all over the table. After swallowing, I couldn’t keep it in anymore.

“You live with your mom?”

He smiled and nodded.

“Yeah, she’s been going through a rough time. Got divorced from her second husband two years ago. She needs the company. It’s nice though, I rarely have to cook anything.” I could tell he was truly happy about his life.

“Well, good for you. I’m gonna go, this isn’t going to work out for me. I’m looking for something different. Have a good night.” I pulled a hundred out of my clutch and knew that would cover the bill and then some. I didn’t want to sit there anymore with the sweet mamma’s boy.

“Are you sure? I thought we had something. We could go get ice cream and walk in the park?” He was so sweet and sincere, it was almost painful.

“Unless you are going to lick the ice cream off my tits and fuck me hard in the park, then yeah, I’m sure.” The shocked look on his face told me he would not be doing that. Shame. I waved goodbye and turned to leave the restaurant. Some of the people looked at me as I walked by and I could see the recognition flare in them.

I smiled politely because that’s what I’d been told to do, and kept on walking. As soon as the valet saw me, he spoke into a walkie and called for my car.

“Hey you’re Rayne Jackson!” said one of a group of teens as they passed by and then stopped. I smiled seeing their faces. I did enjoy meeting people who supported me in the MMA world.

“Yep, it’s me!” I exclaimed. One kid looked nervous; taking a guess at what he wanted, I held my hand out.

“Hand it over.” The kids face paled. Oh no, that’s not what I was aiming for.

“Your phone. I wanna take a picture with you guys.” I smiled and the kid’s face beamed—all five of them did. I loved this. The one kid pulled out his phone and set it on camera mode before handing it over. We gathered together and I fit us all on the screen.

“Say cheesecake!” I smiled and clicked the button, then handed it back to the kid.

“Thank you for the picture. Make sure you tag me on Facebook and Twitter.” The looks on the kids’ faces were priceless. The boys had their chests puffed out like little badasses, and the two girls glowed.

“Thanks! We’re rooting for you. We hope you beat Tasha’s ass!” one of the boys said excitedly.

“Thanks guys,” I said just as the valet pulled my car up. I waved to them and they cheered then said bye. I tipped the valet, hopped into my little BMW sedan, and pulled out onto the street. I took a deep breath and cleared my thoughts. I was ready to get home, take a shower, and have a one-on-one session with B.O.B. I pulled into my apartment complex and waited for the gate to scan the little security bar code on my back window to allow me to enter the underground parking lot.

Before I even got out of the car I took off my heels; I wasn’t a big heels girl. I wore them, because even I liked to be pretty and wear dresses and killer heels, but man did they make my feet sore. With my heels in my hand, I got out of the car and headed up. The elevator ride to floor six was boring and I welcomed it. Once the doors opened, I shuffled to my apartment.

“Oh honey, didn’t go very well did it?” My neighbor Franny from across the hall opened the door. I gave her a shrug.

“He was sweet, but a huge mamma’s boy. He wouldn’t even lick ice cream off me,” I whined. She shook her head. Franny was in her seventies and was a widow. She had sort of adopted me when I’d moved in across from her, and she was a firecracker.

“That’s a shame. Everyone loves a good ice cream body sundae.” She turned and went back into her apartment, then was back in a flash with a plate covered with foil.

“Here’s some brownies for you.” She handed them over and I balanced them with my free hand.

“Thank you, I definitely need these. We still good for American Ninja next week?” I asked. She winked and waved me off.

“Of course dear, now go take a shower. Wash that wimpy boy off you.” She turned and closed the door.

After unlocking mine, I dropped the brownies off on the counter and went to do exactly what she’d said. I stayed under the warmth of the water’s spray for quite a long time before getting out and drying off. I wiped off the mirror and took in my appearance. My straight black hair was hanging over my breasts and stopped just below them. I always felt like a mystical mermaid when it did that. My green eyes were a dramatic contrast to the dark hair and pale skin. I had a few light freckles that decorated my upturned nose. I looked down at my body and examined myself. I was proud of the body I had worked for. I trained every day for hours—striking, grappling, cardio, and weights.

I grabbed my lotion and lathered up. My fingers massaged over the scars on my right leg a little more, trying to break up any scar tissue. I had finally started to embrace my scars.

A year before I’d been twenty-eight and in my prime. I was defeating every opponent that was thrown at me, and signed with the UFC and everything. It was the highlight of my life—until my fight with Tasha Talon. She was a feisty woman who’d had it out for me since I’d gotten signed to the UFC before her. I didn’t have any ill will toward her; I never cared if someone didn’t like me. I wasn’t going to be everyone’s favorite person, but I never went out of my way to be a bitch to anyone. I was a very laid back chick and just did whatever made me happy. Tasha, however, just wanted me gone.

In the beginning of our match, everything was going perfect, until she had me up against the edge of the octagon. She strike kicked and nailed me in the shin. The crack of the bone was so loud it was all I heard in the arena. Tasha had heard it too, but wrapped her leg around my broken one and rolled me over to the ground. I was writhing in pain when they called the match. I was taken out immediately and went to get some x-rays. I had a shattered tibia, and a torn meniscus and ACL. I was in need of surgery, and just like that my career in MMA was on hold. I knew people came back from these injuries, but I also knew it was a long, hard road. I knew it would be tough, but I was willing. I had to do it—and I did. I’d worked my ass off, and now I was three months away from my rematch with Tasha. I was looking forward to it—not for revenge, but to show her and myself that nothing could stop me.

I looked back up at my reflection, gave myself the “you got this girl” wink, went to check that my door was locked, and turned off the lights. I rolled onto my queen sized bed and reached into my nightstand. Bingo.

I pulled out my beautiful blue B.O.B. He was the best battery operated boyfriend any girl could ask for. I settled myself against my pillows and set B.O.B. next to me. I wasn’t ready for him just yet but I wanted him to be close when I was. I closed my eyes and thought of my sexy man. He was the same faceless man I thought of all the time. My dream man. He was tall and had an air of confidence that swirled around him. He walked toward me like a lion about to pounce on his prey. I felt my body shiver from his determination to have me. Once he got to me, his hand wrapped around my waist and moved with precision to my ass. With ease he lifted me up and pressed me against the wall with force.

My dream man was the ultimate alpha man, not an asshole, just confident and strong, and when he knew what he wanted, he got it. My legs wrapped around him and pulled his hips flush with mine.

My breaths started to grow heavy and I moved my fingers down to my sex; just visualizing my dream man was getting me so wet and primed. I continued the thoughts of my man pressing his cock against my core, making me cry out. I pressed two fingers against my clit and started moving in little circles.

His lips crashed against mine and he devoured my mouth with purpose. He was dominating me and I was enjoying it—hell, I craved it.

I knew I was building up to an orgasm fairly quickly. It had been a solid week since my last session. My vision took a turn for desperation: frantically our clothes were scattered about, I bit his lip and he growled.

I grabbed B.O.B. and rubbed him along the seam of my entrance. Go time. In the same motions of my dream man, I was filled with cock and screaming my release in minutes. The vibrations and the clit stimulator had me shaking and crying out. When I was done, I lay there and basked in my post orgasmic bliss.

If only a real man could give me the same earth shattering release. I’d yet to find one real guy that could replace dream man, but I wasn’t giving up. I would find him. I rolled out off my bed to clean myself and B.O.B. up, then went back to my comfy sheets and passed out.

Chapter Two

Time to go Cinderella

I woke up to a loud knocking sound on my door. I was going to beat somebody. My coach had actually given me the day to rest, and I wanted to take full advantage of that, starting with those brownies for breakfast. The knocking sound continued. I rolled over and looked at my clock on the nightstand: 7 AM!

Feeling pissed that someone had woken me up early on an off day, I rolled out of bed and threw on a robe before stomping to the door. I looked in the peep hole and groaned.

“What do you want Hope? Today’s my day off!” I stared at my little blonde-haired agent with disappointment. She knew my schedule, so she was clearly there for a reason.

“The Gala is tonight, Rayne, so open the damn door.”

Reluctantly I opened the door. Hope had been my agent from the beginning, and even when I was out on injury, she’d still stayed be my side. She had become a friend, and she was the best agent I could ask for. She stood about four inches below my five-foot-seven frame, and her brown eyes were staring at me in shock.

“You’re not up and moving yet?”I turned and went to grab my brownie platter, then settled on the couch.

“It’s my day off,” I grumbled and unwrapped the plate.

“I hope you aren’t going to eat that! You’ve got to fit into the dress tonight.” She glared at the brownie in my hand. I glared right back.

“Seriously? One brownie isn’t going to make me gain fifteen pounds. I work out like crazy, I’m allowed.” I stuffed the brownie in my mouth, moaning at the pure chocolate deliciousness.

“You forgot about the gala didn’t you?” She sat down on the chair across from my couch. The Gala was a black tie formal event at the famous Ringling art and circus museum in Sarasota, Florida, where I lived, and was for a charity for the arts. There were a few select local artists even showing off their work. It would be a great night, and I was both excited and unenthusiastic about going. There would be other fighters, and a few movie stars who were big into the arts. Sometimes in that type of crowd I felt like I didn’t fit in; I wasn’t into partying or the drama of the high profile lifestyle. I was more of a hang out at home with cooked meals, sparring with my training partners and watching reruns of my favorite shows type of girl.

“I didn’t forget, I’m just dreading it.” I bit into a second little slice of brownie.

“This is a big night! Everyone will be there. It will be good to get out there and talk to people. It’ll make everyone see that you are back in business and ready to fight.” Hope was right; it would be a big debut of sorts. I had pretty much stuck to recovering and training since my last fight and I was ready to jump back in.

“Now, do you have a date for tonight or do I need to find you one?” Another date. I sighed wondering how this one was going to go.

“You can find me one. I just want to sit on my butt until it’s time to get ready. Cammy’s coming over in a few hours to help me.” My best friend Cammy was a makeup and hair genius. She could do no wrong.

“Good, good. Who knows? You could meet the man of your dreams tonight.” She beamed; I just rolled my eyes. I seriously doubted it.

“Well I’ll leave you to enjoy your day. I just wanted to drop this off for you and see if you were ready for The Gala.” She pulled a little envelope out of her purse and handed it to me. “Ok, enjoy your rest day because tonight will be one awesome night!” she sang as she walked out of my apartment.

I looked down at the envelope and opened it. Inside was my invitation to the event along with a little handwritten message that a driver would be picking me up at six. I looked at the clock on my microwave. Twenty minutes had passed since I’d woken up. I set the plate of brownies on the coffee table and went back to my bed, hoping that I would go back to sleep. After tossing and turning, I grabbed the remote and turned on the wall TV to Netflix.

I pulled up Lost and continued season three. I lay there in bed for a few episodes until I begrudgingly decided I couldn’t waste the whole day away in bed, even though I would have loved to do just that. I got up and went to make myself something good for breakfast besides brownies. I whipped up a bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich and devoured it quickly.

Feeling the need to run, I put on some running clothes and went for a short three-mile run. Since not being able to walk because of the surgery, even for the short time it had been, I didn’t ever want to take moving for granted. I loved running along the Sarasota Bay, seeing the water and the boats passing by. It was so serene and it calmed me down. As I made my way back to the apartment, I saw a few paparazzi hanging by the entrance to my building.

“Rayne!”

“Rayne Jackson!” They started to get excited. The paparazzi and I had a steady relationship. They were just people trying to do a job, and I could respect that. They also had the power to write really nasty things, so I found it worthwhile to talk to them. I had nothing to hide anyway. I always tried to live a life that was open and honest.

“Hi guys!” I waved politely.

“Do you have a comment on Tasha’s interview last night?” the taller blond man asked. I felt myself freeze at the mention of Tasha. What had she said now?

“I actually don’t know what you’re talking about,” I admitted.

“Are you and Arson Kade dating?” the baldheaded man asked. My eyes widened. Arson Kade was the best male MMA fighter in the business, a well-known player and bad boy of the league.

“No, I haven’t even met the guy.” I blushed. Such a strange question. I hadn’t ever met him before, but I’d seen him fight. A while back I’d been in a pre-big show fight where he was the main attraction. I’d stayed after a shower and watched him battle to keep his title. He was like a God in the octagon.

“Thanks guys! I’m gonna go shower.” I made my way through the door and up to my apartment. Once in the shower I shook my head and laughed at the question about Arson Kade. Really? I couldn’t help but laugh. He dated supermodels and movie stars. I had an awesome body, don’t get me wrong, but I wasn’t soft curves with porn star boobs like those women were. I was a fighter, and he was a player, which was definitely not on my list of guys to date.

Was he super hot? Hell yes.

Would he probably rock my world? I’d bet my next orgasm he would, but was I willing to risk my heart with him? Fuck no

. Even though we were in the same fighting world, our chances of actually being in the same room together were slim. I finished my shower and got dressed in a button-up shirt and panties. I found it was best to get your makeup done with something you could unbutton versus pulling over your head.

I had just sat down for lunch when I heard Cammy’s knock. She knocked a tune, and I knew I had to finish it or there would be hell to pay. I ran to the door and finished the tune just as I was supposed to do, then opened it wide for her. She was rocking a pink flowing sundress that was very her.

“Here, help me with this.” My sweet redheaded friend thrust a metal case, which I knew was full of makeup, at me. I grabbed it and helped her take it into my bathroom, the room with the best lighting.

“Ohh lunch time,” she sang as we finished setting up her ungodly amount of beauty supplies.

“Yep, your sandwich is on the counter.” I pointed toward the plate and went back to my own.

“You’re such a peach.” She blew me a kiss and grabbed her plate to join me at my little four-seat table. Cammy and I had been friends since high school. While I was taking muay thai classes, she was taking dance and singing lessons. We’d met in freshmen English class and had just connected. She was a quirky little blue-eyed chick and I loved her for it.

“So good.” She moaned through her full mouth. We ate in silence until we both patted our flat, full tummies.

“So here’s what I’m thinking. We hang out and watch Pride and Prejudice, then start your makeup. Sound good?” I pondered over her proposal. It did sound good. I smacked the table and stood up.

“Let’s do it!” We raced around the house and got ready. Cammy popped in the movie then grabbed the blankets and tea to drink. We both loved this movie. Although the first one was a classic, we loved the Kiera Knightley version the best. We spent the next few hours reciting lines and sighing at all the right romantic moments. Didn’t all girls dream of meeting their very own Mr. Darcy? After the movie was over, we went into the bathroom and got to work on my makeup and hair.

“There. All done. Now let’s go put on that pretty dress of yours.” Cammy never allowed me to see myself until I was the complete finished product. I never minded because I trusted her and knew she always did a fabulous job. She came back from my closet with my garment bag hanging from her arms.

I’d had this dress specially designed for this event. The event was a benefit for the arts, so I wanted my dress to be a work of art itself. She carefully unzipped the bag and a big smile grew on her face.

“You are going to be killer in this babe.” She slowly pulled it out, and even more slowly, she helped me get it on. Once the dress was in place, I slid on my heels and walked to the full length mirror by my closet.

“Wow.” I looked at myself and was stunned. The dress fit me perfectly. It was a golden sequined long gown, V neck with capped sleeves that wrapped around my shoulders back to front, leaving it completely backless. My simple nude stilettos added a little simplicity to the gown. The last part of the dress my eyes kept drifting toward was the slit that went from my toes to my upper thigh. I didn’t feel even the least bit uncomfortable that my scars were showing; they were art themselves, showing the struggles I had been though. I looked up to see that my makeup was flawless. Golden hues and pink lipstick made my green eyes pop with the contrast of the black hair, which was pulled into a low messy bun with little braids weaved through the design. Cammy had added two golden ribbons to look like head bands into the mixture. I looked like a glamorous Greek goddess.

“You are amazing.” I turned to Cammy to see she was all giddy, barely containing herself.

“I know!” she squealed. She bounced over to me and gave me a quick smack on the butt.

“Time to go Cinderella, get a move on or you’re going to be late!” She nicely pushed me toward the door and handed me my clutch.

“Geez, okay I’m going!” I was kicked out of my own apartment in seconds. I half expected to see Franny outside her door trying to take pictures of me like I was her only daughter going off to prom, but she wasn’t. I moved with haste down to the lobby and out the door, where a man was standing by a Mercedes waiting for me.

“Ms. Jackson.” He bowed his head and opened the door for me. I jumped in and in a moment we were on our way.

Chapter Three

Flowers and Fucks

I could not wait to go home. The Gala had been in full swing since I’d arrived an hour before and I was dying to leave. I usually loved this museum; I could spend hours just walking around and taking it all in. That night’s event was out in the courtyard next to a giant naked statue of David—nothing like a giant naked man to keep conversations less awkward.

“Those crab cakes were the shit,” my date brilliantly commented. He was a total bust and the main reason I wanted to leave. He was good-looking, which was probably why Hope had chosen him. He was an up-and-coming model—and twenty-four years old, I might add. He had blond hair and blue eyes, and he was built, but it was just for show. He was a cocky asshole who assumed I would be putting out and that I wore my pretty dress to tease him. I was tempted to just break a limb of his and be done.

“I hadn’t tried them,” I mumbled as I stood up from my seat at the table we were at.

“Excuse me, I’m going to go use the ladies’ room.” In reality I just needed a break. The table we had been placed at had four other guests: one movie star and her hunk of the week, and a famous chef and his wife of twenty years. I enjoyed talking to the chef, but the movie starlet would interrupt and our conversations would cease.

Instead of heading toward the bathrooms, I decided to walk to the rose garden. It wasn’t too much farther away, but it was quiet, and right then, that was what I wanted. The rose garden was in full bloom and there were little lantern lights lit up around the small maze of flowers. In the middle was an Italian iron and stone gazebo. Underneath the open metal roof I sat on the stone bench and looked above at the stars, taking my first real, deep breath since I’d arrived.

“Rough night?” A smooth voice startled me from my peaceful moment. I turned toward the voice and my mouth dropped.

Arson Kade was standing there leaning against the stone pillar, not even five feet from me. My eyes roamed over him. Seeing him in the ring was nothing compared to seeing him in person. His tux fit perfectly over his well-defined body. He was tall, and looked strong. So strong. His black hair was styled all over the place, giving him that bad boy vibe he was known for, and his green eyes were piercingly bright. Whereas mine were like emeralds, his were almost lime green. It was mesmerizing. His jaw line was sharp and his full lips were set in a smirk. Just like that, I felt blush creep onto my cheeks from staring at him.

“Sorry, um you could say that again?” I decided I needed to look away from him so I turned my head back up toward the stars.

“It’s quite beautiful here. Ever been to this place before?” I heard him move to the bench across from me.

“Yes, this is my hometown actually.” I smiled. I’d enjoyed growing up in Florida, and it also meant on Mondays I got into the museum for free because I was a resident. My eyes drifted back down to him and I didn’t want to be rude, so I let my head follow my eyes. He was looking at me with that same smirk.

“I’ve never been. I’ve wanted to come to this area for a year now but could never find the right opportunity.” His eyes fixed on mine. The scene was feeling quite intense and I wasn’t sure what to make of it. Before I could stop myself, I blurted out the question that was floating in my head.

“What are you doing here? Were you here already and I interrupted you?” Now that the words were out, I found myself dying to know the answer. I had never met this man, and I had no idea why he would be there talking to me.

“I wanted to meet you.” He continued to watch me, waiting to see my reaction. He wanted to meet me; that wasn’t so bad.

“Oh,” I said quietly. I could feel his heated gaze and noticed his eyes had moved from mine down my dress and back up. A little light bulb went off in my head, and once again, no-filter mouth opened.

“I’m not that type of girl you know.” I watched as the smirk turned into a beautiful smile, one I had never seen before. God it made me feel little tingles inside.

“I know.” Holy cryptic answer. Feeling a bit out of my league, I stood and smoothed my dress.

“Well it was nice meeting you. I better get back.” I smiled and started to walk away from the strange encounter with Mr. Cryptic.

“He’s a prick you know.” I turned to him to see what he was talking about. He took in my confused face, stood, and slowly walked toward me. His walk was much like the predatory one of my dream man. I felt my body start to hum with anticipation. This was not good.

“Your boyfriend. He’s a prick. You deserve better.” He stopped a foot away from me, my four inch heels bringing us to an even height. His breath mingled with mine. I was too stunned to move. This man who I found extremely attractive was in my space, making my body start to short-circuit, telling me my boyfriend was a prick. Boyfriend?

“He’s not my boyfriend. My agent sent him as my date.” I felt a strange need to let him know that I wasn’t attached. His eyes closed and he took a deep breath. When they opened again, I swore I could have orgasmed right there in the garden. The eye fucking he was giving me was so raw I found myself leaning in to get closer.

“Good. You deserve so much more.” I took a step back, trying to disconnect whatever this was. He was Arson fucking Kade, MMA’s notorious bad boy. I didn’t need that. He was not the man I was looking for. I tried to take another step, but his strong arms reached out and brought me flush with his hard body. I didn’t even think there were any words for how his body being pressed up against mine made me feel. Every part of me was alive and sensitive.

“Ask me what you deserve.” His breath danced across my cheek. I complied without a fight.

“What do I deserve?” I spoke softly, looking into his eyes. A low rumble came from his chest and I knew I had pleased him. I felt my sex start to throb from the feeling of pleasing this man.

“You deserve to be treated like the fucking warrior goddess you are—beautiful, strong, perfect. You deserve a man that can worship your body all night softly, then pull your hair back and fuck you till you scream out in release, over and over. You deserve an equal in life, but a man to dominate you in bed. You deserve the flowers and the fucks.” His fingers gripped my bare back harder, bringing me closer to him. His hips flexed and I felt his cock hard against my sex. I mewled at the feeling.

God I wanted exactly what he said. I wanted it so badly. It was actually all I had ever wanted, but could never find. Sparks flew throughout my nerves as his nose ran along my neck. The feeling of his breath and soft touch was thrilling and yet terrifying; he affected me so strongly. Did he think he was that man he described? I wasn’t so sure. Arson Kade didn’t do flowers, he just did the fucks.

“I don’t even know you,” I whispered, but still allowed him to hold me close and tease me with his nose touching my neck.

“You will.” His voice was strong but whispered like mine. Shivers broke out over my skin.

“Rayne!” The annoying voice of my date broke through the sexual haze Arson had created around us. I leapt out of his arms, and he let me. What the hell was I doing letting him get close to me? I turned and started walking when Arson’s hand reached out and grabbed mine, stopping me. I turned at looked at him, about to tell him to let me go, when he spoke.

“You can fight everything else Rayne, but you won’t win this one. This will happen. It’s what you deserve and I am the one to show you that.” He let go, and with his parting words I turned and went back to the courtyard, then to the real bathroom to clean up my now drenched panties.

As soon as I came out of the bathroom I crashed into a hard body.

“There you are, thought you left me there. Come on, let’s go dance.” My date grabbed my hand and pulled me toward the dance area. Plenty of people were now dancing and twirling about the courtyard. It was very pretty. My date—whose name I was fairly sure was Andrew—pulled me in close and started to sway.

“You’re body’s so hot. Can’t wait to see it tonight.” His eyes glazed over while looking at me. Ick. I started to pull away but his hand tightened. My eyes narrowed at his. Did he even know who I was? I could have him on the floor faster than he could take his next breath.

“Sorry.” His hands lightened their hold.

“I just think we could be good together. I like to be dominated by a woman sometimes. You look like you could push me around a bit.” Even though that may have been true, his words hurt. I was still beautiful; just because I was a fighter didn’t mean I was some butch woman. I still had curves. I knew my self-confidence on the outside had slipped.

“Rayne,” he whispered, and then his body was ripped away from mine.

“Runaway, prick, before I break your hands for making her sad.” Arson had Andrew by the shirt and was staring down at him. He looked like the man in the octagon, a man you did not want to fuck with. Andrew nodded and quickly left with his tail between his legs. I bit my lip, feeling nervous and not sure what to do, so I did the only logical thing.

“Thank you,” I said quietly. I was having a bad time with my date and he had now removed him; I was thankful. His broad shoulders turned toward me.

“You deserve so much better.” He shook his head.

“And you still believe it’s you I deserve,” I mumbled while looking around. I figured I should probably get off the dance floor if I wasn’t going to dance. My feet moved one step before Arson’s arms shot out and wrapped around me—my back to his front, his lips at my ear.

“I am that man,” he whispered against me, and we started to sway. I felt unsure why I was letting him lead me around like that, but I decided to throw caution to the wind and let the moment happen. The music switched from some woman singing about seeing the man she wanted with another to something I was familiar with.

A small smile graced my lips hearing the tune. Arson spun me out and then pulled me back in so we were face to face. He grabbed one hand and wrapped the other around my waist.

He took a step and I followed. We moved in a flawless harmony around the floor to “You and Me” by Lifehouse. Our eyes never left one another’s. My dress swirled around me as we moved effortlessly. He led, I followed. We moved like we had been dancing together all our lives.

How my night had changed. I’d been dreading coming, and had been stuck with a date that was an asshole. Then I’d had ann encounter with Arson Kade, who seemed like he wanted me for more than just a fuck, but I wasn’t sure. To be honest, I was scared.

Arson was the type of man you didn’t recover from. We were in the same league, professionals. He traveled all the time, just like I would once I started my fights again. Both of our schedules were probably too hectic for anything more. A sigh escaped my lips.

“Why the sigh?” he asked.

“It won’t work,” I admitted with disappointment. Although I didn’t know anything about him besides his reputation, I was tempted to see if he was the man he said I deserved.

“It will. You’re it.” He brought me closer and slowed our dancing. I shook my head and started rambling.

“Why the sudden interest in me? I mean you just met me.”

“You’re not ready for that answer yet.” He stated. What the hell did that mean? I changed tactics.

“You’re Arson Kade, notorious for one-night stands, models, and being a big time fighter.” There was no room in that type of lifestyle for me. He growled and we stopped moving. His hand left mine and went to my chin, lifting it up so my eyes were fixed on his.

“You do not know me. I am Arson Kade, your future,” he vowed. I wasn’t sure what to make of his brashness. I decided to call his bluff and make my exit.

“Prove it,” I challenged. His eyes flared and his jaw tightened. I used the moment of uncertainty to escape from his grasp and walk toward the exit. Even though I shouldn’t have, my body turned on its own to see him one last time. He was staring at me with that smirk plastered on his face.

“Challenge accepted Princess,” he yelled. I swiftly turned toward the exit, grinning like a fool. It would be interesting to see someone like Arson Kade pursue his conquest, and I wasn’t going to make it easy on him either. I wanted everything he said I deserved, but the jury was still out on him being that man. I needed soft as well as hard. Arson Kade looked like a man that only gave hard.

My driver was called by the valet and showed up shortly.

Thoughts of Arson’s touch consumed my mind the whole way home.

Chapter Four

Arson Fucking Kade

His arms were so strong wrapped around me. His warm breath tickled my neck, making me squirm. His hands moved and one palmed my breast, making my breath hitch. A growl rumbled from the man behind me, then a stiff cock was pressed between the cheeks of my ass. My body arched into it without my official say so. It craved him. It knew what it wanted, and what it wanted was him.

His arm suddenly disappeared and then smacked me in the face.

“What the hell!” I woke up and looked around. Cammy was lying in bed next to me, spread out like a starfish. I rubbed my head, trying to alleviate the sting. It was funny—I got hit all the time, but something about getting hit while you slept made it feel so much worse.

Rolling over, I looked at the time: 5:40. Well at least I wasn’t up too much earlier than I have needed to been. Deciding I better get a move on, I got up and out of bed, heading toward the bathroom. I did my stuff and washed my face.

Thankfully Cammy had special makeup remover so all extra five pounds of makeup were gone. On soft feet so I wouldn’t wake the sleeping beauty, I went into the kitchen and made myself some green tea. I had always been a morning person, which made training pretty easy for me. As soon as I sat down and took my first sip of the hot tea, my mind drifted toward Arson.

It seemed like I couldn’t help but respond to him. His dark hair and green eyes called to me like a siren’s song, but it was also more than that. He was a strong man, both in physical strength and mental. He knew what he wanted and he went for it. Like my dream man. Question was, how badly did he want me? I sipped some more of my tea and decided I needed to think of something else. It was more likely that I would never see him unless we were at the same fight night. I needed to forget about him.

The sound of my alarm made me set my tea down in a hurry and run to turn it off. Shit! I’d forgotten to turn it off when I’d woken up early. I didn’t want to wake the beast up—Cammy was sweet as could be, until she woke up in the morning. I mentally cursed myself as I hit the button and silenced the noise. I should have made her coffee. I looked over at her, waiting to see if she woke up. She was still lying there, not moving. An audible sigh flew from my lungs—until I heard a groan.

The beast was waking.

“I knew I shouldn’t have slept over last night. You and your stupid alarm clock.” She sat up like one of the walking dead. Her red hair was everywhere, making her look like a troll doll. I couldn’t help the giggle that bubbled up from my throat.

“Why did you stay?” I inquired. I’d come home from The Gala to find Cammy reading on my couch and had been thankful I hadn’t brought a man home; that would have been awkward. I’d told her it had gone well and had gone to the bathroom to clean up and take my dress off. When I was done, I didn’t hear her anywhere, so I’d just gone to bed.

“Coffee first,” she grumbled and got out of my bed, shuffling to the bathroom. Oh my Cammy. I went to work on her coffee. By the time she shuffled toward my little dining table, I had her coffee ready and waiting for her. She grumbled some more and drank her coffee.

“So, why the impromptu sleepover?” I asked again.

“I could tell you were so full of shit about everything going fine last night. If it had been fine you would have had a nice piece of ass coming home with you. So dish. I didn’t just cuddle up with you for nothing. I’m not that desperate yet.” She was back to her normal self and not the beast. I sat down with her.

“My date sucked. He was a conceited ass. He thought I would be a dom to him.” I took a sip of my sort of warm tea.

“Asshole. So what happened next?” I raised my eyebrow at her.

“What makes you think something else happened?” It was her turn to raise her eyebrow at me. Her look said don’t mess with me woman. Even though I could snap her like a twig, I would never cross her. She got you back in evil ways like Kool-aid mixture in the showerhead, or toothpaste switched with lube—how she did that one I would never know.

“I met Arson Kade last night. He went all ‘you deserve flowers and fucks’ and he said he was my future.” I sipped my tea like what I had said was no big deal. She stared at me in confusion.

“Arson Kade…I know that name.” She pondered, then I saw the light bulb go off in her head.

“ARSON FUCKING KADE!” she screamed. I winced from the window-breaking high octave that came out of her.

“Yes,” I confirmed.

“Why the hell did you come home alone? If Arson Kade said he was my future and wanted to give me flowers and fucks, you bet your sweet bottom I would latch onto him like a fucking leech.” The coffee was on the table and her hands were flailing around.

“He’s Arson Kade. I’m not the girl for him, and to be honest Cam, he scares me. Not like physically, but he affects me so much. He could hurt me if he wasn’t serious.” I looked down at my tea. I was glad I had her and could tell her my feelings.

“Well.” I looked at her to see her pondering face in full force. “I say wait and see what happens. It is kind of interesting that all of a sudden, after meeting you once, he is making such declarations of being your future.”

“I agree with you there. I asked him and he said I wasn’t ready for the answer yet. What does that even mean?” I groaned.

“Sooo did you kiss him?” She leaned in and looked eager for my answer. I kinda wished we had kissed, but was glad we hadn’t because if his lips had touched mine, I wouldn’t have walked away.

“Nope, but we danced. He is a really good dancer—like, we waltzed to “You and Me” by Lifehouse.” I swooned. It was romantic thinking back on it. Cammy oohed over it like I did. I looked over at the clock and saw that it was time for me to get ready to train.

“I’ve gotta get ready.” I stood and took my cup to the sink.

“I’ll be out of here once I’m truly awake. I’ve got a busy day at the studio.” Cammy owned a beauty salon by the bay, and did really well for herself. I simply nodded and went to my room to get dressed in my workout gear, then grabbed my gym bag, which contained a change of clothes and toiletries for a shower afterward. I waved goodbye and set out toward the gym.

I pulled up to the warehouse-looking building with the sign out front that said The Underground. I had started training there when I was a teenager and it was like a second home to me. I parked next to a line of trucks and headed inside quickly. I was eager to get the cardio out of the way and start on some striking.

The sound of men hitting punching bags and grappling welcomed me as I walked into the building.

“Jackson! Get your ass in here.” That would be the angry voice of my coach, Brady. I always called him Coach. He’d been one of the top fighters of his day until he’d gotten hurt and had never truly recovered. He used his knowledge and skills to help train others.

“Jackson!” he yelled. With my bag in my hand, I walked over to his little office behind the ring.

“Whatcha do now Rayne?” teased a fighter named Damon while he watched two men in the ring doing jiu-jitsu.

“Beats me.” I shrugged and kept walking toward the open door to the only office in the building. Coach’s office was pretty tidy. He really didn’t have many things scattered about, just a few pictures on the wall of the successful fighters he’d trained, his grandkids, and the love of his life, Jules. She was a sweet lady.

Coach was sitting at his desk fiddling on a tablet when I entered. He looked pretty good for a man in his fifties. He was fit and muscular, and had a full head of sandy blond hair, blue eyes, and a five o’clock shadow along his jaw. I hoped my future husband looked as good as him when we got older.

“What’s up Coach?” I dropped my bag and sat down on the leather couch that was on the opposite side of the room from his desk. He put his tablet down and looked me over.

“Didn’t go overboard at that Gala did you girl? No boozing?” He was trying to see if I was hungover; I wasn’t, not even close.

“Fit as a fiddle.” I smiled big. He nodded.

“Good, good. We’ve had a big donation to the gym so I'll be getting new bags soon, and I’ve taken on another fighter, so you’ve got a new sparring partner. I think the match will be good for you. You could definitely learn a lot from him.” I got excited. New blood. One thing that set me apart from the other female fighters is that I preferred to train with men over women. Men were faster, harder, and less emotional. It helped me when fighting women that I was so used to fighting men. I couldn’t wait to meet the new guy and see what fresh skills he brought to the ring.

“Can’t wait,” I told Coach. “Was there anything else you needed?” I was ready to get to work.

“Just checking on you girl. You’re like a daughter to me.” He huffed and then went back to his tablet, obviously uncomfortable with the emotions that came out of him. He was all manly on the outside, but a soft teddy bear on the inside. I loved it. My father had passed away when I was young, so when I’d started coming there at a young age, Coach had sort of taken over that role in a way.

“Get on the bike and warm up. You’ve got striking thirty minutes after that. Take a break to stretch, then do some ropes, switch to the bag for thirty, then meet me at the ring for grappling. We need to get your ground work solid.” I nodded and grabbed my bag, ready to sweat and kick ass.

My legs burned from the bike and striking with Garrett, a six foot, two hundred thirty pound fighter. He was one of the best at the gym and I loved training with him. He never took it too easy on me, always pushing me to best him, which I actually did a few times that day. I bent over and grabbed the thick heavy ropes. Lowering myself to a squat position, I moved my arms, creating a wave motion in the ropes. This exercise was always torture on my arms, but it was a sweet kind of torture. I was one of those freaks that liked to work out and feel the burn.

After doing three sets of twenty waves, I stretched my arms and back briefly before heading to the bag. Coach hadn’t given me any specific instructions on what he wanted me to do on the bag, so I figured I would work on some combo moves.

I took a large swig of Gatorade and wrapped my hands, knowing I would need them wrapped for grappling anyway. I went to town on the bag and smiled the whole time doing it. I had missed this so much when I was bedridden. With precision hits and kicks, I felt like a warrior.

Chapter Five

I’m here for you

“Jackson! The ring!” Coach called me over. I wiped my face off with my workout rag and drank some more Gatorade before jogging over to the ring.

“Here,” I announced myself. Coach nodded and looked me over.

“Combos?” he guessed. I simply nodded and waited for him to tell me what we were going to do for grappling. Would he get up in the ring with me? Maybe Damon? Or maybe it would be the new person. I looked around and didn’t see any new faces, so I assumed it was either Coach or one of the other fighters.

“Alex, you’re up.” He yelled at a man who was chatting with two others; he looked over and smiled mischievously. Great, this will be interesting. Alex had a crush on me, one that was not mutual. Like most fighters, he was attractive, but he was an even bigger manwhore than Arson was. My body warmed thinking of Arson, even though it was in the pretext of him being a manwhore. Silly girl.

“Let’s go Rayne babe.” Ugh. I hated when he called me that. Sometimes I thought he did it to rile me up, which I guessed I should have been thankful for because it meant I always had motivation to beat his ass—which is exactly what happened most of the time.

I hopped up and climbed through the ropes, arms up and ready. Coach started yelling things for us to do but my eyes never left Alex’s. Rule number one in the ring: never take your eyes off your opponent.

Alex smiled and attacked first with a right jab, then brought his left knee up, which I blocked. I kicked up high and he blocked it. We went back and forth, trading blows before we made it to the mat and started grappling. One advantage I had over the men was that I was more flexible. I had my legs around him in guard position. With my ankles locked ,he wasn’t going anywhere.

Hit after hit I knocked him around, and then he used his sheer strength to lift me up and turn the tables on me. I was on the bottom with him trying to get me in an arm bar, which I got out for fear it would be over after that. I got up to my feet and he had me up against the ropes in seconds, obviously enjoying my body pressed up against his. Our arms were around each other, locked, trying to find an out to make a move.

“You’re getting better. Come on Rayne. Get out of this one and I’ll take you out to celebrate tonight. That should be good motivation,” he teased. He knew I wouldn’t date him, but he still used every chance he had to flirt.

“My turn.” A new voice spoke loudly from outside the ring. Both Alex and I looked toward the voice and my body tensed, which Alex took advantage of; we fell to the floor together. I stopped fighting and stared at the man standing a few feet away from me. Arson.

His face was hard and his jaw was locked, his eyes glued above me. It was then I noticed that Alex was on top of me. I looked at Alex and saw him staring at Arson.

“Get off of me.” I pushed and he went. Coach walked up to the ring and broke the tension that had settled in the air.

“Rayne, meet your new partner, Arson.” I heard Alex scoff behind me, but I ignored him and crawled over to where he was. Arson’s eyes left Alex’s and went back to mine. Heat and the look of pure raw desire flashed in his beautiful green eyes.

I realized I probably shouldn’t have crawled toward him like a lioness. Once I got to the ropes in front of him, I sat up and put my hand out for a shake.

“Rayne Jackson.” I smiled and his heated look stayed, but a smirk appeared on his face.

“Arson Kade.” His hand wrapped around mine and little tingles shot up my arm and spread throughout my body. I took a deep breath to calm myself and then pulled back from our shake.

“Jackson, take a break then get back in the ring with Arson.”

I nodded to Coach and jumped out of the ring in front of Arson. I headed over to the bathrooms to collect my thoughts without saying anything to the sexy fighter behind me.

I relived myself and went over to sink, taking in my appearance while washing my hands. My cheeks were red and my hair was a mess, strands hanging out from my tight bun on the top of my head. What in the world was Arson doing there? Was he really serious about everything with me?

God I was so frazzled. Knowing I better get back out there, I spla