Authors: Liberty Thunderbolt,Zac Robinson
© 2015 by Zac Robinson
This book is a work of fiction. The names, places, characters, and events are products of the writer’s imagination or have been used fictitiously and should not be construed as real. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, actual events, locales, or organizations is coincidental. All rights are reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any manner without the written permission from the author.
MMA Contemporary Suspense
e felt it in his hardened bones. The energy pulsed from head to toe and rattled every muscle. Bretten Maris breathed deeply and remained as calm as one could under the circumstances.
His one hundred seventy pound well-developed build was graced with a handsome, not yet scarred face. His hair was thick and dark.
Bretten shook one gloved hand and then the other. He peered through the cage, seeing the high rollers who lost enough money to be given the expensive seats, and then the celebrities who wanted to cozy up to the bloody human chess match.
He spotted her in the third row. She stood behind two NFL stars and their trophies for the night. The arena lights reflected off the football players’ jewelry making it difficult to gain a clear view of his fiancée. Bretten squinted through the glare. Her glossy brown hair fell to her shoulders. Her stunning eyes met his. He sensed a tinge of unease in them, but supposed it could be expected since he was about to be in a cage fight. She was unaware that he felt more than a tinge of unease for her.
She rubbed her right hand up and down her muscular butterfly-laden stomach, and blew him a kiss with her left. Bretten managed a smile as he brought a gloved hand to his lips and returned the gesture. He glanced to the man in the seat to her left. His jaw was set and his chest heaved as he nodded in a manner that could be either menacing or pleading.
Bretten wanted to go to her, needed to be by her side, but he couldn’t, at least not yet. He looked one last time and felt himself drifting towards her. It had not been that long ago when they were in this very same arena. She was the one in the cage on that wonderful night.
Bretten thought of the way she looked after her fight when she climbed out of the shower and brushed against him. And then he thought of her lying on the bed in the hotel room, her naked body glistening with the lotion as he massaged her with his strong hands.
He’d fallen in love with her, but at moments like these he wanted to ravage her. He wanted his hands and mouth to explore every inch of her gorgeous body. She was water in the middle of a desert and he had to gulp greedily.
He remembered the way her sexy body looked as she sighed deeply when his fingers traced up her inner thighs. And when she turned over with that shy yet sensual look in her eyes it made him go crazy. Then she pulled him towards her, their bodies pressing against each other, rapid breathing syncing together in harmony…her legs around his…her hips gently swaying to meet his…her soft moans…the heat between their bodies…the long and slow strokes of passion…
He had to have that again and again. More importantly, he had to ensure that he did not lose her. She was the one who could help save him from his past. He knew he could do the same for her.
Bretten snapped back into the moment when his coach, cagefighting legend Whittney Daulton, barked a few last minute instructions. “Keep your hands up. Remember he loads up on his right.” His deep set eyes were slits. The crow’s feet added to their look of determination. “Stay off the fence, no slugfests, you have better skills, use them.”
Whit was difficult to hear over the blaring hip-hop that ate up every inch of the arena and surely cut through the casino right into the warm Vegas night. Bretten had gone over these instructions with his coach hundreds of times. He knew the game plan. It had taken hours of video on his opponent and weeks of training to come to fruition. But he doubted he would execute it in the fashion Whit expected. He hated this fact, but there was a lot more on the line than his coach realized.
The music faded and the cage announcer’s booming voice took its place. “Ladies and Gentleman, we are
at the beautiful Tropical Sands Hotel and Casino…” his words became distant and slipped to the edge of Bretten’s awareness.
His best friend and other cornerman, Rodrigo Cortez, stood next to Whit on the apron just outside the cage. He clutched the fence and leaned in with only inches of space between his mouth and Bretten’s ear. “Do what you have to do.”
The broad statement normally wouldn’t have carried much weight, but now it dug into the twenty-four-year old cagefighter’s soul.
Bretten turned to face his opponent for the first time. The intense environment faded.
He heard his name as it shot from the announcer’s lungs. He raised his arm. The roar of the crowd leaked into his ears. He focused on the third man in the cage, referee Daniel McCoy, as he motioned him to the halfway point. Bretten hoped McCoy would be on his game.
Bretten rolled his neck twice, shook both arms once again, and strode with purpose to the center of the universe. He fixed a glare on his opponent. The burning anger that had set him on this course a year earlier had slowly died down. He didn’t hold any true malice toward Rogerio Silva, but Bretten knew that the Brazilian was hungry for his chance at glory and would do everything in his power to knock him unconscious, put unbearable pressure on a joint or artery, or beat him until McCoy dove in to stop it.
Silva did not care that he was a three to one underdog. He believed in himself and expected to batter Bretten over the next few minutes. A win tonight pushed him a step closer to reaching the pinnacle, a fight for the United Cagefighting Championship’s (UCC) welterweight title.
Bretten however appreciated even more than Silva that they were participating in a high-stakes game, one that dwarfed any craps table or poker room.
McCoy bellowed instructions into the microphone. “Obey my commands at all times. Protect yourselves at all times...” Bretten did not really listen. He knew the rules, knew what had to be done, “...If you cannot defend yourself I will stop the fight. Do you understand?”
Bretten nodded on cue. Not in answer, more as an affirmation to himself, one that stopped his nerves for a final time and shook away any lingering doubt. This was for her, his love. There was no question that he’d do it.
“Let’s Fight!” McCoy yelled.
The two men hustled to meet each other and touched gloves as a sign of respect.
They circled for a few seconds before Silva, known for his wild yet lethal striking, followed a weak left jab with a straight right. Bretten slipped the punch and countered with a left hook to the ribs. Silva shot toward Bretten’s legs, the unexpected move almost worked, but Bretten sprawled and pressed his hips into Silva. The Brazilian fought to take control. Bretten didn’t allow it. The two struggled in this position.
“Keep working men,” McCoy said. But the jostling for position let up for a split second and Silva forced the fight to a standing Muay Thai clinch.
Silva delivered two explosive knees to Bretten’s left leg and three more to his gut. Coach Whit yelled over the buzz of the crowd, “Get off the damn cage. Get out of the clinch.”
Bretten could have done so if he chose, but he remained and threw a weak knee that did nothing to Silva. “Get out of the clinch.” Whit pleaded again. “Wake up out there.”
Again the young fighter didn’t heed his coach’s advice. He let Rogerio pull his head down and waited for the impact. His opponent’s knee caught him square on the chin. The crowd roared.
Despite his intentions, his instinct for survival took over. Bretten forced his right hand onto Rogerio’s chin and pushed it toward the sky. The next knee connected with Bretten’s chest. He then drove his fist into Silva’s stomach.
The blow caused the aggressor to retreat from the clinch, but he fired a succession of wild punches. Every fiber of Bretten’s being screamed,
get off the cage, fight back, protect yourself
, but he did none of it.
An overhand right split the skin above Bretten’s left eye. Blood rained from the cut, nestled in his socket, then tumbled to the floor. “Move your feet,” Whit yelled. “Don’t bang with him.”
Even with blood-soaked vision and dazed from the repeated blows, he heard his coach and caught a glimpse of the left hook. He could have avoided it, but let it connect. Silva’s fist crashed into Bretten’s mouth. Streaks of light jumped across his vision, his head felt as if it was full of water. His legs stopped working. McCoy dove between the two men, wrapping his arms around Silva in order to protect Bretten from further damage.
Minutes after UCC 132
oach Whit and Rodrigo helped Bretten shuffle through the frenzied crowd. Mostly encouragement came from the keyed up fans, but a few drunks unleashed some insults.
It only took Bretten a minute or two to regain his faculties. The left hook was not as devastating as it could have been. It did knock him senseless, but only for a few seconds. The three men entered the solace of the tunnel and the scenery shifted to something much more industrial. Pipes ran along the ceiling and silver metal garage doors hung from walls. Their rubber underbellies pressed against the concrete floor hiding an array of items from concession supplies to heavy machinery. Everything needed to ensure the arena ran smoothly whether it was playing host to fights or figure skating.
Whit Daulton stopped in front of one of those silver doors and turned toward his beaten fighter. “What the hell was that? You fought like crap, almost like you weren’t trying.”
“I don’t know,” Bretten said. “I guess I just didn’t have it tonight.”
“Don’t feed me that load of crap. I’ve been on the losing end of a few fights, have had a lot of fighters get stopped, but I couldn’t give a shit less about that as long as I believe a best effort was given.”
Bretten couldn’t meet his coach’s eyes. Whit was one of the smartest, toughest men he had ever met. He hated keeping him in the dark, but it was the only way. “I know Whit, I’m sorry.”
“You know? You’re sorry? I know and I’m sorry that you half-assed it tonight. What I don’t know is why, but I hope you’re going to manage to tell me sooner rather than later.”
Whit shook his head and let out a low growl as he spun and stormed off. The two men watched their mentor go. Rodrigo took a deep breath. “Damn man.”
“Come on,” Bretten said. “I need to talk to Holmes before he goes out.”
The hallway ended in a T, the men turned to the left and stopped at the first door on the right. It read,
Fighter Tristan Holmes
. Bretten pushed the metal door open and found the six-foot-tall Holmes shadowboxing in a sponsor-covered T-shirt and lathered in a glistening sheen of sweat. He met Bretten at the threshold while still throwing punches, his barbed wire and flame tattoos distorted by the speed of his hands. “Nice fight, you looked like a little bitch out there.”
Bretten wanted to take him down and beat him, but the consequences of that would be far reaching. He instead pushed his Vaseline and blood-streaked face to just inches from Tristan’s ear and stuck a finger at the man. “Now it is your turn. You know what to do, right?”
The long blonde hair was pushed back in a ponytail so it would not impede Tristan’s vision. He offered a crooked smirk. “Quit the groveling. I know what to do. I’ve known her way longer than you.”
Bretten’s forearms tensed and his knuckles turned white. He hated this bastard and wanted to hurt him. He was unable to jeopardize the fragile arrangement because the event coordinator stuck his shiny head through the doorway. “It’s time,” he said.
Tristan’s entourage sprung to action, and Tristan punched Rodrigo on the arm. “Show time loser.”
Bretten snaked both hands around his friend’s left arm and dragged him back into the hallway.
* * *
The closed-circuit television boomed with old-school DMX,
Up in Here
. The music thumped, DMX sang about losing his mind, and the camera showed Tristan Holmes bouncing toward the cage, bobbing his head to the beat and high-fiving fans. Bretten and Rodrigo turned away from the spectacle and got to work removing the tape from Bretten’s hands. “Let’s hurry up and get this post-fight crap over with,” Rodrigo said. “We’ve got to get back to the arena.”
“I’ll feel better when we’re both by her side,” Bretten said. “If needed, I can do something about it this time.”
Rodrigo understood exactly what Bretten was saying. She could handle herself, but they needed to be next to her. His fiancée stood in the middle of what could be a raging storm if the next bout did not turn out as planned. “You don’t think those guys would do anything here do you, I mean in the arena?” Bretten asked. “Plus surely Tristan will do it?”
“I don’t know bro. It depends on how much we believe. And right now I wouldn’t count on Tristan for anything.”
As expected, the medical staff was not far behind the fighters. Rodrigo cut off the last piece of wet tape and moved out of the way so the men could evaluate Bretten. A preliminary check in the cage after the knock out revealed he was fine, but United Cagefighting Championship was very cautious when it came to protecting its commodities. A doctor ran Bretten through a series of tests and cleaned out the cut above his eye.
Another doctor finished cleaning the wound and removed a jar of liquid bandage from his kit. Bretten was glad the light blue peptide-filled goop would suffice instead of stitches.“Cut’s not too bad at all,” the doc said. “Four days and get it checked again, due to the knockout you’ll be placed on a thirty day no contact suspension.”
This was all standard, both Bretten and Rodrigo had been around the fight game long enough now, and the look in Bretten’s eyes told his friend that he was getting frustrated with the slowness of the process. In an effort to push things along Rodrigo spoke up as he snatched Bretten’s open bag and tossed it to him. “Thanks doc, that about cover it?”
“You’re all clear to go, no trip to the hospital this time,” the doctor said.
The medical team headed for the door, and Bretten reached into his bag. A shower was in order, but he glanced at the television. Holmes and his opponent were stalking around the cage, their fight about to start. A new T-shirt would have to do. He groped for his shirt and touched something soft and furry. He yanked his hand back. “I think there is a mouse or rat in my bag.”
“For being a big tough fighter you sure are a wussy sometimes,” Rodrigo said.
Bretten regrouped and grabbed whatever it was that made him jump.
“Big baby, look out it might have teeth,” Rodrigo said.
It was a white teddy bear with marble black eyes and a tiny red shirt that read
I Love Vegas
. Its paws wrapped around in the front and connected. A folded heart rested between the bear’s belly and paws. Bretten pulled on his shirt and opened the heart-shaped card. He read the words once, then again, and was almost knocked out for a second time in the last ten minutes...
There’s going to be another fighter in the house...Love you!
“What’s it say lover boy?”
Bretten handed the card to Rodrigo. His broad face broke into a smile. He laughed and sang. “Oh my God, you gonna be a father, you gonna be a father.” He then stopped in mock consideration and added, “Uh oh, unless it’s mine bro.”
“She actually goes for guys with more than two inches and less than three balls,” Bretten said.
Rodrigo made a fist and gave his friend knuckles. “Hey, it’s a medical condition. You know how hard it is to find the right sized cup...big congrats!”
The men got so caught up in the huge and unexpected news that for a second they forgot the weight of their situation. They were brought back to it as the room vibrated thanks to the roaring arena. They turned to the television in time to see Tristan Holmes land a nasty high kick just ten seconds into his fight. His opponent dropped to his butt, and then fell to his back into the guard position in an effort to recover and protect himself. Holmes pounced, passed guard and began pounding. The gravity of what they were witnessing took hold.
They bolted through the door and into the guts of the arena.
The hallway seemed to stretch with each step. They flew past the doctors who’d left their room moments before. The fight was just stopped, the crowd going crazy. They fought through a throng of people and scanned a blur of faces in search of her. Rodrigo spotted her first and snatched his friend’s shoulder. “Over there, Bretten.”
The football players were full of adrenaline-induced ecstasy and re-enacting the final moments of the fight. Their trophies tried hard to look put off by it all, but underneath their facades sat their very own pent up pools of adrenaline, not as much as their men, but adrenaline just the same. Then Bretten saw her.
She was hunched over. Her left hand on one of the standing football player’s vacated seats. She was in her own world, unaffected by the hysterical surroundings. This alone was troubling, but as he pushed through the fans he noticed her eyes appeared moist, out of focus.
She did not see him as he raced between the first row of excited fans and the animated cageside announcers. She did not see him as he turned up the aisle only three steps away.
But he saw her. Her right arm hugged her stomach. Her right hand clutched her left side. And to Bretten’s horror, he saw glistening blood shining like the football players’ jewelry. It spilled through her fingers. Her left hand slipped off the chair, she stumbled, and like he had done only minutes ago and feet away, she crumpled.
Her head slammed into the chair in front of her, but Bretten caught her before she hit the concrete. He yelled, but it harmonized with the chaos in the arena. Bretten’s mind was numb. He’d found his love, and now it had come to this. He couldn’t take any more heartache and felt himself breaking.
Her blood-soaked fingers slid from his shirt and wrapped around his shaking hand. She squeezed. He realized he was still holding the teddy bear. She searched for his face with her eyes, and found it. Her lips curled up slightly and quivered. She blinked rapidly, and then her eyes closed.