DARE: A Bad Boy Romance

BOOK: DARE: A Bad Boy Romance
7.59Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

This is a work of fiction. Any names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, organizations, or persons--living or dead--is entirely coincidental.


DARE copyright @ 2016 by Carmen Faye. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission except in the case of brief quotations embedded in critical articles or reviews.




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The more the audience roared its approval, the more nervously Holly Watkins watched her boyfriend in the ring. Something just wasn’t right. So what if he was one of the top UFC Heavyweight contenders in the world; so what if he had a legion of diehard fans who thought he could do no wrong; and so what if the bookies had him as the clear favorite to win this bout within the first two rounds. The simple fact remained that there was something…off about Trey.


Case in point: he was showboating at every opportunity. Not that he had never showboated before, but the timing of those taunts and crowd-courting gestures was not random tonight. They were not fueled by confidence, by bravado. No. The audience might be lapping them up, but Holly was seeing a pattern here, one that fit neither Trey Oregon’s character nor his usual game plan in the ring. And it scared the hell out of her.


Again the missed attack from Trey, again the vicious counter by his opponent, Jesus Boyega, a journeyman brawler who’d scored a few notable victories in his day but was now past his prime. He was a kick boxer by trade, a fighter with enough speed to keep Trey on his toes, but he was technically limited at close quarters; Trey’s takedown skills were legendary, and everyone seemed to sense it was only a matter of time before he got inside Boyega’s jabs and kicks and whipped the guy off his feet.


Everyone except Holly.


She squirmed in her front row VIP seat as her boyfriend feigned a lunge and lost his balance, taking a hard kick to the temple. He jogged around his opponent and shook off the knock. The showboating resumed again, to the crowd’s delight. He was suggesting that nothing could hurt him today, that as long as he kept his sense of humor, he was in control of this fight.


Trey’s out-of-nowhere spinning roundhouse kick almost landed. It shaved the top off Boyega’s spiky hair, the surprise sending the older fighter off balance and onto the ropes. A tide of
lifted the audience to its feet in anticipation. But Trey hung back, dancing instead of following up his advantage. That was just not like him
at all.
He’d been a ruthless son of a bitch throughout his career in MMA, and not just in the ring; he knew how to hurt and when to hurt, and he could be so punishing, so relentless when his blood was up. Holly could vouch for that. Hell, it still stung deep inside whenever she thought about it, all those times when they’d be alone and he’d—


The bell rang for the end of round two. She shivered with relief, shook her head to banish the bad memories. Hopefully, he would recompose himself in time. He’d given such a bizarre, lackluster performance in the second round, after that theatrical opening. Maybe his trainer, Gunny Washington, could help straighten his head.


But the patterns began to pile up in Holly’s mind: from Trey’s behavior, which had become more and more erratic of late, to his impatience with his fans who wanted to take selfies with him, to the blatant ways he flirted with girls who were mostly hotter and younger than Holly, while she was
right there.
He’d always been spontaneous and sure of himself; those were both things she’d found attractive about him when they’d first met. But that spontaneity had lately turned callous, moody, and that confidence had taken on darker dimensions. Abusive ones. There were times when he didn’t seem to be fully in control of himself anymore, as though a part of him was unraveling.


That second round had seemed to confirm it. Trey had been wild, undisciplined. His showboating was an act to cover up something missing in his fights and in himself. She was worried for him. And she was worried for herself. What would he be like after


The ring girl, white and stick-thin and an absolutely gorgeous Eastern European, strutted around the octagonal ring as if she belonged there, the center of all the men’s gazes. Holly narrowed her eyes as she watched. No amount of dieting or yoga or gym work could ever make her look like that, and though Trey hadn’t commented on it much recently, she knew he made that comparison whenever he saw a girl who looked as good as this girl did. The rumor that he’d slept with two ring girls at once in Vegas a few months back was just that to Holly—a rumor—but his recent wild behavior did make her think twice.


So this was what he
wanted? A Russian doll with legs that never ended and a stomach flat as a washboard and perky tits and a face as sweet and defined as Christmas candy? Yeah, and she’d probably been had by half the Neanderthals on the MMA circuit, the little tramp. But even so, Holly couldn’t help feeling that she—full-figured but slightly dumpy Holly Watkins—wasn’t really what guys like Trey wanted in this sport. Why else would they consistently parade Victoria’s Secret wannabes in the ring between rounds? And how come she didn’t get half the attention the other fighters’ wives and girlfriends seemed to get?


Face it; he’s going to dump my ass sooner or later, whatever happens.


She glanced at either side of her to the other women seated in the VIP section. The bling brigade was out in force, diamond jewelry and designer couture—plus accessories—adorning figures slimmer and more plastic than Holly’s. One or two of them met her gaze and nodded, letting her know she was at least “in the club”—that was until Trey traded her up for one of his ring hoes.


Holly twined her purse chain around her knuckles until it began to bite. The Russian stick insect left the ring and flicked Trey a wink as she walked by. He didn’t smile at her or acknowledge her personally in any way, but his gaze definitely followed her, the way an obedient dog eyes a treat before he’s given permission to snatch it. And in that moment she felt lower, more unwanted than she’d ever felt at one of his fights. For Christ’s sakes,
distracted Trey Oregon in the middle of a fight. Certainly not Holly, with whom he’d never once made eye contact. Not once in all the years she’d been dating him.


So, his girlfriend didn’t exist, but Little Miss Stick Insect was the distraction he wanted. Had the rumors been right all along? Who else knew? Those wives and girlfriends who’d nodded at her just now? Maybe all the other fighters were in on it and she was the heavyweight butt of a joke at her expense. Was this what MMA was really about, and she’d been too dumb to see it all this time?


At the other side of the ring she spotted Duke “Sparky” McClaren, the former UFC Middleweight champ, sitting at the commentary table. Did he know about Trey and his leggy harem? Did
have one, unbeknownst to Charlene, his fiancée?


Then she spotted one of Trey’s rival contenders for the Heavyweight crown, that scary-looking ex-Marine or something who people couldn’t stop talking about on the circuit. Shoulders like Thor. Tattoos up the wazoo. Dare was his name; though she’d met him briefly at a charity event a few months back, she couldn’t for the life of her remember his surname. But he seemed to be looking in her direction. It was hard to tell because he wore shades. Did
have a phonebook full of ring girls’ numbers? Probably. Maybe a tattoo for every one he’d mission-accomplished along the way.


Doubtful if he was looking at her then. There were much skinnier wives and girlfriends than her among the bling brigade tonight.


Round three. Trey went in swinging wildly. He caught his opponent with two or three massive punches that rocked Boyega onto the ropes. A heave of excitement lifted the audience to its feet. Holly got up, her hands clasped under her chin, almost in prayer.
Please let him finish it here
, she thought. Trey wasn’t himself tonight, and she didn’t want this bout lasting another round. He crowded Boyega, hunting for an opening so he could apply one of his famous submission holds and—


Boyega exploded up from his defensive cocoon and landed a vicious knee to Trey’s chin. It sent Trey reeling back in a daze. Holly winced and found she could barely watch. A thunderous roar all around her insisted a decisive blow had just been struck. She felt it too, in her bones. Trey’s legs began to buckle, and he had to use the ropes to steady himself. The showboating was gone. Boyega hit him again and again, stalking him around the perimeter of the octagon like a big cat playing rough with its wounded prey.


“Referee, stop it!” she yelled. “Can’t you see he’s done? He can’t even
What are you doing, you stupid prick?”


The bearded Hispanic Boyega showed no mercy. His roundhouse kick knocked Trey hard into a corner; Holly’s man collapsed to his knees, clinging to the ropes to keep himself upright. Why didn’t he just go down? Tap out?
Why isn’t that idiot referee stopping this?


Boyega raised his arms in victory. The crowd began to chant his name: “Bo-
-ga! Bo-
-ga!” But the fight wasn’t over yet. For some reason, the referee had not intervened. And it felt like the whole world wanted to see Trey suffer. He was done. Everyone could see he was done. But they wanted to see him hurt some more, humiliated some more.


“What the fuck is wrong with you?” She began to shake with anger. The chain of her Prada purse slid from her grip and fell to the floor. She picked it up and slammed it onto the seat behind her. The man next to her frowned at her, then hollered something at the ring she couldn’t make out amid the noise.


Boyega dragged Trey off the ropes, stood over him where he knelt. With his hands aloft, he seemed to orchestrate the unanimous chant around the arena: “Bo-
-ga! Bo-
-ga!” Then, after raising a single fist and waiting for the accompanying cheer, he went in for the kill. His submission hold of choice: the rear naked choke. He would squeeze Trey’s airway shut and wait until he either tapped out or fainted from lack of oxygen.


It went on…and on. Holly closed her eyes, but no part of her could escape this nightmare. Whatever damage Trey had sustained to make him behave so erratically in the previous round, it would only be getting worse. His brain starved of oxygen, but refusing to submit: this could be serious.


And nobody—
seemed to give a shit.


She looked up, tears clouding her vision, and saw someone leap into the ring. Holly wiped her eyes. The referee tried to stop the interloper, but the interloper just threw him aside. She recognized who it was, but it didn’t make sense. Why would Dare What’s-his-face, the ex-Marine or whatever the hell he was, do something so stupid? So reckless. Unless…he’d seen what she’d seen in Trey?


He slapped a headlock on Boyega and quickly pried him off Trey. Then Dare flung the bearded Hispanic across the ring and warned him not to try anything else. The crowd booed him, several ring officials and Boyega’s entire team surrounded him, but he didn’t care. The big Marine stood his ground, issuing threats to any and all comers, ensuring no one except the ring doctors laid a finger on Trey. He insisted he was saving an injured man’s life.


It was the craziest thing Holly had ever seen. Maybe one of the bravest. But it didn’t end well for anyone. Trey, stubborn as a mule even in defeat, somehow managed to get to his feet unassisted, and though wobbly and disorientated, brushed the ring doctor off and made his way along the ropes. Dare went to help him, but he just shoved the big Marine aside and spat in his face for good measure.


Then he sulked his way out of the arena, a vacant, almost shocked expression turning his bloodied face into one Holly barely recognized. He hadn’t been himself since that second round, and he was not okay now, she knew.


He’d lost a lot more than a fight today.


He wasn’t the only one.


BOOK: DARE: A Bad Boy Romance
7.59Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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