Authors: Shelly Morgan
© 2015 Shelly Morgan
All rights reserved.
Fighting Destiny is a work of fiction.
Names, characters, businesses, places, events, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.
This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the publisher except for use of brief quotations in a book review.
Edited and Formatted by Rebel Edit & Design
Cover Design by Wicked by Design
This book is for my girls; Debbie, Sara, and Mary.
Thank you for those late night chats, for keeping my head on straight, and for always telling me how it is. I wouldn’t be where I am right now if it weren’t for you girls.
You all are not only my beta readers, but have become my friends – my sisters.
You girls are the best!
So here’s to more late night chats (even those that turn into talking about flab, pears and meatballs lol), to always sharing those sexy guy photos that make our days seem better (even for a couple of minutes), and to more books that rock peoples world!
I love you three to pieces <3 <3 <3
A poem by Ethan Radcliff
An interesting trait,
They say it’s a date,
And one can’t be late.
But what if you decide,
You’re taking a different ride.
You’re making your own way,
And picking another day.
We make choices they say,
As to how we’ll make it play.
Destiny it’s come what may,
Should we stay, never stray?
I say take a chance,
Do a different step or dance.
Create your fate,
Change your date.
Destiny, it’s never really too late.
A month earlier
I don’t see anyone as I walk into the gym, so after dropping my bag off in the locker room, I head over to the treadmill to start my warm-up. I hope someone comes in soon that can spar with me because I’ve been itching for a fight. Things with the club haven’t been too rough lately – not that I’m complaining – but I need to release this pent-up energy somehow. And since I can’t do it at the club and I don’t schedule fights anymore, I need to find someone here that will help me work this out of my system.
Ten minutes later I’m rewarded when I see Dani walk in. This girl is something else. She’s like me in a lot of ways, but there is a softer side to her too that she doesn’t show to most. When she started working for Mack, I knew something bad had happened to her. She had this beaten, broken down by life look to her, but I never pushed for information. Instead, I showed her how to channel her anger and taught her ways to make sure she was never in a situation she couldn’t control again. I taught her to fight.
“Yo, Dani, what brings you in this early? You need me to wear ya out because Blaze isn’t fuckin’ ya enough?” This has her flipping me off as she walks into the locker room, but I see the smile on her face so I know she’s all right. Dani is like a sister to me. I’m always acting like her big, overprotective brother, which drives her fucking crazy, but that’s what makes it so much fun.
After she’s changed, she heads straight to the ring and I follow, knowing that we’re here for the same reasons.
We start out slow, each taking our time before going full throttle, but this won’t last long. I used to take it easy on her in the ring, not wanting to hurt her or give her more than she could handle, but after years of working with her, I know she can take what I throw at her. That doesn’t mean that I fight her like I would in an actual fight, but I don’t take it easy on her, either. I learned the hard way that if she feels you aren’t giving her everything you’ve got, you’re going to feel her wrath and let me tell you this―Dani is one tough bitch, and I mean that in the most sincerest way.
She’s the first to take our sparring to the next level. She fakes a right cross and catches me off guard with a left uppercut. Fuck, that hurt! Shaking it off, I smile at her. Game on.
An hour later, we’ve both had enough. It still amazes me that sometimes I can get a better workout with her than some of the guys around here, but what can I say, she learned from the best.
Throwing a towel in my face, she plops down to stretch out her body. Out of the corner of my eye, I can see some of the guys checking her out. Catching my glare, they quickly look away. I’m not blind, I know that she’s fucking hot, but I’ve never had an attraction towards her. The only feeling I got when I first met her was that she needed someone to protect her, so I took on that role and it’s been that way ever since.
When she’s done, she gets up and comes over to me, rubbing my shaved head. “Lovin’ the new do, Toby, or should I start calling you Mr. Clean?” I’ve always kept my hair short, liking the buzz cut I’ve had since joining the marines, but a couple nights ago I shaved it all off, leaving only my facial hair. I’m still getting used to it but it’s working for me.
I look up and give her a smile, which takes her by surprise. I guess you could say that I don’t smile much, but she’s one of the few people who get to see that side of me. I’m not used to showing or expressing emotions, but since she’s come into my life, it’s come more easily to me. There’s something about her that makes people feel comfortable and at ease around her, or at least the people who really know her. If she doesn’t know you, she may seem to come off cold. If she doesn't like you, then you'll know it.
“Get the fuck outta here before I call Blaze and have him drag your ass home.” Standing up, I head over to the heavy bag. Even after that workout, I still feel that itch and won’t be able to concentrate on anything until I beat it out of my system.
When she walks past me to head into the locker room, she pinches my ass, causing me to jump, and even laugh. “Don’t tease me with a good time. There’s nothing I love more than my old man going caveman on me.” She throws a wink over her shoulder and then she’s gone.
When I finish with the heavy bag, I lift weights for a bit and then decide to run until I can’t feel my legs anymore. I have nothing that I need to do today so working myself into exhaustion isn’t going to be a problem.
I’m in the middle of my run when I see Wes walking my way. Wes runs the gym and he was my coach when I first started fighting in the cage. He’s also the one that helped me start my MMA career, knowing a guy who knew a guy, or some shit like that. They came and watched one of my fights and the next thing I knew, I was rolling in money. It’s not like I really needed it because I make a good living with the business I do for the club, but it’s been nice having something extra on this side.
He stops by my treadmill and leans against it. Powering the machine down, I walk over to grab my water bottle and towel. “What’s up?” I ask out of breath. Fuck, maybe I pushed myself a little too hard.
“I’ve gotta head out of town for a couple of weeks ‘cause my sister’s not doing too well. I need you to take over my classes till I get back.” Wes not only runs the gym and helps train fighters, but he also holds a couple self-defense classes a few times a week.
I’ve run the classes a couple of times for him, and even though I don’t want to add anything else to my plate right now, I can’t say no. “Yeah, man. I got you.” He nods his head in thanks and walks away. I grab my shit and head outside to my bike. I want to get home for a shower and relax for the rest of the day before I do Wes’s class tomorrow.
Class today is a beginner’s class in self-defense for women. I get everything set up and wait for everyone to arrive. This class will only have five women in it.
I hear the bell over the door chime. Looking up, I’m taken back by who I see. I’ve never seen this chick before, but there’s something about her that seems familiar.
She’s not wearing any make-up, which you would think is normal for women when they come to a gym to work out, but you’d be surprised what women will do these days to catch a man’s attention, especially at a gym. I’m not gonna lie, I’ve had my fair share of hook-ups with those same types of women I’ve met at the gym.
I wait to see what she does, but when she just stands there, looking around like she has no idea what she’s looking for, I decide to walk over and help her out. “Can I help you with something?” I have no idea if she’s one of the five for the class today or if she’s just checking the place out, but a part of me is hoping she’ll be in my class.
Looking up at me after she hears my voice, she looks cautious, and scared. I’ve been known to scare people away with just my looks, but to be honest, I don’t think I’ve ever scared a woman away. But the way she’s looking at me, I can see a glimmer of fear that she’s trying hard to hide. It pisses me off that there is any kind of fear in her eyes when she looks at me.
The anger must show on my face because she takes a step back from me, but she doesn’t look away. Fuck, someone really did a number on this girl. “Are you okay?” I have this overwhelming need to protect this woman. The only woman who has ever made me feel this protective need is Dani, but this stranger has me wanting to keep her safe from the world.
“I uh, I was just…” she doesn’t finish, but continues to back up even more. Fuck, Toby, think! You cannot let her walk out of here. Holding my hands up, I crouch down a little to catch her eyes.
“I’m not gonna hurt you, Doll. You’re safe here, I promise.”
She must see that I’m not a threat because her shoulders drop and she stands up a little straighter, making me smile with pride. She feels safe enough with me to drop her guard. “I saw a flyer about a class that’s held here.” She doesn’t say anything else, but that’s all I need to hear.
I step to the side and motion for her to follow me. “Right this way. You’re the first one here this morning.” Walking ahead of her, I glance over my shoulder to make sure she’s following and catch her checking out my ass. That just makes me want to turn around and show her that the feeling is mutual, but I know that’s not a good idea, at least not yet, anyway. Instead, I stop in my tracks and clear my throat. When she looks up, I wink at her, letting her know she’s been caught and it doesn’t bother me one bit. She blushes only slightly and starts to walk ahead of me, which gives me the chance to return the favor.
I leave her to her own thoughts and to warm up while I try like hell not to stare at her. It’s been a long time since a woman has caught my attention with just one look, but I can’t help but think there is so much more to this woman. I can tell she’s been through something, but the fact that she’s here, wanting to learn to protect herself, shows that she’s ready to take control of whatever traumatic event happened to her, and that shit does something to me. She’s strong, and I know if I can get her to relax around me, she will probably surprise me even more. One way or another, I’m going to figure her out.
Fifteen minutes later, the rest of the girls show up. “All right, ladies. We’re going to start with the basics, but first things first. Always stay in groups when you are out at night. If you have to go out alone, stay in well-lit areas, and always carry your keys in your hand―they make a great weapon. Always go with your gut. If something doesn’t feel or look right, it’s probably not.” I pause to make sure everyone is on the same page and continue. “Okay. Now that we have that covered, if you spot someone, what is the first thing you do?”
All the girls raise their hand, except her. I realize that I don’t even know her name, so I walk over to her first. “What’s your name?” I whisper so no one else can hear. She blushes a beautiful shade of red before raising her eyes to mine.
“Sara.” A beautiful name for a beautiful woman.
“Sara, what would you do if you spot someone that looks like they’re up to no good?” I stand in front of her, giving her my full attention. She hesitates for only a moment before answering me.
“I would study my surroundings first. If there are people close by, I would move towards them. If I was alone, I would try to get away quickly.” She’s on the right path, but I want more from her.
“And if that doesn’t work, what do you do?”
“I’d scream.” I nod my head and smile. Walking back to the front of the room again, I address the class. “That’s right, Sara. But if that still doesn’t work and he gets a hold of you, I’m going to show you what to do. Would you please come up front to help me demonstrate?” I’ve made it sound like a question, but I don’t expect an answer. She holds her head up high and walks right up to me. Attagirl!
I turn her around to face the class so her back is to my front. I hope I can control myself enough so she doesn’t feel how much her mere presence affects me. “First, I’ll show you what to do if you get attacked from behind.”
After class, I notice that Sara is at the front desk. I hope she’s signing up for more classes, or maybe even a membership. I want to see more of her and hopefully work up to being able to see her outside of the gym.
Walking over to her, I place my hand lightly on her shoulder. I feel her stiffen and it just makes me more motivated to teach her and protect her. “Sorry, I just wanted to come over to see if I could help get you signed up for our next class.” I say softly. She looks up at me with a look I can’t quite place, but before I can examine it further, she looks away.
“I’m not sure when I’ll be able to do another class yet, but thank you. You were a great instructor.” She hands Katherine some paperwork she filled out and walks out the door. I watch her go, hoping she turns around to grace me with her beautiful green eyes, but I get nothing.