Authors: Lane Hart
A Cocky Cage Fighter Novel
By Lane Hart
This book is a work of fiction. The characters, incidents, and dialogue were created from the author’s imagination and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual people or events is coincidental.
The author acknowledges the copyrighted and trademarked status of various products within this work of fiction.
© 2015 Editor's Choice Publishing
All Rights Reserved. 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 the use of brief quotations in a book review.
For permission requests, write to the publisher, addressed “Attention: Permissions Coordinator” at the address below.
Editor’s Choice Publishing
P.O. Box 10024
Greensboro, NC 27404
Edited by Wendy Ely
Cover by vocaldesign
WARNING: THIS BOOK IS INTENDED FOR MATURE AUDIENCES 18+ ONLY AND CONTAINS EXPLICIT SEX SCENES AND ADULT LANGUAGE!
Table of Contents
After a long day of blood, sweat, and coming damn close to tears, I'm so ready to head home, shower, and hit the sack. Tomorrow I’ll be back here at the gym, rinse and repeat. The same as today, the same as yesterday. Fighting is my life, but the monotony of constantly training for the past seven years is starting to wear me down
"Yo, Jude," Coach Briggs calls out when I walk past his office.
"What's up?" I ask, poking my head in his door. Like usual, his desk is littered with stacks of papers, coffee cups, and take-out debris.
"You in a hurry?" he asks. Leaning his rolling chair back, he adjusts the tightening waistband around his ever expanding gut. Coach is naturally a big guy, a heavyweight boxer back in the day, but now his muscles have turned to chub in his lazy, old age.
"Ah, not really. I think my bed can wait on me a few more minutes, but I better send her a text so she won't get pissed when I'm late," I joke. Other than training, eating and sleeping I don't have anything else.
"Shut the door and have a seat," he says, nodding to the blue plastic chair across from his desk.
Curious, I do as he asks. I have a feeling something is up, and that whatever it is, I'm not going to like it if it requires privacy.
"I need you to do me a favor," he starts.
After training with Don Briggs since I was fifteen, I don’t think he’s ever asked me for a favor. This must be pretty damn important.
"Sure, name it."
"It's about Sadie."
Now I really have no idea what he might want. Sadie is Coach's one and only daughter that hangs out in this place probably more than is good for a teenage girl. I know Coach divorced her mom years ago before they moved back here to his hometown of Silver Spring, Maryland, and, from what I hear, the girl has always lived with her dad, rarely visiting her mom up in Jersey.
"Her senior prom is this weekend," he adds.
"And her idiot boyfriend just broke up with her."
"That sucks. Do you want me to kick his ass?" I ask.
He chuckles and shakes his head. "Yeah, but that's not the favor I was going to ask you for."
"So what do you need?"
"I need you to take Sadie to her prom," he mutters, scrubbing a meaty hand over his face.
Laughter bursts from me and doesn't let up until my tired ass almost slides out of the plastic chair. "You're fucking hilarious."
"I'm worried about her Jude, and I don't want her to miss her prom because of that asshole."
"Coach, you can't be serious. Surely there's another guy at her school she can go with," I tell him, using the back of my hands to wipe my eyes from the outburst.
"Not on this short of notice. Everyone's already paired up."
"Well, that's too bad. Maybe she can go with a group of friends."
He just stares at me with a raised eyebrow, silently waiting. Waiting for me to agree to this silliness.
"No," I say, shaking my head to emphasize my response. "No fucking way! I'm almost twenty-damn-two. I'm not going to some school kid's dance. Ask one of the other guys. One of the
Our MMA gym,
Havoc Fight Club
, has at least forty guys training in it on a daily basis. There are probably ten or more fighters that are younger than me.
"Jude, please. I can't bear to see my little girl miss her prom. I'm worried about her. She's been so depressed lately. That jerk keeps on fucking with her…” He rambles on and on. “You know I wouldn't ask unless I was desperate, and I don’t trust any of my other fighters as far as I could throw them."
Of course he'd ask me, because all fathers prefer to have virgins take out their daughters. Not that he or anyone else knew that for a fact, but it's a well-circulated rumor since I’m always here on nights and weekends.
"There's gotta be someone else, someone closer to her age that can take her," I reply.
"I'll pay you."
"I don't want your money," I scoff.
I'm not loaded, but I have a decent nest egg accumulated from fight purses. Good thing I get paid even if I lose. Plus it's easy to save money when you have no social life and no bills except for a truck and cell phone because you still live at home with your dad.
"So you'll do it for free?" he asks.
"Hell no!" I exclaim. "I'm not doing it. Period. Sorry, Coach, but there is no. Fucking. Way."
"If you'll agree do this for me I'll get you signed up for the July Fourth pay-per-view title fight."
"You're shitting me," I say, freezing in my outrage as his words sink in. "You want me to fight
and you think that would be you doing me a favor? He'll kill me, and you'll be charged as an accomplice."
"You can take him."
"No, I can't! He's the Jax of the welterweights. Why would his people even agree to let him fight me with my shitty ass record?" I ask skeptically.
"He'll agree. The purse will be huge, and he's cocky enough to think it'll be an easy win."
"Because it will be!" I laugh, swiping a hand over my sweaty forehead. "He's only lost once and that was a ripped off split decision years ago that should've been in his favor. He's got at least ten knockouts. I don't want to get knocked the fuck out! There are three other guys in this country alone who deserve that fight more than me."
"Screw them. You could beat them all blindfolded. This is the fight you've been needing, Jude. You win this title, and you're golden."
"Yeah, and if I lose I may never walk again."
"Don't be a pussy. With the way you've been grappling lately, you're giving Jax a run for his money, so you can take Linc. Just like Jax, Linc's a heavy hitter. If you can stay out of his reach and get him on the ground, I guarantee you'll win by submission."
My brother, Jax, has been the middleweight world champion for the last eight years. I'm about fifteen pounds leaner than him and have always fought in the welterweight class. I could easily put on the weight to bump up, but what would be the point? My brother is a legend in the league, having never lost a
fight. Not only does he win them, but he decimates his opponents, usually with a one punch knockout in the first thirty seconds of the first round. And I'm just his little brother who will never live up to his legacy. I've only won three of my last five fights after coming back from a dislocated shoulder. A few more losses and stick a fork in me, because my career in the cage will be done and over.
"I'd have to be crazy to agree to that fight."
"You'd be crazy not to. You know you want this, and you're a helluva lot better than your record. This one win will prove that, and seal the deal on contracts with sponsors for years! Just the promotional hype going into it will be huge."
"I don't know," I reply, still shaking my head.
"If you don't take this one, then I’m not sure how long it'll be before another worthwhile fight comes around."
"You mean, if I don't fight this one, you'll hold a grudge. Then you won't book any other fights for me until you get the fuck over it."
Coach Briggs is also my and Jax's manager/agent, and in this moment I'm regretting the fuck out of that damn decision.
"Pretty much," he agrees with a smirk. He clasps his hands together in front of him on his desk, congratulating himself on fucking me over.
"Damn you, Coach. You've got me by the balls and you know it!"
"Do this for me and Sadie. And for yourself."
I groan at the ceiling. I'm not really considering this suicide mission, am I? Yes, yes I am. I'm just insane enough to think there's a small chance I can win, finally proving I
fight worth a damn. I'll never be as good as Jax, but I also know I
better than my shitty record. I just need the chance to prove it.
A chance like this.
"I'm going to catch so much hell from the guys." I'm not sure which they'll ride my ass for more, taking on someone unbeatable or going to a fucking high school prom. That bitch Karma probably thinks she's being cute, getting back at me for screwing over a poor girl right before my own senior prom.
"Oh, and that's the other thing. You can't let anyone find out I asked you to do this, especially not Sadie."
me into doing this, you mean?"
I shake my head and stand up to get the hell out of dodge before he convinces me to do something else stupid tonight.
"Go talk to Sadie. She's out front. Be sure to make it sound authentic when you ask her."
I squeeze my eyes shut when my jaw clenches so tight my teeth hurt. Now I've got to go ask a child to a freaking prom? I grip the door handle so hard it's a wonder it doesn't break. I've never even asked out a woman that I actually would
to go out with before! "You fucking owe me more than a fight for this favor. And you know I'm going to milk this shit for
," I warn him over my shoulder.
"To see my little girl happy, it'll be worth it," he says with a shit-eating grin. "I'll call Linc's team right now and hopefully have the fight contract ready for you to sign tomorrow."
Leaving his office, I may have slammed his door a little harder than necessary. I hit rewind on the last five minutes once I’m alone in the hallway. Did I seriously just agree to a death match in exchange for a date with a high schooler? What the hell was I thinking? If ever there was a deal with the devil, I'd just foolishly partaken of such temptation.
I'm about to turn around, march back in his office, and call the whole thing off when I hear her sweet, musical voice.
"Hey, Jude," Sadie says softly from behind me.
There's something...different about the sing-song way she greets me, and it has nothing to do with The Beatles' ballad. It's more like...I don't know, like I'm her favorite person in the world. Which is just nuts since I hardly ever speak a word to the girl. Yet, the heaviness of affection in those two words, and my name in particular, causes a strange tingling sensation to run through me. It's similar to when an ice cold raindrop splatters onto your bare neck and then causes goosebumps as it snakes its way underneath your shirt, heading right down your spine.
It's probably just the feeling of guilt.
Can I really be a jackass and let this girl miss her senior prom? Goddamn me for being a nice guy. Everyone knows where those fuckers always finish.
"Hey, Sadie. How's it going?" I ask, turning around to face my new obligation.
Even though I’m pretty sure she's usually hanging out around the gym every day, I don't pay much attention to her. She's no different than one of the guys. Actually she’s more like a constant stationary object, a piece of exercise equipment always in the building. So, facing her now and actually
at her, I'd forgotten how damn young she is. With her frizzy, mousy brown curls, glasses and not much more than five feet of height, she probably isn't a hundred pounds soaking wet. Like usual, she's dressed in a black
logo tee and a pair of rugged, baggy jeans. Hell, I'm pretty sure the girl has braces, or at least she did just a few weeks ago.
"Ah, been better. Just counting down the days to graduation," she says shyly, pushing her unruly hair behind one ear while talking to the worn Chuck's on her feet.
"Oh yeah? Gotta love those last few weeks. Parties and proms and shit, right?" I ask, trying to figure out a segue. I've never done this shit before. I don't have time for women, dating or any of that other crap.
"Uh-huh." I barely hear her response.
"You don't sound very excited."
"I was, but...now I'm not going," she says with a one-shoulder shrug.
"You're not going to your prom?" I ask, feigning shock. And wow, my acting skills are rusty, which reminds me of that god awful semester of drama I regret taking in high school.
"Um, no. It's just a stupid party with a bunch of judgmental bitches and manipulative assholes trying to get laid."
"Wow." I laugh at her colorful but accurate description. "It can't be that bad. And you only get one senior prom. Miss it and someday you might regret it."
"It doesn't matter, I'm not going," she says quickly, blinking those big, green, watery eyes behind her thick lenses.
Okay, so now I'm starting to feel genuinely bad for her. I'd forgotten how fragile teenage girls are, and how the smallest, seemingly insignificant things hold the capability to crush their already threadbare spirits. Something as big as prom...hell, that has the potential to devastate.
"So, why aren't you going?" I ask, even though I know the answer.
Swaying on my feet from exhaustion, I cross my arms over my chest and brace my shoulder against the wall to hold myself up.