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Authors: Raen Smith

Southpaw

BOOK: Southpaw
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Southpaw

By Raen Smith

 

Copyright © 2013 Raen
Smith

All Rights Reserved.

 

Cover design by
Stephanie Nelson of Once Upon a Cover

 

This is a work of fiction.
Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s
imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons,
living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely
coincidental.

 

Table of Contents

Chapter
1

Chapter
2

Chapter
3

Chapter
4

Chapter
5

Chapter
6

Epilogue

About
the Author

Links
to other Books

Acknowledgements

 

 

Chapter 1

~ June 2012 ~

I
fight because I have no other choice. I fight because it’s in my blood.

 

Given Name: Kelly James Black

Nickname: “The Dude”

Born: Madison, Wisconsin

Age: 24

Height: 6’1”

Weight: 205 lbs

Weight Class: Light Heavyweight

Record: 12-0-0

 

This is what my bio
says in chalk on the blackboard in front of me. The chain-link fencing breaks
up some of the words, but I know what it says. I know who I am. I’m “The Dude,”
a fighter with a perfect record in an underground fight club run by the finest
fraternity at Wisconsin’s most heralded university. In fact, right now I’m in the
cement-block basement of a frat house only eight blocks away from the state
capitol building. Surrounding me is an open-top cage engineered by some of the
most brilliant student minds at UW-Madison, scholars who spend their Tuesday
nights waving Jacksons and Grants sucked out of the open-mouth of the ATM just
two streets over. Money comes straight out of their trust funds right into my tape-wrapped
hands.

By day, I’m a research
scientist at a biotech company who goes by the name Kelly Black. My parents
bestowed their fourth and final son with a name reserved for the daughter they
never had. Inevitably, people anticipate I’m a girl, until they see me of
course. Rock hard abs, chiseled jawline, cobalt eyes, bad-ass tattoos, and nine
percent body fat. Like I said, there’s no mistake when people see me.

And finally, I’m a
Sagittarius with one last thing missing from that bio you might be interested
in knowing. Relationship Status: Train wreck.

I’m not particularly
proud of the last fact. It was never my intention to have a track record with
women that would make the infamous robed Hugh Hefner proud, but in the last six
years I have amassed an embarrassing list of women I no longer have the
privilege of calling, mentioning, or remembering. It’s not that I sleep with
every single female that lays eyes on me; it’s just that I have a strong
propensity to serial date and an even tougher inability to commit. Combined
with my looks, you have a classic Casanova. Despite what you may think, I don’t
want to be an eighty-something-year-old creep trolling around with silicon-enhanced
platinum blondes a quarter of my age.

I never meant for my
life to turn out the way it is. I don’t plan to take girls home, and I never
plan to ditch them the next day. It just happens. My college days were a mixed
bag of science labs, beer, beakers, and girls. My post-college days haven’t
been much better, although I’ve replaced some of my bar time with time at a
boxing gym. It’s just the last part I struggle with: girls.

Nor am I particularly
proud of getting into a wire cage to smash in some guy’s face on a Tuesday
night for a couple hundred bucks. Becoming a fighter wasn’t a life-long
dream
of mine. But the fight courses through my veins like oxygen to lungs. It’s an
addiction. My therapist, Dr. Denise, tells me that physical exertion is
therapeutic as long as it’s in a safe, controlled environment. An underground
ring probably isn’t the safest choice, but it’s a better choice than the ones
I’ve made in the past, which include a hole-in-the-wall bar called The Silver
Dollar, a back alley off Doty Street, and the Governor’s Club Suite at the
Concourse Hotel. So here I am.

Dr.
Denise also tells me I need to get the whole Casanova thing under wraps.
She attributes my hamartia to a treatable disorder she’s diagnosed as
narcissism. Apparently, I’m plagued with low self-esteem with an
exaggerated sense of self-worth. Sounds like a paradox to me. I prefer to
self-diagnosis, like 47% of adults with the help of WebMD, and attribute my
actions to an extraordinarily high level of testosterone. Despite our
varying diagnoses, I see Dr. Denise anyway because her legs are sexy as
hell, and she occasionally has a good piece of advice. Like this one. It
keeps me out of prison. I’ve never been caged behind
bars
, and I’ll
do anything I can to keep it that way.

So it’s only natural
that my head jerks when a woman with ridiculously tight shorts and a shirt - the
coverage is so minimal that “shirt” is a questionable term - that exposes her
toned stomach walks in front of me. Whistles and cheers erupt from the crowd. Her
blonde hair wraps around her shoulders and brushes her breasts as she walks
beneath the fluorescent lighting. Her silhouette is cast on the floor, lean
with a slight curve, and moves toward me. I assess her black high heels, the
sheen of her legs, and the pair of shorts hugging her thighs with no restraint.
Before I can finish studying this never-before-seen ring girl, an elbow jabs
into my ribs.

“Focus, Kelly.”

It’s Piper Sullivan: friend,
roommate, cage-side assistant, and voice of reason extraordinaire. As much as I
want to tell her to go to hell, I know she’s right. I’ve got to focus on the
guy on the other side of the cage, Jax “No Crier” Beyer. I’ve seen him at Rocco’s
Gym a few times. He can throw a mean right hook, he reeks of diesel, and his
hands are always smudged with grease. I don’t want some meathead like Jax
ruining my record or my face just because I can’t get some girl’s legs out of
my head.

Legs. Long, lean, and
never-ending legs. Legs have always been a weakness of mine. There’s so many
ways that legs can wrap…

“She’s off limits.
Olivia is Jax’s girlfriend,” Piper says, grabbing my arm as if this information
is enlightening enough to change my mind. If anything, it makes me more
interested and less focused. Jax doesn’t deserve a girl like Olivia. He’s the
epitome of fighters in this ring: brainless steroid pumpers with shrunken
balls, missing teeth and scars so rampant that they’d make one helluva connect
the dots. Plus, his name is ‘No Crier’ Beyer, which taunts me to achieve the
antithesis of his calling card.

This makes for a
perfect kind of pummeling. I’ve successfully objectified my victim (that’s
another one of Dr. Denise’s phrases).

There’s a crowd of
guys, mostly UW students, smashed into the small space behind me. They’re all
vying to get a closer spot to the ring, packed like a herd of cattle off to
slaughter. They’re jostling and making noises, pushing forward. Mick suddenly
appears in front of the crowd and hops over the fence. His presence silences
the room.

Mick, the Jersey
transplant who’s the head of the fight club and fraternity, runs through the rules
of the cage. Mick is the second leader of this club that started three years
ago; the torch was passed from his older brother who is now rumored to be
involved with some professional rings in Vegas. Mick’s black Mercedes parked
outside tells me that the Henley brothers are doing alright. Mick’s mouth moves,
but I don’t hear any of his words until he lifts up my arm and calls my name.

“Kelly ‘THE DUDE’
Black!” Mick yells. The crowd hollers in my favor before Mick drops my arm and
walks to the other side of the cage.

“Jax “The Crier” Beyer!”
Mick holds up Beyer’s arm. Beyer gets a mix of whistles and boos. The crowd finally
settles in and is going nowhere for, what they hope, is a solid fight lasting
longer than the minute I have planned. See, I plan to knock ‘No Crier’ out with
one punch.

Don’t get me wrong, I
love a good brawl every once in a while. The sweat pouring down my body and the
burn in my muscles makes me feel real. The pain that shoots through my body
when I’m hit only solidifies my existence in a spinning world that chews up and
spits out the weakest links. I’m here. I’m alive. I’m Kelly “The Dude” Black.

But tonight I’m not in
the mood for the reality check. I’m going to knock him out and go home. I’ve
got a big time trial to run tomorrow at BioSystems that involves a thousand
test tubes and way-too-expensive pharmaceuticals.

Piper whispers her
usual good luck through the metal links, “Don’t get killed,” and takes a step
back. It’s worked the last ten times so I take it in stride, put up my fists,
and look at the rage-filled eyes of Beyer who is jaunting back and forth,
throwing practice punches in the air. It only makes me want to hit him harder.

The crowd taunts us, urging
us to get closer. Beyer puts his arms out and pumps them in the air, rallying
the crowd. I didn’t want him to go down like this; after all, it seems too easy
and formulaic. But I decide to call him out as the jackass he is and close the gap
between us with two quick movements. I raise my left fist and explode it into
his face.

‘No Crier’ Beyer is on
his back seeing stars before anyone can blink.

The crowd is silent for
a few seconds and in this moment, I see the look that is going to change the
rest of my life. I stare past Beyer’s blank face to see Olivia smiling at me
from the other side of the fence.

Mick rushes toward me
and raises my hand amid the noise from the crowd. It’s like a swirl around me
as I keep my eyes focused on Olivia and her lips that have clamped together. I
can tell that she’s holding her smile in. She suddenly averts her eyes and
begins to look concerned as the guy next to her climbs over the fence and
huddles near Beyer with a small vial. I see Beyer’s small movements out of my
peripheral vision, still maintaining my attention on Olivia. She’s acting
concerned, but I think it’s just that. It’s an act, and that’s when I think Olivia
and I could get along pretty well.

The sound of Piper
Sullivan’s voice finally pulls me out of the haze. “Way to not get yourself
killed.”

“Thanks,” I mutter as I
take a few steps back toward her. Olivia’s head disappears as she is jostled
into the crowd.

“You know you could
have made it last a little longer,” Mick says as he pulls a wad of bills from
his back pocket. He knows I don’t like staying longer after a fight than I need
to. “You pissed off a few people who came here tonight for a good fight. We can
usually expect a brawl from you. Some showmanship at least.”

“I wasn’t in the mood,”
I reply as he shoves the trust fund bills into my unharmed hand.

“Not in the mood, eh?”
Mick asks. “You know some fighters would kill to be able to turn it off and on
like that. You’re something else, Kelly. You sure you don’t want to take my
brother’s offer? They make some real good money out in Vegas. The kind of money
that you’ll never see as some nerd in a lab coat.”

“I’ll pass,” I say,
clenching my hands around the bills. What Mick and the majority of capitalist
America don’t understand is that it’s not about the money. I do this because I
have to satiate the need to buff the dullness every once in a while.

“Nice try, Mick,” Piper
says through the fence. “Just consider yourself lucky that he even keeps coming
back here.”

“Yeah, yeah. I’ll see
you next Tuesday?” Mick asks.

I think for a fleeting
second, trying to get Olivia’s smile out of my head, before I reply. “If you’re
feeling lucky.”

 

***

 

Piper slides the scissors underneath the
tape on my hand and cuts hard, releasing the tension on my skin. “Man, I take
all this time to tape your hands and the fight’s over within ten seconds,” she
complains.

“Yeah, yeah. I know
deep down you’re happy. At this rate, rent will be paid next week,” I reply as
I hold out my other hand. I don’t want to get into all the shit about why I
really fight with Piper here. “Imagine if that was my hourly rate. I could get
paid ten grand an hour just for knocking people out. Now that’s one helluva
paycheck.”

She rolls her eyes. “I
can’t believe I tolerate half your shit. And as far as rent goes, you know damn
well I pay good money for that couch.”

“You or your dad?” I
tease. Piper jabs the scissors deep beneath the tape, ramming it into my skin.
I pull back my hand. “Damn. It’s not my fault your dad’s a neurosurgeon.”

BOOK: Southpaw
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