Authors: Cheryl Dragon
Winner Takes All
By Cheryl Dragon
Resplendence Publishing, LLC
Resplendence Publishing, LLC
2665 S Atlantic Avenue, #349
Daytona Beach, FL 32118
Winner Takes All
Copyright © 2011 Cheryl Dragon
Edited by Michele Paulin and Juli Simonson
Cover art by Les Byerley,
Electronic format ISBN: 978-1-60735-322-5
Warning: All rights reserved. The unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this copyrighted work is illegal. Criminal copyright infringement, including infringement without monetary gain, is investigated by the FBI and is punishable by up to 5 years in federal prison and a fine of $250,000.
Electronic Release: May, 2011
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and occurrences are a product of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, places or occurrences, is purely coincidental.
Kyle Ogden never got tired of tradeshows. As he and his coworker, Arthur, put together their booth at the Martial Arts Supply Show in Vegas, Kyle kept an eye out for friends and customers.
Like most businesses, even with a big market, it was really a small world. Kyle had started with the Right Fit Equipment company out of college. At first, he’d done everything from Youth Sports to custom athletic shoes, but once his boss had learned Kyle had a brown belt in Karate and was working on other martial arts, she’d put him on the wrestling and very hot martial arts circuit. Kyle loved it!
“Your boy toy is over there.” Arthur nodded to the booth across the aisle. If Kyle was the demo specialist, Arthur was the tech guy.
“Shut it. His company isn’t exactly gay friendly.” Kyle looked over. Jim Park stood there surveying the booth area with his ice queen of a coworker, Ms. Chen. Both were Asian, but Jim was friendly and laid back. Ms. Chen wasn’t very social especially with the competition.
Arthur just shook his head. “He gives you a different excuse every show. Why do you bother?”
“Do you give up every time a potential customer says no?”
“He’s not a customer. He’s the competition. Dating the enemy when you’re in marketing and strategy wouldn’t be smart. Jim’s got some sense. You’re crazy.”
“Well, he won’t date me so it’s not a problem.” Kyle stared at the lean muscle on Jim’s tall body. With dark eyes and straight black hair that flopped into his eyes at times, Jim was hot. Kyle enjoyed the view when Jim bent to work on the booth. A firm ass, strong legs, and a sculpted back all hinted at the sexy man under the clothes.
Jim worked for the private company, Ping Inc. They were smaller but loved to put a dent in Right Fit’s market share. Not only conservative, Ping went for the traditional styles in everything.
“Get yourself an Asian boyfriend and get it out of your system. Jim isn’t going to bite. You’ve been trying for over a year. It’s getting boring,” Arthur said.
“I’ve dated all types of guys, it’s not the Asian thing. It’s him. He’s intense when we talk.”
“I’ve heard he’s straight.”
Kyle shook his head. “No way. He’s playing it for Ms. Chen. Some companies you just can’t be out at. Go distract Ms. Chen.” Arthur had a thing for her. Kyle knew it was just a fantasy, but he’d use Arthur to get Jim alone.
“No, she’s better in my imagination wearing leather and riding me.” Arthur turned and went back to work.
Kyle chuckled. “We’ve all got our things, man. Go ask her how she is with a riding crop?” Working these shows together for a while now, Kyle and Arthur knew each other well. Kyle would lay down good money that Arthur liked his women in charge.
“Kyle! She’d slap me and stab me with those high heels.” Arthur’s tone wasn’t scared or repulsed.
“You’d love it.” Enough torturing Arthur. “Fine, tell her you heard a couple distributors talking about acquiring Ping. That they are in talks with the big boy owners. You don’t want to spread rumors, but you thought she should know.”
“You’re mean. Then what? She’ll ask who and where they are.” Arthur was a tech guy in more than sales. He knew how much force a fall mat could take and the strength of their clothes. Most of what they did at shows was clothing and safety related gear. Safety was essential as kids got into martial arts more and more.
Clothing styles varied and individualization was growing as more people tried it. Which meant new supply companies popped up all the time to compete. Many flopped. Some like Ping had found a niche in traditional styles. Their lines were classic. Right Fit wanted to be cutting edge.
Ping employees were conscious of the competition and that the owners could sell them in a second for a tidy profit. “Tell her you didn’t get names, but you’ll find them. Take her around looking. Of course, you can’t find them. Maybe, they’re in a private meeting? You’ll let her know when you see them. That way you can go back and flirt more with her.”
“Wild goose chase.” Arthur didn’t object too much and smoothed his hair.
“And compliment her shoes. Buy her a coffee. Geez, I’m gay. Getting girls shouldn’t be my area.”
“Her shoes? She’ll think
gay,” Arthur said.
Kyle took another look. Open toe with red painted toenails, black high heels with red dragons on the side. “No man, those are
heels. Tell her you like the Chinese dragon art. She’ll bite.”
“Her restraint is better than Jim’s. You need to get Jim alone and make a move.” Arthur popped a breath mint. “You owe me one.”
Kyle watched Arthur catch Ms. Chen and lure her away with business talk. It was the one thing she couldn’t resist. A little tradeshow fun couldn’t hurt. Kyle enjoyed yanking Jim around since Jim refused to flat out say he wasn’t interested or to just go out with Kyle. He needed to find Jim’s weak spot. What couldn’t Jim resist?
Walking over, Kyle helped Jim position part of the booth backdrop. “You can run, but you know you’ll see me again. Nice set up today.”
“Ping and Right Fit. Close in the alphabet so close in proximity. Your company should pay for prominent end space.” Jim pointed to the huge booths on the ends.
Kyle shook his hand. “Nah. We do quality and style in the martial arts stuff. Those guys are into quantity and flash for the uncommitted. We’ll take that business, but we don’t go in that big. Wastes money to over compete.” He moved closer. “Hit my next belt in Tae Kwon Do. How are you doing?”
Straightening the picture on the booth wall, Jim shrugged. “Good. I’m considering others. I’m more about control and strength.”
“I’d be good for that,” Kyle joked. “Come on. Ms. Chen is nowhere in sight. Quite being so paranoid.”
Jim stopped arranging and looked at Kyle. “Stop. We have a lot in common, and we could be friends, but I’m not playing out my personal life at a work function.”
“You won’t see me outside of work so you’re tying my hands.”
Jim glared. “I’ve told you. It’s not right. We’re competitors. There are at least four good reasons for us not to do anything. Our careers are number one.”
Leaning in, Kyle got close to Jim’s ear as if what he said was a trade secret. But he inhaled the masculine scent and had to control his desire to kiss Jim right there. “When I get you naked, we won’t be talking about customers or company policy. You’ll be begging for more.”
Jim took a half step back and leveled a harsh stare at Kyle. There was fire behind his eyes. The stare lacked the icy edge Ms. Chen managed, but it said back off. “You seem to be doing the begging. I think you’re working very hard for another no. Plenty of men here would say yes so it must be our products.” Jim set a new pad sample on the counter area.
“I didn’t know you had a new mat coming out. Actually innovating, Jim? Shocking for Ping.” Kyle felt the pad.
“As much protection with half the bulk.” Jim nodded with pride.
“Nice. But I’m not the tech guy. I’ll let Arthur press Ms. Chen for specs. I want to know why you keep dodging me. Even at the martial arts class, you won’t spar with me even though we’re well matched.” Kyle had first notice Jim at the academy. Maybe that was it, seeing Jim all sweaty in combat. L.A. had a few good academies. Jim had walked into Kyle’s about fifteen months ago.
Then Jim had been at the very next tradeshow Kyle had worked. It was fate. With Jim’s passion for the competitions, Kyle knew they were a fit. If only Jim would give it a try.
After the initial rejection, Kyle had truly tried to get Jim out of his mind. Hitting on other men, dating and enjoying them was one thing, but he couldn’t get the idea of Jim’s quiet restraint out of his head. Sparing with Jim would be ten times as arousing, especially in competition.
“Well, what have we here?” a big man with a big Texas drawl asked. “New padding?”
“Very safe and very thin. Easy to store and move but very protective.” Jim went into pitch mode and ignored Kyle. “We have samples and literature.”
“I’m more of a hands on type of guy.” He took a sample. “I own a chain of academies for kids in Texas. You think it’s safe?” he asked Kyle.
“Actually, I work for Right Fit. I haven’t tried Ping’s new product. First time, I’ve seen it. How’d you get in? The show doesn’t start for a couple hours yet.”
“I just wandered in. I like to talk without a million people making it hard to hear. I’m deaf on my left side. You don’t mind me working a little early.” He grinned.
“Not at all. We have a life-size sample for the full effect.” Jim ignored Kyle with the new distraction of business.
Kyle followed; Jim knew he would. Before Ping, Jim had worked on the East Coast for a technology firm. He’d never seen Kyle at those tradeshows, but he’d found plenty of men like him. Cruising for casual sex at work events wasn’t original.
Granted, Kyle wasn’t married or cheating. He was out and from all reports single. But Jim had fallen for enough casual sex hookups in his early twenties. When he’d moved to the west coast and changed companies, he’d found his passion. The martial arts were a love he never grew tired of, but he did have to deal with a more conservative private company.
He’d also stopped cruising for guys and focused on work. Jim’s slutty period was behind him. If not, Kyle would be first on his list.
“These are nice!” The Texan bumped his shoulder on one. “But I don’t participate.”
Kyle pounded the mat with genuine punches then kicked it. “Promising.”
“You do some martial arts?” the customer asked.
“We both do.” Kyle nodded to Jim. “Same dojo. He’s my main competition in a lot of ways.” Kyle winked at Jim.
The heat built in Jim, looking at Kyle. Kyle was tall, tan and muscled with light brown hair and blue eyes. Jim tried to avoid Kyle at the dojo or even being this close. The attraction only grew, and it was hard to hide. “We’re amateurs. Not real competition. I enjoy the exercise and independence of the sport.”
“Well, good. I can see this in action. Would you two mind a little demo?” he asked.
“Sure. Why not? You can’t tell if it’s good until you see it with the full weight of competition on it.” Kyle nudged Jim. “It’s okay. A little sparing to show off
Jim bit the inside of his lip as he pushed visions of Kyle naked, throwing him to the mat and riding his ass while holding his arms. “Your company won’t mind you showing off someone else’s product?” He had to get out of it. He didn’t spar with Kyle for a reason.
“They won’t care. It’s before the doors open anyway. And I can show off Right Fit’s dry wear. Keeps you dry through hard workouts, sucks off the sweat, is loose and allows free movement. Perfect for the kids and they come in lots of colors and styles. Kids like to be unique. And they won’t break the bank for the parents.”