I hate bullies. Gymnastics moms are the worst, too. So when a girl who looks no older than the kids with the overbearing mothers steps in to take over, I’m more than a little skeptical. Her name is, of all things, Kitty, and I’ve been watching her from a distance. I just didn’t realize she was a highly trained athlete in the body of a young, beguiling, innocent woman. Everything about her calls to my protective instincts. Especially when I find her putting herself in the hands of the very tormentor who broke my sister.
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Copyright ©2021 Marteeka Karland
One thing Tobias had decided over the last few weeks was that little girls ought to be able to be little girls. Oh, and gymnastics moms were bitches.
Like right now. There was a busty redhead yelling at a kid who looked like she was maybe in her late teens. Tall with flame-orange hair, the girl looked like she was on the verge of crying. Which pissed Tobias the fuck off. He wanted to punch the bitch in the face. Let her take a fall. Maybe she’d find out the fucking mat wasn’t so fucking soft when she landed.
Just as he was about to intervene — it was his Goddamned gym in the first fucking place — another girl inserted herself between the two. This girl looked close to the same age. Slight of build, she carried herself with confidence. It was the only indication she might be older than a teenager. Her mahogany-colored hair was braided into a long, thick tail at the back of her head that fell almost to her hips. It was what gave her away.
Kitty was obviously very good with the kids, but she also seemed to be an accomplished gymnast on her own. Not much bigger than the orange-haired kid, she had more muscle in her legs and arms, though she was much shorter than the adult redhead. She talked to the older woman for a moment, smiling a megawatt smile, seeming to smooth things over. The older woman backed off, but shook her finger at the young girl once before turning back to the mothers’ area.
Tobias watched as the two girls interacted for a while, Kitty obviously giving some pointers before putting a hand on the other girl’s shoulder and urging her back to the large, square spring floor. Tobias had no idea how they kept everyone from slamming into each other, but each gymnast seemed to have his or her own section, depending on what they were working on. He watched for several minutes while the two girls went through some moves, then Kitty encouraged the other one to do the skill she’d previously fallen on. Immediately, Tobias could see how the stuff they’d worked on for a scant few minutes fit with the skill the kid was trying to learn. She stumbled a little on the landing, but she didn’t fall on her face, and it was obvious she was pleased with the change.
The orange-haired kid jumped up and down, clapping her hands, and threw herself into Kitty’s arms. They both laughed for a few seconds before the girl did the skill again. Then again. Repetition was a staple of gymnastics.
Not for the first time, he wondered why he’d taken on this responsibility. He’d volunteered to hire a decent coach and install the recommended equipment. Not high-end, but sturdy and competition legal. Three days a week, he opened the gym for the coach and her band of tumblers. They ranged in age from about five or six to high-school boys and girls. Classes were free to the students through level seven. Everything beyond that was preparation for elite-level gymnastics, which he knew from previous experience was basically Olympic level. Professionals. This coach said she didn’t teach that level, and most of the kids were just that. Kids. Either in cheerleading or school gymnastics. Even though Salvation’s Bane had discovered she was trying to break into elite gymnastics, they paid the coach for her time and gave her a decent, rent-free place for her students to train. In return, Bane used the place as a tax write-off and sometimes, occasionally, every once in a very little while, laundered money when they were paid for some paramilitary operation inside the US without permission. Happened from time to time when Thorn took jobs outside of ExFil, the security company run by the president of their sister club, Bones. Or something like that. Tobias didn’t do tax shit. He punched things.
The reason Tobias had taken on this responsibility was twofold. First, he wanted control over the remodel of the building. He was the instructor for any police or military organization they trained, so he wanted a say in what it was OK to change. Second? Yeah. He really hated gymnastics moms. Always had. In his opinion, they were worse than Little League dads and pageant moms. They pushed these tiny little girls into doing things they could — and often did — hurt themselves doing. Tobias saw it as his mission in life to make sure any mom who was out-of-bounds got called out. Dads didn’t seem to be as bad, but there were one or two. The come-to-Jesus meetings had been swift and eye opening for those men.
As he watched, the two girls continued until Kitty encouraged the younger one to continue on her own. Kitty gave a little wave and went to the balance beam and started working out, stretching and doing handstands and such on the narrow surface. The younger girl’s mother, instead of praising the girl like Tobias thought she should, gestured wildly at her, obviously displeased about something. Fucking bitch.
Tobias made his way from his office to the stair on the balcony overlooking the massive gym. The place was three stories of open space. When he was training the guys, they built scale models on the floor to replicate urban settings or whatever they needed. Now, it was filled with local children on competitive gymnastics apparatus. He trotted down the stairs and stalked straight toward the orange-haired gymnast and her mother.
“Tobias.” The warning came from the gallery where some of the parents waited for the lessons to be concluded. Stryker gave him an exasperated look. “You can’t go beating up on women you don’t like. It’s bad for business.”
“Ain’t like we’re gettin’ money from this anyway. It’s a fuckin’ tax write-off.”
“Yeah, but we still need it. I know you’re headed to the redhead, and I’d say with good reason, but keep it down, OK? We don’t want people afraid to come here.”
“They yell at their kids like that, maybe they need to be afraid.”
“Yeah, well, if you run them off, what happens then? Be nice so the kid has a safe place to go if she needs it.”
Tobias sighed. He and Stryker always had each other’s backs. But sometimes it was a bitch when Stryker was right.
“Fuckin’ bitches are just as vicious as I remember.” Tobias still stood there, watching. The mother seemed to sense his presence and glanced in his direction. Did a double take. Then she stood up straighter, her entire focus on Tobias, her daughter and the girl’s perceived failure forgotten. She pushed her chest out and slinked his way.
“Yeah,” Stryker chuckled, clapping him on the shoulder. “I hear ya. Good luck with that.”
“Wait. You leaving?” It was all Tobias could do not to burst out in a maniacal laugh. It wasn’t that he was afraid of the woman. More that he was afraid of what he’d do to the bitch if he had to be in her company more than a few seconds.
“Only stepped in to calm your tits. How you proceed from here is all you, brother.”
As the woman approached him — eyefucking the living hell out of him — it took everything in Tobias not to take a step back away from her. The only thing making him stand his ground was his Marine pride. No gymnastic-mom bitch was making this Marine retreat.
“Hello there,” she purred. Perfectly manicured nails reached for his chest. Before she could touch his shirt, however, Tobias caught her wrist. A not-so-subtle hint she shouldn’t touch him. “I don’t remember seeing you around. I’m Madonna.” She glanced behind him, not making an effort to hide what she was doing. “Where’d your friend go?”
“None of your fuckin’ business.” Rude, but Tobias wasn’t in the mood.
Red just shrugged. “His loss, but no matter.” She gave him a carnivorous smile. “You’re still here. We could…” She trailed off, her smile going even wider, “pass the time in private until my daughter’s finished for the day. Could take a few hours.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Erotic romance author by night, emergency room tech/clerk by day, Marteeka Karland works really hard to drive everyone in her life completely and totally nuts. She has been creating stories from her warped imagination since she was in the third grade. Her love of writing blossomed throughout her teenage years until it developed into the totally unorthodox and irreverent style her English teachers tried so hard to rid her of.