Noelle: I had dreams. Goals. That all changed when my baby brother suffered a traumatic brain injury. Now Jonas is my responsibility, and I can’t let him down, even if he’s his own worst enemy. I still have goals — I’m a fighter. As in MMA. Mixed Martial Arts. I want to be the best — fighting in the UFC. To be the best I need the best trainer. That’s Fury. The toughest man I’ve ever met. He doesn’t know it, but he’s also the man I’m in love with. But when Jonas gets in trouble, the only way I can save him is to go underground — illegal fights. I can’t tell Fury. He’d kill me himself. Or worse. Disown me. But I don’t have a choice. Jonas’ life is on the line. I have to fight. And I have to win. No matter the cost.
Fury: I spent seven years in the Army — the exact time it took to pay back my obligation for earning my medical degree free of half a million dollars in student loans. After that the Army and I both decided I might be better off putting my skills to use somewhere else. So now I put bikers back together for my club, Black Reign MC, and I’m damn good at what I do. I’m even better at taking them — and anyone else who gets in my way — apart.
Lately I’ve been passing those skills on the smartest, most street savvy kid I’ve ever trained. But Noelle is a kid — barely 21 — and I’m way too old for her. Now she’s gone and gotten herself in a boatload of trouble. If she tries to fight Shadow, he’s going to kill her. And if he throws the fight, our mission to close down these illegal fights will fall apart. Innocents will die. How do I choose one life over another? It was hard enough as a doctor in the field. Now it’s so much worse… because I did the stupidest thing I could have done — I went and fell in love.
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Copyright ©2021 Marteeka Karland
“You guys sure you got this? I feel like we’re so fuckin’ outnumbered it’s laughable.” I knew we more than had this, but something just didn’t sit right with me tonight.
“You got Shadow and the ringside participants,” Samson said calmly. “Hardcase and me got the crowd. We’ll focus on the big bettors. You and Shadow just concentrate on the shit happening at the ring and getting each other out alive. Get me?”
“Fine,” Fury muttered. “But for the record, something feels off.”
“Noted,” Samson replied. I hated not being in control. And this was a situation I definitely could not control. Illegal fights were a fucking nightmare to stay on top of. Unless you were the man running the fights, you had no idea what to expect. “Just concentrate on you and Shadow. Something goes sideways? Iron’s holding back. He can assist wherever we need him.”
“Not sure I want the men who fuck for a livin’ watchin’ my six,” I growled. “They get distracted by pussy, me ’n’ Shadow are the ones fucked.”
“You’re just jealous,” Hardcase said with a chuckle.
“Yeah, but he’s kinda pretty,” Iron piped up. “When he ain’t bein’ all intimidatin’. If we can get the girls to not run screamin’ when he enters the room with ’em, he could fuck for a livin’ too.”
“If I gotta do this myself, boys, I’m killin’ every motherfuckin’ one a’ ya,” Samson said evenly. It wasn’t a threat, but a clear promise. “Shotgun says he’s sure at least three competitors here are dummies from the fight ring. They may look the part, but they don’t know jack about fightin’, and they damned sure don’t want to be here. We thought the bottom-ranked four looked promising, but it’s hard to say. Rumor is one of them’s a woman. We should give her a good look first.”
Normally the banter would help me relax, but today wasn’t the day for it. There was an itch between my shoulder blades. Like I had a target painted on my back. Something was epically off, but I had no idea what. When Samson mentioned one of the fighters being a woman, it nearly made my skin crawl. This particular fight ring stacked the odds in their favor by putting in what looked like rank competitors but who were really just people they’d kidnapped off the streets, or forced into fighting through blackmail or threat of bodily harm to a loved one. They were there to take a dive when told. Or to win by any means necessary. Anything to run up the betting.
“For the record, Fury,” Samson said, “Jax asked to go. Said he wanted to have your back.”
That surprised me. Jax, or Jackson, was my son. I’d been in his life, but we weren’t close. His mom and I split before he was born. She’d surprised me with his birth picture and a note that he was mine. I’d never questioned it, just showed up to hold my son for the first time. She’d died from breast cancer two years ago, and Jax had come to live with me. Our relationship was blooming, but we still had a way to go. The boy was just too much like me.
“You know some women enter these things on their own, right? They like the challenge, and some of ’em are pretty fuckin’ good,” Hardcase said, bringing the subject back to women. Of course.
“Yeah. And more than one of ’em have died or worse,” Samson replied. “Most of those were caught up in this ring, and El Diablo wants it stopped. Not in this city.” Everyone in Black Reign knew El Diablo absolutely would not tolerate a woman being abused. They also knew better than to defy his orders. As gentle as he could be with women, he was equally brutal to anyone who seriously crossed him. Man or woman.
The fights were getting ready to start. The ones going first obviously had the clear advantage. The fighters going later might not get to see how their opponent fought, but if they made it to the second round, they knew what to watch out for. The fighters going first would have some of that advantage, but they might also get fucked-up enough they needed the hour or so between their matches to recoup. This particular competition had ten competitors, all ranked by their past performances. Shadow was our fighter for this tournament. Of the participants, he kept himself high on the list but not so over the top that he had every fighter gunning for him. He was ranked number two. The number one and two fighters got a bye in their first round. Which meant they got to watch four matches before Shadow had to fight. Four fights to get the feel of the surroundings at ringside.
As I glanced up at the board, I saw they had lined up the fights. All the names were on the board and their rankings beside them. One name stood out and that feeling of unease grew even worse.
Now, it could be a coincidence. Because, likely there were no female competitors, other than the one Samson mentioned. Though, this one was ranked tenth among the ten fighters. No. Couldn’t be. Then again, if anyone could manage to get into this kind of trouble, it would be that fucking little bitch, Noelle.
No. I wouldn’t think about that. She wanted to make it to UFC, and she knew I could get her there. There was no way she’d risk me kicking her to the curb. At least, she better not. If she did, I’d turn her over my knee and beat that sexy little ass until it was glow-in-the-dark red.
“What is it?” Shadow was prepping for his match, his dark eyes taking in everything around them. “Somethin’ got you spooked?”
“Don’t know,” I said. “I just got this feelin’…” I trailed off as the announcement for the first match started. Brawler was in the first match. They didn’t say anything about gender, but then they rarely did unless it was some kind of women’s erotic wrestling. Besides, these types of fights rarely had women in them. They never lasted long, and they always had to fight men. Especially in the one-night tournaments. I’d seen more than one woman die or be so badly beaten they were unable to defend themselves against being brutally raped before my brothers and I stopped it. This time, it would blow our cover, and I couldn’t afford it.
“Fuck,” I muttered. “Can you see that Brawler they just announced?”
“Yep.” Shadow shook his head. “Brawler’s a chick. Guess you were right, Samson. First fight has a woman. Though she looks like she can hold her own.”
“I swear to fuckin’ God, if that’s her…”
“You know the club sponsorin’ her? Southern Discomfort. Not very original, but cute.”
“No clue.” I pushed forward. “Come one. There’s four matches before you fight. Let’s check this out.”
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.