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The lights went out and the roar that came to replace it made my ears ring and my heart pound in my chest.
Jennifer, the contender, came out first, rolling her shoulders as she got between the ropes. Cornrowed hair, the sheen of sweat and petroleum jelly and her mouth looked canine from the size of the gumshield. The lights threw her eyes into shadow as she bounced as she moved around the ring.
Andrea shook out her arms and then bowed to Jennifer before she went to her corner again.Jennifer strode forward as she swung punches but Andrea skipped backwards and brought her left leg up. She swung her shin into Jennifer’s left thigh and the smack cut through the roar with the force of the impact.
Jennifer came in, Andrea checked each advance with a kick to the left leg. Each time Jennifer would be a little slower, bitten by each blow until they flushed her left thigh with blood. A black bruise was visible above the knee, a slowly spreading stain that was poisoning her will to dominate.
The crowd did not seem to get the subtlety. Andrea saw nothing beyond the woman in front of her.
Then the bell rang and they returned to their corners.
Jennifer limped and Andrea walked.
Jennifer went into a takedown attempt and Andrea leapt to one side before she snapped out her left foot so it punched into her ribs as she landed on the canvas. Jennifer got to her feet and clutched her side before she came at Andrea again. Andrea did not move, but she brought her hands out and pulled her into a clinch.
As she clutched at her, Andrea threw her knees up, pumping them against Gennifer’s thighs and midsection. Jennifer struggled against her grip, but Andrea pulled her forward as she kept her off balance. The crowd howled around me as Gennifer fell over. Andrea followed her down, using her left hand to keep connected whilst she threw short, hard punches wherever she could land them.
Andrea positioned herself so she straddled Jennifer and threw punches until the referee pulled her away as she howled with her victory.. Her corner came out and lifted her up as Jennifer laid there, whilst the medical staff looked at her. She raised her shoulders off the canvas as she looked around in disbelief. Her face was purple and swollen and something glazed her eyes over with concussion and defeat.
Andrea glowed as she stood there, already surrounded by well-wishers as the announcer called out her name.
A woman came out, red hair and a lean, athletic came out, grimacing as she folded her arms around her chest.
‘She didn’t think you’d come.’
She looked pretty and tough, in a black sweatshirt and jeans.
‘I gave my word.’
She grimaced as she looked around.
‘She’s got someone here. She said she was sorry.’
I breathed through the disappointment that bloomed in me.
‘This is shitty. Fuck.’
My hand came up to interrupt her apology.
‘Tell her she fought well.’
I booked the room for two nights, but there was a flight I could catch.
My phone vibrated in my pocket. A cigarette tasted of self-pity, but the swim of nicotine felt pleasing to me as my thumb swiped across the screen to unlock it.
‘Don’t hang up.’
Her voice was bright and thin.
‘You could have told me.’.
She gave a heavy sigh as I took a deep drag of the cigarette. It suited my mood to feel the burn in my chest.
‘I wasn’t expecting you to fly out from England. I mean, come on, who does that?’
She swore underneath her breath.
‘Then you can’t expect me to swoon and accept it, can you?’
Her tone cut, and a laugh escaped me as her words stopped me in my tracks.
‘You’re neglecting to mention that you had a boyfriend, Andrea.’
She sighed as I came to a stop.
‘I wanted you, and that’s separate from the rest of my life.’
I blew out through my nostrils.
‘My radar for bullshit can be a touch oversensitive.’
I swallowed as I kept my voice level.
I let the cigarette fall to the ground and crushed it beneath the heel of my shoe.
‘John, please.’ she said. ‘He’s not my boyfriend.’
She swallowed and her voice was soft with need.
‘I’ll come see you. In fact, fuck it, come back. We’re going on somewhere.’
My irritation welled up, forcing me to press my tongue to the roof of my mouth, but the earnest need of her drew my attention.
‘Am I to be the funny story of the evening, because I’d sooner go read than endure feeling like a spare prick at a wedding?’
She laughed, and despite everything, it brought a smile.
‘You should have told me, Andrea.’
She came out, smiling despite her injuries.
Her hand rested on my shoulder. She looked exhausted. The surrounding skin of her left eye was tender and Elizabeth’s punches had split her lower lip in the middle, but she still made my heart thump in my chest. An oversized sweatshirt and long shorts.
‘Your feelings weren’t my priority, John.’
‘It doesn’t matter. I said I would come. I have. Now I am going.’
She clutched my shoulder.
‘Please. Where are you staying?’
She tried to hide the grin that came when I told her.
‘Jesus. What room?’
The silence hung between us until she welcomed my smile with a grin on her face as she touched the backs of my hands. I gave her my room number.
‘ I will see you in the morning.’
A finger pointed to my cheek as my eyes bore into her.
She darted her head forward and kissed me on the lips.
‘Thank you. I never thought you’d come.’
My eyes moved from the centre behind her, then fell onto her face again.
‘I will see you later. You should enjoy tonight, you earned it.’
She brought her mouth to my ear.
‘Stay in bed. I won’t need to knock.’
She turned and walked back to the centre with a slight hitch in her left leg.
The cab driver was listening to talk radio, a barking monologue about the economy, and the fear in the DJ’s voice could have been mistaken for rage. It passed the time.
A shower, then a knock at the door with my order of steak and spinach with an enormous glass of red wine and a pot of coffee. A slice of pecan pie followed that and a healthy dollop of double cream, dusted with cinnamon and chili powder.
A few chapters of the book made my eyes burn beneath the covers, staring at the ceiling, everything slipped away.
Her whisper was loud in the room’s darkness.
She lifted the covers away. Her skin was bare and chilly at her calves and warm on her tight, lean thighs.
She squeezed me between her thighs. She ran her fingers over my scalp as she pulled back.My hands rested on her hips, but she stopped me and pushed me to the sheets.
She leaned back and whispered again.
‘I want you to throw me around. I want you to make me yours again.’
My hands found her wrists as she whimpered. She carried the scent of clean sweat and beneath that, arnica and lime blending together with her own musk to create something narcotic to me.
‘Get on your knees.’
. She laughed and reared back, which made me pull her down harder towards me.
‘Do as you’re told.’
She laughed again and pulled back with ease.
‘Make me, sir.’
My right hand shot up and my fingers closed around her throat. She whimpered and stopped struggling.
‘Now, get on your knees.’
She gasped as my right hand reached to switch the lamp on.
Her hair was still in cornrows, and there was a livid bruise on her jaw and a slight cut over her left eyebrow. Her eyes shimmered as she looked at me. She ran her tongue over her lips, and the split on her bottom lip had opened up. She shook her head.
‘It’s ok, it doesn’t hurt like that.’
My right hand gripped her braids between my fingers.
‘Get on your hands and knees and keep your eyes closed,’
The belt came out of my luggage. I looped it around my hand and returned to the bed. I placed the belt beneath her nose.
My voice sounded thick to my own ears as she pressed her nose against it and inhaled.
‘What are you going to do?’
I bent forward at the waist and whispered in her ear.
She whimpered and went to pull away, but my grip on her was absolute and a shove pushed her face against the belt again.
‘Because the only ass I saw getting kicked in that fight wasn’t yours.’
She swore again and nodded her head quickly.
‘I’ve been so bad.’
Her right hand went between her legs. A gentle tap on her fingers made it retreat.
‘I decide when you do that.’
She nodded again and looked up at me with a beatific smile on her face.
‘That’s right, that’s why I came to you, sir.’
I smiled and pulled the belt away.
I let a foot of the belt hang from my fist. I swung it against her left buttock. She looked at me, her mouth hung open as she ran her tongue over her lips. She gave a choked grunt followed by a breathy sigh.
She laughed and shook her head.
I brought the belt back and swung it down. She gasped and she grinned with pleasure.
‘Sir, can I touch myself?’
A nod was all the permission she needed. She lowered her shoulders to the bed and parted her thighs. She whisked her fingers in a cautious semi-circle around her clit before she found where she needed to be. It took only a few moments of knowing exploration. She shuddered and gave out a slight cry. Her hamstrings stood out against her skin as she arched her back. She settled down and rolled onto her back with her hand over her eyes, wiping away the tears as she smiled at me.
The belt fell from my fingers as we embraced on the bed.
She shifted down the bed and took me with her as she put her arm around me. She played with the hair on my back as we looked at one another.
She ran her hands down my back and cupped my backside as we kissed. She lifted herself, pushed her hips towards me, giving the gift of an awkward burst of friction that kept my erection urgent.
She pushed me onto my back. She touched my cock with her left hand as she smiled at it.
I looked at where her eyes had fallen as she gently rolled my cock between her fingers.
I ran my tongue over my lips. My mouth was dry as she fixed me with a knowing, wanting look.
‘It’s difficult to ask for the things you want. It grosses people out or they go too far with it.’
She bent forward and blew gently against the shaft.
‘I enjoy giving women what they want.’
Her fingers went to her mouth, and she licked them until they shone with saliva before she slid them around my shaft and changed her stroke, working my cock in a corkscrew motion.
‘What do you want?’
My eyes glanced down at my cock and she put me in her mouth. My head fell back as she took me in slowly. My erection throbbed as her lips and tongue fed the pressure that was pooling in my joints and muscles before she lifted her mouth away.
‘I want to feel you inside me.’
She took the condom from my fingers. She climbed on top of me as she went up into a squat as she guided me inside her. She was so hot and wet there that it felt like she breathed as she bore down on me.
It was slow for her as she rolled her hips around. She studied me as we found one another’s rhythms and she came quickly again. She arched her back and I felt the head of my cock press up against a point that made her eyes roll back in her head as she lost herself to the rhythm of her need.
Her body was a wonder to look upon, bruises and ink draped over muscle as she clutched at me. The lights were brighter; the shadows grew thicker with a force that came up from everything and she held onto me as she accepted all I offered her. The rush of my orgasm was pneumatic and her muscles clenched around me as every muscle charged and then sagged in the same moment.
In sleep, her face had smoothed out into something softer and brighter as she laid there in the crook of my arm.
A heavy blink. A smile. Her mouth was warm and soft against mine and her hair hung around her face in kinked waves from where she had undone the braids.
‘Good morning to you too.’ It was a little after nine. My arms came around her and she rubbed her nose against mine. My palm on her left buttock made her wince and she rolled onto her front for my inspection. There was an enormous round bruise that was spreading and blacken. My frown made her pat me on the cheek and wink at me.
‘No one will notice these.’
We wrapped ourselves around one another, but my hands were careful to avoid where the belt had left its mark.
She winked at me as she nuzzled my neck, which made me sigh with contentment.
‘Want to get some breakfast?’
She asked if we could stop at her place so she could change. She gestured to the pile of clothes on the floor and raised her eyebrows. We were tactile and attentive beneath the shower, working around the tender places on her skin.
Over breakfast, we talked about her situation.
I asked her when she hoped to fight full time and she shrugged smoothly as she frowned.
‘I have to make rent and eat.’ she said. ‘If you’ve any suggestions beyond having a job, then I would love to hear them.’
Thoughts turned over in my head until we were at her apartment. She changed and then came back out in a t-shirt and yoga pants that clung to her thighs and ass over engineer boots and a leather jacket. She had applied a splash of lipstick: coppery red and had run a brush through her hair.
The diner was walking distance from her apartment, and when we walked in she waved to the old guy behind the counter and called him Costas. He grinned at her and we sat at the counter. She introduced me as her friend and told me that Costas made the best breakfast in the city. We shook hands. His palms were rough with calluses and his fingers were thick, tapering to points as he pressed my fingers in his. Andrea ordered for the both of us, speaking to Costas in stilted Greek as she pointed to the booth.
We sat there across from one another. The waitress brought over two cups of thick black coffee served in white china cups and set them down in front of us. Andrea smiled and thanked her in more of the Greek that she seemed, if not fluent, then practiced enough that they forgave her any mispronunciations she might have made.
‘So, why d’you ask about me fighting full time?’ she said.
A sip of my coffee and a sigh of appreciation at the taste was enough time to collect my thoughts. It was very strong, with enough caffeine that it made me shiver at the first sip.
‘Breakfast first, I can’t think straight when I’m hungry.’
She sat back against the chair as she shook her head.
‘It’s just that my radar for bullshit is a little sensitive, you know?’
My tongue ran over my lips as our eyes met.
She leaned forward on her elbows as she brought the cup up again. Her eyes gleamed with curiosity, but she kept her face still as she drank her coffee. The coffee cup went back down onto the table and my fingers turned it around.
‘We can discuss it after breakfast. I’m just thinking aloud, but wanted to run it by you first.’
She frowned at that. She put her hand out and rested it atop mine as she stroked between the knuckles of my left hand.
‘Sorry, I didn’t mean that. I’m not rejecting the idea completely,’
She bit her lower lip and we were both grateful when our breakfast arrived. Eggs, bacon, sausage, grits, and she came back with a plate of whole wheat toast. It smelled thick and greasy and delicious.
‘He stirs cheese into the grits. Costas ruins me for breakfasts now.’ she said.
She grinned as she picked up her cutlery and tucked in.
We made light conversation as we ate. She leaned forward as she rested on her elbows and cocked her head to one side.
‘I’d like to hear your proposal.’ she said.
I swallowed a mouthful of coffee.
‘I watch MMA, I roll around a little so I know that fighting isn’t easy on anyone.’ I said.
I ran my tongue over my lips before I continued.
‘We all have our limits. Same as anyone.’ she said.
She looked down at the table and her brow furrowed before she looked up.
‘I take it one fight at a time.’ she said. ‘I worry little beyond the next one.’
I leaned on my elbows as I set my cup down and looked deep into her eyes.
‘I’m not telling you to do any such thing. Just that I think you’ve got a shot at more than convention centres.’
She frowned again.
‘Be careful. You’re starting to piss me off here.’ she said.
I did not raise my hands; I continued to look at her without withdrawing my gaze.
‘I don’t know what your trainers are like, they looked after you out there and you won. I can’t and won’t argue with that.’
I took a sip before I continued.
‘I want to provide you with the means to move to fighting and training full time. I want nothing for it other than repayment on terms that we would agree to.’
She flushed and I could see that her jaw was twitching as she kept her nerves in check. Her eyes were bright, but she kept darting around the room.
‘What do you want?’ she said.
I examined her over the rim of the cup.
‘I want to help you succeed on your own terms.’
She looked at me.
‘There’s nothing wrong with working to pay the bills. Lots of people do it.’
I nodded in agreement as I put my hand across the table.
‘More people should.’
She put her hand over mine, the lightest touch before she settled it there.
‘I don’t think any less of myself for doing it.’ she said.
I put my other hand atop hers.
‘I want to help you. I’m not buying anything or anyone.’
She cocked her head to one side.
‘So it’s a loan, right?’
I nodded and kept my hand on top of hers.
‘An investment and you can pay me back if it makes you feel better.’
She turned her hand over in mine.
I shrugged. It had stung, but it came to me I was as much relieved as regretful. I looked away because I was afraid that she might see it.
‘It’s done now.’
The waitress came over and refilled our cups before she took the plates from us. I smiled and said that the breakfast was exquisite. She blushed and looked at Andrea before she returned to me.
‘You didn’t come all this way for the food,’ she said.
She gave a wink before she exchanged another look with Andrea and then returned to the kitchen. I checked her out, and I felt Andrea’s hand tap mine lightly. I looked at her and started laughing.
She blew across the surface of her coffee as she looked at me carefully. We did not speak for a time as she tried to extricate something that she had between her teeth without me seeing her.
When I looked up, she was taking a sip of coffee, swallowing whatever was there.
‘What are your plans?’ I said.
She almost caught the wince.
‘Sleep.’ she said.
She looked away as she swallowed.
‘I thought you might have already.’ I said.
She shook her head slowly.
‘I was up from the fight.’ she said.
‘Plus I was thinking about you.’
I felt my cheeks grow warm as I drank my coffee. I swallowed, then lowered the cup to the table.
‘Thank you.’ I said.
I reached for my wallet. She shook her head.
‘No, I won last night. I’m always good for breakfast, John,’ she said.
She looked into her wallet and I watched her face.
It would be a cheque. It allows the promoter to post a profit for the accountants before they paid out. I got up and paid Costas at the counter. He winked at me, gave a brief nod and then took an order from the couple next to me.
She blushed as she got up.
‘Did you want to watch me sleep?’ she said.
I smiled as I watched her eyes gleam.
‘We could hang out.’ she said.
She glanced down again. My right hand touched hers.
She took my hand as we left. The sun was shining as we went outside and I shut my eyes against the light as we turned the corner and started walking.
She sent a message from her phone as we stood in the hallway. She put it away, then leaned up to kiss me again. She groaned as she reached up and took the material of my shirt in her hands as she lowered her head.
‘You’d fuck me again if I wanted you to, wouldn’t you?’
I smoothed my hands up her sides.
She touched my face.
She changed into an oversized t-shirt with her legs bare, pale beneath the bruising, but I still enjoyed how the muscles played with each step. She had brushed out her hair then laid down next to me, on her back as we shifted down the futon so that my face was level with hers.
She giggled as she looked at me.
‘What’s the joke?’
She rolled onto her side as she gave a gentle smile and kissed me on the forehead.
‘This feels scarier than when you were hitting me with a belt.’
I touched her face as she smiled at me.
‘Let’s get some sleep.’
Her face relaxed by degrees as her breathing softened and deepened. We fell asleep in one another’s arms.
It was about two in the afternoon that we awoke.
From sleep, it is a gradual process for us, but we found one another with our eyes closed. She rolled over and then her breath was at my cheek and her hand on my shoulder. Our skins were warm and the tang of our scent hung between us, blended and refined into something new.
Her kisses were sweet and we slipped around one another, her left thigh went over mine. My hand went under the hem of her t-shirt as my fingers brushed the skin over her hip. She murmured something as we turned our heads, trying out kisses from fresh angles until we found an angle that suited us both. Her fingers were in the hair on my chest and we lost ourselves in that state of quiet pleasure.
Her left thigh went higher on my hip as she tilted her pelvis towards me and the warmth of her pussy through her underwear felt like triumph against my thigh. I moved my right hand up and she winced when my fingers went over a point on her ribcage, but my touch had other places to go. She stroked my nipples before she touched the bars. My gasp made her stop.
She chuckled and took the bars between her fingers as she tugged at them lightly. I grunted as she darted her head forward and kissed me on the mouth again.
She kissed me again and my thoughts flew apart as she dragged her mouth over my cheek and then down the line of my neck.With an easy strength she used her left leg to roll herself on top of me.Pinned to the futon beneath her; she brought her hands up to my face and grinned.
‘Fuck, you’re gorgeous.’ she said.
She burst out laughing as she came in to kiss me again. She ground her hips against my crotch as she found my erection and moved against it. My hands rested on her hips as she ran her index finger over my lips.
‘How long have I got you?’
She brushed her hair away from her face as she slid herself along the length of my cock.
‘I will not ask what it cost you to come see me.’
My wink made her move her hips in idle circles.
‘Is this you trying to persuade me to tell you?’
She shook her head slowly as she dipped her hips and her lips slightly through the crotch of her underwear. She gave a lazy grin and arched her back as my hands moved up under her t-shirt and she moved her hands to swat mine away.
‘You’ve had your turn.’
She lifted her t-shirt off and tossed it behind her.
The friction had given me an erection that ached to be free to play between her thighs. My fingers smoothed over her breasts and traced over her nipples, then pinched them between my thumb and forefinger. I drifted, committed every touch to memory until she leaned forward again.
She shut her eyes as she kissed me slowly. She took her time as her tongue and lips slipped over mine. She rubbed her nose against mine and she sighed as she danced against me. She trembled and she put her mouth against my ear.
‘I’m so fucking wet.’
I let my fingertips brush against the damp curls of her pubic hair and let them mingle in the moist heat of her pussy.
My index finger downwards between her lips and felt her suck my finger inside. She gasped and pushed against them.
‘Your. Fucking. Hands.’
Her eyelids fluttered and she rode my fingers for a moment.
‘My. Fucking. Hands. What?’
She hissed at me to shut up and I smiled as I kept my fingers still.
‘I will squirt all over your fingers.’ she said.
She clamped her thighs together and breathed in heavily. She restricted the motions of her hips to light stabs as she went away from everything but my touch.
She glowed with the effort; the perspiration beaded on her forehead as she leaned into it and put her hands either side of my head. She bit her lip and the look on her face made me want to come before I had even touched her.
The muscles in her face went slack as she rubbed herself, growing more urgent as each moment passed. She grew less gentle and her hands went up to my shoulders as she pressed her fingers into the meat of my shoulders.
She looked into my eyes as she drew my right hand between her legs. I used my fingers to open her and she shut her eyes as I found her clit and moved my fingers in a slow, petting motion that made her lean her head against my neck. She kissed along my neck as she took quick, excited breaths.
She groaned and she clung to me as she shuddered through to a state of bliss that made her press her face against the meat of my shoulder. Her cries vibrated through my bones and my fingers were soaked as she thrust herself against them. She jumped again, a series of slight shocks, and I pressed my palm against her pussy to ground her as she grew limp against me.
She chuckled with relief as she lifted her head and rubbed her face against mine.
She pulled back and looked at me as I brushed the hair back from her face with my left hand.
‘I’m glad I made the trip.’
She blushed and looked away as she shook her head.
I brought her face to look at me again.
‘There’s nothing beyond the moment we’re in.’
She kissed me as she wrapped her left arm around me as her right hand circled around my cock.
‘I know you have to go. I should have said about – ‘
I shook my head as she stroked my cock.
I felt the blood pooling in my groin as I heard how rough and thick my voice sounded to my ears.
‘I’m over that. I expect nothing from you.’
She looked deep into my eyes as she considered me carefully. Her hand was still as she brought her left hand up to touch my face. She squeezed my cock with her fingers, which evoked a sigh of pleasure. Then she looked down and gave a wry smile.
She slid backwards as she lowered her head. Her lips wrapped around the head of my cock as her tongue laid over the head and then circled around it slowly. She sighed and the vibration of her mouth chased the thoughts out of my head with its power. It suspended me, an equal distance between vulnerability and power as each motion of her mouth built upon the last.
Every part of me reduced down to the warm power of her mouth. I gave into the authority of her mouth and surrendered with a roar as I struggled not to clutch at her. My pleasure wrenched through me as she gulped me down quickly.
She held me in her mouth until I had gone limp and then came back up to me as she swallowed whilst she looked into my eyes.
‘We have today and tonight, Andrea. What would you like to show me?’
She blushed as her eyes shone with anticipation. The smile she gave made my heart skip as she whispered her answer.