“Hey Ava, can we speak to you please?” Maceo asked.
The moment I was dreading finally arrived, I thought about ditching but I knew they were going to corner me one day anyway and I’m slightly curious what they want with me.
“Okay.” Placing Beau on Nadia’s lap, I quickly promised I’d be back and followed behind Maceo. I was already dressed in my clothes I arrived in since I was done swimming.
Zade and Blaine shared a look in the corner of my eye, I turned to Zade hoping he’d get the pleading look I gave him to tag along.
Getting my silent message him and Blaine soon caught up to us and smiled down at me as we walked at Maceo’s pace.
We walked through the house and down a long hallway leading to dark wooden double-doors. Maceo opened the door and stepped aside to let me and the other two enter. Christopher was already in the room, it looked like a study or some kind of office, a huge mahogany desk sat in the center of the room with an office chair and leather couches in the front of it. Book cases lined the walls with a small bar sitting in the corner.
Christopher sat in a chair next to the couches, tapping away at his phone, his head snapped up as soon as he heard us enter.
“Have a seat on one of the couches.” Maceo said politely.
“Thanks.” I offered a smile, sitting down and making room for Zade and Blaine.
Maceo and Christopher were side glancing at each other so I broke the silence.
“So what did you guys want to talk about?” I asked confidently even though I didn’t feel confident, I knew how to conceal my real emotion and show a different one very well.
“Right, so we. Me and Christopher wanted to ask a couple of questions regarding you being Vee.” He said, I appreciated that he cut to the chase.
“Why?” I asked, my facials turning stoic but I remained respectful.
“We have tried getting in contact with your manager but he’s been ignoring us, you have quite the reputation.” Christopher said, his face serious.
“Sorry, that’s kind of my fault, I tell him not to reply to anyone, I don’t even know why he made business cards in the first place.” I said, trying to hold in my laugh at the thought of Kota and his silly cards.
“Where did you learn how to fight?” Maceo asked.
I threw up a guarded face almost immediately at the question, it was just too personal and if I gave them my answer, they’ll ask more questions and I don’t know these people enough to lay my whole life story out in front of them and lead them to my brother.
“We aren’t going to hurt you or anything, you have my word.” Christopher said, his voice softer then I’ve ever heard it.
“You have my word too.” Maceo smiled.
“Your words mean nothing to me.” I stated.
“You’re right, they don’t.” A flash of surprise drifted through both their eyes but it left just as fast as it showed.
“They aren’t going to do anything, they just want to understand you.” Zade’s comforting voice spoke next to me.
“Why do you need to understand me?” I stared at them all.
“We want to make a deal with you.” Christopher said, surprising me and the other two who sat next to me.
“We know you and your brother’s situation and.” He carried on but I cut him off.
“Don’t drag my brother into this, you don’t know anything about us.” I said through clench teeth.
“Ava Catia Vice, you hold the title for the best female boxer in the country but you’re only known as Catia Vice in the industry. Grayson Vice, 16, blonde hair, blue eyes, looks exactly like your mother. Hayze Vice and Maya Vice are your parents, died in a car crash about a year ago. Kota Steve’s, 60, his wife passed, no kids and lives close by, everything on you three are in here.” Christopher said, placing a brown folder in front of me.
I took steady breathes in, trying to push away the headache that was forming.
“Sorry.” He held his hands up in surrender. “I really don’t mean any harm but if you don’t consider our offer then other people will come after you and your brother.”
“What are you talking about?” I demanded, my cool and collective self long gone.
“You’re the first person who has raised through the ranks this fast. The Underground is a dangerous place for a girl your age.” Christopher spoke, his tone nothing but serious.
“Kenna fights, why can’t I?” I fired back.
“Kenna has us to rely on if she were in your position, The Underground is filled with dangerous people.”
“So you guys are dangerous people?” I deadpanned.
“Yes.” Christopher replied bluntly.
“Well, nice meeting you.” I stood and headed for the door but was soon stopped by a firm hand.
“Blaine?” I stared at my arm and his firm hand.
“You need to listen to them Ava.” His eyes pleading.
“People are interested in you, very serious and dangerous people.” Christopher continued.
“Like yourselves?” I bit back.
“What do you want from me.” I said, my voice raising. It was more of a demand to know then a question.
“You’d be an asset to us and we will provide you and your brother with protection and anything else you wish to have.” He explained.
“I promise you we aren’t going to hurt you, your brother or Kota, but it doesn’t mean others won’t.” Maceo said, an accent making a strong appearance.
“So then I’ll just stop fighting underground.” I said flatly.
“Doesn’t matter, people are already interested.” Christopher shot down the little hope I had left.
“The best fighters in the underground are lining up to fight you, that is why you fought Jaylin.”
“With all due respect sir, Jaylin is nowhere near the best.” I said softly not wanting to make him angry.
“We got first hand of realization last night.” Christopher laughed, “What does he need to improve on?“.
“I don’t want to point out anything, it’s not nice.”
“No please, I’d like to know.” He insisted.
“We’ll be here for a while if I did.” I said sighing, fidgeting with my fingers.
“You’re a good kid Ava and what you have achieved so far on your own, I’m sure your parents are very proud.”
“Why are you doing this?” I breathed, pulling my arm out of Blaine’s.
I felt compelled to say yes to their offer but I didn’t want to interfere with anything they were apart of. I knew things were going to get complicated the longer I stayed fighting underground. It was the risk I took to make money.
“Like we said, you would be an extreme asset to us and Beau apparently.” Maceo laughed, trying to lighten the mood.
“And you can protect my brother and I?” I asked, staring down at my hands.
“Yes, we will provide protection and support you both financially.”
“So you guys want me to fight for you in exchange for protection and money?” I asked.
“Like Blaine and the others who live here yes, but you wouldn’t have to fight as often as you do now.” Christopher explained.
Every answer I received, I had a million more new questions. The headache I have was getting more intense by the minute.
My eyes drooped and darkness consumed me.
I stretch out in bed.
So tired. I thought, rubbing my eyes.
“Hey, how are you feeling?” A Silvery voice asked.
Jumping at the voice, I fell off the comfortable bed and landed on the floor with a loud thud.
“Ava! Are you okay?” Zade asked, bending down to help me back up.
Groaning, I stand holding my head in my hands.
“I thought it was a dream.” I huffed, rubbing my temples.
“Sometimes life isn’t fair.” Blaine’s voice drifted through my ears, using my words against me again.
“Sadly.” I mumbled, staring between the two of them.
I was in a huge room, the walls were a dark grey almost black with white trim, a king-sized bed sat in the middle with all white bedding, doors on either side of the bed I could only imagine were an en-suite and walk-in closet. Blaine sat in a small lounging area near double doors that led out onto a private balcony. A musky scent lingered in the room, it smelt familiar but I pushed the thought away.
“How are you feeling?” Zade asked, his eyes staring down at me worriedly.
“I’m okay, I need a painkiller or something stronger, maybe I’ll wake up and it was all a dream for real.” I joked.
“Or you’ll wake up loopy.” Blaine smirked before turning back to his book.
“What’s the time?” I asked, a yawn escaping my mouth.
“6:00 pm, why?” Zade asked, tilting his head in question.
“I have to get home to my brother.” I replied worriedly.
“Your things are there, I brought them up while you were out of it and your leather jacket is there, it’s clean.” Zade said, pointing to my purse and towel.
“Thank you.” I blushed, moving around him to grab everything.
“Beau and Nadia are worried, they’re down stairs.” Zade said, opening a set of doors in front of the king-sized bed that led out of the room and into the rest of the house.
“Thank you.” I nodded again, walking out and waiting for the two to lead the way since I didn’t know where to go.
“Is the birthday still going?” I asked as I followed them down a long hallway.
“No, everyone left about an hour ago.” Zade answered, his eyes on me as I nodded in reply.
“Ava, you otay?” Beau spotted me first and waddled as fast as she could towards me.
We were now in the family room; Jaylin and the rest of the guys were playing a game on the TV.
“I’m okay yes.” I nodded, picking her little body up into my arms.
She wrapped her little arms around my neck, pulling me into a hug.
“Thank you, I feel much better.” I smiled at her as she giggled, playing with my now dried hair.
“She’s very fond of you.” Christopher’s deep voice sounded as he and Maceo came out of nowhere.
“She is, she won’t go to sleep without screaming the house down for Ava.” Maceo laughed.
“She cries for you at night.” Nadia nodded at Beau in my arms.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t intend for her to get attached to me.” I stared at Maceo, guilt clear on my face.
“Don’t worry, we manage to settle her.” He waved me off, his usual smile on his face.
“Glad you’re feeling better.” Christopher said, smiling at me.
“Thank you.” I slipped Beau back on the floor and she waddled over to her toys that were scatted all over the family room.
“Hey, thank you for inviting me, I had fun.” I said, pulling Nadia into a warm hug.
“Thank you for coming, I’m glad you’re feeling better.” She said, responding to the hug, “Do you have to go now? We’re about to have cake.“.
“Thanks but it’s getting a little late and I told my brother I’d be home around this time.”
“Okay, drive home safe.” She smiled before heading over to play with Beau.
“Can I come by tomorrow to talk?” I asked Maceo and Christopher, my voice lower so everyone else couldn’t hear.
“Of course, you’re welcome anytime.” Maceo nodded.
“Okay, I better get going.” I said, I didn’t want to distract everyone else so I headed for the door.
“See you tomorrow.” Maceo and Christopher said in unison before heading the opposite way.
“See you tomorrow.” Blaine nodded, heading over to join the boys.
“Come on, I’ll walk you out.” Zade’s said, his warm hand resting on the small of my back.
“Thank you for taking care of me after I passed out, thank Blaine for me too.” I said nervously, his hand making tingles spread up my back.
“Of course, I’ll let him know.” He said as we stopped in front of my car.
“See you tomorrow?” I said, it was more of a question in hopes to see him.
“You will.” He replied, his eyes gazing down at me.
“Bye.” I waved, walking closer to my car and sliding in, missing the feeling of his warm hand.
I pulled out of the long driveway and headed home to my brother.
“Gray?” I called out as I stepped into our house, locking the door behind me.
“Ava, you won’t believe it.” He came running down the stairs, his laptop in hand.
“What’s up?” I asked, laughing at his excitement.
“Look!” He held out his laptop.
Dear Mr. Vice.
We have heard great things about you and your performance during your game with Statesman High. Your performance is everything and more of what we expect from our students here at Colton Academy. We’d like to offer a scholarship to you. If you are interested please do not hesitate to contact me.
Sincerely, Donavan Carter.
Head Master of Colton Academy, Specializing in Sports.
I read out loud, shocked. Colton Academy was a dream of Grayson’s and here we were, standing in our new house, reading an email from the Head Master.
“OMG!” I squealed out, jumping excitingly as I flung my arms around Grayson’s neck, almost making him drop his laptop.
“I’M SO PROUD OF YOU!” I yelled, hugging him tighter.
“You’re going to choke me to death.” He wheezed out.
“Sorry.” I said sheepishly, pulling away from him.
“I cannot believe it, wow that’s amazing Gray.” I gushed as we made our way into the kitchen.
“Should I email them back?” He asked nervously.
“YES!” I yelled, clapping my hands with a big grin plastered on my face.
We emailed back with Grayson’s phone number before we celebrated with pizza and movies, we spent the night talking about the Academy. Colton Academy is the best in the country and highly praised since 90% of its graduating students all ended up in big teams in whatever sports they went to Colton for. My night ending on a happy note with my headache forgotten as I fell into a dreamless sleep.