- Chapter 1 | Whatever It Takes
A N A S T A S I A
SWEAT AND ALCOHOL is all that I smell as I walk down into the basement of Blackfall, filled with men and women crowded together. It’s still early, so the rush hour isn’t here yet.
Cheering can be heard from all areas of the bar since the fight circle is in the center.
I’m here to check the place out and see some fighters that may be my competition.
The place that I usually fight at got shut down by the cops, but I’m so ready to take over this one.
The main reason I’m here is to see if the rumors are true... that the leader of the second strongest gang, The Bronze Demons, is their best fighter.
With my dad being the leader of The Royal Reapers, which is currently the strongest, we’re bound to be enemies.
I just hope he’s here right now or maybe later tonight when I come to fight.
“Ryder! Ryder! Ryder!” The crowd begins cheering even louder than before and I begin pushing my way through the crowd to see the fight.
Two guys are fighting in the circle, well one of them is while the other guy is laying on the ground trying to block all of the punches.
I couldn’t see his face, I couldn’t tell who he was, the one throwing all of the punches.
A head of black hair was all that I could see behind the couple people I didn’t get around, but I wanted to look. I wanted to see more of him and the fight.
It was almost over, I could tell by the way the crowd was cheering so I shoved myself between the super tall guys in front of me and finally got to the front of the fight circle.
‘Ryder’ as they called him seemed to fight so naturally like it was as easy as breathing... It reminded me of myself.
His light tan skin glistened from sweat as the lights blared towards the fight and with every punch he made, I could see the muscles in his back flex.
All he wore were black sweats, giving everyone in the crowd — especially the girls, a show of his bare back. And I’ve got to say... It is a pretty hot back.
“And our champion wins again!”
Wait, what? Damnit, I wasn’t even paying attention to the fight. So, Ryder must be the gang leader I’m looking for...
I hope he turns around because I’ve never seen his face, I don’t even know what he looks like.
My wishes came true when I noticed him start turning towards the side of the circle that I’m standing on, throwing his fist in the air as his sign of victory.
I’ve always expected him to be hot, but the second I saw his face, I was lost... He was hotter than I imagined — handsome even.
His eyes scanned the crowd, passing over every single person, never stopping on anyone...
The moment he finished looking around the full circle, his eyes snapped to mine with a look of determination on his face.
I stood frozen as his eyes raked over my body in approval and the moment his eyes met mine again, he smirked while taking a step towards me.
Fuck, this is not what I wanted.
I didn’t want him to notice me and I knew I had to get away as soon as possible.
Luckily for me, I was able to fall back into the crowd that now closed in on him, sneaking out of the bar without another word.
The second I breathed in the fresh air, I took a deep breath because I don’t know what just happened. Although, I do know something...
I’m in trouble now.
The determined look he had in his eyes as he checked me out was not one I wanted to see coming from him, especially because of who he is.
But I’ve definitely seen it before, It’s the look of someone who wants something. I’m just going to hope that he forgets because I know what he wants and it’s not something I’m willing to give him.
Although, if I know anything about gang leaders, it’s that when they want something...
They will do whatever it takes to get it.
Once I got home, I immediately changed into some workout clothes before heading downstairs.
I couldn’t seem to get my mind off earlier. It felt as if I could feel the adrenaline running through my veins, especially after I began to work out.
My muscles are tight as my fists pound on the punching bag in my basement that I often use to train.
I can barely hear my heavy breathing over the sound of the chain that’s holding the bag up, clinking with every punch.
In front of me is a mirror that lays across the entire wall and when I look up into it as I slow down my calculated punches to take a quick breath, I see my long dark chocolate brown hair swing back and forth in its usual ponytail.
The front of my t-shirt has begun to get soaked from the sweat coming off of me as I work out.
Not always, but most days I like to train for hours as it always tends to help me think. When I work out, I almost feel as if I’m in a whole other world.
I’m still pounding on the punching bag when the blasting music stops and my phone starts ringing.
I don’t even look at the caller ID as I lean down towards my phone on the bench and hit answer.
“Hello?” I said, breathing heavily as I grabbed a small towel on the bench to wipe the sweat off of my forehead.
Rolling my shoulders back as I stretch gives me a minute to relax and as I look into the mirror, I can definitely tell that I’ll be needing a shower as soon as possible from the glossy shine of my honey-tan skin.
It’s funny to me how people always tend to guess my ethnicities wrong because as I look into my reflection right now, I can clearly see that I’m Thai and Mexican.
Not many people realize that I’m Asian since my parents didn’t give me an Asian name.
Usually, when someone sees me, they think I’m only Mexican or maybe I’m only White if they just hear my last name, Stone.
I’ve never been to Thailand, and my mom hasn’t been there since my grandmother brought her to the United States at the mere age of two.
“Anastasia Raylynn Martinez Stone!” I hear my mom yell into the phone, so loud that while it’s on speaker, it practically sounds as if it echoes against the walls.
Honestly though, I’ve got a long ass name, but only a few people actually know me by my full name while everyone else thinks I’m just; Anastasia Stone.
She probably used my full name because she doesn’t know where I am due to the fact that I left the house before she woke up today. “Yea, mom?”
“Where are you?” She asks sternly, but I know it’s just because she’s worried about me, especially due to the certain activities that I take part in.
“I’m at home,” I tell her and I can practically hear her let out a breath knowing that I’m at least safe right now.
“Are you going to be staying home?” She asks, hoping that I won’t be going out tonight but I stay quiet, answering her with my silence. “I guess you aren’t...”
I hate that she really doesn’t approve of my fighting because it’s a part of me now. She’s constantly scared for me no matter how much I try to convince her that I’m going to be okay.
There’s always a risk, I know that, but I know how to defend myself.
I think she’s just extra paranoid right now since dad recently called her to let her know about a problem we’re currently having with a couple other gangs because he wants her to be careful and safe, especially when I’m not around.
“Alright, but please be careful and try to come home at a decent time...” She sounds tired and I hate that my fighting just puts more stress on her since she worries so much.
“Okay, I will, mom. I’ve got to go now, so I’ll talk to you later.” I said as I tried to get off the phone with her.
“Alright, bye Anastasia. I love you.” She says sighing slightly and I hope that I didn’t hurt her feelings.
I know that my mom has never been too keen on my fighting and honestly, I think she hates that my dad taught me in the first place. It’s not even his fault though.
I mean - it started out as self-defense lessons when I was younger, but when I went to live with him, everything changed. Fighting just to be able to defend myself wasn’t enough for me anymore.
I needed the thrill of the illegal underground fighting. The adrenaline is what drew me in and I need it — no, I crave for it.
The pain doesn’t bother me anymore, nor does the soreness of my muscles after a workout. If anything, I love how it feels.
“I love you too mom, bye.”
She knew that I was considered the outcast at school two years ago and how I feel about it.
That’s exactly why I’ve been living with my dad, so I could leave this town and all of the bad memories. Back then I wasn’t skinny, but I wasn’t fat either.
I feel as if stereotypes follow me everywhere because no matter where I am or who I am with, there are always social classes - like an hierarchy.
And me, well I’ve always been classified as the social outcast - the lowest of them all and the one person at the bottom of the high school food chain.
I had good grades and I wore baggy clothes because of my self-consciousness, so I guess that’s why everyone stereotyped me as the shy outcast or nerd which is what they usually called me.
Back then, I only had one friend named Kendall. We knew each other since elementary school and as we got older, I started to develop feelings for him.
I had always wanted to be more than just friends with him, but I don’t think he ever felt the same way.
He was one of the most popular guys at school since he definitely had the looks and was captain of the lacrosse team.
Something that I really loved about him was how he’d always make time for me and would stand up to all of my bullies when I couldn’t.
But all that friendship went down the drain on my 15th birthday...