I sat on a metal folding chair, hiding my identity under a ball cap and sunglasses. Something sticky was on the floor beneath my feet. The stranger next to me was too close and the child behind me kept crawling beneath my chair, yet I enjoyed every minute of the show.
“What happened? Did you see her?” Seyer had disappeared to find the woman that graced the promo posters but returned with an ashen, shocked face.
“He slammed the door in my face.”
“Brother or something.” He shrugged and pointed at a guy signing autographs a few rows back. “That guy right there.”
“How do you know he’s not her boyfriend?” I teased him.
“Because the guy plays for the other team.”
“How do you know that?”
“Because he was holding another dude’s hand.” He sat back in his chair. “Damn, he could have let me in the room. I know she was in there.”
“I guess you’ll just have to wait for her match.” That had to be a blow to his ego and I was sorry I had missed it.
“Screw it. I was just going to give her a few pointers anyway.”
“Sure you were … she is here, though, right?”
“Yeah, she’s here.” He nodded toward the male couple and the blonde that sat with them. “And I think that’s your Chatter Chick.”
“I’ll catch up with you after the show.” There was an empty seat beside her and I planned to take it. “Damn it!” Someone beat me to the seat before I could peel my ass from the one I already occupied.
“Tough luck. Maybe he’ll go to the john or something.”
It pissed me off. I stared at that man with his arm draped around Rose’s shoulders.
“I wish he would pin him already.” Seyer seemed particularly impatient.
“Now I am interested to see this woman.” I laughed, using my friend’s odd behavior as a distraction. I didn’t want to think about the blonde. She was so close and so … taken.
“Why? Do you want her now?”
“You sound a little bit jealous there, Seyer,”
“Hey, they say this woman can toss a full-grown man across the ring. That’s impressive.”
“Sure, that’s it.”
I wished I wasn’t preoccupied. The perfect chance to dish back some of Seyer’s crap, but I couldn’t take my eyes off the blonde who wore big sunglasses in the darkened room. She didn’t need a disguise. So, I had to wonder. What was she hiding? My mind ran wild and I imagined the worst. I found myself wishing she’d take them off and give me a good reason to deck the guy beside her.
Music blared for a large muscular man. The first competitor in the last match sauntered toward the ring. It was entertaining, but not as much as watching Seyer.
I think Seyer had seen more of this specific wrestler then he had told. He behaved like a true fan, impatiently anticipating. Eyes glued. Mind stuck on nothing but her … like an obsessed fan.
A man wearing a tuxedo stood in the ring and announced the last match, introducing the challenger in the ring first.
The wrestler in the ring was as large as Seyer. The crowd booed and the man laughed at the crowd’s disgust for him. It was interesting to watch wrestling from a spectator’s point of view. I hadn’t done that since I had come to Jenithiyah.
Then the lights went out. The room was pitch black and the crowd grew quiet.
“And now …” The announcer spoke slow, building suspense.
A series of strobes. A sadistic voice spoke a few words, then a drum beat caused a deafening roar. I think every person in the room jumped to their feet. Their cheers rivaled my own receptions. The strobe lights stopped flickering. Only the dim, crimson lights above the entrance door remained on and a wave of anticipation fell over the crowd.
Seyer craned his neck.
A cloud of smoke erupted. I heard the squeak of the gym doors, but I saw nothing but that red, billowy cloud.
“Here she comes,” Seyer whispered, but I don’t think he meant to say it aloud.
I gazed at the foggy doorway. The smoke cleared.
Tori Storm appeared as if she’d materialized out of thin air. She wore a hooded jacket that concealed her face until she slowly swept the hood back and let the jacket drop to the floor.
I think Seyer’s breath caught in his throat. I heard him swallow a hard lump as he laid eyes on the gothic woman … probably soaking in every part of her scantily clothed body … but I couldn’t get past her eyes.
Those cold eyes, that shot daggers at her opponent. The beat of her music intensified and she walked toward the ring with a slight bounce in her step. She hopped up on the apron, flipped over the top rope then crossed the squared circle. She gave the corner ropes a slight pull before hopping up on the second string. She extended her arms and let out an evil scream that caused another roar of cheers to erupt in the building. I was tempted to cover my ears to prevent damage.
“Damn … she’s hot.” The words escaped from Seyer in an almost breathy whisper.
She leaned back. The air from the large ceiling fans above blew her long, ebony strands. Seyer’s eyes were glued to her every movement.
“Seyer. Please tell me you’re not here to try and … she’s Rose’s best friend.”
“Man, you’re never going to date that woman.” Shit, I had thought that Seyer had a real interest in Tori Storm’s talent.
Wishful thinking. She was evidently just another expedition he needed to conquer. It angered me because I didn’t feel like Tori was just another random girl. She was a significant part of Rose’s life and that made her part of my life.
But, Seyer’s eyes stayed on her while she wrestled and he moved from his seat only peeling his eyes from the woman long enough to look where his big foot was stepping. I followed him because I was curious. He wasn’t behaving like himself and before I knew it, we were standing in the front row only a few feet away from the ring. I took a seat and pulled my hat lower, darting glances side to side, hoping no one recognized the thug standing like a statue.
“It’s Seyer Stone,” I heard someone whisper and it was followed by a roar of whispers and waves of people stood. The flashes of the cameras lit up all around us. He’d look like a fool in those pictures, standing there gawking like a starstruck fan.
“Sit down!” I tugged his jacket, pulling him into the seat next to me as Tori Storm’s male opponent slung her across the ring. Did Seyer wince?
“Come on, baby,” Seyer muttered under his breath.
She laid there so still. It was hard to tell if she was injured, or playing opossum. The ring shook as her large enemy stomped her way and brought his large boot down on her. Once, Twice. Three times.
Seyer’s fists clenched and he shifted in his seat as if he had to force himself not to move from his spot. I don’t think Corrine could have written the scene better.
I held my breath, waiting for the storyline to unfold, knowing I was the only one witnessing Seyer’s part in it.
That monster of a man forced Tori Storm to her feet by a clump of hair and my was attention torn between the entertainment in the ring and my friend who held his breath.
Tori stomped the brute’s foot, causing him to release his hold. She stabbed a hard elbow into his gut, making me laugh at the blowfish face he made while groping his protruding belly and Seyer started breathing again.
She spun around, grabbed his arm and whipped him across the ring. Her opponent bounced off the rope and she met him with a high side kick … a failed move.
He caught her the foot aimed at his face and laughed. He gave her foot a shove causing her body to spin and hit the mat again, then threw a hand into the air, signaling his finishing move.
It seemed Tori Storm was going to lose.
The match seemed one-sided to me and I couldn’t figure out what the fans found so entertaining about a mixed-gender match.
That man came at her like a torpedo and I knew it was over. As he neared, I wanted to close my eyes. I was all for equality, but the idea of a man frog-splashing a woman made me sick to my stomach.
Tori Storm surprised me, performing a perfect kip-up, landing on one foot instead of two. She straightened a leg, catching his chin with the side of her boot … Surprising and unique … I had never seen a combination like that in my life.
Her opponent wobbled, stumbling back, then forward for a few moments before shaking it off. He roared in anger, showing his annoyance that a woman had gotten the best of him. He stretched out his arms, shoving the smaller wrestler so hard that her body bounced and flipped over itself from the force.
Seyer leapt to his feet. The muscles in his cheeks twitched. He seethed. His fists clenched and I stood beside him, in case I needed to stop him from doing something stupid. Geeze. Did he forget that they followed a script just like we did?
“Get up … get up,” Seyer mumbled through gritted teeth. “I think that guy hit her too hard. Damn jerk!”
The man stood over Tori Storm, cackling – until she struck. Moving like a lightning bolt from her knees into a jump, she grabbed his neck and slammed him to the mat. She laid her body across him, hooked a leg … One …Two … Three. I clapped madly.
“Hell, that looked like your move!” I joked with Seyer, nudging him with my elbow. “She does it better than you!”
“It’s not a hard move to do.” Seyer shrugged. “It’s just hard to make it look as good as I do.”
“You’re so conceited.”
“So what? There’s nothing wrong with knowing you’re good at what you do,” Seyer watched the room empty and I know his eyes never lost track of the female wrestler as she left the ring and moved through the room.
“I think you’re a fan.”
“She has definitely got some moves,” Seyer smirked. “I have to see her.”
I knew what that meant. “No. Absolutely not, Seyer!”
He had to give up because she’d pushed through that crowd faster than she moved in the ring. We ended up trapped in a slow-moving line, heading out the door.
Seyer’s fans swarmed him, forcing him to smile and sign autographs while he shuffled toward the door.
I fell back, pulled my cap lower and blended in with a crowd, thankfully too occupied with the exposed identity of Seyer Stone, to notice he wasn’t the only celebrity in the room.
We arrived in the parking lot just in time to witness Tori Storm talking heatedly with the man I’d seen with Rose. And they stood in the middle of our path to the Hummer.
I felt like I was intruding. Like I should turn and go back into the building. It was a private discussion and it was definitely not the right time to deal with my own problems with Rose.
None of them seemed to notice us as we passed and that bruised my ego. I guess I thought that Rose would see me and rush into my arms. Maybe I had seen more in those online conversations than I really had with her.
“Tori, please just leave it alone,” Rose pleaded. I detected fear in her voice and I hated it. I wanted to go to her, but she wasn’t in physical danger. It was none of my business. Right?
“You had better not touch her again!”
Okay, that pissed me off. I stared, narrowed my eyes, and my nostrils flared. No man should strike a woman … especially my woman.
That Tori Storm stood like a man, nose to nose with Rose’s boyfriend and the guy just snickered.
“I’m a changed man,” he vowed.
Yeah right. I knew better than that. If he hit her once, he’d do it again. Damn, I had to figure out a plan. I suddenly wished I hadn’t concealed myself … just so Rose would know I was there. She had to know she could run to me … that I would protect her.
“Tell it to someone who believes you,” Tori snapped.
The man laughed at the woman again.
“I don’t find any of it funny. You think beating on someone half your size is funny?”
“Oh, I think this whole scene is funny! Stay out of my business, Tori. This is the last time I’m going to say it.”
“She is my best friend! When you hurt her, it is my business!”
“You may be big and bad in that ring little girl, but if you try to break us up again it will be a real fight. Not one that you planned and choreographed. You don’t want to mess with …”
“Hey!” I cursed Seyer beneath my breath as he stuck himself in the middle of the mess the minute the man poked his finger at Tori Storm’s face. “Get out of the lady’s face, Asshole!”
“Who the hell are you?” The man snapped. Obviously, he’d never watched our show. “Another one of your men, Tori? Geeze, Hillary. Why can’t you find a friend that isn’t a complete whore?”
Then he took Rose’s arm and escorted her away.
“Damn it!” Tori yelled.
“Hi,” Seyer tried to introduce himself.
“Who the hell do you think you are? No one asked you to try to be some kind of hero.” And Tori Storm stomped towards the car parked right beside the Hummer.
“Nice car.” Seyer unlocked his door. His tongue purring his game. “I got one just like it. Cherry red.” His wide-toothed grin appeared almost sheepish, meek … shy.
“That doesn’t surprise me,” Tori spoke sarcastically. “Red is the color a player would choose.”
She let out a loud sigh that sounded more like a growl, opened her driver’s door and swung herself inside, cutting irritated eyes at Seyer.
It was like a car wreck. Painful to watch, yet I couldn’t turn away.
He watched her intently as she backed out and rolled down her window to let out the scorching heat the Jenithiyah sun had left behind, pausing just long enough for Seyer to cross the distance between them. The man had nerve, I had to give him that. He stood beside her door and crossed ink sleeved arms across his chest.
“What?” she spat.
“I just had to say that … you had some good moves in that ring tonight.” he tried again.
“I wish I could say the same for your matches, but I can’t.”
I covered a snicker. Good. Someone needed to bring Seyer down a notch.
“Okay so, you don’t like the way I wrestle. I gotcha … how about we go out for dinner tonight so I can change your mind?”
She was shaking her head before he’d finished his sentence and his gaze lingering on her exposed cleavage didn’t aid his game. “Not a chance in hell!”
Casually, he bent down and laid his forearms on the window opening before she could put the car in drive. “You know, I’m just trying to be nice.” The guy didn’t give up and I’d never seen him strike out and try again.
“Better move … Playboy.” Tori Storm turned her gaze forward with pierced lips and stomped on the gas pedal, forcing Seyer to take quick steps away. Thank goodness, he was fast or she might have drug him along with her and I doubt she would have felt bad about it.
“Ouch!” I chuckled as he turned toward the Hummer. “Real smooth, Stone.”
“Cram it, Hart or I’ll leave your ass …” Then his lips spread wide as he noticed the little black sports car backing up until it came to a complete stop in front of him.
“You!” She jabbed her finger.
He took a step.
“Not you. Just Hart.”
“What?” Seyer was livid, glaring hatefully as I approached Tori as if he thought she had chosen me over him.
“Are you the guy talking to my friend on Chatter or not?”
“She goes by Velvet, Rose right?”
“Then why the hell are you letting her leave? Was it all bullshit or something?” This woman was a piece of work but she was right. “That guy has hurt her before and he will again unless you man up and do something about it.”
Something in Tori’s voice told me that Rose’s situation was desperate. And maybe it was only my imagination, but it sounded like she was saying only I could save Rose. I gazed at the car, backing out with my love interest inside. I was too late.
She hastily scribbled with a pen, then pressed a piece of torn paper to my palm. “Come to this address … tomorrow … two p.m. Don’t screw this up, Hart.”
“You got … her number?” Seyer huffed.
“No. She wants me to surprise, Rose.” I held up the paper so he could see the address.
“They work together, don’t they? So when are we going?”
“WE can’t go. She told me to leave my shadow behind. She seemed pretty adamant about that.” I cackled, rubbing salt in his wounds.
“Oh, hell no! I’m the shadow?” Seyer slammed the door the instant he took his seat behind the steering wheel. “You know what? Forget her!”