Adam stood before the closed doors that lead to the ring where his opponent was going to appear in the next ten minutes. He rolled his shoulders back and forth, making sure his body was well prepared for what was about to go down within the next hour.
In his chest, his heart beat a steady rhythm. He had worked the wrist wraps on his hands, receiving some help from Red for the few short minutes that he had come to see Adam. He flexed his feet, loosening his shoulders a moment later. Yes, he was prepared.
He had to be prepared.
Vinny was small, light on his feet, but the motherfucker could pack a mean punch when he wanted to. Adam took a deep breath and lowered himself to the bench near him. He looked around him and an unbidden pang of longing rose up in his chest.
He tried in vain to stop the emotion blooming in his chest at the thought of her.
She had told him that she loved him.
She loved him. She fucking loved him.
Christ, he couldn’t wrap his head around it. He had waited for those words for so long, and yet the moment he heard them from her gorgeous lips, it had felt so unreal. It had felt like a dream. He felt undeserving and yet so full of ecstasy at the same time.
He had stared at her for a long moment, which had caused her beautiful face to scrunch up in concern. Then without warning, he had grabbed her and kissed her so hard, her lips were slightly bruised when he had let go. And she had kissed him back just as tight. He hadn’t been able to speak. He hadn’t been able to think.
All he knew was his heart finally felt at rest.
He had kissed her till she was out of breath and his erection was an unwelcome situation at that moment. He couldn’t take her then because he had to leave, but he’d sealed his kiss with a promise of what was going to come.
His hands had been all over her as though some part of him wanted to make sure she was real. That she was truly confessing her love for him.
He bent his head and took another deep breath. His sweet, fiery Kara was surely going to be the death of him. Smiling to himself, he stood up and focused again on getting through the next hour of his life.
Adam knew it was going to be painful. But he knew he was going to get through it. He had no choice. Because if he didn’t, he thought with a grin, he’d surely die at the hands of the woman he loved.
When the door opened, indicating he had to make his entrance, he sent a silent prayer to heaven. Stretching one last time, Adam walked out, making his way across the crowded arena to the ring that stood in the center.
His steps didn’t falter when he noticed the metal cage around it. Son of a bitch. Crawford had done everything to make it as dramatic as possible. This had not been included in their deal. In a cage, the fight would be more brutal. Adam looked around at the faces of the spectators lined up to watch him be beaten to a pulp. Fucking hell, this was going to hurt like a bitch.
At his right, he saw Crawford move to block his path. He gave Adam a wicked smile, “Remember our deal, boy. Don’t you fucking dare to give in to soon or I’ll have Jimmy fuck up your pretty face. You lose this one and I might just have a change of heart.” Winking at him, he slid back into the crowd once again.
Adam gave him an icy glare and looked back at the ring. In the left corner, he saw him.
Vinny was a small man but he was quick to strike and very agile. Adam had thought long and hard about everything he knew about the prick. He had a big ego and talked trash in every single match he fought. Adam knew he had to use his weakness against him if he wanted to end the match quickly and save himself from getting too beaten up in the process.
Vinny grinned at him as Adam gave him a silent glare and slipped through the crowd that was cheering like crazy, thirsty for the bloodshed that was about to take place. He could only pray that it wouldn’t be too much for him.
He’d never lost a fight before. He’d never given in even when things looked really bad for him.
Adam took a deep breath and tried to calm his racing heart. He sent up a prayer to the heavens, asking for mercy. He just wanted this to end. He wanted to see Kara again. He couldn’t leave her. Ever.
He paused at the entrance of the cage and looked around, noting how Crawford had strategically placed his goons at various locations around the ring. Every single one of them had an eye on him. Yeah, he had definitely made sure that Adam wouldn’t be sneaking out of this too soon, at least not before he gave Crawford what the sick bastard wanted so bad.
Puling himself up, he stepped inside the metal enclosure. Adam kept his eye on Vinny the entire time.
The blonde-haired prick was a foot shorter than him, but what he lacked in stature, he made up for in agility and speed. Adam went over his strategy in his head one last time.
Vinny had a fragile ego. Adam was going to make sure he used it to his maximum advantage. He’d let him win the first round. Shield your ribs and your face. Goading Vinny would be easy. Simple. When Adam made him believe that he was about to knock him out in the second round, he knew Vinny’s viciousness would increase tenfold. If he was lucky, Adam would be down in the second round itself. If he wasn’t, he’d be out in the third.
When the bell clanged, Vinny charged at him.
Adam tightened his muscles and let him take him to the ground, his hands instantly coming up to defend his face. Vinny landed a few hard punches to his torso and his left cheek and Adam felt the blood in his mouth from where he split his lip. The crowd screamed around them, the shouts loud and accompanied with cheers.
Adam pushed Vinny off and scrambled on to his feet. The hard kick to his right side flung him to the floor again. The punches kept coming and he had to crush his instinct to retaliate in kind. Regardless, Adam got in a few punches of his own, causing Vinny to curse louder and come at him harder than before.
Thirty minutes and two rounds later, Adam knew he had to fall. Vinny had almost succeeded in a brutal attempt to break his femur and the rivulets of blood and sweat pouring down his forehead into his eyes were interfering with his ability to predict where Vinny was about to strike next. He had multiple hits on his face and body but he was sure nothing had been broken.
A movement in the ring behind Vinny, made him look in that direction. Jimmy was manhandling Red, and Crawford was grinning back at Adam. In the split second that it took to register his expression, Vinny made his move.
Screaming out loud, he broke in a run toward Adam, twisted in mid air and delivered a kick to his jaw. Adam’s head was thrown back with the impact and he felt the sharp pain radiate through his skull.
He was dimly aware of falling to the floor. And then everything went black.