Anxiety flooded my body like a gargantuan tsunami, devouring me whole with famishment. A hurricane was created in my mind as I came to terms with my choice of little deliberation.
After moments of patience, a fist was thrown. I caught his arm with ease the moment I saw him raise it. I predicted his actions to launch me forward and knee my face from his previous fight, so I swiftly let go and use my legs to kick his abdomen.
Disbelief registered on his face, decelerating his move.
I did not aim for his nose just yet. Instead, I went for his chest.
As a reflex, he stumbled back while glancing down.
Without dithering, I punched him again, aiming for his nose this time. I was swift to realize that he is indeed briskly, but he used predictions. If I choose to go the way he does not expect, I can win effortlessly.
However, every fighter had their weapons. He could merely be deceiving me into thinking he was using predictions when he was not, but his fight against Tyler proved otherwise. After he learned how Tyler fights, he could predict every move he will be making.
I moved my right leg, misleading him into thinking I was going for a kick aimed at his side. When his eyes focused on my right leg, and his left hand was ready to catch it, I used my right hand to deliver a hook to his cheek.
I did not give him the time to foretell my following move because right after, I used my legs to sweep him off his feet. A satisfied smile made its way to my face, realizing it had barely been a few minutes and he was already grunting on the floor.
I climb on top of him, knowing he will take any chances to roll out of the way. His energy has yet to deplete, so he will not be defeated anytime soon.
The crowd was raucous, possessed with excessive exaltation and given a stentorian voice. I wondered if Tyler was agitated with the background noise. I was used to it. After all, my parents had never stopped bickering, and I was required to pay no heed to them.
He raised his arm and used his elbow to push me away as the audience reached the count of three.
He had yet to lay a single punch on my face, but there were clamorous, resounding and rowdy screaming of his name filling the room. He could merely be an underground fighter who had won against a few beginners. I figured it is best to tire him out before pinning him down again. He is a presumptuous man, and he would do anything to show others he is not frail. If I continue to block his attacks, he will start punching with more vigour and will be fatigued relatively soon.
He launched a sluggish punch aimed for my jaw, which I dodged. That caused him to fly into a rage and throw stronger and speedier punches. I was pleased six years of effort did not go in vain, but this fight is nothing compared to the one I will have with my stepfather in the future. I doubt Ajax can catch a knife perfectly on the handle as he did.
Fighting for Tyler in this competition was not what I signed up for, but he did say he was here just for the money. I can get it for him, just once, as a friend.
Once I saw my opponent shut his eyes and take a deep breath indicating enervation, I reached out to grab his left hand just when he threw another punch. I moved like the deuce, trapping him in a side headlock. He had his arm snaked around his head while bending forwards. I was in front of him, locking him in that position.
Before he could strike my ribs with his elbow and grab my hand, I used force to push him towards the floor, instantaneously straddling him and swinging my arm to hit him in the face. My knuckles were bleeding by now, but his face was supremely worse. He already had a black eye forming, along with busted lips.
Drained entirely, I could barely imagine how he felt since all I did was deliver the attacks. He had to withstand it while doing the same.
I stopped after the audience finished the countdown and pushed myself away from the guy defenceless on the ground.
“Congratulations on winning the fight against Ajax Cameron.” I could tell the announcer was astounded himself.
“How?” I could barely hear Ajax’s voice. The crowd gave tumultuous applause with their jaws dropped in bewilderment.
Ajax climbed to his feet with the support of two muscular guys who looked in awe as well. He pushed the two men away, bending down to take the bag filled with cash and swinging it my way.
I caught it on the handle.
“I demand a rematch if we meet ever again,” he said lowly, shooting me a scowl before limping away to the medical room. Sneering, I made my way back to my previous seat, ignoring the penetrating stares that pierced through me like sweltering lasers.
“Hope,” Tyler’s concerned voice rang in my ears. “Are you okay?” He inspected my bloody knuckles with a countenance clouded with disquietude.
“No way! He couldn’t even lay a punch!” Josh boomed, looking at me with admiration. “So, what Gray said was true, you do have a scary secret.”
Tyler’s face twisted into one that indicated slight exasperation. He met my eyes momentarily, and an ingratiating smile curved his lips.
I removed my hand from Tyler’s grasp and grabbed the bag of cash. I handed it to Tyler, who scrupled before taking it. “You know, you didn’t need to do all of that for this, I came here expecting to go home empty-handed.”
I shrugged as a response while feeling a shimmer of joy tickle me. It was gladdening to know I assisted.
I realized the crowds had already dispersed and started exited the building. I thought there would not be much audience since there were only a minimal amount of cars parked, but the building crammed with people.
“Let’s go, Hope. We’ll drop Josh off outside his house before I bring you to my place to clean the wound on your hand,” Tyler said, leading me to his car.
“Your injuries are way worse,” Josh commented. I nodded in agreement, noticing the bruises which had started to form on his face.
“I’m fine,” Tyler reassured. He pulled open the door to his car for me to step in. “Besides, I have to talk to Hope alone.”
I frowned, stepping into the car. I was clueless about what he needed to inform me because everything was over. After today, I can go back to seeking something I planned for a decade.
The car came to a stop outside a cottage, where Josh climbed out with his bag. He gave me a broad smile and a brief nod for Tyler before making his way inside. The vehicle roared to life again, controlled towards Tyler’s place. Anticipation began to bubble in my stomach. I was inquisitive about our upcoming conversation. I never imagined I would ever be stepping foot inside a house that belonged to someone else. I did not trust him, not now or ever. After this day, we will be nothing but strangers.
I was weary from the fight earlier. I could barely refrain from shutting my eyes and getting lost in the fabrication of the truth.
“We’re here,” Tyler shook me back to reality.
I carried myself with difficulty out from his car without my bag, still unsure if I wanted to enter his home. It was a relatively big house, though nothing compared to the house my stepfather and mother reside within.
I followed closely behind Tyler as he fumbled with his keys and unlocked his front door, pushing it open for the both of us. I decided to step in, plopping onto his couch and staring as he entered his room to drop off the big bag of money and return with bandages and napkins.
“Why did you step in for me?” he asked, smothering a gratifying grin as he settled down beside me. I raised my shoulders as an answer. I simply felt the necessity to stand up for him.
“Hope, I need to tell you something.” I eyed him quizzically as I let him inspect my knuckles that engulfed in dried blood. I could have simply washed it off in the building we were in half an hour ago. He continued, “About our deal, I don’t think I can keep away.”
“I mean…instead of ignoring you after this, I want to help you. I want to return the favour,” he said firmly. “With anything.”
I shot him a look of uncertainty. In all honesty, the best thing he could do to help is to keep away. I needed help, but not from him.
“I’d do anything, is there anything you need assistance with?” he added while clasping my hand and wiping it with a wet napkin. A surge of heat trickled within my veins under his touch.
I shook my head, declining his offer.
“Please?” He pouted, wrapping my fingers with the bandages.
I look into his eyes, contemplating for a moment. If he were a part of my plan, would he affect it positively? It was so much more complicated than it seemed. I did not want to trust him with my problems, but I needed much assistance if I wanted to hurt the people who had shattered me.
Was it wise to risk it?