Champion Moves

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Chapter 11

Lyra bounced on the balls of her feet as she waited for her uncle at baggage claim. Her mother, Mara just shook her head and giggled at her excited daughter.

“Relax, Lyra,” she chuckled. “He will be here before you know it.” Lyra rolled her eyes and continued to bounce, as if she were warming up for a fight. When Mateo’s dark head emerged at the baggage wheel, she took off with a squeal and threw herself in his arms.

“There’s my fighter!” he exclaimed, engulfing her in a tight hug. Mateo’s face was split with a bright smile as he hugged his niece, laughing. “I take it you missed me, joya?” Lyra just nodded her head, her arms wrapped around his neck. He felt wet droplets on his neck. “Shshsh baby, I missed you too. I’m here now.” He held her, listening to her quiet sniffles and rubbing soothing lines along her spine.

“Ai, querida,” Mara said softly. Lyra let go and stepped back, wiping her face with her sleeves. Mateo hugged his sister and gathered his bags. The tears were gone now and talk of Lyra’s upcoming fight commenced. The first place Mateo wanted to go was to the gym. It was no surprise to the girls. Lyra knew he would want to vet the place and the fighters for himself. Mara didn’t put up a fight about the gym. She just smiled to herself and headed toward Maxwell Fitness Center. She listened with a light heart to her beloved brother and daughter. She missed this closeness. There was a twist in her heart and she realized just what she made Lyra give up to move to London. Sighing, she pulled into the gym parking lot.

The Salvador family piled out of the car and into the gym. Lyra had texted Dante they were on their way. When she spotted his sweaty magnificent form sparring in the ring with one of the twins, she took a minute to admire the view. Seeing where her eyes were glued, Mara sauntered next to her. “Nice, baby girl. Very nice,” she giggled. “I see now why you are so taken with him.” Lyra grinned and giggled. “He’s very handsome, querida.”

“You should see him fight, Ma,” Lyra purred. Mara laughed and shook her head. Mateo stood behind his girls – yes he considered them his girls and his responsibility to take care of them – and watched Dante.

“He’s got good form but he needs work on that back foot.” Watching with a keen eye, he mentally cataloged every move. He could see the passion and agility in Dante’s moves. This kid could be a true champion, he thought to himself. The gym slowly went silent as the fighters began to recognize the legend in their midst. A large tattooed man with a chest the size of a truck and biceps to match made his way over.

“Well ain’t you a sight for sore eyes! El Diablo himself!” Mateo laughed and clasped the large man’s outstretched hand, pulling him into a man hug.

“Been a long time, Hammer. This yours?” The man shook his head.

“No, it belongs to John Maxwell. I am just the lucky bloke who gets to work here.” He turned and pointed at Dante. “That’s one of my fighters.”

“He’s good, man. A little slow on the back foot but he’s got real champion potential.” The man’s chest puffed out with pride and his broad smile got broader.

“Yeah Dante’s a good kid. They don’t come no better. That is, until I met your niece,” he chuckled, winking at Lyra. “Girl’s got that Salvador fire.” Now it was Mateo’s turn to puff out with pride. The two men chatted a bit longer before Lyra interrupted.

“I really hate to bust up this little reunion but…” Dante had finished his session and was wiping down. Spotting her, he gave her one of his dazzling smiles and leaped out of the ring. Sweeping her up in his arms, he kissed her. Realizing he had an audience, he set her down. “Sorry,” he chuckled. “I kinda lose all sense when Lyra’s around.” The men laughed. Lyra blushed and hid her face in his neck.

“Okay enough embarrassing your prize fighter,” she laughed. “I know Tio needs no introduction but the woman who gave me life deserves all the credit. This is my mom, Mara.” Mara rolled her eyes with a girlish grin. “She’s the real champion, if you ask me.”

“Ai, querida stop it!” Mara giggled. Turning to Dante, she held out her hand. “You must be the young man who has my daughter tied in knots.” Dante laughed, taking her hand.

“I hope so, Mrs. Salvador. She certainly has me trussed like a Christmas goose.”

“Mara, please. I’m not much for formality.” The large man hadn’t taken his eyes off of her. They were brilliant blue, framed by long lashes that would make any woman envious. Giving him a smile, she extended her hand. “I know your real name is not Hammer but it’s a pleasure to meet you all the same.”

“No,” the man laughed. “Martin Hendrix.” He took her small hand in his, giving her a lopsided grin. “I’m coaching your daughter in Mateo’s place.”

“Hey now, Martin,” Dante butted in. “You passed that task on to me so don’t be trying to take credit for my work.” Martin barked out a loud laugh, slapping Dante on the back hard enough to make him stumble a bit.

“I’m still the coach, lad. I have earned the right to pull rank and make you do the hard work.” Introductions were made around the gym and Mateo was given the ‘all star tour’. The fighters were eager for any words of wisdom they could get from El Diablo and Mateo didn’t disappoint.

“Lyra, get suited up and get your ass in the ring,” he thundered. Lyra shed her hoodie and leggings, removing her shoes. “I want to see what ol’ Hammer’s been teaching you.”

“One step ahead of you, Tio,” she giggled. Dante wrapped her hands and stole a kiss. Giving her a slap on the ass, he left the ring. Mateo jumped in, having stripped off his track suit to reveal a sculpted physique built from years of fighting and training. At six foot two, he was an impressive specimen. Ropes of muscle made for bulging biceps, a chest chiseled from stone and thighs as thick as trees. At forty five, he was still in prime shape and still turned heads of women of all ages. He donned boxing mitts and the pair squared off.

It had been too long since Lyra trained with her uncle and it showed. The seeds of doubt that she was ready for her bout began to plant in her mind. Mateo could see it in her eyes and he rode her hard. She was good. She was damn good and she knew it. After the third drop to the floor, Mateo threw off the mitts and pulled her to her feet. Grabbing her face, he held her firmly between his hands forcing her to look at him.

“Do NOT let those thoughts get in your head, Lyra. I can see what you’re thinking. You are ready. I didn’t come all this way to watch you crap out before the fight even starts. You are a Salvador! Now fucking act like it!” He let her go and pulled the mitts on again. Lyra huffed. He was right. She was a fucking Salvador! She was a badass in the ring and had the record to prove it. Squaring her shoulders, she went at it hot and hard. Her final punch threw Mateo’s arm behind his back, a roar of triumph in his throat. “Hell yeah! Now there’s my fighter!” He shook his hand and his head, grinning like a cheshire cat.

“Yeah yeah I know,” Lyra giggled. She laughed and threw her arms around Mateo, hugging him close. “God, I’ve missed you so much, Tio. Thanks for coming and kicking my ass.”

“I’m always here for you, joya.”

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