It was well into the night before Leo was out of surgery. The knife thankfully missed his heart and somehow wedged between the main arteries but still did enough damage to require a delicate surgery. Dante agreed to stay with George at the hospital in case the thugs came back to try to finish the job. Lyra had gone home as well, taking Cherry with her. Pulling into her driveway, she was met by Kate. There was something off about her new friend tonight but she was too tired to try to figure it out.
“Your mum has food for you,” Kate said, switching from foot to foot in a nervous pattern. Lyra hugged her quickly and went into the house.
“Good because I’m starving. I’m eating and then I’m sleeping,” she giggled. The girls giggled with her. Well Cherry did. Yeah there was something definitely off about Kate. “You ok there, Kate?” Nodding her head vigorously, Kate tried hard to appear as her usual nonchalant casual self.
“No!” she cried. “Shit!” She began pacing the floor of the kitchen in front of the sink, running trembling hands through her hair. “Fuck! Fuck! Fuck!”
“Hey, Kate, calm down,” Cherry said soothingly. “Whatever it is, we’re here for you.” That only made the girl pace faster, wringing her hands. Kate sank into one of the chairs at the small dinette.
“You know the whole reason I became a fighter?” she asked quietly. The girls shook their heads. “I mean, both of you did to take your bullies to task. I did it so no one would ever threaten me or my sister again. It didn’t work. I wasn’t strong enough to save her. She died in my arms. Now I fight in her memory.” The kitchen was deathly quiet.
“Wow, sweetie, this must be hard for you,” Lyra said. “What was her name?”
“Sabine. She was younger than me. She carried the light in our little family,” Kate chuckled. “My parents loved each other so even though we were always broke, we were happy. Dad would work long hours at the docks and pick up odd jobs every spare moment. Mom was already working two jobs so Sabine and I pretty much took care of each other. We would do small jobs for our neighbors, whatever we could do to help out. No matter how tired our parents were, they always told us how much they loved us and how lucky they were to have such wonderful daughters.” Kate took a deep breath.
“Sabine was born early so she was smaller than everyone else. She still so tiny at eleven and got targeted a lot by the bullies at school. She was the kindest, sweetest soul you’d ever meet. She took everything that was thrown at her like a bloody queen. I was always with her, never letting her be alone. I promised Mum and Dad I would always be there to protect her. When she started getting pushed around, that’s when I started fighting. I was thirteen. Some wanker pushed Sabine down on our way home from school. He called her horrible names and kicked her before I got to him. I don’t know what happened that day but I saw red. I beat the shit out of him, broke his nose and his wrist.”
“Damn girl!” Lyra giggled. Kate gave her a small smile.
“Yeah well Cage Guinness was on the corner that day and saw the fight. After it was over and the boy was running away screaming, he approached us while I was picking Sabine up. He helped me but I was still amped up after the fight. He offered to train me and I’ve been fighting ever since. He walked us home, gave me his card and told me to call him.”
“You were trained by Cage Guinness?” Lyra’s eyes were as wide as dinner plates. Kate nodded as a low whistle escaped Lyra’s lips. “Wow no wonder you’re so fierce! His fights with my uncle were brutal! God, he had amazing form and talent. He moved around the ring like a big lion. I had a huge crush on him.”
“Yeah he was a looker,” Kate smiled. “He was also a great coach and mentor. I don’t think I could have survived Sabine’s death if he hadn’t been there for me. Well, for my whole family really. He was our guardian angel.” Kate’s eyes shadowed again. “It took some convincing to get Mum and Dad to agree to let me train but eventually they agreed. When I brought home my first winnings, Dad made me put every bit of it in the bank to save for my future. I secretly took it back out and paid the rent on our flat.
“I was earning a reputation, especially after Cage named me ‘Deathstrike’. I was doing well in the ring on the amateur circuit and no one dared mess with Sabine. But,” she stopped, taking a shuddering breath, “it wasn’t enough. She still died. My biggest fan took her last breath in my arms.” Kate collapsed in heartbreaking sobs. The girls rushed and gathered her in their arms. She cried long and hard, finally releasing some of the sorrow that she didn’t realize she was holding inside.
“I had just won the amateur bantamweight championship and we were on our way to celebrate. Coach was taking us to our favorite pizza joint to meet Mum and Dad. It was also my sixteenth birthday. We were laughing and hugging, just being teenagers and sisters. She was so proud of me. Some bastard attacked us in the parking lot. Turns out it was the coach of the girl I’d beaten. He was pissed, like crazy pissed. Stupid wanker bet more than he had and lost everything when I won.”
“Oh my God! How do you even do that!” Cherry couldn’t believe what she was hearing.
“I pushed Sabine behind me and told her to run get help. Silly girl wouldn’t leave me. She squared her shoulders and faced off with me against the guy. I was secretly proud as hell of her but scared as fuck she would get hurt. Motherfucker came at us fast. I barely missed his fist but Sabine didn’t miss his knife. He gutted her like a fish. It was over quicker than it begun and my sister was bleeding out on the ground. I was screaming for help, begging someone to stop but by the time they did, she was already gone.” Kate wiped the fresh tears from her face.
“I begged her not to leave me. She just smiled and said ‘I love you Kay Kay. Help Mum and Dad and don’t stop kicking ass.’ Then she was gone.”
“I’m so sorry Kate,” Lyra hugged her tight. “She sounds like an amazing girl.”
“She was. She would have made a hell of a fighter too. She never let her size stop her from doing anything she set her heart to.” Kate stood and hugged both girls tightly. “Thank you for listening.” She held them a bit longer, taking comfort in their friendship. “I want to go see Leo. I know he doesn’t know me but I would feel better, I think if I saw for myself he was going to be all right. I want to make sure George is ok too.”
“Georgie would love that, Kate,” Cherry smiled. Kate hugged them quickly again and headed to her car. The drive to the hospital was short but fraught with thoughts of her beautiful sister. She hadn’t spoken about Sabine to anyone outside her parents in a long time. It felt good to share her with her friends. Entering the hospital, she made her way up to the floor where Leo’s room was. Spotting Dante outside, snoozing in a chair, she slipped quietly into the dark room.