Last period of the day. Physics. Thank God! Lyra was excited to start training Cherry and she could hardly concentrate. She found herself once again sitting next to Leo Brighton. Sonya was also in class but she avoided Lyra, even when her boyfriend sat next to her. A dark bruise covered Sonya’s chin and cheek from Lyra’s kick. Serves her right, Lyra thought to herself.
“You were pretty badass defending Cherry,” Leo’s deep voice sounded too close to her ear. “Where did you learn to fight like that?”
“My uncle owns a gym and training center for UFC fighters in Chicago,” she said. “He made sure I knew how to fight.” Leo’s eyes sparkled with interest. “I won the junior women’s bantam weight championship three years running.”
“Damn that’s sexy,” he said. “Come on a date with me.” She shifted to the side, giving him the stink eye.
“Dude, you can’t be serious. You have a girlfriend. She’s a bitch but she’s your girlfriend nonetheless. I kicked her ass earlier or did you miss that little show?” He smiled that sexy smile, flashing his perfect teeth.
“Sonya has delusions of grandeur, love. She is not my girlfriend. We broke up last year and she won’t let it go.”
“Still a hard pass, Leo. I do not have time for her kind of crazy or your kind of stupid.” Leo chuckled.
“You don’t like me, do you?” he asked.
“Nope, I don’t. I know your type and I’m not interested.” But for a brief second she wished he could be. No, he was a bonafide player. She could tell by the way he walked, talked and flirted. He was a bad boy with a capital B and she didn’t want a seat on that crazy train.
“You’ll change your mind, love,” he purred. “They all do.”
“Better men than you have tried, love…and failed.” The final bell. “Oh thank God,” she said, grabbing her stuff. She bolted out the door, in search of Cherry…and to get away from that annoying jerk Leo. He was arrogant and well, gorgeous. The problem was he knew it and he used it to his advantage. He was six foot, she guessed, by the way he loomed over her. She was tall but she figured he had at least a few inches on her. His broad shoulders filled out his blazer to perfection and by the way his shirt stretched over his chest, she could see the definition of lean muscle.
She spotted Cherry waiting for her outside the doors leading into the yard. Linking arms the girls got in the car and headed to Lyra’s house. Lyra could already see a spark in Cherry’s eyes. When they arrived, they dropped their things by the front door and headed to the gym. The basement had been converted into a home training gym so Lyra could keep up her fighting skills while she lived overseas. She was on the verge of breaking big on the US fight circuit but her mother’s new job shot that all to hell. She couldn’t hate her mom for taking the job. Mara Salvador had fought long and hard to raise her daughter alone, put herself through college to earn a Masters in technology as an engineer so she could provide a better life for both of them.
Cherry had changed into her gym clothes while Lyra sported her tight sparring gear. Her body was long and lean, packed with toned muscle. In other words, she was a lean mean fighting machine.
“Ok Cherry let’s get stretched out and start with the basics.” She took the girl through a series of good stretches, explaining the purpose of each one and why stretching was so important. “A good fighter needs to be loose and prepared. Tight muscles can lead to slower reflexes and serious injury.” Cherry soaked up every word that fell from Lyra’s lips. After stretching, Lyra moved on to the proper fighter’s stance.
“Bend your knees a bit and place your feet apart like this.” Cherry mimicked the move. “Do you feel your core tighten?” Cherry nodded. “Good. That’s how you know you got it right. Now throw a punch.” Cherry threw a sloppy punch, almost losing her balance. Lyra giggled. “Get back in your stance. You need to flow the punch through your body. Don’t just jab out. It won’t carry much power. If you want the true strength of your punch, it needs to come naturally from the movements of your body.” She slowed down the method and showed Cherry how to throw a proper punch.
“Wow! I feel the difference!” Cherry’s eyes were lit up now and her enthusiasm was starting to crack through her broken shell. Lyra gradually worked her until she could throw the punch faster and pack power behind it.
“That’s it girl! Damn if you were to hit Sonya with that punch, she’d be out for a year!” Cherry giggled, jumping up and down in excitement. They worked together for a couple of hours, Lyra working Cherry hard. Finally the dark haired girl collapsed on the floor.
“I can’t take any more!” she puffed. Lyra giggled and tossed her a cold bottle of water. Taking a seat next to her new friend, she drained her own bottle.
“You did good for your first session, Cherry. I’m proud of you. You caught on quick!”
“Lyra I can’t thank you enough for teaching me to fight. You should teach a class. I know there are several girls like me who would jump at the chance to learn from you. How did you learn how to fight anyway?”
“When I was in middle school I was getting beat up just about every day.” Cherry’s eyes grew the size of dinner plates. Chuckling, Lyra continued her story. “My Uncle Mateo is a retired UFC fighter who became a coach. He has a huge gym in Chicago where he trains fighters. I came home one day from school and he got seriously pissed when he saw the bruises on my face. He said no niece of his was going to be a bully’s punching bag so he started my sessions that same day. I’ve been fighting ever since.”
“Wow. I can’t believe you were ever bullied. What happened to your Sonya?”
“Let’s say a few months and a kick to the face later, she never bothered me again.” Cherry burst out in laughter.
“I suppose not. Your uncle sounds amazing.”
“Yeah Tio is pretty awesome. I miss him like crazy.” Her eyes took on a sad loneliness. “I miss the fighting. I could go to the gym, work myself into a frenzy and train until I passed out. I could spar with dudes twice my size and beat them. The fighters were like family and I learned something from them every day. I left all my troubles behind me when my feet hit the ring. I guess this will have to do until I go back home.”
“You should talk to my Uncle John. He could probably get you into a local fight club. My brother fights for him.” Lyra’s eyes popped wide.
“Wait a minute. If your brother fights, why the hell didn’t he teach you??” Cherry bit her bottom lip and averted her gaze.