ENGAGING JAYDEN

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GAGE


“It’s good seeing you, Jayden. I’m glad you came in.” Jayden’s therapist reminded me of a hippie. Her natural gray hair, parted down the middle, reached her waist. She wore a thin long skirt with a loose top. She had lots of bracelets and she smelled earthy. The closest thing I could put my finger on was incense sticks. “You must be, Gage?”

I stood and shook the offered hand. “I am.”

“I’ve talked about you a lot.” Jayden whispered.

I winced before I teased her with, “All good things I hope.”

She bummed her shoulder into my bicep with a knowing smile.

“It’s finally nice to put a face to a name. I’m Dr. Sage.”

“Nice to meet you.”

“Will you be joining us today?”

“No.” I shook my head pointing to the chair and looked at Jayden. “I’ll be here.”

“Ok.” Her lips curved brightly. Damn I loved her smile. She kissed me on the lips and pulled back. “See you in a minute.”

I gave her a wink knowing that it would cause her to blush.

It was a big day for Jayden. After a lot of debating and rationalizing (with herself) she had decided that this was going to be the last visit. In the last month she had made so much progress which she gives me credit for though I’m not really sure if I’m due any gratitude to be honest. I’ve held her and given her steps to overcome her panic attacks but that’s all I could do. I couldn’t take them away magically; no matter how much I wished for it. That was something she had to take control of and conquer on her own.

Knox and Spencer weren’t too happy with her decision considering the fucker was still out there. I understood where they were coming from even though I viewed it differently. My opinion...I’m not too keen on therapists; perhaps it’s because I had gone through so much with Daisy. Her therapist abused her position writing prescription after prescription to the point that Daisy had become hooked on them. Not all therapists are like that I realize. Still, it just put a bad taste in my mouth. Maybe even more in Jayden’s case considering a few of her prescriptions were what Daisy had.

When Jayden went into the room I pulled my phone out of my pocket just as the door closed behind her. I still smelled the herbs or whatever the hell it was and I smelled my hand.

Shit.

My skin smelled like her.

Needing to take a piss anyway I went to the bathroom. I had to wash my hands twice. Whatever she put on didn’t like to wash off real well.

My phone buzzed in my pocket.

Dillan

So I hear you chose to train at the de Luca camp to hook up with his sister. That true?

Gage

Where’d you hear that?

Dillan

Nice evasion.

Dillan

Alex told Harden. Harden told me.

Gage

Not quite like that.

Dillan

What’s it like then?

Gage

Met her in Vegas. Needed a place to train. Spencer offered me up.

Dillan

Alex says you two are serious. That true?

Gage.

Yeah

Dillan

?

Not even a second later my phone rang. I swiped my finger across the screen and before I could get a word out, Dillan said, “Tell me about her.”

I chuckled. He reminded me of Daisy and Jessica when they were in junior high talking about who liked who in school. “Are you bored or just drunk?” I had to flip him shit about it. I knew he wasn’t drunk. Having gone to school together since elementary all the way through college — Let’s just say I know him well.

“I thought hell would freeze over before I ever heard that my best friend would be dating let alone get serious with a girl.”

“Didn’t realize Alex has such a big mouth.” It didn’t bother me that Alex had said anything. Knowing him, he was just shooting the breeze over beers. It’s not like I was trying to keep my relationship with Jayden quiet anyhow.

“Isabella was down in the dumps because she couldn’t swim at some birthday party because of her cast so I flew her and Emma down to Disney World for a week. Alex and the boys were here while I was gone and when I got back Harden came over and filled me in. I thought he was bull shitting me at first. Have to say...I’m shocked.”

“You and me both.” I replied. I wasn’t lying.

“What’s she like?”

I didn’t miss a beat. “Unlike any girl I’ve ever been with.”

Dillan was silent for a minute. “Damn...Sound’s like me when I met Emma.”

“Yeah.” I scoffed. “I remember.”

“She has to be fucking amazing.” He said matter of factly.

“That’s an understatement.” And it was. In more ways than one.

I told him about her attack and all the shit that’s been happening lately. I even went into detail about me being barricaded in the sauna which still pissed me off that Him was such a chicken shit. I hated that it was a humbling moment for me. I’ve been humbled twice in my life and neither sat well.

He must have heard me getting worked up because he changed the subject off the fucker. “Well I’m happy for you man.” I knew Dillan meant every word of it. “Emma can’t wait to meet her.”

“I’ll bring Jayden up after the fight.” My phone vibrated and I checked the incoming call. “Hey man, Paconi’s callin’ me, so, I gotta go.”

“No problem. Talk to you later.”

I hung up and accepted Paconi’s call. I knew exactly why he was calling. “I’m fine.” I said.

“When the fuck were going to tell me?” Paconi’s voice rang. I knew better than to take his words seriously. Sure, he was annoyed, but he also knew that I would have called had it been serious.

“I wasn’t.” I replied. I knew that would set him off a bit. But I was being honest. Because as to how it happened...For now I needed to keep it quiet.

“You shouldn’t push yourself so hard.”

“How’d you hear about it anyway?”

“It doesn’t matter how I heard it— I should have heard it from you.”

True.

“Don’t know how but Xavier got wind of it.”

“I don’t even fucking care.” And I didn’t. It didn’t matter to me if Xavier knew or not.

“You should...” Paconi replied.

Before he could say anything further, I stated, “He’s posting about it isn’t he?”

“That would be ‘Yes.’” Paconi confirmed. “I’m doing a press conference here in a few hours. I’ve already talked to Xavier. If all goes well, it’ll die down in the next day or two.”

“When did it leak?”

“’Bout ten minutes ago.”

“I’m surprised my agent hasn’t called me.”

“Me too.” Paconi scoffed.

Just then my phone buzzed. “Speak of the devil.”

“Let him know that I’m saying you over extended yourself. You’re taking a long weekend and then you’ll be back at training.”

“Alright.” I ended the call and let my agent’s call go directly to voicemail.

Frank

It leaked.

Gage

Just got off with Paconi. He’s doing a press conference. Post that I over extended and am taking a few days to rest. I’ll be back to training next week.

Frank

Is there any truth to that?

Gage

Surprisingly, yes.

I walked back into the foyer and found the receptionist wasn’t behind her desk. I hadn’t thought much about it until I heard a hysterical woman down the hall. And not just any women. It was Dr. Sage.

“I don’t know...” She cried. “He just came in here and took her.”

My heart sank.

I hoped I heard wrong. I rushed to her office where the door was already open and saw that Jayden wasn’t in the room. Her shoes lay beside one of the chairs. I looked at Dr. Sage. She was pacing as she rubbed her forehead.

“You keep asking me that. No, I didn’t see his face. It was covered in some— Some sort of ski mask or something.”

What the fuck was happening? I felt like I was in the twilight zone.

My heart hammered against my chest and my palms became sweaty. Just then my phone rang.

“He took her, Abel.” I shouted on the phone.

“He what?”

“He fucking took her. I— I walked away for—” My gaze landed on her phone next to the chair and I wanted to pass out.

“Her phone’s here, Abel.” I couldn’t recognise my own voice. “You won’t be able to track her.”

“It’s alright, Gage. I know who it is.” There was a slight pause. “It’s Jamie.”

“What?” In the last thirty seconds I had never questioned my hearing as much as I did now.

“It’s fucking, Jamie, man.” Abel said again. “The fingerprints came back and they match Jamie’s. I called the Chief. It took a minute to convince him but he’s sending some men to his house now.”

“Give me the address.” I headed for the stairs knowing that the elevator would take too long.

My phone pinged.

I ran out of the building and hopped in Jayden’s Mercedes.

I pulled up the address that Abel sent me and pulled into traffic. It was thirty-seven minutes away.

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