His Twisted Fantasy is going to hit the Zon in fourteen days! Here is anorher sneak peek. Check out the first chapter here, and another sneak peek here. Leave a comment and let me know what you think 🙂
Warning! Boxing scenes ahead! There is violence!
This is why I never train with anyone but Declan Santori, The Bull. He can take my punches, swift and vicious and damaging, without ending up whining on the octagon floor like a beaten pimp. He’s a pro, a UFC champion back in his fraternity days in college, and a legend of underground fighting, too. He can’t say no to an illegal fight, hence his mask and nick-name, The Bull. No one can ever know his true identity.
A famous billionaire that never misses a red carpet, he’s many a city girl’s wet dream. I don’t think he’d ever settle for one girl though because, like me, he’s a fucked up bastard, with fucked-up secrets. But he was a promising boy when he came to me for help years ago, and I just couldn’t let him go to waste.
I couldn’t let him fall down the same dark pit that had turned me into a monster.
So I covered up his screw-up, and he’s been a loyal puppy ever since, albeit one with grit, and dignity. Fearless and dangerous, The Bull doesn’t need to suck up to me, not anymore. Unlike all other men I know, he doesn’t offer his adoration because he’s secretly afraid of me. On the contrary, if anyone stands a chance against me on pretty much all levels, then him.
Sweat dripping down my back, I throw punches so hard that one of his mitts flies off.
“Whoa, not feelin’ very friendly today, are we?”
I heave, my fists still up. I’m not wearing gloves, just the wraps, wanting to feel the impact of the blows full force. But now that I’ve thrown some punches, I know that what I need today is to be the punching bag.
“Hit me,” I growl. “Hard, in my face or my stomach, I don’t give a fuck, just make it hurt.”
The Bull hesitates, like he always does.
“Just do it, Declan.”
He knows better than to hesitate a second time. Dropping his mitts, his right fist hits me straight in the gut. It would send a large man bending from his waist and spitting his guts out, but all the years of training, all the fights to the death in prison, have taught my body to withstand much more than normal men. My muscles clench, and the blow bounces off of me like a fucking ball.
“Harder,” I push through my teeth, gritting them until my jaw hurts.
Declan hits again, and I buck forward, my abs turning into a wall of concrete. He shoots another blow, and another, so fast that his fists whip the air. My fists strain against the chafing bandages. Before I know it, I respond to his blows, and we dance in a full-fledged fight in the octagon, a stark light from above falling in the middle of it. We keep to the circle of light, the way we did back in the octagon where we met seven years ago.
The only draw in my life. And in his.
Right now, I need the violence that only he can give me. Something to knock out the beastly lust inside that threatens to consume me. If anyone can make the lights go out, then Declan.
The last few blows send us both outside the cone of light, bouncing against the octagon net walls, heaving. We have another go at each other, another flurry of blows that scrambles both of our brains. Another groaning pause sees us bouncing from net walls, struggling to find balance on our feet again.
“What the hell is wrong with you, dude?” Declan hisses among labored breaths, his large chest heaving, Unlike me, the former frat boy doesn’t have any tattoos. It’s a thing of the elites, not to mar their own bodies. But on the inside, his soul is a scarred wreck.
“And don’t even try to tell me it’s nothing because I’m gonna beat the shit of you until you talk.”
“No.” My chest vibrates. “You’re going to try.”
He does. He launches himself at me with a war cry, his arms bouncing off my guard as I block his punches. He does finally land a jab to my jaw, and I groan at the pain that splits my head–loving it, embracing it. Snarling, I stick out my tongue like an enraged gladiator, ready for more. The Bull throws his next hammer-like punch to my face, knowing exactly what I want. What I need. Had he gone for the body, my muscles would have reacted by instinct and turned to concrete, shielding me from any real damage.
But as long as I keep my hands down, nothing can pad my face against the onslaught of violence.
I revel in his blows, my mind focusing on the cracks and splinters and lightning that cut through my head. I grin like a madman, leaning into his pummeling until Declan suddenly stops.
“What are you doing?” I snarl. “Keep going.”
“Like hell I will. What the fuck dude, why are you doing this to yourself?” The sight of him swims in front of my blurry eyes, his fists unclenching at his sides. There’s blood on one of his bandages, which means the slick wetness above my eyebrow is from split skin.
“What you askin’ stupid questions for? This isn’t the first time we’re doing this. Go on.”
He shakes his head and steps back, running a hand through his soaked hair. “This is different, man. Seriously different. I’ve never seen you like this before, and honestly, it scares me.”
I fall back against the octagon wall, trickling down to the floor, exhaustion sliding through me. I rest my forearms on my knees, eyes closed to take in the feeling. At least for a few minutes, the beast will be quiet, stunned by the blows, reeling as it tries to regain some focus. Ah, there’s that feeling, of having gotten what I deserved.
“Start talking,” he presses.
“Or what?” I retort, my head leaned back against the octagon wall, my eyes closed.
A small laugh escapes me. Here it is, Declan’s unique way of cracking me open. I start unwrapping my bandages, focusing on the smooth movement as I speak.
“It’s, I–” What the hell do I say? I’ve never talked about women with a guy, simply because I was never interested in one.
Luckily, Declan has this uncanny ability to sense stuff.
“It’s a chick, right?”
My eyes fly up, meeting his eerily black irises. A grin curls up his lips.
“Well, well, well, the great Jax Vaughn has fallen for a girl. Who knew he even could.”
“It’s not like that,” I grunt.
“By the way you just tried to have it beaten out of you?” He clicks his tongue, pointing a finger at me. “It’s totally like that.”
“What would you know?” I grumble, ripping a piece of my bandage, folding it, and dabbing at the cut above my eyebrow.
Declan’s face tightens. Damn it. It’s been so long since we talked about it that it slipped my mind.
“I’m sorry.” I’m a bastard. “I don’t know what I was thinking, it’s just–” I refold the bandage and press it harder to my brow, until it forces me to hiss. “I haven’t fallen for her, this is something else.”
“Oh, but there’s no way you can tell, is there?” Declan says. “You’ve never been into someone before. You have nothing to compare it to.”
I throw a stray glove at him with my free hand. It happens swiftly, his hand raising a split second too late, and the glove hits him in the face.
“The fuck man,” he protests, hurling it back at me across the octagon. I catch it in the air, and drop it next to me. “It’s not my fault a woman is finally getting to you. I’m just trying to help here. I’m not even sure how, but I know beating the shit out of you isn’t a long-term solution.”
“Why not? I’m not a glamorous character in public life, like you, I don’t need to pamper my face.”
“No, but it still is a pity to see you roughed up. You’re a pretty boy, you know. Besides, what will that girl of yours say if you turn up looking like Kitschko run over by Muhammad Ali?”
“She’s slipped under my skin, man.” The words just slide out of my mouth. I rub the folded bandage into my wound, gritting my teeth. “I’m capable of doing the most horrible things for her.”
Declan stares at me keenly. “But not to her.”
“Never,” I react quickly, out of my gut. “But to anyone that tries to take her away from me. Like her ex, he kept texting her the other day, and I just lost it. I considered getting him in a dark alley and breaking every bone in his body. And that’s not even the worst part.”
“What is then?”
“She’s only been there for one night and one morning, and I already told her about Dominic.”
His face freezes. He knows what this means. “How about what happened in prison?”
I shake my head, wet strands whipping against my forehead. “Not yet.” And not because I didn’t want to, but because I couldn’t face the disgust that would have twisted her features. She must never know what I did.
“I don’t know dude,” Declan says, rubbing the five o’clock shadow on his square jaw. “On the one hand it sounds great. You’re a hard boulder to crack, and being able to talk to someone like that, it’s priceless. Not something one wants to lose.”
“But something one definitely should let go of when they’re a–”
“Don’t say it,” he cuts me off.
“It’s what I am.”
“That doesn’t mean you don’t have the right to be–” He’s careful about the use of the word, but he goes for it in the end, “you know, happy.”
“Happy.” I spit out the word. “That’s not in the cards for me. The prison shrink said as much when he declared me a menace to society after what happened. I’m incapable of good feelings. I destroy everything I touch.”
“You know damn well that’s bullshit.” Declan is usually a controlled guy, but there’s no missing the anger lacing his tone now. “You come from a shitty background, where everyone predicted you’d become an addict and a goon. Hell knew all the other boys down your lane did. Instead, you never touched drugs, got your first job at sixteen, brought all your money home to your mother, and even enjoyed the pure slavery they subjected you to on those construction sites because it gave you purpose. If there ever was a good man, Jax, then you. You made something great of yourself even in those terrible circumstances, just imagine what you could have accomplished if you were born to a couple of posh narcissists like my folks.”
I scoff bitterly, wishing I could believe that I am a good man, at least in essence. But Declan is biased because I helped him when he was at his lowest.
“Even if I were a good man, prison changed all that. In a sense, I never came back out.” I slap the bloody folded bandage on the floor.
“I can’t fall for her, Declan,” I say, my voice the closest thing to a whisper. “I would squeeze the life out of her, cage her in, and go mad with jealousy every time she stared with melancholy out the window, suspecting she might be thinking of some other guy. The only person I can tolerate around her is her friend Mia. And don’t even get me started on the effort it cost me to agree to those few dancing classes a week that she gives.”
When Declan fails to latch onto that, I look up from the floor. If I were to define melancholy, it would be the look on his face right now.
“Everything all right?” I probe.
“Yeah, it’s just–” He stares into nothing, his mouth hard. “That name.”
I soften my voice, speaking carefully. “Was it her name?”
He nods, his throat working as if he just swallowed a word he couldn’t say out loud.
A good friend would probe deeper. But a brother knows better.
“You know, if you ever feel like talking about her, I’m here.”
Declan bursts into laughter, coming back to himself, and throwing a mitt at me. “If I ever felt like talking about the woman that destroyed my life, it wouldn’t be with an emotionally crippled bastard who’s just tasting merciless passion for the first time. But as the more experienced of us I can tell you, Jax–the experience will hurt. There’s no avoiding that. Yet every second of it will be worth it, and you’ll crave more.”