Legend (Page 14)

A pair of jeans, a black crew-neck T-shirt, and a whole lot of Maverick Cage.

I try to ignore the feeling of his thigh against mine. His shoulder against mine. It’s impossible to concentrate on the conversation now. How can this guy sit here, without saying anything at all, and grab my attention more than all the noise? His quiet, his presence, and the way he’s staring at Trenton with a frown makes a bubble pop in my stomach.

Trenton’s voice trails off, his eyes flaring a little in annoyance when he spots Maverick, who’s taller, with a more compact body, but more intimidating than you’d imagine.

“We haven’t met,” Trenton says flatly.

“No,” Maverick says, just as flat.

“I’m Trenton,” the guy says proudly.

I don’t hear an answer. I steal a look at Maverick’s profile and he just sits there with a look that clearly emits the message Get lost. He’s staring unabashedly at the guy.

The guy narrows his eyes, but Maverick keeps staring him down, even when he’s sitting and the other guy is standing.

“Yeah, right. Well, nice to meet you,” he tells me in a tone that says he’s actually not so happy that we met, and he turns around and carries his balloonlike muscles to the other end of the gym.

Maverick is looking at me, and I’m such a coward, I can’t seem to find the courage to look at him just yet. I’m still . . . processing him. So near.

He doesn’t say a word to me, but I can feel him. He’s all I feel. Everywhere.

And I wonder if he can feel me. If he’s aware of me, even if in only a fraction of the way that I am aware of him. I turn and catch him staring, and the impulse to look away and pretend I just hadn’t checked him out is acute. But I don’t, so I stubbornly hold his gaze. Forever passes, and neither of us looks away. What is he thinking? And is it true the one who looks away submits?

“Where are you staying?” I ask in an extreme effort to sound casual.

“Just across the street.” He gestures to the hotel at the corner, and I nod. He leans closer, so it feels like we’re alone in a bubble, him and me. “You?”

“At my cousin’s house.”

Why do we want to know where the other is staying? Living? Sleeping?

I asked because I selfishly wanted to picture him, because wondering where he is and what he’s doing is driving me out of my mind. Maybe, once I know, my mind will stop with these constant thoughts about him already.

We stare at each other a little longer, almost as if we haven’t ever seen each other before. His eyes seem starved for my face. I feel starved, but not for food, or anything else. For something I can’t name. And I have never wanted before.

He ducks his head closer to me, his voice dropping an octave. “During a fight . . . you can gauge someone’s next move by looking at his eyes,” he says softly.

“We’re not fighting.”

“No. We’re not.” He looks at me, so deep I feel found.

But I’m not found. Because his eyes are watching me as if he’s trying to figure me out.

“Maybe your opponent’s move depends on your move,” I say, voice getting raw. Ask me out. Or to the park. Or just tell me maybe, during the season, I’ll see you again. We leave in three days and I get the sense I might never see him again.

“Just any move?” he asks with a teasing note in his voice.

“Not any move.”

“You know, Reese”—he leans forward on his elbows, his shoulders straining the shirt covering those muscular shoulders as he looks sideways at me—“I’ve got moves,” he cockily informs me.

“You’ve got limited moves and they all relate to punching. So I don’t believe you.”

“Believe me.” He nods with exaggerated meaning.

“Show me,” I dare, smiling.

He smiles too and straightens in his seat, but his eyes darken a little as he shakes his head. “Not here.”

There’s an odd look in his eyes as he looks at my lips for a beat. My ears get a little hot, and I drop my gaze to his chest. I’m frightened. I’m exhilarated. I need to change the topic, fast.

I flick my eyes back up to find those metallic eyes watching me. “How’s Oz?”

“Waiting for me.” He stays put next to me though. Doesn’t leave. Instead, he begins to frown and then is jerking his hard jaw in the direction of Twister. “I’m going to f**k him up at the inaugural this weekend, so don’t get too attached.”

I laugh and tsk under my breath. “You’re full of yourself.”

He smiles wider, but narrows his eyes warningly, his voice dark and raspy. “Laugh all you want. But I’m going to bust his nose, his jaw, and the rest of his face. Don’t get attached to any of those assholes. I don’t want to break your heart.”

“No way! And my heart is behind steel walls, promise.” I lift my fingers, crossed.

“Yeah right.” He mock-scowls, and then he just scowls. “Really. Don’t grow attached to any of these guys.”

I’d think he was jealous if he wasn’t so obsessed with fighting, plus I’m sure his jealousy is purely professional. He wants me to root for him, and a little part of me does, enough that I don’t want to tell him that I can root for no one but Remy. He’s part of my family.

So rather than promise, I frown and push him away as we both head to the exit. “Go away, you bully. Go bust your bags.”

With a curl of his lips, he holds the door open for me, and once outside, he turns to leave.