Legend (Page 22)

“One. One does: Riptide.” He raises his brows challengingly. “All the others are divorced like me.” He shakes his head, then adds, “When you fight for a living, it’s like your whole life is at war; it bleeds into your personal life.”

“Like my father’s.”

He stays silent, then cracks open his flask and takes a long swig.

“What do you know about my father?”

“Oh no you don’t.” Oz cackles and stands to leave, the f*****g coward. But before he heads off, he slaps my back. “You don’t pay me for that.” He eyes me. “And you don’t want to know.”

“Actually, I do.”

He sighs and considers it for a moment. “Got all f****d up after being in the fighting world too long. He became a . . .” He searches for words. “Terror.”

“Drugs?”

He snorts, takes another swig, and midswig he frowns at the flask and turns it fully upside down to realize it’s empty.

“He fought dirty; I’ve seen the tapes,” I tell him.

“You don’t fight like him. You’ve got more good in you than he ever did. You fight better than him. That’s all you need to know.” He finds a half-drained bottle nearby and refills his flask.

“Oz, f**k, man,” I say.

He lifts his flask at me in a toast. “I’m taking my baby to bed, let it nurse me into a good mood.”

I sigh, then I flip the envelope and add my mother’s address.

FOURTEEN

GREYHOUND TO DENVER

Maverick

Two days later we’re in the back of a bus, on our way to Denver. Oz is snoozing. I have my earbuds in, watching my father fight Tate in the ring. I’ve watched the videos so many times. Studying for weaknesses. He has none. He’s fast; my father has trouble staying balanced when he catches a hit.

If I withstand ten fighters next fight, I can get to him. Face-to-face. I get to fight him. I get to see exactly what he’s made of.

Hell, I get to see what I’m made of.

I sigh and turn off my phone, then I set my forehead on the window and stare outside, not really seeing anything but her.

She’s in my head. She said He’s with me and now, somehow, she is the one who’s with me. She’s there when I go to bed, there when I wake. I rub my thumb over my cut.

Her eyes as she stitched me up.

Her lips closing around the spoon and licking off the vanilla ice cream.

My mind goes in all directions but it ends up in the same place: her.

Her watching me fight.

Her in a nice room with me.

On a nice bed.

And me, kissing her in a very un-nice way. Hearing her make noises that are the opposite of nice.

She huffs when she exercises and makes a certain noise when she makes effort, almost a moan, and then she sighs as she catches her breath, and she’s the sexiest thing I’ve ever seen inside a gym or out of it.

She’s got a tiny waist I could encircle with my hands and the most delicious butt. It bounces when she runs, and so do her exquisitely delicious breasts. She’s a sexpot, made to f**k. I can’t look at her without imagining what she’d look like under me.

Dragging my hand over my face, I pull my phone back out and try to focus on the man I need to beat.

And still I think of that nice girl who doesn’t want to be nice. A girl who wants to be unforgettable, and doesn’t realize she already is.

FIFTEEN

WE MEET AGAIN

Reese

The next few days we spend in Denver. The weather is fabulous during the summer. Everything is green and the breeze is fresh and clean. It’s been five days since I last saw Maverick Cage, but less than one second since I last thought of him.

Every moment of the day he’s been in my mind’s eye. I’m confused about my fixation on him, why I’m so aware that he’s not near. I live with the curiosity of wanting to know what he’s doing and a fierce body ache that’s been growing exponentially as my days without seeing him keep adding up.

It took a full day to get Racer into the perfect Denver day care, mainly because Brooke wants him to interact with other little kids and wants something close to both her and Remy’s training area and the team’s gym.

I’m at the Body Factory Gym now when I see him walk in. He hands over a card at the entrance and I realize he’s got himself a membership.

I’m almost disappointed that he doesn’t need me anymore. I look away from the entrance, drag in a breath, and turn to him again, waiting for him to glance in my direction.

He tucks his card away, signs his name, and I see the lady try to flirt with him, and Maverick . . . oh god, Maverick smiles at her. Then he walks inside. He hasn’t seen me but is scanning the treadmills—where I used to be. But today I’m on a Pilates bed. I sit up and stand uneasily to my feet.

And then his eyes find me.

And I’m . . . found.

And alive.

And nervous. It’s been an eternity.

Forever and ever since you looked at me.

And when he does look at me, he seems to stop breathing. He takes me in for the tensest second, and then he drinks me in with one rake of his eyes over my body. My breasts feel his gaze. So does my sex. And my tummy. And my heart. His fingers seem to flex at his sides and he jams them into his drawstring sweatpants pockets.

I want to act cool, but I can’t.

I’m possessed by my happiness.

I’m possessed by him.

I head over, my smile hurting on my face.

“Maverick Cage,” I breathe excitedly. “I missed you.”

Jesus, Reese, you didn’t just say that!

My eyes widen instantly when his eyes flare in surprise too. I drop my gaze and search for something to say when I realize—