Legend (Page 34)
“Well, you don’t sound too excited, Reesey,” he teases, pretending to be sad. “Have you already forgotten about me?”
TRAINING WITH RIPTIDE
I wake up and do a body check of what hurts. Head. Chest. Arms. Shoulders. Back. Quads. Calves. Inhaling, I turn my head into my pillow. Hell, my pillow smells good. My c**k wakes up. I reach to the side of the bed for her, smelling more of the jasmine on my pillow. It’s the scent of her. The bed’s empty under my hand, and I open my eyes and scan my hotel room. Reese is gone.
I peer at the time, then sit up and curse under my breath. I head over to shower and pull out my training gear. If Tate’s ready to teach me some lessons, I’ll get ready to dish out his. In the ring.
He’s waiting impatiently when I arrive.
Tate’s an aggressive fighter; he doesn’t wait. Neither do I. I’ve seen his tapes. I know his moves. He started boxing in his early years and his endurance has been unmatched in the Underground. No weakness. No mercy. Fast, strong, and precise. He doesn’t waste swings. More than half of his swings always land. My father swung much more, but they were wasted efforts. He would wear out and leave Tate fresh as spring rain, beating him to a pulp. I’m not making the same mistakes my father did.
The gym is vacant save for the three members of his team. His coach, the coach’s second, and his PA. I nod at the three and spot Tate by the bags. I know when a guy’s ticked, and he’s ticked now. Punching the speed bag like he’s out for murder.
I shake my arms and shoulders to loosen them up, pull my hoodie over my head. “I’m here.”
“F*****g late. I would kick your a*s for that alone if I weren’t kicking it anyway.”
I grit my teeth and scowl. He turns to grab something from the wall and looks at me, scowling too, and tosses me headgear.
I catch it and toss it aside. “I won’t be needing that.”
“Fine with me. I don’t mind busting your nose.” He climbs into the ring from one side, and I climb in from the other. “Your father and I go way back,” he says.
“It’s because of you he’s in a piece-of-s**t hospital bed.”
“Is that what happened?” His eyes gleam menacingly. “He did that himself.”
One of his team members comes over to tape up my hands and then shoves the gloves on me.
At Tate’s corner, outside the ropes, his coach whistles. “You two get some headgear on. Stat.”
Tate’s lips curl rebelliously, and he looks at me with challenge in his eyes.
I smile back, a feral curl of my lips.
We tap gloves.
I jab. He swings his arm, blocks the hit, leaps back, and I jab again, blocked again.
We space apart and jump in place, shaking our shoulders, loosening up. I pull my gloves back up, narrow my eyes, and he asks, “You think you’re the s**t because you’re fast and strong? I got news for you. I’m faster, I’m stronger, and I’m disciplined. Your coach isn’t doing you any favors.”
“He’s in my corner, and that’s enough for me.”
He swings, I duck fast and come up behind him. He straightens and faces me again. “If you settle for that, then you should settle for second place.”
“What the f**k. You want me to win?”
“I want a good fight. I like keeping things real. Reminds me I’m a man. Mortal.”
“I want to be a legend. Legends never die. Even if they die alone.”
He swings again, and I duck, come up, and jab three times.
He blocks repeatedly, then hooks with his right; I deflect. He grins and jabs again. I block, then I duck before he puts me up against the ropes, and I head back to center. He follows.
“To be a legend you need to fall seven times, get up eight,” he says.
I remember a final a few years ago when my father kicked Tate to a pulp. “Or not fall at all.”
He backs up his arm and then smacks the smirk right off me. “Before you stop falling, you need to embrace the fact that you’re going to hit the ground.”
I clean the blood from my mouth, glowering.
We take positions again, and he watches me as if waiting for my next move as we start dancing around, jumping, waiting for the other to strike.
“Do you want the headgear now?”
I lunge and start hitting, and he blocks, deflects, blocks. “F**k you,” I grit out.
“Getting angry doesn’t help. You control the anger, not let it control you.”
I want to prove him wrong, I loop out my arm and aim for his head.
He ducks and hooks, his knuckles cracking into my jaw. I spurt blood and bounce against the ropes.
I shake my head, wipe the blood away, grit my teeth, and straighten, narrowing my eyes. “My turn,” I growl, and I swing. My fist connects: a kidney punch.
He blocks my next hit, frowning in thought. “You’re cocky for someone who just lost yesterday.”
I dive my upper body to the side, evading. “You got to play it to become it.”
“I’m the champion, not you.”
“You won’t live forever, champ.”
He jabs three times, then leaps back, flexes his arm, and looks at it.
“Muscle memory. You hit enough times, you fight on instinct; part of your brain works on your assault, the other is focused on the other’s assault. Let your muscle memory work for you and consciously stay focused on your opponent’s eyes.”
I laugh mockingly. “I don’t need your pointers.”