Legend (Page 4)

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“HOW DID YOUR day go?” Brooke asks later that evening.


“Just good?”

I nod, smiling. I’m not very verbose, and I’m naturally shy and uncomfortable around others. I think this is genetic because, though my mother is chatty, my father is a hermit and mostly keeps to himself aside from the occasional fatherly question like “You okay on money?” or “Your mother told you about curfew?”

I like being with my dad most. He doesn’t make me talk, like my mother does.

We’re the kind of people who appreciate silence.

I feel that sort of bond with Brooke’s husband too.

I met him last night—gorgeous, blue-eyed, strong and quiet, he’s a gentle beast—and after our hellos and a brief smile, he’s comfortable enough with my presence that he ignored me this morning while I had my breakfast and he had his.

I spoke before we finished.

“Why don’t you train in the gym with some of the others?” I blurted out, thinking of the guy I met.

“I concentrate better on my own.” He lowered his iPad, where he’d been reading something. “You can come train with Brooke and me if you’d like.”

“No!” I quickly protested, for a reason I still can’t fathom, and when he looked at me in a rather fatherly, curious way, I added, “I love the gym. Thank you.”

Tuesday, I’m so sore I need to crawl into bed. Wednesday is no better. But I feel energized, am sleeping divine.

By Thursday, I’m perfectly comfortable living with the Tates, and super comfortable with my daily routine. Racer has breakfast early with Mom and Dad, while I shower and get ready for the morning. The Tates drop us off at day care, and I head to the gym a few blocks away. Later, I pick up Racer, play with him in the afternoon, swim, call my mom and a few friends, or spend the evening with Pete or Riley.

I’ve learned that Pete, the guy who drove us from the airport, is Remy’s personal assistant.

Then there’s lazy, friendly Riley, his coach’s second.

Remy’s coach is named Lupe; he’s bald and he’s got a thing for the last member of the Tates’ team, the motherly Diane, Remington’s nutritionist and chef.

All in all, I’m feeling a lot more settled in than I expected to be at this point. There’s this great family vibe with the Tates and their team. I feel like I fit in, they treat me like one of their own.

It’s cool this morning, so I cover myself with an extra layer and wonder if I’ll see Mr. Mysterious from the gym. It rains sometimes, even during the summer. Soft, quiet rain that I’m able to sleep through all night. Some nights, Brooke steals away from Remy when he’s busy talking to the guys and we spend a girls’ night talking about things. I’m very interested in learning how to take care of my body now. It’s something that had never interested me until now.

Brooke told me what to eat after a workout, depending on what I want to accomplish. Fat and proteins for weight loss or muscle building. Carbs for energy. I’ve also been getting frequent calls from Mom and Dad. My parents are loving, and I’m their only child. I never lacked for love or anything I wanted. I never wanted to leave home; I was too comfortable there. Felt safe. But then I realized: I counted so much on my mom and dad, I started letting them make decisions for me. What college? What career? I know my mom and dad have a valid reason to worry about me and a valid reason for wanting to make these choices for me, but I wanted control of my life, so I finally asked them to let me choose on my own. They said fine. And I was shocked to discover, I didn’t know. And as the last decision I let my mother make for me, she called Brooke and asked if I could come.

My mom has a plant nursery. She once told me that whenever a plant is moved to a new home, it can’t be watered immediately or it dies. For two weeks it needs to be stressed, its survival tested, and only after those two weeks pass will it be ready for the water it needs to grow.

I didn’t expect coming here to be easy. But I am ready to grow. I needed a change. I’m almost twenty.

“Sure you’re okay?” Mom asked.

“Yes,” I said last night, when she called. And for the first time in a long time, I meant it.

I’ve also learned about the Underground. Last year, the final fight was between Remington “Riptide” Tate and Parker the Terror, who was a real nightmare all around. It was a close match, but the Terror lost and later was hospitalized and kept from fighting due to being in intensive care. An older nemesis and opponent, Benny the Black Scorpion, apparently disappeared this year and no one knows where he is or if he’s coming back. Some people think Twister is a contender. And apparently Spidermann—who left Oz Molino, his former trainer, and went with a new one—is rumored to be in good shape too.

Parker and Scorpion used to give Remy a run for his money, but they wore themselves down. It takes discipline for longevity, Pete tells me. Not just the fight itself but the lifestyle you build to support yourself in a positive way.

I’m embracing the lifestyle with gusto.

The guy—Steel Eyes—has been in the gym every day. He speaks to no one. You’d think it was too much effort to do so, effort he seems to prefer laying on the punching bag. Straight from those eight-pack abs and to the punching bag with a dull thud. He’s new in town, I think. Nobody knows. He keeps earbuds in to shut out the rest of the world. I recently snuck a peek at the log page where we sign in; he signs his name as Cage.

Caged is the way I felt when he looked straight at me on our second day.