Legend (Page 51)

And we go for it.

Back to dancing, dodging, counterpunching, punching. Back to discussing power, tactics, speed, precision. We duck, swing, hit, miss, and sweat and bleed as usual.

Except this time my game’s off.

It’s so off, I don’t last three rounds before I’m bleeding out of my mouth and from that same cut on my eye that keeps opening.

“Where’s your head?” he snaps, mad.

Never been this f****d-up before.

I glance at the window just as I’ve been glancing back to see if she’s walking by again.

“Ah, I see. You like her?”

“Aren’t you going to tell me to stay away?” I shut my eye as I get the cut temporarily fixed.

When I turn, scowling and braced to fight for her, he’s got his brows up, and he says, “I’m not her father. Nor yours.”

We hit.

“Don’t go after her if you don’t think you can deserve her.”

He hits me again and I block, then jab him. He eases back and prowls around. So do I. “Deserve her first. Then go after her.”

“I’m trying.”

“Every day I try to deserve my wife. Reese is her cousin. One of mine. You take care of her, or I’m going to need to take care of you, and you’ll have nothing more to avenge.” He hooks and I deflect. I see an opening and take it.

I pummel his side, three times, fast, then ease back. “Understood.”

We prowl again.

“You’re the one who gave her that penny? The one she’s always looking at?” he asks, amused.

I cut him a warning look. “F**k you. It was all I had.”

He nods, some new respect visible in his eyes. “Keep fighting like you do and soon you’ll be able to give her the world.”

I grit my teeth in determination and simply nod, because if I win, I’ll have respect. I’ll prove I’m better than my father. Tate won’t think I don’t deserve her, nobody will.

And I don’t tell Tate that in more ways than one, Reese is already mine. That I’m still trying to deserve her and I’ll die trying to deserve her. But she’s already mine. I know it, and for her to know it too, I just need time.

We fight for another three minutes, then we take our corners to catch our breath.

“Who’s my toughest fight? In semis?” I ask him.

He leans forward in his chair. “Yourself. It’s always yourself. Can’t win if you don’t think you deserve it. Other than that?” He thinks some more on the question. “Taz is wicked fast. Toro is a f*****g meatball. You get a fist on your face and you’re done for the night. I always dance around the fucker until he’s dizzy, then go for the head. Least fleshy part of the a*****e.” He shrugs. “You can go for the body too, but it takes more swings and if you wear down before he does . . .”

I nod and think about it, then I start asking him about everyone else. Twister, Spidermann, Hot Shot, and Libertine. And for the first time, I willingly listen to what Tate has to say.

THIRTY-TWO

COME WITH ME

Reese

“He was training with Maverick,” Brooke says offhandedly as we head three blocks down to the inflatable kiddie party place.

My heart does a double dip and a pirouette and other stuff I don’t even know the names of.

I almost stop walking.

“Oh” is all I say though. So cool, I sound.

But wow. That’s all you can say, Reese?

Because I want to say so much more. Ask so much more.

“Mavewick is my fwend,” Racer says, puffing out his little chest.

“How do you know Maverick? You’ve seen him twice,” Brooke taunts Racer, rumpling his hair.

“Uh-uh,” Racer denies, shaking his head.

“We’d bumped into him at the park before,” I hurriedly say.

Please, please, Racer, don’t say anything about Maverick kissing Reese on the cheek in the park.

Please don’t mention Reese sleeping in Maverick’s arms while he looked after you. . . .

I will be your slave storyteller FOREVER!

And push you hard in the stroller no matter how much my butt bounces and EVEN if Maverick is watching.

Racer is thankfully too busy keeping his eye out for our destination to say anything else.

“At the park? Really?” Brooke asks him. Then she eyes me and I feel a telling heat inside that climbs all the way up to my ears, which are thankfully covered by my hair today. “He is absolutely as gorgeous as they come,” she says with a female sigh.

And I think the small, painful little groan I just heard was mine. “God, I know.”

Her brows shoot up to her hairline in alarm. And cautiously, she adds, “He’s also dangerous. We don’t really know much about him. His intentions.”

“I know, but . . .” I try to find words. “Sometimes you just know. Someone. Don’t you think?”

“True.” She nods and purses her lips thoughtfully. “I do sometimes wish Remington would just finish this season in peace. Why does he want to . . .” She shakes her head, pursing her lips even tighter and then sighing. “Coach Lupe says he’s helping Scorpion’s legacy. But the truth is, Reese”—she drops her voice—“Remington believes in Maverick. Remy wants to make sure that his legacy is Maverick.”

I’m burning inside. I’m burning with hope for Maverick. For me. For us.

I want to tell Brooke that I have never felt like this before.

I want to tell her that I feel like a light when I’m with him.

That I don’t feel shy.

Or judged.