Contents Title Copyright Notice Dedication Chapter 1 Chapter 2 Chapter 3 Chapter 4 Chapter 5 Chapter 6 Chapter 7 Chapter 8 Chapter 9 Chapter 10 Chapter 11 Chapter 12 Chapter 13 Chapter 14 Chapter 15 Chapter 16 ... Also by Maris Black About the Author
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is coincidental. Copyright 2015 by Maris Black. All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce, distribute or transmit in any form or by any means. For information regarding subsidiary rights, please contact the Author: Maris Black [email protected]
This novel is dedicated To all of the MMA fighters Who risk their lives and health in the Octagon & to all of the fans Who love them.
Chapter 1 (KAGE)
“KAGE, wake up.” Jamie’s voice cut through my dream like a knife, sending the pieces scattering into the night. “What did you say you just did? What did you do to your brother?” I shook my head and looked around. Strange window, bedside table, bed… I was on the floor. And there was Jamie, naked and looking at me with wide eyes full of fear. “Jamie.” I breathed. “Sorry, just having another bad dream. I didn’t mean to wake you.” He opened his mouth, his lips forming words that were never spoken. In the gray glow of dawn, his brown eyes were warm and familiar. The only real comfort I could ever remember knowing. I reached over and pulled him close, loving the way he folded against me. My sweaty skin slipped against the dry warmth of his, and I tried to focus on that instead of the horror I’d just woken from. It was enough that the dreams were coming more and more frequently, but now they were starting to take on the distinct feel of childhood memories. But they couldn’t be memories, because that wasn’t how things went down. “You’re almost as sweaty as when you had to cut weight in the sauna,” he said. “But I don’t mind.” He rested his head on my shoulder and dropped soft kisses there. I couldn’t believe how tender he was, how his lips whispered over my skin, bringing me comfort when he could have just told me to shut up and go to sleep. For once, I was the child and Jamie was the mature one. “I think I’m a terrible bedfellow,” I admitted. “I’ve never really done too much sleeping with someone else. Not before you.” He left off with the kisses and leaned back to study me in the gloom. “Do you always have nightmares? Even when I’m not with you?” I shrugged. “How the hell would I know? It’s not like I can wake myself up.” “True. But have you ever woken up feeling like you just had a bad dream?” “No. I don’t know. Dammit, why the third degree? If my dreaming bothers you that much, I can go get a hotel.” Jamie launched himself at me, throwing his arms around my neck and peppering kisses down my cheek and along my jaw. “What are you doing?” I growled, sounding more amused than the angry I was going for. “Trying to keep you here,” he said, earnest eyes locking on mine. “You can stay in my bedroom, and we’ll just lock the door and have mad sex twenty-four-seven.” “Yeah, because I don’t have a brand new UFC career to build or anything.” “I’ll let you out for fights.” “We’d be at each other ’s throats within a week. I’m a moody bastard, you know, and I can get mean when I don’t get my way.” I was teasing, and he knew it. But both of us also knew there was some truth to my words.
“We’ve already been around each other twenty-four-seven at the Alcazar,” he pointed out. “Do you remember me having any problems with it?” “No,” I admitted. “Neither one of us had a problem with it at the time. But it’s different now, don’t you think? Your job is over, and there’s really no reason for us being around each other except for —” “Except for I told you I love you. Do you think I would say that to someone I didn’t want to be around all the time? I don’t like not knowing when I’ll see you again.” The alarm in his voice tightened the knot in the pit of my stomach that had just barely begun to unwind from the nightmare. “Has it been that bad since you came back to school?” “Miserable.” His mouth hinted at a sad smile as he tickled my arm with his finger, tracing the tattoo of his initials that I’d traced a thousand times myself. “Look, I don’t care anymore about putting on a front or seeming cool or whatever. I’ve had enough time to think and mull shit over in my head, and the truth is, I just want to be with you. If you don’t want me, then go ahead and tell me so I can start trying to get on with my life.” “You could do that, huh? Just get on with it?” I squeezed him to my chest. “Sure, if I had to.” But I felt the truth in the way his heart pounded between us. He wouldn’t be able to let go any easier than I would. “What if I asked you to just lay everything down and come back to Vegas with me? Just quit school and move into the Alcazar with me, live on Enzo’s cooking, lie around naked and look pretty… Would you do it?” He contemplated for a moment, emotions at war on his face. At first he looked excited, his breathing speeding up and getting shallower at the same time. Then excitement gave way to disappointed resolve, and he shook his head. “I’ve only got one year left, Kage. My parents have paid an awful lot of money, and I’ve invested a lot of time and effort just to give up now. I’m on the home stretch. When I’m done, I’ll be able to get a really good job and support myself.” “Good answer.” I rested my lips on the top of his head and smiled, breathing in his scent. “That’s the responsible thing to do. We both know it, even if it’s tempting to just say fuck everything and take what we want in the short term. You’d regret it for the rest of your life, though. The what-ifs would eat you alive.” “Gee, thanks for being my conscience. I am capable of making my own decisions.” “I’m not being your conscience, Jamie. I’m being the other half of a two-man team. Decisions affect the whole team, not just one member.” “A team? That’s how you see us?” “Yeah. Don’t you?” He scooted closer into my body. “I do want to go with you. I never told you this, but before I came back to school, I was almost ready to transfer to UNLV. I even looked into the transfer requirements and was in the process of doing research on it. But then Dr. Tanner told me not to.” “What?” I had gotten used to shielding Jamie from the harsh realities of my life, schooling my reactions, acting like everything was cool when it so very much wasn’t. But I couldn’t hide the shock when he let that bit of information fly. “When the hell did you talk to Dr. Tanner, and why would she tell you not to transfer schools? And for that matter, why didn’t you talk to me about it?” “I never got the chance to talk to you about the school thing because it was a last-minute development just before I left Vegas. You ditched me on that last day, remember? What was I supposed to do? From where I was standing, it didn’t seem much like you wanted to hear anything I
had to say.” That deflated me and checked my anger. “I couldn’t do it, okay? Couldn’t say goodbye to you. I was afraid I might cry or some shit. Fuck, why didn’t I stay? If I’d stayed maybe we wouldn’t have had to say goodbye at all.” Jamie nodded. “I was all ready to tell you, but you skipped out on me. Then Dr. Tanner showed up. She told me I needed to leave, that you were better off without me. She was afraid if I stayed, you would…” “I would what?” I prodded. “You would try to commit suicide again.” “What?” I repeated the word that seemed to have taken over my vocabulary. “Where the fuck did that come from? Commit suicide? Again? I’ve never in my life— Jamie, why didn’t you tell me this?” He pushed away, true anger taking hold of him. “Because you wouldn’t answer my fucking phone calls, you fucking dick!” “Don’t call me that,” I yelled right back at him, grabbing his shoulders and shaking him hard. “You don’t understand, and I can’t make you understand without dragging you into a lot of shit you don’t need to be in. Fuck.” I realized in that moment that Jamie was not going to let it go. I was going to have to tell him the truth about what was going on, whether I liked it or not. “Our phones are blocked, okay? And probably tapped. I’ll prove it to you. Why don’t you try to call me right now?” He stared at me in disbelief. “Do it!” He cringed at the sharpness of my command, but he scrambled around for his pants and pulled his cell phone out of the pocket. I reached over and grabbed mine out of the inside pocket of my shorts. I held it up to him so that he could see the darkened screen that did not light up even as his end rang and rang. Then I returned the favor, calling his phone and getting no response. “See? No calls, no texts. We’ve been cut off from each other.” “Cameron said you had blocked my number.” “I didn’t block shit, Jamie. This is my uncle’s game, not mine.” His eyes stretched wide. “What about the video of us… you know… fucking? Did you send that?” Well, wasn’t he just full of surprises. “I don’t know anything about a video, Jamie. Someone sent you a sex tape of us?” He nodded slowly, then scrolled around on his phone. When he turned the screen around and showed me the detailed loop of us getting it on, my first response was nausea. Under different circumstances, it would have been hot as hell to see a porn video of us, but the fact that I didn’t know who had taken it put a damper on any arousal I might have felt. It made me sick to realize that my apartment had been equipped with some obviously high-tech surveillance cameras. The picture was barely grainy, and the sound was clear as a bell. This wasn’t some cheap nanny cam you could find at the security shop in the mall; this was some CIA-level shit. Even worse, the fact that it was a video of the night I took Jamie’s ass for the first time indicated that we’d been watched for a long ti...