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by Chloe Stowe
Category: Erotica/Erotic Science Fiction/Gay Fiction
Description: For some, life is a fight, a struggle to succeed and thrive. For Mitchell Boyd, life is a cage fight, a struggle to merely survive. Twenty-six years old and with an elderly father to support, for the last two years illegal cage fighting has offered Mitchell the answer to many of his problems. It's a dangerous game and one that has just gotten more dangerous. Mysterious attacks have been made on Mitchell's life, each one worse than the last. It is only a matter of time before they turn deadly. Thirty-year old Carr Christianson owns one of Baltimore's most respected security firms. As a favor to a friend, he offers to play "bodyguard" to the young fighter while both men work to discover who is behind the attacks. A fierce, dazzling love is found along the way, a love that forever anchors the men's wandering souls to each other. But when one final attempt is made on Mitchell's life, not only is the present shattered but the men's very future is put in doubt. For some, life is a fight. For Mitchell and Carr, life is a dare.
eBook Publisher: Ravenous Romance, 2012
eBookwise Release Date: May 2012
6 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [218 KB]
Reading time: 136-191 min.
Prologue: The Cage
The air was thick with sweat and beer. It was cloying and sick and if twenty-six-year-old Mitchell Boyd wasn't busy kicking some stranger's ass he'd probably be puking up his toes from the stench. As it was, however, all he could do was swallow the pungent taste of rubber as he slipped his mouth guard back between his teeth. His nostrils flared as his nose took over the sole responsibility of providing air to his starved and battered lungs. His eyes watered as the assault to his olfactory senses doubled.
Pushing himself back up to his feet, he did his damnedest to hide the unsteadiness his throbbing left knee was forcing upon him. If his opponent got wind of any weakness on Mitchell's part, the fight would be over and Mitchell would be as good as dead. If not dead for real.
A hard slap to his bare shoulder by his second came as words of half-baked strategy and "knock his fucking head off" encouragement rushed by his ears. Mitchell had years ago learned to block out most of that shit. He jerked his head up and down a couple of times to assure the guy he was listening. It was never a good idea to piss off your corner man in the middle of a fight. If things got really bad out there, Mitchell was relying on his second to throw in the towel before any irreparable damage was done--you know, like a brain bleed or a busted-up spine. Such injuries were rare, but they did happen. That sick risk each of the participants was willing to take was part of the reason the couple of hundred suckers out there paid a thousand dollars for a seat on a damned rented bleacher.
Cage fighting was legal in Maryland. The sport that was a seamless combination of martial arts and boxing had grown in popularity over the last few years. What had once started out as illegal matches of men wearing little and no protection while beating down their opponents with violent punches, kicks, and wrestling holds had gained several sanctioning bodies. The fights were now even covered on mainstream television networks.
With sanctioning, however, came rules.
The gentlemen Mitchell fought for didn't like rules. In fact, at times, they seemed to make them just to see how sneakily they could break them. Underground cage fighting was just such a scheme.
Much like raves, the locations and dates and times of these illegal matches were only known to a chosen, well-to-do, self-indulgent few. Divulging such details had been known to cost the loudmouth a broken arm or a handful of teeth. As a result, the secrets were kept well. The shadowy, nicely-suited spectators writhing in the warehouse of the week's darkness would never be called snitches.
Mitchell listened to their whines and roars now as his opponent followed Mitchell's suit and stood up from the tiny stool quickly whisked away in his corner on the other side of the octagon.
The spotlights hanging down from the warehouse's rafters seemed to brighten and burn all the more. The undulating dark of bloodthirsty patrons on the edge of the harsh lights rushed in a little closer, giving Mitchell a sudden jolt of claustrophobia as he stepped back in to the middle of the cage.
The audience was nothing more than sharks circling hungrily, waiting for that first taste of someone else's blood in the water.
The whole scene was fucking sick.
Mitchell knew it.
Mitchell counted on it.
As he took a lunge at the behemoth of muscle and roughly hewn skill across from him, Mitchell blanked out his own pain and the pain he was inflicting on his opponent from his mind. There was no longer any stench. The taste of plastic was gone. The cries of the man-eaters on their shadowed bleachers reached his ears no more.
As Mitchell's fist broke bone in the other man's face, there were only dollar signs flashing in Mitchell Boyd's otherwise blank mind.
Time seemed to cower away from the octagon cage and the man beasts fighting within it.
Only scraps of reality made their way inside the fenced arena, while the grunts and howls of animals escaped from it with a regularity and a clarity that sent gold-plated chill blades up and down the spectators' spines.
It was barbaric.
It was exactly what they had paid for.
A howl of excruciating pain was ripped from a man's throat.
A body, frantic and jerking, was thrown to the mat.
The crowd jumped to their feet and roared.
Mitchell Boyd straddled the soon-to-be ex-champion's back. The light blond hair on Mitchell's forearm shone white in the arena's harsh lighting as Mitchell wrapped it around his opponent's throat. The chokehold was firm and final.
The former champ's body soon went limp.
The referee stepped in.
The fight was over.
Wrenching himself off of the fallen man's back, Mitchell dropped to his knees as soon as he was clear from the disturbingly lifeless body. He turned his head and spit his mouth guard out onto the mat as he watched a well-paid, nameless doctor check the loser's neck, spine, and pupils. There seemed to be no rising sense of alarm or urgency in the doctor's manner. Mitchell held onto that until the tiny capsule of ammonia was cracked open under the defeated's nose. The man jerked back to life with a groan and an, "Oh, shit."
Arms were suddenly lifting Mitchell up to his feet. His corner man was excitedly slapping his sweat-slickened back again and again. The referee grabbed Mitchell's gloved hand and shoved it high, toward the ceiling and its blinding lights.
Mitchell Boyd was the new champion, a voice over a microphone announced to the still-roaring masses.
It was all so loud, so fucking bright, so nonsensical and idiotic. Mitchell blanked it all out. He allowed himself to be pushed and pulled, wherever the men with the money wanted him to go. The doctor was soon in Mitchell's own face, shining a penlight of scorching white pain into each of his eyes. People were asking him questions. Mitchell answered with short nods and even shorter shakes of his pounding head.
His gloves were taken off, as were the yards of black tape under them. Mitchell was laid down on the bench in the makeshift locker room. Hands poked and prodded him. He hurled vile curses at them in return. Soon they all left him alone, all but his corner man.
Once again Mitchell was yanked to his feet. He no longer pretended to stand stably. He limped and grunted his way toward the shower, where he was quickly stripped of his shorts and protective jock strap. Suddenly he was under a meek pounding of hot water. A bottle of shampoo and a bar of soap were thrust into Mitchell's gut before he was left alone to his own fate.
That cowering coward of time was apparently at it again as his clean and sore body was just as suddenly pulled back out of the now-lukewarm water. A gym bag he recognized as one he had packed sometime earlier in his freaking life was tossed in his general direction, as was a single towel that he made quick use of.
There was another slap to his back and the words, "Wait here, champ" jammed into his ears before his corner man disappeared for good.
After he was somehow able to wrangle himself into a pair of jeans, T-shirt, and shoes, Mitchell slumped back down on the bench and like a good boy waited right there.
An hour or so later, a guy Mitchell recognized as the man always handling the books scurried into the locker room. He had a clipboard in his hand and a pen behind his ear.
"Who do you want me to make this out to, champ?"
Mitchell shook his head. He really wished people would stop calling him that. "The usual," he answered shortly. All he wanted to do was to just get the hell out of there and go die a slow, painful death in his own bed.
A few strokes of the accountant's pen later and a check was handed to him.
Mitchell took it and grunted in thanks. He glanced down at the slip of paper and nodded when he saw the guy had spelled the place's name right this time. Mitchell folded the check over a couple of times and stuffed it down the front pocket of his jeans. He looked back up to find the man with the clipboard and pen had left. Thankful there would be no polite chatter expected of him, Mitchell grabbed his bag and stepped out into a cool Baltimore spring night. He was bloody and sore, but he still allowed a small smile to come across his face.
He patted his jeans pocket once again. The twenty-five-thousand-dollar check made out to Harbor Care Hospital tucked securely away inside it made the aches and pains recede a little into the background. The night was finally over, and tomorrow was going to be one hell of a better day--
The baseball bat to the side of Mitchell's head was brutal, unexpected, and brought a darkness that was still and deathly silent.