Real

By: Katy Evans


Dancing to the music



Pete wants me out of backstage. And so do Coach and Riley.

“He needs to zone out, go get your seat, you’re distracting the hell out of him,” Pete tells me, and although he’s the one I consider most gentle among the men in the team, he really sounds frustrated today. Maybe because it’s his birthday number thirty-two and he’d rather be anywhere else. “Here. Take this ticket and go meet the girls next to you. They’re nice people, and they’re here with us. We’re all partying later.”

Minutes later, I discover the girls both look like Miss Universe contenders and like the kind of women who walk around in bikinis at precisely these sorts of events. But their smiles as I head toward them are genuine, and I can’t help but notice how both their gazes rake my little black skirt with short-sleeved glittery top with an approving eye. “Hi. I’m Friday, this is Debbie,” the redhead who’d been dancing atop Remington’s coffee table only recently says, then signals to the blond as Debbie.

“Hi. I’m Brooke.”

“Oh! You’re the girl that went to the suite the other night,” Friday says.

“I didn’t go anywhere,” I say, all huffy over the fact that they knew that I had. So Riley did tell them it was me at the door?

How embarrassing.

Friday bends over and whispers in my ear, “I think Remy wants to fuck you.”

Feeling the wind knocked out of me, I adjust myself in my seat and then the other girl, Debbie, leans to me as well. “Remy really wants to fuck you. He got so hard when you came to the room and spoke to Riley. I felt it when I was on his lap and he just heard your voice and wham. He was up full force.”

“TMI! Seriously!” I cry, shaking my head with a nervous laugh. I’m completely red now, struggling with a thousand and one emotions, all at once.

“I even offered him to take care of it,” Debbie adds, “but he was like, just drop it, I’m fine, and got away, telling us to do his friends, and then he went to his room and locked himself in. Pete wants to make sure that doesn’t happen again tonight.”

I stare down at my lap and an overwhelming feeling of possessiveness I never knew I could even experience flits through me. “Why does he have to get laid every night?” I ask them, unable to hide my annoyance.

“Are you kidding? He’s Remy. He’s like, used to getting a lot of it. Daily.”

Scoffing, I wave my hand and turn to stare at the empty ring, not really wanting to think how much of “that” Remington is used to getting, but a visual of his beautiful body entwined with anyone else’s makes my stomach grip so uncomfortably, if I had eaten anything recently, I’d be in danger of losing it.

Ten minutes later, I hear his name shredding through the speakers, “And noooow, ladies and gentlemen, say helloww to the one, the ONLY, Remington Tate, RIPPPPPTIDEEEEEE!”

A stream of sensations shoots through my body as he comes trotting out, and I instantly feel the liquid heat gushing into my panties. God, I hate how many times during the day I look at him and want to make him mine. I want to touch him, to know him.

He climbs into the ring, with that shiny robe that contrasts completely with his utter manliness, and the instant he bares himself to the crowd, everyone screams. Just like my heart does as I take him in like I need my fix. His dark hair is perfectly recklessly up today, those tanned muscles flexing as he extends out his arms and does his little turn. And here I am, my breath caught between my lungs and my lips as he turns around and scans the crowd. As soon as he spots me, his eyes come alive, as alive as I feel when he smiles at me. He holds my gaze while those dimples flash, and I swear he stares at me in a way that makes me feel that I am the only woman here. Every time he’s in the ring, he’s completely in character. And his eyes just … take me. I know it’s not true. I know I’m seeing only what I want to see.

But for a little second, I just want to sit in this stupid chair and believe there is this sort of magic between two people and I can be this prized someone to this sexy, raw, primitive man who’s so strong, mysterious, and playful to me, he compels me like nothing in my life ever has.

I can’t stop thinking that he didn’t have sex with the girls Pete and Riley had brought him, and that’s all I can think of as I watch him take on his first opponent, delighting not only me, but hundreds of other women with the power and grace of his perfectly trained body.

Breathless, I watch him take his second, and his third, and I feel such a rush of pride for him every time the word “victor” is attached to his. He works so hard, trains so hard, and I now know boxing terms and can see exactly what he does. I see his one-two punches. His jabs. His hooks. And suddenly he blocks a right-handed power punch with his left arm, then steps inside and buries a left hook to his opponent's ribs and follows that with a right cross to the jaw that knocks the man out completely. His opponent tries to get up, and slumps back down, bloodied and exhausted.

The public roars as his name takes over the entire room.

“RRRRRRIIIIIIPTIDEEEEEEEEEEE!”

My god. He fights like a true champion, and he deserves to be the champion at the end of it all. Heart knocking wildly inside me, I watch as the ringmaster heads over to raise his arm, and I wait in a strange mix of anxiety and anticipation for the moment he’s declared victor, for I know that in this instant his gaze will swing to mine, like it has done in every single fight since my first.

“Our victor, ladies and gentlemen. Riptiiiide!!”

By the time those electric blue eyes seek me out in the stands, my heart throbs fiercely in my temples, and my insides bubble with emotion when he spots me. He stares straight into my eyes, and his eyes are only mine, and his smile is only mine, and for this fraction of an instant, nothing else matters but us.

Tonight I really miss Melanie. Melanie who would have been shouting at him at my side, and telling him everything I would like to say but I’m such a coward to say them out loud. But in my mind I hear her and I wish she’d come visit so I could scream to him like she does, and tell Remington Tate he's so fucking hot I can’t stand it.
We climb into the car over an hour later, and both Riley and Pete seem to be traveling in a separate car with Friday and Debbie, while a hotel chauffeur drives Remington and me in a black Lincoln. I don’t know who arranged this in such a way, but I’m told to wait in the black car and suddenly he slides in next to me into the back seat, and my chest grips in nerves and excitement because he’s showered after the fight, and changed into drool-worthy black denim and a black button shirt with the cuffs rolled up to his elbows, and the scent of his soap instantly makes my lungs feel achy.

The seat is spacious, but somehow as we wind into traffic, I realize Remington sits close to me. Too close. I can feel the back of his hand against the back of my hand. I should probably move my hand, but I don’t. Instead I gaze out the window at the night lights dotted across the city as we approach the club, but I’m not seriously seeing anything. My body is honed in on the part where our bodies touch.

Why is he touching me?

I think he’s watching me, measuring my reaction, when he moves his thumb and traces it along the top of mine.

I want to shiver. To close my eyes. Just absorb him. I can’t forget what the girls told me, and the little candle of hope they lit up for me is now blazing like a torch inside of me. I need to know. If he wants me. Does he want me?

He looks so impossibly handsome my insides flutter with renewed intensity.

“Did you like the fight?” he asks me, his voice low and rough as he studies my profile in the shadows of the car, his eyes glowing intently.

He always asks me this question after an event in the Underground. As if my opinion is important to him.

“No. I didn’t like it,” I say as I face him, then I grin when he scowls. “You were amazing! I loved it!”

He laughs, the sound rich and male, then he startles me when he grabs my hand in his warm grip and lifts it. My breath freezes when he slowly brushes his lips across my knuckles, and I can feel the plump softness of his mouth down to the delicious scar on his lower lip, which is now almost completely healed. A little buzz travels through my bloodstream as his eyes hold me trapped the entire time he grazes me. The way he stares through those heavy dark lashes makes my nipples throb.

“Good.” His murmur is hot and damp against my skin, and when he lowers my hand back to the seat and slowly untangles his fingers from mine, I have to bring it back to my lap and hold it with its partner, just because it suddenly feels too empty.

The club they chose tonight is packed and bursting outside with lines of people, but the second Remington steps out of the car, he hauls me up to the bouncer, who immediately allows us inside, where Riley and Pete wait for us in a private room in the back.

“Pete is getting a lap dance,” Riley tells Remington. “You don’t mind treating him to one as a birthday present?”

Through the open door, we watch a woman in a glittering silver bikini approach Pete, who sits in a couch near the end, smiling as he watches her. I’m so uncomfortable I think I just squirmed, for suddenly Riley looks at me, his eyebrows shooting up to his hairline.

“You shy about this, Brooke?” he asks in amusement.

My heart stops when I realize Remington is looking at me too. He peers intently into my eyes, then his gaze flicks to my mouth, then back into my eyes. His hand suddenly envelops mine and he whispers, “Do you want to watch?”

I shake my head no, and he leads me out to the bar and dance floor area. There’s an unreal amount of noise, and the entire dance floor throbs with music and the fiery warmth of dancing bodies.

“Oh, I love this song!” I cry as I spot Debbie jumping in the middle of the stage, and she catches sight of me and comes to haul me into the dance floor.

“Remy!” Friday crushes him into the throng at the same time that Debbie squeals and pulls me tight to her body, then she grabs my hips and starts grinding in some sexy girl move. I laugh and turn around, my arms in the air while Usher’s “Scream” fills the room with music, and then I spot Remington only feet away, towering among the crowd.

He’s not dancing.

In fact, he’s not even moving.

He’s watching me, his smile in place, eyes glinting, and suddenly he grabs me and slams me against his body, ducking to my neck. He brushes my hair to the side and presses his body into my spine, breathing me in so hard—I can feel his deep inhale. My stomach clenches in response, and I feel his mouth part at my nape. He grazes my skin with his teeth, and then his tongue comes out to lick me.

My body electrifies. Reaching up and behind me, I grab his head and pin it down as I follow his hips, people dancing around us, the heat building in the room. His hands catch my hips, squeezing as he pulls me harder against his front, and my buttocks feel how hard he is. He wants me to feel how much he wants me. His tongue trails up my neck to the back of my ear. A shiver runs through me as he splays a hand on my stomach and turns me to face him.

Our eyes meet. Hold. The music throbs within me, desire for him knotting and twisting in my core, and I wrap my arms around him and push my body up to his, tilting my head up for his mouth.

I need to know his taste. The feel of him. He didn’t sleep with those whores. His erection that day had been mine. He hasn’t looked at a woman the entire night. Not in the fight, not here. He hasn’t had eyes for anyone, but me.

And I have eyes for no one, nothing, but this jaw-droppingly gorgeous man before me, who plays me songs and runs and spars with me and puts ice on my injury. Blue eyes glazed with lust, dark eyelashes looking heavy as he stares into my eyes, at my mouth, and then he grabs my face in one hand, ear to ear, and breathes me in again, his eyes drifting shut as he nuzzles my face with his. “Do you know what you’re asking for?” he asks in a hoarse rasp, breathing harsh and fast. “Do you, Brooke?”

I can’t reply, and he grabs my ass and hauls me to him, putting his mouth almost, almost, on mine. He’s driving me insane. Insane. I want to have him. I want to let myself have him. I slide my fingers up his chest, into his hair, so silky under my fingers.

“Yes.” My heart pounds in my ears as I push up on tiptoes, drawing his head down, when someone bumps into me from behind. I stumble forward. Remington catches me with one arm and pins me protectively to his side.

“If it isn’t Riptide and his new pussy.”

My head swings around and I realize whoever shoved me, it was not by accident. Four men flock around us, and they’re all enormous. One of them has an icky black scorpion tattooed to his right cheekbone, and he’s even larger than the others.

Remington glances at them like they’re as significant as a bunch of flies, then he puts an arm around me and takes me out of the dance floor.

“What’s your girlfriend’s name? Whose name does she call out when you fuck her, huh?”

Remy is wordless as he leads me toward the bar, but his fingers have clenched into an angry fist at the back of my top as he pushes me forward. The men march behind us, but Remington continues to ignore them. He turns me away and blocks my view of them with the wall of his chest. “Go back with Riley and ask him to take you to the hotel,” he whispers.

Alarm bells clang inside my head as I realize this is mere provocation on the others’ behalf to get Remington in trouble. I’ve been with the team enough to know that a fight out of the ring can land Remy in jail and out of competition. “You can’t get in a fight, Remy,” I warn when suddenly the beefier of the four men speak, raising his voice enough to be heard perfectly above the music.

“We’re talking to you, douche-nozzle.”

“I heard you, asshole, I just don’t give a fuck what you have to say,” Remy shoots back.

His friend tries to land a punch but Remington quickly ducks and shoves him back so hard, he stumbles and falls. Suddenly I realize the tactic. The friends of the scorpion-guy are going to beat Remy so that he has no choice but respond, kick the shit out of them, and get kicked off the league and possibly tossed in jail, while the guy with the scorpion tattoo did “nothing.”

And if this guy is the one Remy needs to beat at the final, then he’s likely thrilled he can get him taken care of before the match. What a loser scumbag!

Remy is getting full-blown angry at my side, grabbing one by the shirt and hissing, “Take a hike or I’ll cut your fucking balls and then feed them to your mother!” He shoves him back, then grabs the other two and shoves them at the same time, one with each arm. He looks so pissed that I’m getting really concerned. Veins pop up his hands, arms, neck, and when the third man approaches him from behind, Remington’s elbow flies out behind him and perfectly slams into the poor man’s face. “Sorry, dude, my bad,” he apologizes, and the man curses under his breath and covers his bloodied nose.

Meanwhile, I see the guy with the scorpion tattoo is happily watching with a grin.

Oh, no you don’t, dipshit!

The flight-or-fight response is full force in my body now. My brain buzzes as the blood shoots hot and urgent through my system. I already feel it feeding my muscles, my heart pumping wildly. I run to the bar, reach over, grab two bottles, and come back to swing them above each of two of the asshole’s heads. They crash down evenly as glass shoots everywhere.

I go grab another bottle and come running back, heading for the third guy, when I see how Remy stares at me with a look of horror and a face that is progressively getting scarlet. He grabs the bottle from my hand, slams it back on the bar, then tosses me up on his back like a potato sack and stalks across the crowd to Pete.

“Remington,” I complain, slamming his back with my fists as I squirm. My hormones skyrocket when I realize one of his hands is on my ass. I hear him whisper something to Pete, and finally the blood goes back in the correct direction when he shoves me back inside the car. Adrenaline pumps through me. I’ve never been in a fight. It feels amazing. Amazing.

Our hotel chauffeur slides behind the wheel and tears into the city traffic, and I notice Remington is breathing hard and fast on the back seat.

Like I am.

Our gazes meet in the shadows across the car, and his eyes are eerily dark, his face etched with red-hot fury. “What in the hell did you think you were doing?” he explodes.

His hands are fists over his thighs, and for a moment I think he’s going to slam them into the back of the bench. The look in his eyes is fiercely raw and strange. Almost animal. Kind of … possessive. And it causes a strange little thrill to rocket up inside me.

I’d been ready to kiss him. My hands are clenched in my lap as I try to keep them still.

But god, I’m so wound up, I’m thoughtless with need as I look at him. Thoughtless and broken inside from the painful longing of wanting to be with him. His fingers are restless and I just want to grab his hand and make it curl around my breasts and beg him to touch me.

“I just saved your ass and it felt amazing,” I say, and a new rush of adrenaline courses through me at the reminder.

Remy seems to be hanging on by a thread as he rubs his face and sets his elbows on his knees, kneeling forward, rubbing the back of his head with hands that I now notice are fiercely trembling. He’s not breathing right either. “For the love of fucking god, don’t ever, ever, do that again. EVER. If one of them sets a hand on you, I’ll fucking kill them, and I won’t give a rat’s fuck who watches me!”

A shudder of excitement shoots through me as he leans back and looks at me with a lust that is mind-blowing. He catches my wrist and squeezes so tight, I gasp, and he glances down and releases me. “I mean it. Don’t fucking ever do that again.”

“Of course I will do it again. I won’t let you get into trouble.”

“Jesus, are you for real?” As fiercely agitated as I’ve ever seen him, he rubs his face and then stares bleakly out the window, his body trembling angrily. “You’re a stick of dynamite, do you know that?”

I shrug, and then nod a little, feeling as jacked up as he is.

When we go up the elevator, we’re riding alone, but he’s standing on the opposite side of me.

He’s wired. Hyper. His eyes looking at everything except me. He cracks his knuckles, then his neck.

“It’s okay,” I say, touching his shoulder gently, and he stiffens as if I’d zapped him, glancing at my hand on his shoulder. I step back to my corner, and we stare into each other’s eyes. The air between us almost rumbles, like thunder. He seems to want to jump me and get away from me, all at once. He flexes his hands at his sides and softens his voice as we head down the hall to our rooms, but it still sounds gruff with emotion. “I’m sorry you had to see those assholes,” he murmurs. He’s visibly trying to calm himself as he rakes a hand through his spiky hair. “I’m going to fucking break all Scorpion’s bones and pull his goddamned eyes out when I get a chance.”

I nod to appease him, because I think he’s really thirsting to do violence to them. But I’m so wound up, I just don’t know what I’ll do alone in my room. I don’t know where to put my hands, my thoughts, all this rush inside me going round and round and heading nowhere. “Can I come to your room until the guys get back?” I ask.

He hesitates, then nods and I follow him to his door. We settle down on the living room couch, and he turns on the TV to the first channel that appears. “Do you want something to drink?”

“No,” I say. “I never drink the day before flying or I’ll get doubly dehydrated.”

He nods and brings two water bottles from the bar.

He plops down next to me.

His thigh ends up so close, I can feel his quad muscle. My heart still pounds like crazy. I remember the way we danced, and my skin flushes hot again. “Why did you get in trouble when you were pro?” I ask him.

“A fight like the one you just prevented.”

He stares at the screen, his jaw working, and I stare helplessly at the play of light and shadows across his face, mesmerized.

He stretches his right arm on the couch behind me with deceptive calm, but I can feel the tension emanating from his body, and suddenly I feel my heart speed up in exhilarating anticipation. Strange noises from the TV filter into my mind, and then I realize the couple on TV is kissing. My stomach clenches. I’ve never seen this movie before, but as the background music flares up, I know a scorching sex scene looms ahead.

A flash of torment passes through his gaze as he grabs the remote and shuts it off, then he tosses the control aside and lowers his hand to my nape. He curves his fingers gently around the back of my neck, warm and incredibly strong, four fingers going to one side of me, his thumb to the other, and then he circles his thumb gently over my skin as he turns to me.

That his touch can arouse me to the extent it does makes me feel drunk and high and impossibly trembly.

“Why’d you do that for me?” His voice is unbearably intimate as he gazes at me in the shadows.

“Because.”

We’re both staring as intently as we’ve ever stared, and I’m hyperaware of every point of contact of our bodies. His thigh against mine. His hand on my nape, gently squeezing. “Why? Somebody tell you I can’t take care of myself?”

“No.”

He eyes my lips, then my eyes, then he slowly closes his eyes and sets his forehead on mine, and all I can do is breathe him in like a junkie, my insides intoxicated with just a whiff. Nothing in my life has ever smelled so good to me as him. Him recently showered. Him sweaty. Just him.

His own deep inhalation reaches my ears, and I find myself touching his mouth with a lone fingertip. His lips are so plump and firm, but at the same time, smooth and silky. I feel a quick, damp flick as his tongue flashes out to lick me, and a shudder shoots through my spine. He groans and pulls my whole finger into his mouth and closes his eyes as he sucks it.

“Remington…” I breathe.

“Honey, I’m home!”

We spring apart at the sound of a slamming door and Pete’s sarcastic voice.

“Just wanted to make sure you guys got here okay. Scorpion sure seems to have a hard-on to get your ass back in jail.”

The lights flare on, and Remington drops my finger as if it’s a loaded gun and rises and goes to the window, and he’s breathing hard, audibly hard. As hard as I am.

I’m instantly on my feet. “I’d better go.”

Pete takes in the scene with an impassive face, and he doesn’t say anything as I rush across the room to leave. “I’ll just wait for you here, Rem,” Pete says calmly.

Remy doesn’t respond but follows me to my room.

I feel his body warmth on my back as I slide my key into the slot. I hear him breathing behind me, still a little unevenly, against my hair. I want him, but I can now see past my open door to the first of the queen beds, and Diane’s feet are in it.

My nipples are two hard points pushing into my bra, my panties soaked from all night of desperately wanting him. I want him, so bad, I feel a knot of need and frustration doubling in size in my throat, because I can’t have him. How will things change if we do anything? It just can’t work. It can’t be. I’m his employee and this is only temporary and a one-night stand with him is no longer an option. Is it? I like him too much. Oh, god. I like him. Too. Much.

“Goodnight,” I whisper, forcing myself to look at his handsome face.

The violent tenderness in his eyes seeps into every pore of my body, and he grabs me and plants a kiss on my lips, quick and dry, but it bursts open a wealth of longing inside me, like it did the first night he kissed me in Seattle, and he whispers, “You look beautiful.” He runs his thumb with desperation along my jaw, and tilts my chin up, kissing my lips, dry and quick again. “So damn beautiful I couldn’t take my eyes off you all evening.”

Then he’s gone, and I’m once again in my room, hearing him call me beautiful, I’m so beautiful, and I’m shaking as if I’m naked and alone in the middle of a hurricane.

I cover myself with all the blankets in my bed and put my fist against my lips as though that can lock his kiss in them, and an eternity later, I hate that I’m still awake, and that I’m still trembling.

And I just don’t know what I’m going to do, but I want to make him mine more than I’ve ever wanted anything.

Even the Olympics.

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