The Fighter's Prize

By: Jessa Kane


His muscled arms glisten with sweat, his brawny torso heaving in the flashing spotlights.

Banner is already waiting in the octagon and I tear my eyes off Maxim long enough to determine that my wanna-be husband has turned white as a sheet. Maxim’s visible rage has turned the crowd into a roaring, bloodthirsty machine.

They scream and stomp and batter each other’s shoulders, their cheers growing more and more deafening the closer Maxim gets to the octagon.

“Holy shit,” Scout whispers beside me. “Maxim is going to kill him.”

“This can’t be because of me,” I murmur.

“It is. You have a magic vagina.” Scout glances down at her own lap. “You think it’s hereditary?”

We share a laugh and I close my eyes, savoring this moment where my fate hasn’t yet been determined by a fight. Or by two men, rather. My sister and I spent the whole day getting ready, dancing to music that reminded us of growing up. We raided our closets for dresses worthy of front row seats and I wore white to be ironic, since I might have to get married, depending on who wins tonight. Scout is in black, her hair in a riot of mahogany waves, glasses perched on a nose identical to mine.

I open my mouth to tell her again how pretty she looks, but I’m distracted by the sudden approach of several men in black suits and earpieces. If they didn’t look like street fighters themselves, I might wonder if they were secret service.

“What’s going on?” I shout over the noise.

One of them stands directly in front of Scout. “Excuse me, miss. Your presence is being requested in a private box.”

Scout does a double take. “Me?”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“By who?” I ask, sidling closer to my sister.

“Easton Brawn.”

“What?” we both screech at once.

Easton Brawn is a gangster. He is notorious in this city for his brutality. His utter unscrupulousness. There are whispers that he is the actual devil. He was a murdering, loansharking, racketeering phenom in his twenties and despite all that, he found a way to buy a stake in Ultimate Battle Corporation. It has bought him an air of legitimacy, but everyone knows he’s just as corrupt as ever. What does he want with my Scout?

“No.” I hold on to my sister’s arm. “She’s not going.”

“I’ve been authorized to bring her to the box by any means necessary.”

Scout turns terrified eyes on me. “What does he want with me, Whit?”

“You’re not going to find out.”

The guard listens to his earpiece a moment. “I beg to differ, ma’am.”

The bell chooses that moment to ding in the octagon.

But I pay it no attention, because the guard takes my sister by her elbow and pulls her from the seat. “Hey!” I lunge for her, but another man steps in front of me, this one even larger than the one who is kidnapping Scout. “Get out of my way!”

“Mr. Semenov requests that you remain seated and wait for him.”

This guard belongs to Maxim. Not Easton Brawn?

I shove at his chest. “Well too bad!”

The crowd seems to suck in their collective breath and though I’m terrified for my sister, I have no choice but to glance up at the cage. And there’s Maxim approaching Banner. They circle each other and I catch a glimpse of Maxim’s eyes.

They are laden with fury. Cold, ruthless fury.

Maxim says something to Banner that lifts Banner’s upper lip in a snarl, but his anger comes too late. Maxim attacks Banner with swift vengeance, delivering a neck-snapping right cross to his face, a cracking kick to the ribs, a drop elbow to the back of his neck.

Banner goes down, hitting the mat like a limp noodle.

He doesn’t get up.

Not even thirty seconds has passed.

Maxim looks directly at me and beats his chest, roaring loud enough to rival the crowd.

“Oh my God,” I whisper.

I can feel my heart beating between my thighs, my flesh turning slick. I’m going to be claimed. Like, he’s going to claim me. Drag me back to his cave. That shouldn’t turn me on.

Right?

Scout.

My sister is ten feet away now, struggling in the guard’s hold. He turns her at the end of the row and guides her up the stairs. Toward the luxury boxes. And I can see Easton Brawn outlined in one of the rooms, a cigar perched between his lips, his devilish eyes riveted on my sister. What does he want with her? What is going on?

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