Against the Ropes

Page 20


“Maybe not,” I whisper.
“Now what?” Jimmy interjects. “How do you get out of it?”
“I don’t think I want to get out of it,” Torment murmurs. His mouth hovers only an inch above mine, his breath dusting sweet promises over my lips.
Kiss me. Kiss me. Kiss me.
“What the hell are you doing?” A woman’s shriek breaks the spell.
I twist my head back and catch a flash of pink and a mane of golden hair.
Pinkaluscious. And she doesn’t look pleased.
“We’re practicing grappling techniques,” Jimmy says as if Torment and I were not smoldering beside him. “You’re welcome to join us. I could use a partner.”
“Not you. Him. It looks like he’s having sex with her.”
Torment closes his eyes briefly and sighs. Then he pushes himself back to his knees. I shiver at the loss of his warmth.
“What do you want, Sandy?” Torment stands up and joins her at the edge of the mat.
I roll out of my compromising position and kneel on the mat beside Jimmy. Sandy’s glare turns my blood to ice.
“I need to talk to you.”
“You can see we’re busy.”
“With her?” She shoots me another glare so I shoot one back.
“With Blade Saw. Makayla is just helping us out.”
She winds her arms around his neck and presses herself up against him. “I need you,” she whinny whines.
He lifts her arms away and his voice takes on a soft, gentle tone. “Not now, Sandy.”
Not now? Not now implies what she’s doing is okay later. Not now means not in front of Makayla. Not now means not ever for me.
Pinkaluscious’s long, brown lashes fan over her rosy cheeks. She blinks her big, brown Bambi eyes at him and whispers, “Please. It’s important.”
Torment tightens his lips and gives her a curt nod. “Five minutes…if that works for Blade Saw and Makayla. I don’t want to keep them waiting.”
We both nod our assent. Jimmy because he’s an easygoing guy. Me because my mouth has gone dry.
“Thank you.” She stands on tiptoe and brushes her lips over his, before clasping his hand and leading him to the door. Jimmy jumps up and follows behind them.
Nausea cramps my stomach, and I choke back a snort.
The sound draws her attention. Her eyes flick to mine and she looks me up and down, lingering over my physical imperfections as only a woman can do. She laughs, tosses her mane, and then trots away taking my hopes and dreams with her.
“Who is that?” I call out to Jimmy.
He mumbles something unintelligible and then says, “Girlfriend.”
My heart crashes into my stomach. I should have known. I’m no Amanda or Pinkaluscious. He really did want me here just to work. And the rest was what? A game?
I stomp back to the first aid room, pack up my stuff, and head for the front entrance. I’m not waiting around for more humiliation. But before I step outside, I freeze. How am I going to get home? Cabs are too expensive. Walking is too dangerous. It is Friday night and my friends will all be plastered and unable to drive. No way will I ask Torment. No. Damn. Way.
But I can ask Jake.
Always accommodating, Jake agrees to drive me home after he takes a shower.
Cowardice drives me to wait for him outside in the parking lot, where Torment won’t find me. Zipping my sweater to my chin, I lean against the cold, metal wall and fold my arms in my best “I’m not a hooker” pose.
“Hey, honey, you ride bareback?”
My best is clearly not good enough. Detaching myself from the hooker wall, I head over to Torment’s motorcycle for a good-bye caress. So beautiful. So shiny and sleek. My fingers brush over the seat where Torment sat, the handlebars he touched, and a shiny silver plate bearing the inscription “1 of 100.”
“What the hell are you doing?”
My head jerks up and my hand freezes in midair. Torment stalks across the parking lot toward me, his face a mask of fury. He has changed into his sexy, low-slung jeans and a pair of casual black shoes, but his chest is still bare, and heaving as if he’s just been running.
Hands shaking, I back away from the motorcycle. “I…I was just saying good-bye to your Agusta. I’m sorry. I wouldn’t have damaged it.”
“Not the bike,” he shouts. “You. Why are you out here alone?”
So loud. So angry. My throat freezes, and sweat trickles between my br**sts.
“I could do without the shouting.” I twist the bottom edge of my sweater in my hands and stare at the ground.
Torment draws in a ragged breath and lifts my chin with his finger, tilting my head back. I can’t meet his gaze, and I turn my head away.
“I told you, it’s not safe for you to be out here alone.” His voice softens. “You should have waited for me inside.”
“Jake is taking me home.” I swallow hard and shove my hands in my pockets.
Torment frowns. “You don’t need to go home with Jake. I said I would take you home after the fight. You helped me out. It’s the least I can do.”
Duty. Nothing more. Despair and disappointment war over who should crush me first.
“Jake has to go past my house to get to Amanda’s place, and you don’t owe me anything. Rampage gave me the check for tonight. And…um…I won’t be back, so we’re good.”
I force myself to look at him. Confusion fills every line and plane of his face. “Why?” he asks softly.