I Am Lioness (The Bloodshed Series Book 1), page 1
I AM Lioness
The Bloodshed Series - Book 1
About the Author
Copyright © 2016 Dee Garcia
Published by Dee Garcia
All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book or portions thereof in any form whatsoever.
The following story contains mature themes, strong language, and sexual situations. It is intended for adult readers.
No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your enjoyment only, then please purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
The author acknowledges the trademarked status and trademark owners of various products referenced in the work of fiction, which have been used without permission. The publication/use of these trademarks is not authorized, associated with, or sponsored by the trademark owner.
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This one is for my Momma.
I hope you're proud of me up there in Paradise. This may be a tad (okay, perhaps a lot) steamier than the stories and poems I used to let you read…
But I'm happy, Mom.
For once I'm doing something I love.
I’ll send your copy to Heaven, I promise.
Missing you and loving you always, old girl.
One moment is all it takes to change your life.
To turn it upside down or perhaps even right side up.
Change turns the pages in our life’s storybook, urging us to write a new chapter,
To grow, to strive for our goals, and to chase our wildest dreams.
Change can be beautiful, shocking, and many shades of marvelous.
But change can also be heart-wrenchingly tragic,
And tragedy is by no means easy to overcome.
When fear and utter grief rip your heart to shreds,
And your mind replays each catastrophe in a constant loop,
You willingly succumb to the agony of depression.
It sinks its nasty teeth into your soul,
Slowly sucking the life from your veins,
Until you’re numb.
Nothing more, nothing less.
A mere fraction of the person you used to be.
You lose control,
Buried so deep in the demons that haunt you,
You’ll go to any lengths to obliterate the pain.
You fear nothing can save you.
And sometimes nothing can until you’re willing to accept change…
Hundreds of blood-lusting spectators jumped to their feet in a frenzy of excitement that echoed off the walls in the L.A. arena. The referee slammed his hand down on the mat beside my incapacitated opponent, then sliced his arms through the air, signaling the end of another round. Rising to his feet, he threw my arm up as the booming sound of the announcer’s voice blared above the clamoring cheers, declaring me the victor for round four. I smiled triumphantly, my chest heaving with each breath, my entire body vibrating with a surge of adrenaline from yet another win.
Like two lasers burning a gaping hole through my head, Leilani’s menacing glare was utterly palpable. I took one look at her weakened form laid out on the blood-spattered mat and knew there was no way she could trump me. Round five would undoubtedly be mine. The thought widened my smile.
When the ref released me from his grasp, I immediately pivoted around the ring, bowing my head reverently in a silent thank you to all my fans. While it may have seemed brandish and unnecessary to some, in my eyes it was the very least I could do for them. Their love and support knew no bounds, and for that, I made it a point to show them how thankful I was.
Waves of cheering continued as I retreated to my corner and leaned back against the fence. My coach, Bernie Gutierrez, was at my side within seconds, ready to clean me up and cover a plan of attack for the last and final round of the evening. Handing me a chilled bottle of Gatorade, he tilted my head to inspect the sole injury on my face. Rivulets of blood trickled down from my eyebrow and over my cheek in a steady drip, splattering onto the mat beneath my feet.
“One more round, kid. You ready?” He asked, whipping out a few items from his aiding pouch.
Taking a swig of the blue electrolyte goodness, I nodded and met his brown-eyed stare with a gleaming, broad smile.
He pointed a finger in warning yet his expression failed to hold any hint of frustration, his lips curling in an amused smirk. “Cut the cocky crap. It's not over yet.”
I choked back a laugh at Bernie’s rendition of a stern coach, a role that was most certainly not his strong suit.
“I haven't said a word.” I quipped innocently, batting my eyelashes and all.
“No, but I’m sure you were thinking something of the sort in that stubborn head of yours.” He eyed me momentarily, obviously expecting one of my typical smart-mouthed remarks. Now was not the time for my usual shenanigans, though, and when he realized there was no sassy comment to come, he returned his focus to the task at hand, looking all too pleased that he’d had the last word.
The man worked quickly and efficiently. Within minutes my face was free of all blood and sweat, and the light sting on my brow had nearly disappeared. He stood back to admire his handiwork, rolling the lid onto the salve tin. “We may need to stitch that up if you take another hit there, but for now it’s looking good.”
I scoffed. “Last time I checked, Kealoha was nearly out of commission. I’d be surprised if she lands a punch, period.”
Bernie agreed with a simple nod of his head and stepped aside, granting me an unprecedented view of my opponent in the opposite corner, struggling to catch her breath. A stream of crimson poured from her nose and the right side of her face had already begun to swell, a deep bluish hue spreading across the puffy skin in what would definitely result as a nasty bruise. Leilani’s slanted black eyes were trained intently on my less than disheveled form, her blood-stained lips set in a grim line. Winded and all, she looked ready to rip me apart limb by limb, but given her currently battered state, her musing was more of a delusion than any probable reality.
A newbie to the league, Leilani Kealoha was blindsided at every turn through each round. No amount of training could have prepared her for being locked in that cage wi
Good night, sleep tight.
Lioness strikes again.
Lani’s coach sidled in to attend to her bloodied face, abruptly blocking her from my view. I lifted the Gatorade bottle to my lips and took another long sip, the mellow citrus flavor bursting over my taste buds as it slid down my throat. Passing Bernie the half emptied bottle, I pushed off the cage and promptly hopped onto the balls of my feet, my arms coming up reflexively instance.
“She's weak but you need to stay focused.” Bernie commented beside me. “Until that clock times out, there's always a chance for something to turn around.”
“Oh, please. The girl can barely breathe. You really think she's miraculously going to regain enough stamina to take me down?”
“That is exactly what I mean about staying focused, Hazel. Get your head out of your ass and take a look at this from every possible angle. It's the last round. Never underestimate the power of retaliation when under pressure.”
“Under pressure or not, some magical comeback seems unlikely if you ask me.”
“Stubborn as ever.” He sighed deeply, shaking his head in defeat. “Just promise me you’ll stay focused, kid.”
I stilled and turned my head to look him square in the eye. “Don't I always?”
He crossed his arms, holding my stare. “Yes, but that doesn’t mean you aren’t in need of a reminder from time to time. Distractions are all too easy when you have this many people” -he circled a finger through the air- “blowing up your ego.”
“My ego is just fine, thank you very much. A tad inflated sometimes? Maybe.”
“A tad?” He chuckled.
I rolled my eyes. “They’re far from distracting, Pops. If anything, their cheers fuel me. They make me go harder, amp me up, keep me going. Without them, and you of course, I wouldn’t be here.”
“I understand, believe me I do. I used to feel the same back in my days, but you need to remember it's not over till…”
“The fat lady sings?” I cut him off with a grin, my eyebrows rising playfully.
“Hazel…” He warned, though I could sense he wanted to laugh.
“Alright, alright, focus. I got it, old man.” My grin widened, mostly because I knew all too well how much he despised that particular nickname.
He was one breath away from protesting when something in the opposite corner grappled his attention, halting the words on the tip of his tongue. I followed his line of sight to see Leilani had risen to her feet, her face clean, though the swelling was more prominent now. She tilted her head from side to side, bunching then releasing her shoulders as her coach stood beside her rattling off some genius plan to take me down. A plan that, unfortunately for them, Kealoha would never see through.
“So what's your strategy, kid?” Bernie asked studiously, his stare fixated on my opponent.
I shrugged. “A little bit of this, a little of that.”
“You’re going to have to be a bit more specific kid. I’m not a mind reader.”
“Judging by Lani’s current state, I'm going to say prowling around seems to be the most promising approach going in. You know, tire her out, then swoop in with the quick attack.”
“My thoughts exactly. Get her against the cage and drill her with those hammer punches. You’ll have her down in no time. Now give these people what they came to see.”
Bernie squeezed me to his side, then bumped his fist with mine before disappearing behind the cage door.
The referee stalked back in moments later with his usual air of authority, stirring the arena to life again. A fresh wave of hoots, hollers, and ear-piercing whistles shot off around me like rockets in a harmonious chorus that escalated rapidly into an uproar by the octave.
“LI-ON-ESS, LI-ON-ESS, LI-ON-ESS!” They chanted.
Their warbled voices filtered through me, pumping my blood in time with their boisterous cheers.
I took off trotting toward center ring with my head held high, my body buzzing to life. Within seconds I had gone from idle to fully amped. Wired. I was wired, ready to dominate and finish off the night strong.
Suddenly a bright flare somewhere on my right lured my attention away from Leilani’s approaching form. Over the years I’d grown accustomed to the constant flood of camera flashes, learned to tune them out entirely when inside the confines of the cage. This specific one, however, compelled every fiber of my being to look its way. I surveyed the near area, my gaze raking over dozens and dozens of faces in attempt to find this beckoning source, but nothing significant stood out amongst the crowd. Just as I had convinced myself it was all a mere figment of my imagination, my breath caught, trapping like an abrasive ball of cotton in my throat.
At least ten rows back from the cage were the most piercing blue eyes I had ever seen in my life. Their clarity slashed through me like a knife to the gut. I literally felt like I couldn't breathe. Then I noticed the striking male face those hypnotizing pools belonged to; a perfectly sculpted nose, nibble-worthy lips and a chiseled jaw, all framed by a deep caramel-colored mane. The top was noticeably longer and slicked back into submission, showing off the buzzed sides of his head. Whoever he was, he was absolutely drool-worthy and I was severely awestruck, rooted to my spot as we stared each other down.
Blue Eyes flashed me a wicked smirk that tilted up one corner of his mouth, sending a heart-stopping shiver to roll down my spine. My knees felt weak but I forced myself to stand tall and take a deep breath, giving him an equally coy smile in return.
“Are we ready?!” The referee’s voice roared, effectively snapping my attention back to center ring.
Leilani was already in stance, black eyes focused solely on me. I followed suit, bringing my arms up with my feet apart.
The ref extended both arms, pointing a finger at me and one at Lani. When we nodded in unison, he clapped his hands in time with the bell and yelled above crowd, “Let’s get it on!”
I grinned, waving my palms in a challenging manner. “Come get it, Lani.”
Shuffling around the cage in light, brisk bounces, I prowled around my opponent. Leilani was first to throw a punch. When I deflected, she came out with a double, and again I dodged each one with ease, hopping out of reach.
I’ll admit her stance was solid for a newbie but the girl just didn’t stand a chance. At least not with me. My fists flew out at lightning speed, crushing into her face twice. She took them like a champ and shook it off, keeping her feet in motion as we circled around the cage.
Coming back around my corner, I caught that blue stare in my peripherals. It zapped through me, prickling every plane of skin as though I’d been struck by a bolt of lightning. I felt every last bit of it down to the tips of my toes. Knowing he was watching me intently gassed me up all the more and I all but charged toward her, alternating my jabs. Surprisingly enough, Lani managed to bounce them off and shot right back out, but I crouched low as her fist came flying out to where my head was seconds prior. Using the new position was to my full advantage, I surged forward and wrapped my arms around her waist, hurdling her back into the cage.
The crowd around us went wild.
Take her out, Lioness!
We struggled against each other for quite some time; her trying but failing to free herself from my grasp and me throwing in repetitive hammer punches to wear her down. Finally she managed to wiggle herself free and bounced back to center ring, her chest heaving wildly as she sucked in heaps of air into her lungs, fresh blood dripping down over her lips.
“Is that all you got, Lani?” I taunted, inching toward her with a satisfied grin.
She growled, the sound loud and feral, and came running at me with renewed purpose, intent on taking me down.
Wrong move, girl.
I swung out with extreme force and my fist made expl
She. Was. Done.
Exhausted and in pain, her focus was long gone. Too stunned to cover, I brought my knee up straight into her gut and as she folded over, I trapped her neck in one arm, rolled her over my back, and slammed her down forcefully onto the mat beneath me. And then I wailed on her, over and over again, each blow harder than the last. The arm she’d hooked around me suddenly slipped away and the next thing I knew, the referee was pulling me to my feet. Leilani’s coach was inside the cage and down beside her in a flash, her prone, unmoving figure an obvious indicator of a knockout.
For the fifth and final time that evening, the ref grabbed my arm and threw it in the air as the announcer’s voice sounded out through the speakers.
“KO! K-OOOOOOOO! SHE’S DONE IT AGAIN! YOUR VICTOR, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, HAZELLLLL, LIONESSSSSSS, PEEERRRYYYYY!!!!”
After a quick shower in the locker room, I headed out to meet Bernie, Jason, and Emmanuel in the main lobby of the arena. Two of the three men were mid-very enthusiastic conversation about the fight when I approached.
“Where’s Manny?” I asked.
Jason tipped his head toward the front doors. “Pulling the Tahoe around.” He slid my bag over my head and slung it over his shoulder, a wide grin spreading across his face. “I believe a congratulations is in order.”
“I second that.” Bernie agreed with a beaming proud smile.
I curtseyed in the daintiest form I could manage, pulling the hem of my imaginary dress and all. “Thank you, gentlemen.”
Bernie slipped an arm around my shoulders, squeezing me into his side. “Damn good start to the season, if you ask me. I have a feeling this year is going to be bigger and better than ever.”
“Here, here,” Jason added, in his best Brit accent, raising his imaginary glass in a toast. “Tonight we celebrate!”
“Well, I don't know about you two but after a fight like that, I am starving.” Bernie rubbed the small beer belly he was developing with age. “We can celebrate AND eat.”
DEE GARCIA SERIES:
Other author's books:
- Volatile ObsessionsJagger
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