The Savage Gentleman, page 1
The Savage Gentleman
ONE YEAR AGO
Coming December, 2019
Books by Christopher Harlan
The Savage Gentleman
An MMA Romance
By Christopher Harlan
Cover design and Formatting by Jessica Hildreth
Proofreading by Stephanie Albon
This e-book may not be re-sold or given away to anyone who did not purchase the book outright. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or any other means not listed specifically herein) without the express written permission of the author.
This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is entirely coincidental. All people, places, and events contained herein are a product of the author’s imagination and are completely fictitious.
This book is intended for those 18 or older. It contains explicit sexual content and adult situations. Discretion is advised.
Wait, actually, don’t stop—read every word (preferably twice) and tell all your friends how much you loved The Savage Gentleman!
. . . And make sure you check out the free sneak peak of the first two chapters of my upcoming sexy HEA rom-com, The Three Kiss Clause, coming December 2019.
You can read right at the end of this book.
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My name is Lucas “The Ghost” Esparza.
I’m the best MMA fighter in the world that you’ve never heard of, but if I have my way, I’ll be a household name soon enough. My life’s been nothing but hard training, crazy partying, and fast women, and that’s just how I liked it. No man had ever gotten the better of me inside the cage, and no woman had ever been able to slow down my lifestyle outside of it.
And then it all came crashing down.
When I tasted defeat for the first time in the biggest fight of my life, I was a broken man—my pride destroyed and my dreams of greatness deferred.
That’s when Mila walked into my gym.
When my trainer told me I had to giver her self defense lessons because she was a ‘special case’, I had no idea what he meant. All I knew was that she had a body to die for, and a face that made me forget my own name. I’d been with my share of women, but she was easily the sexiest I’d ever laid eyes on.
There was only one problem—we hated each other with a passion!
I thought she was whiny with a bad attitude. She thought I was full of myself. But then something happened that changed everything between us. She gave me the confidence to pursue my dreams once again—to be a champion, to make it into the UFC, and to be the savage gentleman that I was born to be.
The canvas beneath my feet has an unexpected bounce to it—a give that makes me feel like a little kid jumping up and down on a bed. It causes me to lose my balance for a second. I go to grab the ropes to keep from falling, but, before I can, he clasps onto my arm. His grasp is strong, and it keeps me stable. His touch wakes my body from a slumber I didn’t realize it was in, and when he lets go of me I miss the warmth of his skin.
He’s standing behind me now, and his hands have gone from support to something else. His fingers are clutching my hips, holding me in place. I don’t move and I don’t resist. I stand still, waiting to see what he’s going to do next. He positions himself behind me, and I feel the heat of his body against my back.
The peach fuzz on the back of my neck stands up, and a warm sensation runs the length of my body. He has this effect on me. He’s the only one who’s ever made me feel this way.
He doesn’t know about my past yet. He doesn’t know the awful situation I’m coming from, or the damage that it did to me. But when I’m with him, I forget all of that—as if it never happened, and I let my body do the thinking for me. I lean back, gently, and press into the hardness of his body, and I feel a fire between my legs.
I didn’t come here expecting this, but almost everything that’s happened with him has been unexpected.
Lucas “The Ghost” Esparza.
My savage gentleman.
ONE YEAR AGO
The blood reminds me that I’m alive.
For a normal person, blood signifies that something’s gone wrong, but for a guy like me, it means that the party’s just getting started.
The lights are blinding. The cheer of the crowd is nothing short of deafening. That’s how it should be. We put our health—even our lives—on the line for other people’s entertainment, the least they can do is scream for us as though we were the gladiators of the Roman Empire.
I breathe in as deeply as my lungs will allow, and that oxygen is going to sustain me through the next few seconds. In that time, I’ll rush towards my opponent and he’ll rush towards me.
Our fists will be up, our mouthpieces will be bitten down on, and then we’ll engage in the last acceptable act of war in our society. It’s an environment I thrive in.
In this cage, I know who I am, who I want to be, and the difference between the two. There’s nothing in here but the purest form of honesty, and no illusions are allowed.
That’s just the way I like it.
There are few human beings on this earth who can do what I do, and even fewer who want to.
I’m a modern-day warrior, and inside the octagon is where I call home.
I’m a bad motherfucker.
The sooner we get that fact out there, the better.
But let the stereotypes go. I don’t come from the mean streets of. . . wherever—I grew up a suburban boy—I went to a Catholic school that cost my parents six thousand dollars a year, and I played baseball on Saturday afternoons with my friends. I finished high school with a decent GPA, and then got my undergrad degree at the local university. I’m normal kid from a middle class home—the guy next door—except for one thing.
I fuck people up inside a cage for a living.
I guess saying that I’m normal is a little misleading. Better to say that I grew up normal, but I have a different mindset than most people. I didn’t start fighting because I had no other options in life, or because I was trying to work my way out of poverty. I fight for two reasons—one, I have a bad temper that demands satisfa
Now, before we go any further, let me ask you a few questions—when was the last time you got punched in the face? How about the last time you got leg kicked so hard your body fell over? Or maybe you can tell me all about the last time you got choked out and had to tap your hands on another person’s body to make them stop before you passed out from a lack of blood to the brain?
I’m guessing that for most of you the answer to all these questions is a resounding ‘never’. But for me, those question don’t even apply. The right question to ask someone like me isn’t how many times I’ve gotten hit, its how many times did the other guy miss, and how many times did I hit him back?
And the answer to both—a fucking lot.
I’m a professional fighter—Lucas “The Ghost” Esparza—maybe you’ve seen some of my fights on YouTube. Probably you haven’t. I’m not a famous fighter just yet, but if I have my way tonight, I won’t ever have to introduce myself to you again. You know Conor McGregor? Ronda Rousey? Jon Jones? Of course you do, everyone does.
They’re crossover successes—fighters with multiple world championships, TV deals, endorsements, and more money than they could spend in a lifetime. One day I’ll be a household name like they are, but for right now I’m just a hungry kid working his way up the ladder of the local New York amateur circuit, trying to get himself into the show of shows—the Ultimate Fighting Championships—which you probably know better as the UFC.
I might be giving you the wrong impression. I’m not a violent man, per say, but I do have violence in me. Who knows where that comes from. That’s one of the many stereotypes that exist about men like me: that we’re sociopaths, that we like to hurt people, that we come from abusive homes where we were taught how to be aggressive. Bullshit. Just plain bullshit. But I don’t blame people for thinking that. A lot of it comes from where the sport started.
MMA was banned in most states when it first appeared on people’s radar in the early 1990’s. Back then there were no rules. You could literally stomp on a guy’s face while he was on the ground, elbow someone to the back of the head, and do almost anything else, except eye gouging and biting. It was a circus back in the day—there were no weight classes, everyone (and I mean everyone) was on steroids, and calling it a sport would be a giant misnomer. Senator John McCain famously called it ‘human cock fighting’, and helped to get it banned in most states.
The first images everyone had of mixed martial arts was the spectacle of different sized men brawling like they would in a bar—and you know what they say about first impressions. Those days were crazy, but that’s not how things are anymore. Today the sport is an actual sport—legal in all fifty states, regulated by state athletic commissions with rules and regulations, and is currently one of the most popular sports in the United States.
But stereotypes die hard, and a lot of people still hold them about both the sport and the athletes themselves. When I tell people what I do for a living they look at me sideways—like I might be a threat to them, like I’m a psycho, like I might throw them down and try to break one of their limbs. But, like I said, I’m not a violent guy. There are too many differences between professional fighters and violent people to even list, but one of the biggest ones is that fighters have a context to their violence—a switch that they can turn on or off so that they can express their violence in an agreed upon contest.
Take me for example. As soon as a contract is signed and my money is guaranteed, I’ll fight any man on this planet. Once me and that other man agree to throw down and test our skills against one another, it’s on. I abandon the normal part of me—the one with sympathy and emotions, and I replace it with the version of myself that’s necessary to fight another man in a cage. And then, when the contest is over, I’m back to being me. My opponent and I shake hands, hug, tell each other ‘good fight’, and our corners—our coaches and trainers— shake hands with one other.
Inside that octagon I have no fear, no guilt, no conscience, and I pray that my opponent doesn’t either. I don’t want his mercy, or his concern for my well being—I only want to test myself using one simple question: can my violence defeat his? If the answer is yes, then I’m the man—the alpha—the badass motherfucker who no one can touch. And if the answer is no, then I don’t deserve any of this—not the fame I seek, or the recognition I want, or the women who always hang around the sport.
The women. Let’s stop and talk about them for a minute.
No matter how many women tell you they don’t like fighting, what they do love is a man who can fight. Sure, some women are into the sport, but most aren’t. It’s a rare woman who’ll sit down ringside where you can practically feel the beads of sweat and blood hitting you. But what they really like—even the ones who pretend not to—is a man like me. An alpha. A badass. A guy who can kick the shit out of their man without breaking a sweat. A man like me has no trouble meeting women, and the more I win inside that octagon, the easier it gets to meet them. And I win—a lot.
My dream, like all fighters, is to make it to the UFC—an organization that has so much name recognition that now everyone in the country knows what it is. It’s such a monolith that people say UFC when they mean MMA. More than one woman has asked me—so you do that UFC stuff? Of course, I nod and say yes because that shit is a panty dropper, but the truth is I haven’t made it to the big stage yet. It’s my dream—why I train, why I sacrifice, why I get my ass kicked in order to get better.
That’s why tonight’s fight means everything.
I don’t like to hype my fights up too much, but there’s a special guest sitting in the audience tonight, and if you knew who he was, you’d understand why I’m more nervous than usual for this fight. My coach called me into his office at our gym a few days ago to break the news to me.
“Lucas, get in here when you’re done with your roll.”
I was just playing with my training partner—letting him think he had the better of me before I reversed the position and submitted him in seconds. After he tapped out, I jumped up and went into the back.
“What is it, Master Splinter?”
“Are you ever going to get tired of calling me that?” he asked.
“No, sir. Only when I become a master myself. Then I guess we’ll both be masters, so I’ll just call you Splinter.”
“You can just call me Matt. You know, since it’s my name and all.”
“Sure, I could,” I joked, “but what fun would that be?”
“My name doesn’t have to be fun, you know?”
“So, what’s going on Master Splinter Matt?”
“You can be such a huge dick sometimes, you know that?”
“If you weren’t my coach this would be the part where I told you ‘that’s what she said.’”
Matt’s a cool guy—old school in some ways, like when it comes to basic student-teacher respect, but still a cool, relatively young guy in his mid forties.
“And if you weren’t my student, that would be the part where I died laughing. I didn’t even realize when I said it.”
“I know,” I tell him. “That’s why it was funny.”
Matt broke character for a few seconds and laughs hysterically with me.
“So, what did you need, Coach?”
“Ah, so we’re back to being serious about your career? Good.”
“My career?” I asked.
“Look, the last thing I want to do is put more pressure on you for Saturday’s fight. But this is kind of like when you’re a chef and there’s a critic for the New York Times coming to your restaurant for dinner. Know what I’m referring to?”
“No way. You don’t mean?”
My mouth hung open. “Sean is going to be there?”
“The one and only.”
Sean Graham is the matchmaker and talent scout for the UFC. He’s the gatekeeper of dreams, the
Right now, I’m the number one contender in my division—light heavyweight, which is 205 pounds—which means that if I win tonight, I’m a champion, and the odds of getting a backstage visit from Sean go up exponentially. And if I have a spectacular performance—like a knockout or submission finish—he might even offer me a UFC contract on the spot.
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