Uncaged love 3, p.1
Uncaged Love #3, page 1
End of Volume One - UNCAGED LOVE
By JJ Knight
author of Revenge
The destruction of Colt’s love affair with Jo sends him on a rage of fights where no one can beat him. Jo has to decide if staying with him is worth the risk to his career, or if she should let him go.
Copyright © 2014 by JJ Knight All rights reserved.
No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording¸ or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in reviews, fan-made graphics, and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons , living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.
For a moment, I’m weightless. The limo keeps rolling down the street as I fly out the open door. The night air is cool on my face. My leap from the moving car happens in slow motion, just like people say dramatic moments do.
Then it all speeds up.
Pain slams from my elbow up through my shoulder as I land hard on the curb. I know I’m supposed to roll to absorb the impact. But I can’t control what happens. My jeans rip clean through, and another jolt surges through my knee as it collides with the pavement. But a strip of grass absorbs the impact of my head, my face skidding into the dirt. Because of that lucky break, I’m not going to die today.
The limo’s brake lights go red as it stops. I can’t linger. I’ll figure out what might be broken later.
I jump to my feet. The fighter training serves me well. I can keep going despite the pain.
One block down is a park, and I sprint for it. The limo can’t follow me through it. They’ll have to guess where I’ll come out, and I’ll make sure they don’t see that.
I blow past an empty playground, eerie and dark in the night.
Lamps along a walking path guide me into the heart of the park, but I know I have to get out of sight. A grove of trees to my right are pitch-black. I have no fear of anyone who might be lurking there. What’s behind me is much worse — Colt’s pro-boxing father trying to buy me off to keep me away from his son.
The forested area is bigger than I anticipated, so after a few minutes I stop to catch my breath. The sounds of traffic are far away. There are no voices. No indication of any other presence.
I lean against a tree, breathing heavily. I don’t know what to think about my conversation with Colt’s father in his limo. He clearly thinks my dating Colt is harming his career. But how did he know all the details about how Colt and I met? The street brawl. Colt getting me a job at the gym where he trains. That Colt thinks I can be a fighter too.
And that I am a virgin. Or, at least I was until that night with Colt.
Virgins are Colt’s specialty, his father said. Bruising their cherries, then getting rid of them.
I don’t believe it. I won’t.
I’d text Colt right now, but I don’t think I can wait. In fact, who knows how much The Cure has access to? Maybe even this phone that Colt got for me is somehow monitored. If they share accounts, he could be using the GPS to track me. God knows how it works. I pull the phone from my pocket and power it off. Thankfully it’s not one of the permanent battery kind, so to be doubly safe, I pop the battery out of the back. They can’t possible follow my movements now.
The moon is high and slightly to the right. I follow its direction until I get to the edge of the trees. On this side of the park, there are buildings and covered pavilions for parties. I move carefully from one structure to the next. I know I will look suspicious to anyone who might see me. But avoiding Colt’s father is more important.
I can see a street now. The limo could appear at any time if it’s circling the park.
Headlights appear, and I duck behind a brick barbecue pit. But it’s not a limo, just some random car. I move closer to the corner so I can read the street signs. I’m hoping I can recognize where I am. I can’t sit at a bus stop right now, not this close, but hopefully I can walk to one somewhere else. If it gets late enough, I can call my friend Zero after his show. He will come get me, as long as I think it’s safe to use my phone.
The rush of escaping the limo is starting to settle, and various pains insist on my attention. My knee is screaming. My arms won’t straighten completely. I swipe my hand across my forehead, and dirt cascades from my hairline. I’d scare people if I saw anyone.
I want to weep with relief when I see the street sign, a major thoroughfare that will eventually take me back to my neighborhood. A bus will be a straight shot, if I can catch one.
Even though I’m in the stupid ballet flats, I take up a leisurely jog as if I’m just out exercising. I stick very close to the buildings, ready to duck into a doorway should a limo come down the street. This section of town is closed up tight. It’s upscale, so there’s nobody hanging around on street corners.
The first bus stop I come to is brightly lit by a streetlamp, and I don’t feel safe sitting at it. I’m too exposed. I keep jogging. The next one has its own little light inside the rain shelter. I glance around. No one is near, so I stand on the bench and pop open the light cover. The bulb is oversized and hot. I pull off my jacket and shield my bruised and bleeding palms with the fake leather as I unscrew it. After a couple turns, the bench is doused in darkness.
I pull my knees up on the seat and cover myself with the jacket. Very few cars go by. I’m relieved it’s a limo I have to watch for. I have a clear view in both directions.
After an agonizing half hour, a bus pulls up. I don’t even care where it’s going. I just want to get away from the park.
But this route coasts straight up the avenue, and within fifteen minutes I’ve made it home.
When I stumble into my apartment, I decide it’s safe to text Colt. His father probably knows where I live anyway. People like that have the money or connections to get whatever information they want to know.
I don’t want to think about what hurts. After I find out how Colt is, if he’s upset at me or even knows about his father, I’ll tend to the scrapes and bruises. My arms bend again, and I can still hobble around, so I’m not injured enough to fuss over.
The battery pops cleanly back into the phone. I take a deep breath and turn it on. As soon as it gets a signal, a flood of texts come through.
Shit, Jo, Brent says Brit shoved you in a limo.
Goddamn it, my father talked to you, didn’t he?
Hey, let me know as soon as you’re home.
Jo, I’m worried. Shit. Asshole father said you jumped from his car. I’m coming over.
The last one was just fifteen minutes ago. I guess good ol’ Cure decided to
Then I realize — Colt is coming over! I’m such a mess. Dirt in my hair. Dried blood. My jacket and jeans are destroyed. I have to get myself together.
Now that I’m home and know Colt doesn’t hate me, it’s all catching up to me. Every muscle screams. I plant my feet on the floor, but getting off the sofa is agony. My arms shake if I push up, and the scrapes on my palms burn. My legs don’t want to lift me either. I grit my teeth. I’m a fighter, damn it. Get off the couch.
I’ve made it up when Colt knocks. It’s a funny messed-up half-forgotten version of Zero’s pattern. But it makes me smile. Everything is about to get a whole lot better.
I open the door. When Colt sees me, his eyes go wide. He pulls me in tight against his chest. “Jo, poor Jo. I can’t believe you did that.”
He pulls back to look at me again. “You could have been killed.”
I shrug. “Or I could have killed your father. This seemed the better option.”
Colt tries to hold back the smile, but it creeps across his face anyway. The uneven dimples appear on his cheeks. I reach up to touch them, unlike the first time I noticed them, when I was too shy.
He turns to kiss my fingers. “My nose is intact this time,” he says.
“Nice cut on your eyebrow, though,” I say. There’s some sort of shiny gel over the wound from his fight. Then it hits me — he lost the match just two hours ago. And he got hurt enough for the ref to call a knockout. “Are you all right?”
He walks in and sinks onto the sofa. “I’ve had worse concussions. Ref shouldn’t have called it.”
I want to mention how wobbly he was as he walked out of the cage, but decide against it. “So, I guess your dad knows you lost another match.”
Colt rubs his temples with his palms. I figure he’s got to have a killer headache from the pounding he took. “He mentioned it a few thousand times.”
I sit next to him. “How did he find out?”
“Oh, he’s got spies. He works very hard to control my career.”
I pick at the frayed edges of the hole in my jeans, frowning at the dried blood. “Why don’t you tell him to back off?”
“Trust me, I have,” Colt says. “But everybody loves the big champ. They all do what he says. I can’t get back to the title fight without him on board.”
I fold my hands together. We don’t look at each other. Finally, I get the nerve to say, “Is the title fight that important?”
Colt sighs. “I always thought it was. Kids who grow up like me, with dads like him, we have these big ideas.” He barks a bitter laugh. “Winning a title is about the only goal I’ve ever had.” He reaches over to place his broad hand on my leg and notices the ripped jeans. “Jo?”
He seems to just now realize I’m injured. He holds up my sleeve where the elbow is torn. “We need to take a look at this.” His expression is grim.
Colt eases the jacket off my shoulders, but just the shift in position sends white-hot pain through my arm.
I remind myself how tough I am and try to keep my expression flat. But Colt knows. “Baby, you are in some serious pain.” He examines the scrape up my arm. “We might need this to be x-rayed.”
I shake my head. Hospitals. Bills. I could never pay for all that. “I’m fine,” I say. “I walked most of the way home.”
“Goddammit,” Colt says. “He wouldn’t say what made you jump. Just that you were excitable.”
I don’t want to tell him either. His father mentioned Colt seducing three virgins before me. How he had to pay off their bruised cherries. I have no idea what all is a lie. But I can totally believe that his father had something to do with the last girl leaving Colt. I don’t know if Colt knows that. I don’t know if I can bring it up.
I let him take my ballet slippers off.
“I’m going to get some ice,” he says, and heads to the kitchen.
I stare at my filthy feet, bruised and dirty from the run through the park. I’m a mess. Colt is going to wonder why he ever wanted me.
I try not to add in my mind the extra part, the point that his dad tried to make — now that I’m not a virgin anymore.
Colt returns with a dish towel and ice. When he spreads it on my knee, I say, “You know what always happens after the ice comes off.”
He smiles up at me. I iced his nose last weekend after a fight. And that’s how I ended up in his arms.
“I’ll have to be even more careful with you this time,” he says.
My heart speeds up. The pain recedes as his free hand slides along my other thigh.
“You’ll have to tell me what you’re up for,” he says.
“I think I’m pretty good for anything you suggest.”
He brushes the top of my hair, wild and flying loose from the coils at the base of my neck. A bit of dirt rains down. “Maybe a shower?”
The thought of being naked with Colt in the shower sends a shiver through me. “I’ll probably need some help,” I say.
“I am thrilled to be of service.” He lifts the ice off my knee and sets the bundle on the floor. “I’d carry you, but that might hurt more,” he says.
“It’s okay,” I say. “I probably should stay as active as I can so the muscles don’t tighten up.”
“That can also be arranged,” he says huskily.
Colt clasps one of my hands, then leans in to brace my lower back to help me up. His assistance is a relief. I walk rather stiffly behind him as we head to the bedroom, but I’m already in less pain.
Meatloaf’s song “Love Hurts” buzzes through my head. I have to disagree. I’m feeling a hell of a lot better.
Colt heads into the bathroom to turn on the water. It’s a small room with a standing-only shower stall that closes with a sliding door. I have never lived in a place with a bathtub and curtain since the horror of the night that caused me to leave home three years ago. The image of the plastic liner on the floor, and my stepbrother bleeding all over it, will never leave my head.
The water heats quickly, and steam curls around Colt. “Come here,” he says.
There’s barely room for both of us between the sink and toilet. He unbuttons my jeans and eases them over my hips. When they reach my thighs, he bends down to make sure nothing presses against the dried blood on my knee. “Lift carefully,” he says.
I bend my leg to step out of the jeans. I place my foot on the floor as Colt eases the other pants leg down.
“These are cute,” Colt says.
I look down to see him staring at my pale blue panties with a tiny sparkle of silver woven in. It is the first pretty underwear I’ve ever owned. He reaches out to trace the edges, his thumbs inching just inside the legs.
I forget about any pain as the need for him to touch me pulses through my body. He runs his fingers along the front of the silky fabric. His hands circle my waist and move up beneath the satin shirt. His eyes watch me, the hazel more brown than green in this light, as he cups my breasts outside the bra.
I suck in a breath, feeling my legs tremble. I want so much of him. The time we’ll spend in the shower suddenly seems too long. I don’t want to wait.
He lifts the shirt up and over my head. The air is warm now, heavy with steam. He reaches behind me to unhook the clasp of my bra.
“I’ve missed these,” Colt says as his hands close around my breasts. His thumbs cross the nipples, and I want to sink to the floor. My legs are rubbery.
His hands move down to the panties, slipping them down my thighs. I feel them come loose near my calves and fall to my ankles.
Colt leans down to kiss me. He pulls me close to him, and the sensation of being naked against his fully dressed body is a rush. I feel vulnerable, but I want to be. I want to trust him completely.
His hands are everywhere — my back, my ribs, my belly. Up to my breasts, and down across my hips. When his fingers brush my thighs, I open for him, and he smiles against
I clutch his shoulders, pulling away from his mouth to gasp. He flutters deeply inside, then his thumb starts circling my nub. I want to weep, to push hard, to get to that peak right away. But he teases me, withdrawing slowly. “We have lots of time,” he whispers against my head.
He steps away and knocks off his boots. I press against a towel rack as he strips off his clothing. When his shirt comes over his head, I want to touch the tattoo encircling his bicep, to trace its path. But he bends over to push his jeans down his powerful thighs. I remember the first time I looked down his naked back, on the first day I met him. He was shirtless at the gym, and I was dying of nervousness hoping to get a job there.
So much has changed in these few weeks.
His boxers are deep green and fitted. I can see him outlined inside them. He pushes them down without hesitation. My breath catches as his erection is released. I no longer have any fear. My face flushes a little as I remember the first time, so sure it wasn’t going to fit.
He rolls back the door to the shower stall. “Ladies first?”
I push away from the wall. He holds my arm as I step in.
“You might feel a little sting,” he says.
The water is warm. My skin is hypersensitive to each rivulet slipping down my thighs. When the spray hits my elbow, then my knee, I suck in a breath. But it dies down quickly.
Colt steps in behind me. He folds me into his chest, our skin connecting. His arms come around, holding me tight. I relax into him. The stress and fury and fear and hardship of the evening begin to melt away. The fight. Colt’s stagger after the knockout blow. His father. The limo jump. The race through the park. The release from all that tension is so profound that I feel like weeping. I never cry, and I shove it down. But my body still makes a little hitch, like I’ve missed a breath.
by JJ Knight have rating 4 out of 5 / Based on32 votes