Caged (The Underground)By: Alexx Andria
Much thanks and eternal love to those in my tribe who are an integral part of my writing process.
This is by no means a comprehensive list but I have to send a shout-out to the following amazing people.
To my beta readers, Ann and Hillary — the two of you are incredible. I’m humbled by your faith in me and my writing. Your suggestions are always spot-on and the fact that you love my work is such a gift to me. Thank you for all you do!
To the incomparably talented Alana Albertson — a friend I discovered by chance but love to pieces, thank you so much for always shining up my blurbs. You are an amazing writer and we WILL collaborate someday and it will be EPIC!
And lastly, where would I be without my amazing readers? Thank you so much for your faith, your love, and your patronage. It’s because of YOU that I’m living the dream.
It was the sound of the rain that woke me.
Rain that would turn to snow soon enough because Detroit was colder than a witch’s tit.
A vicious jabbing behind my eye and the sour copper taste in my mouth told a familiar story even if I couldn't remember details.
I was at the fighter bar hang-out, Lou and Tony's, last night — drowning my mutha-fucking misery in triple shots of Jameson — after a seriously fucked-up conversation with my used-to-be manager, Manny Riggs.
Seems I was yesterday's news. He got a new pony for the ring — someone young, dumb and full of cum — just the way Manny liked 'em.
Didn't matter that I was once the shining star of The Underground.
I was garbage now.
You were only as good as your last fight and I'd lost against Johnny "The Jackhammer" Robberts.
Worse than that, I'd gotten injured.
Fucking right shoulder tore in two.
Surgery wasn't an option.
But neither was fighting no more.
I was cut loose.
Just like that.
Don't let the mutha-fucking door hit your ass on the way out.
I gave my life to The Underground.
Been training and fighting since I can remember.
It's all I've ever known.
Louie Davonte was like a mentor of sorts.
I thought I was something special.
I was gonna be the one to put Detroit back on the map.
Going to the big time.
But fuck, joke was on me, apparently.
I wasn't nothing but a stupid dreamer, easily replaced by another numbskull with faster hands and a younger body.
I guess I should’ve known I was nearing the end of my career when I was one of the oldest fuckers still kicking it around at the gym.
Nine years in the ring was about all most could stand anyway. That’s why it was a young man’s sport — they bounced back quicker.
Unlike me, who seemed to find a new ache or pain each time I breathed.
Goddamn, where did the fucking time go?
Thirty-five years old and broken as a junkyard Buick.
So, drowning myself in Jameson was a legit option to end an epic failure of a career, right?
I have no fucking clue how much I drank — but if my empty wallet was any indication — it was a lot.
The pain behind my eyeballs rivaled the ache in my hands. I opened my eyes long enough to stare blearily at the damage. I grimaced at the raw, skinned knuckles, scabbed with dried blood, frozen in the clenched position.
I worked my jaw, wincing at the bruising.
Holy fuck, who the hell did I tangle with last night?
I groaned and started to fling the covers away so I could stumble, crawl or limp to the toilet but that's when I realized I wasn't alone.
Buried deep beneath the bedding, a woman was lying in my bed.
A woman with red hair slept fitfully, her small hands curling reflexively against her dreams.
Her face was delicate…like one of those dolls you see on television that cost more than a small car.
A collectable piece with fiery red hair.
I lifted the sheet and sucked in a tight breath.
She slept in panties and one of my t-shirts that I didn't remember offering.
I dropped the blanket. She stirred, her eyes fluttering open.
Golden eyes locked on mine.
I might’ve still been drunk but I knew a beauty when I saw one. No beer goggles needed for this one. Staring at her was like looking into the sun. I ain’t no poet but damn, this woman was stunning.
And something about her scratched at my brain as I tried to recall details from the night before.
I was too tired to spend the effort to piece together the mystery so I got straight to the point.
"What are you doing in my bed?" I asked bluntly, the pounding in my head and the inopportune morning wood of my cock obliterating any chance of being nice for appearances sake.
"I was cold. I couldn't find any other blankets so I crawled into your bed last night after you passed out."
"How'd we get here?"
That made sense but nothing else did.
I narrowed my gaze. "Who the fuck are you?"
"Charlie who?" I waved away her answer. I had bigger questions. "What the fuck happened last night?"
"You broke Louie's nose." A small satisfied smile followed her answer. "And you took down everyone else in Louie's crew. It was epic."
I stared, my stomach clenching on nothing but bile. Her praise only heightened my anxiety. "Why the fuck would I do that?" Punching Louie Davonte in the face? That was suicide on many different levels.