Take Me On (Page 30)

Take Me On (Pushing the Limits #4)(30)
Author: Katie McGarry

John clicks the mouse. “What’s this about?”

I weigh whose truth I should tell. “I’ve got a friend who’s going to be in a fight in two months and he needs someone to train him.”

John’s seat squeaks as he relaxes back and links his fingers together across his stomach. The smirk informs me I’m in trouble, but it’s the chuckle that grates against my nerves. “Are we talking about your new boyfriend that jumped Conner?”

I officially hate Jax and Kaden. “Yes.”

He chuckles again and the smile fades. “Fight for me, Haley.”

I’m shaking my head before the final word leaves his mouth. “No.”

“I want more than you gracing us with your presence in my gym. You remain the best talent I’ve seen in years—”

I interrupt, “You have Kaden and Jax.”

“In years,” he repeats. “And you threw it away. You want that college scholarship? You’ll get more than a recommendation from me. You’ll have current titles. What more do you need?”

“No.”

“Haley…” John runs his hands through his gray-and-white-peppered hair.

“No!”

“At least tell me why! Tell me the truth. Tell me why you walked away.”

I lean forward with the urge to bolt from the cramped office. My breathing picks up and I rub the sweat off my palms onto my jeans. “Because.”

“Dammit.” Both of his hands land on his desk and I jump with the impact. “What the hell happened to you?”

My pulse pounds in my ears. Did Jax and Kaden snitch about the night they found me in the garage? I wipe my palms against my jeans again, except this time I’m not attempting to expel sweat but the memory of the blood that caked my hands. “I’ll train here again, but no sparring. I can’t spar, okay? It’s my offer. Take it or leave it.”

It’s silent as he stares at me. I try to count my heartbeats, but it’s next to impossible.

“Then we’ve got nothing to discuss.” John pretends he’s in his office alone and writes on a piece of paper.

“He needs help.” I need help, but I can’t admit it. There’s always been a part of me that has craved to rest my head on my father’s or grandfather’s shoulders and tell them the truth, but then they’d see me for who I am and how can that help? They already hate who they believe me to be. No reason to make them despise me more.

“You know my asking price.”

I prop my elbow on the arm of the chair and cover my eyes with my hand. “Then I’ll train him. At least let me use the gym to do it.”

The scratching of pen against paper ceases. I can’t look at him. I just can’t.

“If you train at my gym again, then you can use the facility, but he only spars or trains with me or the others if I get you as a fighter.”

I part two fingers and peek at the evil old man across from me. “I won’t spar.”

“I wouldn’t throw you immediately back into your old training regimen even if you asked. I’ll ease you in, but if you agree to spar when I say, then I’ll help you train him.”

I straighten. “I’m not sparring, old man. Get it through your thick skull.”

Totally unaffected by my outburst, he continues, “How are you going to train him without sparring? In fact, how are you going to work your job, train in my gym, then find extra time to train someone else? Agree to one fight for me and I’ll take him off your hands.”

My heart beats manically and a cold clamminess blankets my skin. I can’t spar. I can’t fight. Not even for West. “I’ll train him when I get off work.”

He throws his hands in the air. “You’ll be here until midnight.”

Now I’m the one to pound the desk. “That’s my choice!”

“You’re right. It always has been.”

We stare at each other and I suck in air to calm the adrenaline shooting through my veins. “I want to start training him tonight.”

“You can start Friday. I want to see you in my gym every morning by five. Saturdays included. I also own Sunday afternoons.”

“Friday! That’s—”

John stop signs me with his palm. “Consider it an act of good faith. I had to cancel fights because you walked away. I want to see commitment on your part.”

I’m up against the ropes and John knows it. I nod and start to wonder when I’ll ever complete my homework, but like John agreed—this is my choice. “What about my uncle and his obsessive curfew?”

John resumes writing. “I’ll take care of it.” There’s only one person my uncle fears and that’s my grandfather. None of us know why and nobody asks. Jax and his brothers have trained with John since they were small and my uncle allows it.

“And the extra time I need to train West?” I ask.

He assesses me with cold eyes. “What type of name is West?”

“The extra time? What happens when Jax and Kaden walk in his door and I don’t?”

“I said I’d take care of it.”

All righty. I stand to leave and John nails a final blow. “Our deal starts this morning. I want your ass in the changing room now and on my floor in two minutes. Your stuff is still in your old locker.”

Nerves create a dizziness as I walk out of his office and head to the locker room. Every single fighter watches me. What have I done?

Chapter 24

West

Damn, this school is crowded and if I didn’t have a pretend girlfriend, I could definitely work this place. Like the blonde, Jessica, who’s been twisting her hair around her finger and staring at me from across the hallway. The girl is contemplating something and I’d bet it’s not calculus.

If it’d been two weeks ago, she and I would have already found a secluded corner in this dump and gone to town. I got suspended twice at my old school for being caught with a girl and it was worth the time served.

I rub at the crick in my neck. It’s Friday and I’ve been living in my car for almost a week. I’ve tried sleeping with the seat reclined and by lying across the backseat. Regardless, sleeping in a car is uncomfortable and cold…and lonely.

Hours drag by. Every decision I’ve made, good and bad, haunts me. For the first time in my life, I look forward to school and now, because I fixed a toilet, I look forward to my job.

Jessica slithers across the hallway and, feeling twitchy, I once again survey the mass of students for Haley. I like Haley, and truth be told if my hands are going to roam any girl’s curves, I’d prefer they be hers, but I won’t do Haley wrong. I won’t ruin her rep by cheating and I won’t ruin her by luring her down that hallway for a quick, cheap thrill.