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Kage Unleashed (Kage Trilogy #2)
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My name is Jamie Atwood, and I am an idiot. Against all odds, I got the attention of Michael Kage, the hottest MMA fighter on the planet. To say he rocked my world would be an understatement. He transformed me completely, made me depend on him, and made me love him. And the sex? Let me put it this way: I’d never been with a guy before I met Kage, but I’d gladly spend the rest of my life on my knees for him. He is my obsession and my addiction. But I did something stupid, and now I’m paying for it. I don’t know if I’ll ever see Kage again.
Being Michael Kage was never easy. Too many demons, too much anger, and not enough to live for. And then I met Jamie Atwood. He’s got this innocence about him that speaks to something deep down inside me- in a place that’s never been touched by anyone. He’s beautiful, smart, and courageous, and he hasn’t been tainted by the darkness that’s ruled my life. I wanted him from the first second I laid eyes on him. It’s selfish, I know. Because you can’t bring an innocent thing into the darkness and not expect something to rub off.
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There was this Italian-American mutt named Bobby, with scuffed brown shoes and corduroy pants that smelled like cigarettes and filth. His hands were warm, but the knuckles were always scabbed over and the fingernails bitten to the quick, probably from the stress of the hard life he lived. His was not a tale of perseverance and triumph, though. This guy was a bad seed, and his hard life was a side-effect of his aversion to work. Instead of striving to hold down a job and be respectable, he panhandled and scammed his way not to success, but to bare survival. His brother Peter was a bad seed, too, but much smarter than Bobby. Both of the brothers were consummate manipulators, but only Peter was able to turn his skills into cold hard cash.
While Peter was making bank hand over fist and building an empire in the City of Sin, Bobby slept on a bare mattress on the floor of a roach-infested room in Philly. Electricity was a luxury he only afforded himself in the harshest winter months. Usually he could make do with a few wool army blankets and some brittle wax candles he got free from the Goodwill. He wasn’t about to ask for help from his uppity younger brother, who always looked at him like he was more disgusting than splattered bug guts on the bottom of his designer shoe.
Days Bobby hung out down at a local fighters’ gym, because really all he’d ever wanted was to be a boxer. The man had an iron jaw and a strong, wiry body, but he’d never had a real trainer, relying instead on the charity of gym owners and what tips he could pick up from watching others. Plus, as the coaches he befriended would tell him, it’s tough to take the street out of the fighter. Bobby had never had any respect for rules.
One day Bobby discovered a young woman named Sara sleeping in the alley near the gym. She was emaciated and freezing, and there were nasty needle tracks marring her pale limbs and, as he would later learn, tucked into every crevice of her body. But she was pretty and Bobby wanted her, so he took her to his apartment, got her off of drugs, and made it his mission to take care of his back-alley angel.
Five years later, the lovebirds were still together, awkwardly trying to raise two small boys who had been born a year apart solely because contraception was too damn expensive for a couple of professional deadbeats. They had no clue how to manage a normal life, and eventually they drifted apart. Sara fell back into drugs and started being gone more often than she was around. Bobby took his boys, Evan and his younger brother Michael, with him to the gym every day. The fighters and trainers got used to having the little tykes under foot all the time, and by the time they were big enough to walk and pay attention, they were being trained by professional fighters. They were the official gym mascots, and it was the closest thing to a family they had.
One night when the boys were five and six years old, they followed their father into their grimy apartment, not bothering to flip the light switch because there was currently no power, and found their mother lying still on one of the two mattresses in their living room floor. A candle burned beside her, almost completely gone, the flame sputtering and hissing in the puddle of melted wax. There was a needle sticking out of their mother’s arm, and her eyes were a hazy shade of pale blue even in the parts that were supposed to be white.
Michael touched his mother’s hand, and it felt as cold and hard as the concrete floor at the gym. Even after the candle winked out for good, and his father was crying softly near the window, his arm slung loosely over Evan’s narrow shoulder, Michael held onto that cold hand. He knew nothing of death, or of normal life for that matter, but somehow he knew it was the last time he would be able to touch the woman he called Mommy.
So I had just rawdogged my boyfriend in every sense of the word: no condom, no lube, and no fucking mercy. I left him half naked and crying in his parents’ backyard on the eve of his mother’s surgery. It was cruel, right? I should have felt guilty. Instead, I was flying like I’d just submitted a Jiu Jitsu blackbelt in the first round of a title fight.
It was because I didn’t think about shit right. Hell, I didn’t know how to break up with somebody, and especially not when I was that fucking mad. I just handled it like I did everything else, by beating it or balling it into submission. And now it was over. It was time to move on to the next phase of my life, and that phase did not include Jamie Atwood.