Until You're Mine (Fighting for Her)(10)

By: Cindi Madsen

“Thanks to my stubborn nature, now I can never ask.” She opened the back door of the gym and shoved me through it.

Once we reached the car, I untwisted the hanger.

“How long will this take?” Brooklyn glanced around again, like we were either in a heist movie or about to make a drug deal.

“Just a minute or two.” I made a loop at the end of the wire so I could slide it down the gap between the window and door and catch the post that’d disengage the lock.

“Could we…?” She bit her lip, and it drew my attention to the lower one, and how it was a much brighter pink than the other. “It’s just, sometimes my dad and my brothers treat me like I’m this helpless, ditzy little girl, and I know that this doesn’t exactly prove otherwise, but I’ve lived in San Francisco for years without any issues. And for the record, I could call a locksmith, so technically this is a problem I could solve by myself if I had to.”

I extended the makeshift slim jim to her. “You wanna have at it?”

She sighed, her whole body getting in on it. “I’m not saying I don’t appreciate it. I’m simply asking if we can keep this just between us.”

“I’m happy to keep whatever you want between us,” I said, even though I should really cut back on the lines and innuendos. But the way she got all huffy about it made it way too fun, and so little entertained me these days. Not that I had time to sit around and enjoy life right now. There’d be time for that later, after my fighter ranking was in a more comfortable range.

Between that sobering thought and the fact that the stress coming off Brooklyn had calmed down considerably, it was time to pull back and hold myself in check. Get into her car, get out of this situation where I might focus too much on how entertaining she was, and get on with my life.

I fed the wire down into the door, searching for the latch. I’d worked hard to turn my life around, so I was rusty. Finally I felt it catch. I pulled straight up and heard a click—the lock popped up along with it.

“Why am I not surprised you know how to do that?” Brooklyn asked.

Of all the jabs she’d thrown, that one landed harder than I would’ve liked. “Because you, like most people, take one look at someone and judge them.”

Her face dropped.

I’d already taken time away from my training to help her, so I refused to feel bad. Obviously she’d grown up a lot differently than I had, and she thought she was better than me. Nothing would change that, and I shouldn’t even be talking to her in the first place.

If anything, it was a good reminder of where my priorities needed to be. Keeping my head down and giving training my all. I’d lived too many years trying to impress people who’d only ever look down on me. This time around, I was only surrounding myself with people who’d be with me through the ups and the downs.

I didn’t have the luxury of wasting time on some girl who took one look at me and declared me a waste of space.

Chapter Five


My stomach had been in knots all day, and every time I caught a glimpse of Shane Knox—yeah, I’d done some digging and found out his name—my insides twisted tighter.

Several excuses ran through my head, ones I wanted to present him with so my guilt might ease up a bit. There was the one about how I was having a bad day. Another about how it’d just come out wrong, and I hadn’t meant it. Since that wasn’t true, I decided to toss it. The truth was, Shane was clearly a well-trained fighter, but with an edge only people who’d been street-fighters before stepping inside a gym, ring, or cage had. I’d noticed it yesterday in the way he fought, and in addition to making me sort of wary of him, yeah, it’d made me more judgmental than I should’ve been.

Which led me to my next excuse: I’ve known a lot of fighters in my day, and in my experience, the cocky young ones are the most dangerous of the species. Smooth lines that mess with your head and manipulate your emotions, devil-may-care attitude, and intensely driven. That fire often transferred to other areas, and if you were the one standing near the flames, watch out. I’d been burned by one in particular, and I felt so stupid, because I’d seen my mom go through the same thing with my dad. I’d judged her, too, telling myself I’d never stand for being treated the way she was, and it came back to bite me in the ass.

At least I didn’t take years to leave. Not that it really made a difference to my heart.

The good news was, Mom had learned from her past, the way I’d learned from mine. After the divorce, she moved to Arizona to be near her sister, where she eventually met a shy software engineer—a guy pretty much the opposite of Dad in every single way—who made her happy. They’d gotten married a couple of years ago, and we kept in touch through texts and calls.

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