Annnnnnnnnd we’re back with another sample sunday!
I am so, so in love with these characters, so I love being able to tease you guys. But I’m hoping I won’t have to keep teasing you for too much longer…. 😉
(Note: Sample is copyrighted, unedited, and subject to change.)
Also, if you missed the first sample sunday, check it out here!
“Man, why you movin’ so slow today? You got cement in your damn gloves or what?”
It hadn’t even been forty-eight hours since my last bout and my pops was already in my ass about training. He claimed it was the rigorous schedule that got me to this point in my career which meant that same schedule was also what was going to keep me there. But I had a hard time believing that shit as I worked to catch my breath in between sets of punches on the speed bag while he continued to rant in my ear.
“Your next opponent don’t give a fuck about a few nights ago. That motherfucka isn’t takin’ no damn breaks. And you say you wanna be the best? Shittttt, I can’t tell!”
Since I couldn’t argue back without sounding like a bitch, I hopped up from my resting spot on the stool to go at the bag again, imagining it to be the mystery opponent my father would always use as motivation until a real one was named. But honestly, it didn’t matter who the real one was. My training didn’t change from person to person and neither did my will to do whatever it took to be the best whether my pops believed it or not.
It seemed as if he never would believe me.
I channeled his doubt into my last round on the speed bag, my hits landing even more fiercely than before as pops groaned, “About time your ass showed up,” just as I was delivering a final blow. And as I bent over to catch my breath, the bag still swinging above my head he said, “Gotdamnit, boy. All this training we do and you still ain’t in shape? What you gonna do in round twelve, huh? Where you gonna get your wind from if you can’t find it in here?”
I was too exhausted to answer, so instead I just shook my head as he tossed a towel towards my face on his way out, not even bothering to say goodbye. But even if he was going to be rude about it, I was glad to see him go since his exit meant I was done for the day.
Well… done for now.
It wasn’t outside of the norm for Sir Kingfield “The King” Lattimore to hit me up in the middle of the night for training with claims that I was being outworked by someone else. But I hoped today wouldn’t be one of those days, especially considering he had just kicked my ass for four hours straight. I also hoped today wouldn’t be one of those days because I had plans to make that included the woman of my most recent dreams.
When she walked into my locker room after the fight, she was easy to spot because she seemed completely out of place; her casualwear of jeans and a blouse standing out like a sore thumb amongst the gaudy jewelry, furs, and other fight ensembles. But it seemed as if the simplicity of her look only enhanced her natural beauty, soft mocha skin with a glowing smile as she tried to fight the obvious nerves of introducing herself to me.
Still, she managed to keep it G, shaking it off to serve me complete professionalism, though her presence wasn’t nearly as annoying as the handful of reporters who had come before her. Or maybe her attractiveness made me biased. Either way, there wasn’t a single moment of our conversation that felt invasive, more like I was chopping it up with a familiar friend who saw well beyond the surface of the champion boxer who had just added another victory to his record.
She saw me.
And that was only further-proven by the article she wrote, the article that I had read through more times than reasonable trying to understand how she was able to pull so much from our simple interaction.
The flowers I had sent to her office were small scale compared to the type of appreciation I was really interested in showing her. But for now, I figured I’d start off light by inviting her to dinner, knowing the last thing I wanted to do was scare her off before I got a chance to get to know her. So after getting rid of my gloves and drying the sweat I had worked up, I snagged my phone from my dufflebag, scrolling through my contacts to find her information that I saved immediately after she gave it to me just in case I ruined her card even more than she already had.
It only took a few rings for her to pick-up, her voice laced with a peppy yet professional undertone as she said, “Bella Stevenson speaking.”
“Yo, that article was dope. But I don’t know how I feel about you softening me up like that,” I teased, thinking back to the mentions of my “super sweet” interactions with my pint-sized fans. Truth be told, talking to and taking pictures with the kids were a highlight for me, the only time I was really able to let my tough guy guard down in public.
But since my father claimed that persona was an integral part of my career, I kept up the act, though I was reminded that Bella didn’t exactly see me that way when she replied, “I only write the truth, Princeton. It’s called journalistic integrity. And thank you for the flowers. They’re beautiful.”
“You’re welcome,” I told her, peeking around the empty gym as I suddenly felt… nervous.
Fuck am I nervous for?
Sure, I didn’t do a ton of actual dating, just a quick fuck here and there to keep me active which was made easy by the women who prided themselves on being my company. And my career kept me far too busy for the women my father put in the category of distractions anyway. Still, it definitely wasn’t my first time asking a woman out which meant it didn’t make any sense for me to feel so hesitant. And just when I was getting ready to push past that block, Bella asked, “Princeton? You still there?” Making me feel even more ridiculous.
I shook my head as I rushed out, “Yeah, yeah. My bad. I was just thinking we should uh… do dinner or somethin’. Me and you.”
The laugh she let out in response almost had me releasing one of my own until she asked, “Me and you? You’re joking, right?”
“Not at all. I wanna take you out, Bella Stevenson. Can I do that?” I asked, making myself as clear as possible while also trying not to be offended by her taking me for a joke.
But her regretful sigh alone had my fist flexing when she answered, “Uh… look. I’m flattered to say the least, but I don’t really think that’s a good idea.”
“What?” I snapped, groaning out a sigh of my own before lowering my voice to ask, “I mean, why not?”
The last thing I wanted to do was intimidate her, even over the phone. But she didn’t seem at all influenced by my reaction when she explained, “Well… no offense, but I’ve seen how you operate and that’s not exactly something I’m interested in. And besides, I’m kinda… seeing someone right now.”
“The way I operate? What’s that supposed to mean?” I thought to myself while processing the other half of her excuse to respond, “I don’t know about your dude, but I know I’d hate to hear my woman say she’s only kinda seeing me.”
“It’s just… early. Really early,” she replied in a way that only made me want to press more.
“So early yet so real that you’re turning me down? Yeah aight, Bella. I hear you. Must be a very special guy,” I said with enough sarcasm that probably made me sound immature.
But I was surprised to hear her release another one of those sighs before she rushed out, “I’d like to think so. But I don’t know. I mean, it’s new. So we’ll see.”
Whether she meant to say it out loud or not, her back and forth was enough for me to try her one more time. “So… lunch then? Since you’re suddenly unsure about him?”
This time it was paired with a direct, “Can’t. I’m on deadline. Article about that whole solar eclipse phenomenon due in less than twenty-eight hours.”
While she may have been using work as yet another excuse for turning me down, it only gave me an idea of how I could get her to come see me. And I actually felt hopeful by the time I replied, “Ahh so that’s how I can get your attention. Through an assignment?”
I imagined her holding the phone a little closer to her ear when she said, “Depends on what kind of assignment you’re talking about.”
Her interest alone had me excited until I realized I really didn’t have an answer to her indirect question, wasn’t expecting to be put on the spot about it. And even though I knew I’d be catching an ear full about it from my father later, I offered, “How about an exclusive? I mean, you done already read right through my ass, so I trust you to get it right in long form too.”
“You’re serious?” she asked, all of that let-him-down-easy energy replaced with genuine excitement.
In fact, I couldn’t help but smile when I answered, “So serious. Come through the gym Friday afternoon. Can you do that?”
I could hear her pen scribbling down my instructions as she said, “I can definitely do that. Say 1’o clock?”
“I’ll be here. Sweaty and all,” I replied, reminding her of what she was getting herself even if I wasn’t giving her an opportunity to back out.
But it was clear Bella was full of surprises when she said, “Strangely enough, I’m looking forward to that part the most. See you Friday, Prince.”