The pounding in my head rises from a dull base drum playing in the background to a full snare drumroll just beneath my eyelids. I’m afraid to crack one eye open, for fear that the drum playing inside my head will escape and follow me around for the rest of my life. But the god damn noise coming from that phone is too painful to ignore.
I trace the horrible music to the other side of the room in the darkness, desperate to make it stop. It’s not hard to locate the intruder; it’s flashing and buzzing and jumping around like a Mexican jumping bean. I pick it up and look at the picture of some girl I don’t know smiling at me from the caller ID. She looks f**king annoying. It takes a few seconds for it to register that it’s not my phone. Hitting REJECT on the screen, I toss the thing back on the dresser and make my way to the bathroom and back without turning on any lights. Light makes the pounding worse. I know from experience.
Ignoring the jackhammer that replaced the snare the minute my head went from horizontal to vertical, I crawl into bed, shut my eyes, and begin to drift back to sleep. Until another god damn phone starts ringing. This time it’s coming from the night stand within my reach, and the ringtone is familiar. My screen flashes Elle’s name and, just as I’m about to hit REJECT again, I catch sight of the time. Fuck! Nico’s going to kill me this time.
“Hello.” I answer trying to hide the grogginess in my voice that would give away I just woke up. I’m not too successful at it.
“Did I just wake you?” Elle’s voice is full of concern. She knows Nico is looking for a reason to kick my ass out of training. Again.
“No, I’m on my way now…I got caught in traffic,” I lie.
“Good, because he’s already downstairs waiting for you not to show.”
“I’ll be there.” I hang up, heave my phone across the room, and groan when I hear it hit the wall and shatter. Another f**king four hundred bucks down the toilet.
“What’s the matter?” The woman’s voice startles me as I’m about to get out of bed. I have ten minutes to shower and get to the gym or I’m going to be out on my ass without a trainer again. I feel a hand reach for my naked ass and pieces of last night come flooding back to me. Krissy. Shit.
“Get up. I need to be out of here in two minutes.” I don’t even try to be nice. I’m pissed off at myself that I brought her here. Broke my own no groupie golden rule last night because I was too drunk to shake her off.
You see, I’m a fighter. A pretty damn good one. And good ones have groupies. We call them GIMPs. Short for Groupie I Might Pound. Yeah, I know. It’s not nice. But who said I was nice anyway? If a woman wants to follow me around and let me f**k her doggie style in the bathroom of a bar, who am I to say no? I’m not a dick to them. I take care of them. See to their needs before my own. Most nights, anyway. I just don’t bring them home with me. Bringing them home gives them false expectations. Plus, then they know where I live.
Nico’s at the entrance when I walk in. “You’re late.” I ignore his comment and take my place in front of the class.
Yeah, I’m late, but less than ten minutes, thanks to his wife’s call. Today is my day to volunteer at the Women’s Center. Yeah, right, volunteer. Like anyone could ever tell Nico Hunter no. Even if I weren’t already one f**k up away from him dropping me as my trainer, I still wouldn’t be able to get out of this. If you want to train with Nico, you do what he wants…even if he poses what he wants to you as a question. You don’t really have a choice in your answer.
My stint volunteering at the Women’s Center is part of my penance. Nico thinks I need to build more character, learn to respect women more. Sure, everyone should be pu**y-whipped like him. He thinks I don’t remember how he was before he met Elle, but I do. A different woman took the walk of shame almost every morning out the back door of the gym. I was only thirteen, but I remember. Mostly because they were all pretty f**king hot. Tits sticking out and short little skirts, who could forget seeing that shit each morning when you’re thirteen? Some mornings I had to run on the treadmill with a damn hard-on. Then he met Elle and everything changed.
Don’t get me wrong, Elle is the coolest chick I know. She runs interference between me and Nico when things get too heated. But this volunteer crap is their gig, not mine. Yet here I am at 10AM on a Saturday about to teach self-defense to a room full of women.
I take a quick look around the packed room and give them my best smile. The one that always helps me get away with shit when I’m in trouble. Well, at least when the trouble I’m in is with the ladies.
Nico watches from the doorway as I lead the class through a few minutes of warm up stretches. I’m relieved when he eventually disappears and I can stop pretending I’m happy to be at the head of the class this morning. I’d much rather still be in bed, lying flat on my back, getting head. I weave my way through the students as they begin their leg kicks. Some I help with their form, others I pass and smile at as I check them out in their skimpy, tight clothing. I’m sizing up the class, looking for my next assistant. If I have to demonstrate on someone, they might as well be worth touching, right?
Out of the corner of my eye, I catch a glimpse of a woman in the back row. She’s turned around, but I already know she’s going to be my assistant just from the sight of that ass. It’s shaped like a perfect heart and, as she reaches up to tie her hair into a ponytail, I’m treated to a glimpse of porcelain skin beneath her shirt that I get the urge to sink my teeth into.
I walk towards her, thinking maybe this morning’s gig won’t be so bad after all. Hell, if the front looks half as good as the back, this class may even go long today. I make my way up the aisle to reach her, ready to turn on my charm, just as she turns my way. What I see stops me dead in my tracks. Can it really be her?
James Hawthorne is a total sleezeball. Two minutes ago I caught him pinching his secretary’s ass and now, as I graciously bend down to pick up the papers that dropped from his desk, I catch him looking down my shirt. He probably pushed them off on purpose. He doesn’t even have the decency to pretend he wasn’t looking. Instead, he actually smiles at me when I catch him peering over his desk. Total sleezeball.
I return the smile as I take my seat in front of his desk anyway, even though it physically pains me. I want the job that badly. Bad enough to put up with his crap for another seven weeks of my internship.