Chapter 2

Beads of sweat splattered across the floor like drops of blood. The grunts and gasps for breath echoed off the walls adding to the vast empty feel of the room. A long firm leg swung through the air only to be slapped away by the palm of a hand. The crack of flesh meeting flesh seemed to thunder through the room.

Feet pounded on the mats in continuous charges and retreats. The rush of running brought no relief from the hot thick air that hung heavy with the scent of determination and exertion.

A hand flew out and captured a wrist that was slick with sweat. A feminine yelp of pain was followed by silence as everyone held their breath. The wrist was pushed up behind her back in an attempt to coax further sounds of pain.

"Yield, Lena," he growled into her ear.

A drop of sweat fell from his chin onto her shoulder, and her skin crawled at the sensation. Her eyes flicked up to the mirrored wall in front of her and she saw the smirk of triumph spreading across his lips. Not one shred of her being wanted to give him the satisfaction of conquering her.

She wasn't through yet.

After drawing in a sharp breath, Lena dropped swiftly to her knees. The sickening pop of her shoulder was followed by the thud of her opponent hitting the mat. He had been tossed over her shoulder even as it had nearly slipped out of its socket. She gave him no time to recover from his shock as she straddled his chest and pinned his arms to the mat with her knees.

"Yield, Justin," she whispered as her fingers closed around his throat.

Unseen eyes peered anxiously at them from behind the mirrored walls. Lena tightened her grip as Justin attempted to jerk his legs up. He laid there for a moment and seemed to ponder his situation as his eyes narrowed on Lena.

"I yield," he whispered coldly.

The walls immediately opened up to the thunderous roar of the crowd. Cheers and jeers filled the air as money began flying between hands before the announcer was even able to speak.

"Newcomer, Lena, wins again! This time she has defeated the Pit favorite, Justin!" Lena eased her fingers from Justin's throat and slowly stood up. Their eyes remained locked in case either decided to attack again. Only when they turned to their respective exits did they break eye contact.

Lena winced as people slapped her shoulders in congratulations. Her joints had popped and stretched to allow her to defeat Justin. The shoulder especially needed a lot of rest and attention tonight. She glanced at it and saw the skin already starting to change color. Within an hour it would be a deep purple.

She froze even as the crowd continued to writhe around her. Someone was watching her intently, and it definitely wasn't Justin. She glanced around nonchalantly, but she felt the gaze lift from her almost immediately.

A tall muscle head of a man roughly pushed past her and headed for the mirrored room. The next fight was going to start in a few minutes. Lena was grateful for the shift of attention away from her as she slipped from the crowd and headed toward the locker rooms.

The roar of the crowd changed to a dull hum as she closed the door behind her and slumped heavily against it. Three fights in one night was enough to kill some people, and right now she just wanted to flop on one of the benches and go to sleep. She knew she shouldn't though.

She grabbed a towel and opened her locker. Three or four envelopes toppled onto the floor, but she just disregarded them. At least a dozen people had asked to be her manager, but she knew they just wanted to get a hand in her money while she was still winning. Winners in the Fight Pits never lasted long. They were either challenged countless times every night until their bodies gave out, or they met up with opponents outside of the Pits. Those unfortunate people were rarely heard from again.

Lena peeled her sweat-soaked clothes off and tossed them into her locker before slamming it shut and heading for the shower. The cool floor soothed her aching feet as she padded silently across it.

She cranked on the cold water and thrust her head in first. The icy shock made her breath catch in her chest, and a shiver shook her entire body. Her hands smoothed her long brown hair back as the freezing water began to spill over her skin. She felt life returning to her limbs as the water refreshed her.

She soaped her breasts casually; loving the feel of the water making her nipples harden almost instantly. Part of her mind told her to not dawdle. She could savor a long bath at home. This was not the place to get distracted, even for a moment.

"Lena." She stiffened instantly. Someone had come in without her knowing. "You know you look absolutely delicious in water." It was Justin.

She spun around and glared at him. He was leaning casually against the wall with his arms crossed over his chest. For a fraction of a second, Lena wanted to cover her body, but that would leave her completely open and vulnerable. That and she did not want to give him the satisfaction of shaming her. A lewd smile crossed his lips as he took in this full view of her. Water spilled down the valley between her perfectly shaped breasts. Each was crowned with a hardened nipple. The water continued its path down over her stomach before disappearing in the thatch of dark curls between her firm thighs.

The look on his face told exactly what he was thinking. He wanted to shove her wet body up against the wall and take her like an animal. "Water definitely suits you best. I must remember to drown you someday. I'm sure you would look exquisite," he chuckled before turning and walking away.

Lena fumed, but she knew better than to attack him in this situation. She had only won their match because he had been too confident. It was obvious that he had no intention of making that mistake again.

She angrily jerked her towel from its hook and pulled it tightly around her body. She turned and started to storm to her locker, but she stopped short when she saw someone standing right behind where Justin had been.

He was a tall imposing figure. Emotionless, yet somehow piercing crimson eyes stared hard at her. She had felt that gaze before. It made a twinge of heat rise into her cheeks even though her skin was still as cold as ice from the shower. She was unsure whether to move or not, but she would have to walk past him to exit the shower.

Had he been there the whole time? Had he seen her short moment of pleasure as she had soaped herself? Somehow she felt more naked under this man's gaze than she did under Justin's leer.

She decided to move. After a few tentative steps, she began to walk with more purpose toward him. He didn't move a single muscle. Only his eyes moved with her as she approached. She finally reached him and flicked her eyes beyond him as she brushed past. The heady scent of him followed her. He smelled of leather. She was sure it was from his black coat that fell half way down his calves.

She heard him shift to continue watching her as she headed for her locker. For a moment, she hesitated as she gripped her street clothes. She didn't dare make eye contact with him again, but could she remove her towel knowing full well that he was watching every movement? It would be a weakness to show him that she didn't want him to see her naked.

After a breath, she pulled the towel off and began slipping her clothing on. She tried to keep her movements as casual as possible, but she knew she must have been giving him an interesting show. Her wet hair was tossed over one shoulder, and a few stray droplets of water trailed over her skin. Her breasts swayed gently as she leaned forward to slip her panties on.

Relief crept through her limbs as she put on each item of clothing. By the time she pulled her shoes on, she almost could have forgotten that he was even there. Out of the corner of her eye though, she kept watching him. The only sign he'd given of even being alive was when he had turned to keep watching her.

Now she straightened up and began to pull her hair back into a braid that hung down just above the curve of her rear. Finally she pulled her jacket from the locker and slammed it shut. She had to walk past him again to leave.

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