Break Me (Caged Hearts Book 2) (3 page)

BOOK: Break Me (Caged Hearts Book 2)
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Chapter 7

 

With her hair pulled up beneath a towel and her cheeks flushed from the heat of the shower, Kait stepped back into her apartment, shivering slightly beneath her robe now that she was away from the dense warmth of the bathroom. The sun streaming in through the window had grown brighter as the clock ticked closer to the time when she’d need to leave for work.

 

Before she started drying her hair, Kait glanced at her phone. To her surprise, there was a message there waiting for her in response to what she had previously sent. She snatched the phone up and stared intently at the device. The message was from Anna.

 

That’s so great that you’re ready to meet Robert’s friend. I’ll set something up for this weekend xxx ps what are you doing texting me so early? You made my heart do a nervous pitter patter dance! ; )

 

Kait chewed her lip as she looked over the message. Robert’s friend might be just the distraction she needed to stop herself thinking of Jasper. And she’d be meeting him that weekend. All she had to do was make it through the week without wasting too much time thinking about Jasper.

 

With her free hand, she started towel drying her hair while the other expertly maneuvered over the phone she was holding, and before she was even aware what she was doing she was looking up Jasper’s Twitter page. Kait groaned at her own inability to stay away from him, even virtually. This had to stop. With a sigh of frustration, she threw her phone over on to the bed and focused solely on drying her hair to get ready for work.

 

Chapter 8

 

Jasper’s bare feet slapped against the polished tiles of his floor as he stalked towards the kitchen. He’d pulled on some boxer shorts, but other than that, he was completely naked. His bevvy of beauties remained on his bed, pressed up against each other like a couple of sleeping cats.

 

“You’re up.” Carl glanced up from the counter where he was sitting on a stool and sipping on an espresso he’d made for himself. He was wearing a pin stripe shirt and tight fitting black trousers. He always looked formal. He insisted that it helped Jasper maintain a professional image.

 

“I kind of didn’t have a choice,” Jasper grumbled as he strode over to the large, two door refrigerator and pulled it open, shivering slightly as the cool air pressed against his bare skin. He grabbed a bottle of water and turned back towards Carl.

 

“I’m all for working out your tension,” Carl began, nodding in the direction of Jasper’s bedroom, “but I worry that you’re taking things too far.”

 

Jasper audibly sighed and sat down beside his agent.

 

“One night,” he told him tersely, “I cut loose for one damn night. Can’t I even have that anymore?”

 

“Sure,” Carl shrugged nonchalantly. “Only it’s not the one night though, is it?” His eyes narrowed accusingly.

 

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.” Now it was Jasper’s turn to shrug.

 

“I think you do,” Carl noted sternly. “The pretty little blonde who came by your dressing room. People talk, Jasper. Did you think I wouldn’t find out about her?”

 

Jasper could feel his cheeks starting to burn. Kait was his. He didn’t want Carl discussing her, judging her. It felt like some violation of what his heart felt to even have him be aware of her.

 

“Obviously that’s over,” Carl nodded again towards the bedroom. “And I’m relieved. I’ve told you before that you can’t be in a relationship.”

 

“Yes,” Jasper acknowledge curtly. “I’m aware of the need for my single status.”

 

“You just need to remain focused, now more than ever,” Carl continued, feeling compelled to explain himself even though there was no need. “Having a relationship, whilst nice, is nothing more than a distraction and a drain on your time. Both of which you don’t need right now, Jasper. You are so close to all you’ve ever dreamed of. Win a couple more titles, and you’ll go down as one of the greats of all time. That’s what you want isn’t it?”

 

“Yes,” Jasper insisted, “of course.” And that was what he wanted, wasn’t it? Since he’d first stepped in to a ring and thrown his first punch, he’d dreamed of being the greatest fighter of his generation. He wanted people to know his name, to admire him. To see him as more than a guy who had a bad start in life.

 

“I need you one hundred percent focused right now. It has to be all about your training.”

 

“I know that.”

 

“Do you?” Carl challenged. “You skipped out on the gym today to what? Pretend you’re Hugh Hefner for the day?”

 

Jasper gritted his teeth. He wanted to correct his agent. He’d skipped out on the gym because he needed to forget about Kait. He needed to stay true to his decision not to be in a relationship, to be committed only to his sport. Each time he was with her, he felt his resolve weakening, and Carl was right; there was too much at stake for that to happen right now.

 

“Carl, I’m committed, one hundred and ten percent,” Jasper promised fervently as he uncapped his bottle of water and began chugging down its cool clear contents.

 

“Good,” Carl nodded stiffly to himself. “Because this week I’d like to see you put in some ten hour training sessions every day. I’ve bought in a trainer from the US who really knows his stuff.”

 

Jasper swallowed nervously. He’d had trainers bought in before. They could be ruthless and would push his body to breaking point. His limbs were already barely holding together; he wasn’t sure he could handle such a grueling week.

 

“This is for the best,” Carl continued as if sensing his client’s apprehension. “Next time you’re in the ring, you need to look strong and powerful rather than tired and winning because of luck rather than talent.”

 

The truth of what Carl was saying made Jasper’s head pound. He was well aware of how bad his last fight had looked and how narrowly he’d managed to secure his win. His bones still throbbed from the beating he had taken. Whilst he grew older and started to weaken, young, hungry competitors were springing up everywhere, desperate to relieve him of all his titles. No matter how many steps he took, someone was right up behind him, eager to follow.

 

“I’ll try,” Jasper admitted lamely. “But I’m still pretty beat up.”

 

Both men looked up as they heard the distant creak of the bedroom door.

 

“You’re clearly not that beaten up,” Carl said with a raise of his eyebrow. Jasper sighed and looked down at the marble countertop. His night with the brunettes hadn’t been the hedonistic evening Carl believed it to have been. He’d struggled to engage with them both mentally and physically, but he wasn’t about to admit that.

 

“Are you coming back to bed?” The girls peered into the kitchen. They were still completely naked and didn’t blink as Carl’s eyes hungrily roved their exposed bodies, savoring every immaculate curve and stretch of taut, tanned skin.

 

“I can’t, I’ve got to train.” Jasper told them apologetically.

 

“Aww,” the girls pouted in unison and gazed hopefully at him with puppy dog eyes.

 

“Sorry, girls,” Jasper drank the rest of his water as he stood up. “But duty calls.”

 

“Then what are we supposed to do?” The taller brunette asked.

 

Jasper looked down at Carl who was still sitting, his espresso now neglected as he blatantly stared at the girls.

 

“Fancy taking my place?” Jasper asked him with a cheeky grin. Both girls instantly tensed and stepped back.

 

“I…” Carl’s cheeks began to flush as he flustered over his words. “Um…I mean…”

 

“I’m just joking,” Jasper laughed as he clapped his agent on the back. “Yeah, I’m sorry girls. Maybe another time?” His warm gaze glanced over to the brunettes who smiled adoringly back at him.

 

“For you, Jasper, anytime is good,” they promised with a giggle before disappearing back towards the bedroom.

 

“I’d better hit the shower,” Jasper stretched his arms, groaning as his muscles tensely flexed. He had no idea how he was going to make it through one day at the gym let alone five.

 

“Need me to drive you to the gym?” Carl offered. From anyone else, this would have seemed like a kind, selfless offer, but coming from the mouth of his agent, Jasper saw it for what it really was.

 

“What, are you babysitting me now?” He asked as his nostrils flared in annoyance. “You think I can’t make it to the gym on my own?”

 

“You didn’t make it yesterday.”

 

“Jesus, Carl. One day, can’t I have one day off? You’re killing me!”

 

“Do you think your competitors take a day off?” Carl challenging, his voice raising. “They eat, sleep, and breathe being in the ring. The thought which helps them press through the burn is that one day they’ll get to topple the great Jasper Duboix. You set the benchmark. But that means you need to keep stretching it, keep testing those who would look to oppose you.”

 

Jasper exhaled slowly as he ran his hands over his head. This was what he wanted – to be on top. But maintaining his position there was proving to be harder than he’d ever imagined it could be. It was exhausting to try and hold all his competitors at bay on the rung beneath him.

 

“You can do this,” Carl reassured him, sounding overly confident. “Put in more hours at the gym, train harder. Nothing silences critics like a swift win, and that’s exactly what you’ll get Friday night.”

 

“And if I don’t?” Jasper challenged. “If this guy manages to floor me like the other one nearly did?”

 

“You’re only as good as you’re last win,” Carl warned him. “Don’t forget that.”

 

“How could I with you around to remind me all the time?” Jasper asked bitterly as he headed off towards the bathroom, eager to stand beneath the warm water and wash away some of his anguish.

 

“Don’t take too long,” Carl called after him. “I’ll be right here waiting for you.”

 

“I bet you will,” Jasper muttered angrily under his breath. He was surprised Carl didn’t follow him into the bathroom to monitor his shower to ensure he wasn’t wasting precious energy by bathing too vigorously.

 

With his jaw clenched, he pushed open the bathroom door. Carl was asking the impossible. He was asking Jasper to call on energy reserves that were already well past depleted. But Carl didn’t care. All he cared about was winning. The one person who had cared about him had been swiftly pushed away.

 

Hanging his head with regret, Jasper stepped beneath the warm torrent of water and wondered how he was even going to make it through the day.

 

Chapter 9

 

“Again!”

 

The trainer’s voice cut through Jasper’s mind like a determined knife. Squeezing his eyes shut, he grunted and raised the dumbbell above his head, the veins in his arms expanding with the effort. Sweat streaked down his back and pooled at his feet.

 

The weights felt like a ton. Jasper’s body began to shake as he struggled to hold it up. He could feel his bad knee threatening to buckle. He squeezed his eyes tighter and ground his teeth. He just needed to work through the pain. He’d come out the other side of it a stronger, more impressive fighter.

 

In his mind, he counted to the allocated five and then dropped the weight. His shoulders relaxed in gratitude as his arms hung limply at his sides.

 

“Again!”

 

The trainer wasn’t letting up. His blue eyes were glued to Jasper, monitoring his every move. With a sigh, Jasper looked away from him to reach for a nearby towel and try to wipe away some of his sweat.

 

“I just…need…a minute,” he declared between pants.

 

“No minute. Do it again. Now.”

 

The trainer had a full head of unnaturally vibrant blonde hair and skin the color of a ripe orange. When he spoke, he revealed two rows of perfect white teeth. He looked more like a Hollywood movie star than a trainer. He had, incidentally, apparently trained a number of famous actors. Carl had casually name dropped as he drove Jasper over to the gym, eager to boast.

 

“Seriously,” Jasper raised a hand towards the trainer. “I need a minute. I’m not made of steel.”

 

“You need to think you are made of steel,” the trainer pressed a manicured nail towards his own forehead. “Think you are the man of steel, and it shall be so.”

 

“The man of steel is Superman,” Jasper said with a roll of his eyes. “There is just no way I’m Superman. He’s a comic book character. At least give me some realistic goals.”

 

Jasper saw the blue eyes of his trainer simmer with rage.

 

“Your goal is to be the best,” the blonde haired Adonis stated bluntly. “There is no other goal. If what you want to achieve is realistic, it’s probably not worth pursuing.”

 

If he were his old self, Jasper would whole heartedly agree with the American. He used to chase after his goals with dogged determination, but now he was getting to see what his career was costing him; it wasn’t just his physical health. Kait’s image hovered in his mind. If he wasn’t so committed to fighting, he would be with her now instead of sat in the gym sweating like a pig whilst his body groaned in protest every time he moved so much as an inch.

 

Jasper grabbed his yellow plastic sports bottle and hungrily drank from it. He needed the electrolytes contained within the blue fluid it contained. But no matter how much he drank, he still felt thirsty.

 

“Again,” the trainer nodded towards the dumbbell which was now placed on its metal rest. Jasper groaned and drank some more. “If the body is weak, then the mind must be strong.”

 

Jasper threw down his bottle and leaned back on the bench. He was in no mood to listen to his new trainer philosophize on the importance of mind set. He knew how important it was. His mind used to be the only part of him that was strong, but after countless hours in the gym, his body finally caught up.

 

Flexing his hands, he cautiously raised them to the dumbbell. He gripped the bar tightly and locked his jaw.

 

“For the count of ten this time,” he heard the trainer nearby deliver the command, and his heart sank. He was struggling just to make it to five.

 

Taking a deep breath Jasper removed the dumbbell and let the weights lower towards his chest. Then he summoned all that remained of his strength and straightened his arms.

 

“One.” His trainer began to count.

 

“Two.”

 

Jasper’s arms were shaking like reeds in the wind. Sweat poured from every part of his body as his teeth clattered together. He couldn’t do this. His body was too weak, too tired.

 

“Three.”

 

He just needed to hold out for a few more digits. Then it would all be over. Closing his eyes, Jasper tried to focus on nothing except the weight he was currently holding. He imagined that his arms really were steel and could effortlessly hold it up.

 

“Four.”

 

But the illusion of strength wasn’t enough. The trainer formed his lips to sound the next number as the dumbbell suddenly dropped towards Jasper’s chest. The weight pressed heavily against his lungs making Jasper gasp for breath. With an angry sneer, his trainer reached for the dumbbell and returned it to its stand with barely any effort. He acted as though it were made of straw rather than iron.

 

Panting and humiliated, Jasper slowly sat up and ran his hands over his soaked head. This time he had hadn’t even lasted to the count of five. Maybe he really was losing his touch as Carl had cruelly suggested. Perhaps it was time for him to accept that he wasn’t the strongest anymore. Better to go out now while he’s on top than stick around and let everyone have the pleasure of seeing him fade away.

 

“Pitiful!” The trainer roared in disapproval. “My grandmother could do better than that.”

 

Jasper’s eyes widened in surprise. He highly doubted that any grandmother could do better than that.

 

“Again.”

 

With a flick of his wrist, the trainer gestured to the dumbbells and then folded his arms over his chest, a smug expression settled over his perfect features.

 

“No,” Jasper shook his head and began drying himself off with his towel. “I’m done with that shit for today.”

 

“Again.”

 

“Seriously, no,” Jasper could feel himself starting to lose his cool. He wasn’t willing to push his body to breaking point. No title was worth that. He’d seen guys who had taken things too far. They ended up in the hospital with injuries that they could never come back from. And they all said the same thing: that it wasn’t worth it.

 

“This isn’t up for debate. Again.”

 

Jasper stood up, his knee feeling precarious beneath him. Somehow standing made him feel less like a student being told off by their teacher.

 

“You see how much I’m shaking. I can’t do it again. I’ve got nothing left.”

 

“No excuses. Again.”

 

“As excuses go, I’d say this is pretty legitimate.” Jasper could fee his temper rising. “I was in the ring only a few days ago, and it was brutal. My body needs time to recover and heal before I can start training in earnest. I don’t know what Carl is paying you or what he’s promised, but we are done here.”

 

“We are done when I say we are!”

 

Jasper pushed back his shoulders and tried to appear as imposing as possible. He suddenly felt like he was dealing with a drill sergeant rather than a fitness trainer.

 

“I’m calling time on this, I’m done.” He growled at the American.

 

“I thought the great Jasper Duboix was a real fighter,” the trainer taunted him. “But all I see before me is a scared little boy.”

 

Jasper was furious even though he knew the guy was just trying to goad him, wanting him to get fired up so he’d train some more. What he needed to do was just walk away before things became too heated. Scooping up his towel and yellow sports bottle, Jasper began walking across the gym, eager to reach the changing rooms.

 

“Run home to Mommy and Daddy,” the trainer mocked him as he left. “That’s all you’re good for.”

 

Jasper felt his eyes grow moist. One thing he’d never, ever been able to do was run home to his parents because they’d abandoned him before he’d even had chance to be a disappointment to them. He wouldn’t even know them if they passed him on the street. The thought made his head pound uneasily.

 

Pausing, Jasper raised a hand to his temple. His skin was hot to the touch. The sound of his heart hammering in his chest echoed loudly in his ears. The room around him began to tilt on an axis. Jasper reached out for something to grab onto but found only empty air. And then he was falling. His feet gave way beneath him, and he landed upon the grey carpeted floor with a dense thud. For a moment, he gazed at the bright ceiling lights above him before letting his eyes close and embracing the darkness.

 

BOOK: Break Me (Caged Hearts Book 2)
7.22Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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