Break Me (Caged Hearts Book 2) (9 page)

BOOK: Break Me (Caged Hearts Book 2)
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Chapter 30


Even though it was late, Jasper didn’t go home. Rage was powering through his body, and he knew he had to release it somewhere. Luckily his gym was open twenty four hours a day. It was unusually quiet as he stalked through towards the boxing ring at the back. He didn’t need someone to spar with; he just needed a punching bag.


Pausing only to wrap his knuckles, Jasper eyed the bag hungrily. He was angry about so many things – about his near defeat, about his bad knee, and about the constant war which raged inside him over Kait. He wanted her, truly he did, but he also wanted to remain a champion, and he knew he couldn’t have both.


He smacked a fist against the bag, and it shook on its hook. The shock of the impact travelled up his arm, and it felt good. Jasper punched the bag again and again. His bad knee throbbed in protest as he bounced upon it, but he ignored it. He had to push through the pain; there was no other way he could go back into the ring again. He had to be strong; he had to remain on top.


He jabbed sharply at the punching bag. Again and again. Sweat ran in rivers down his back, but he didn’t stop. He did a sharp undercut and then a left jab. He punched the bag so hard that if it were a person he’d have risked breaking ribs against their heart. Panting, Jasper punched harder and faster. The more he hit, the less he thought. He was able to get lost in the power of the brute force he was exerting.


Exhaustion crept up on him and blurred his vision, but still he hit the bag. He didn’t even know what time it was or how long he’d been punching at it. He tried not to think about Kait. He hated how she could turn an amazing evening into yet another fight. Jasper was sick and tired of fighting. He felt like all he did these days was fight. His life within the ring was bleeding out to all the other areas, and he hated it.


He hated the disappointed look Kait gave him each time he left her apartment. But what was he supposed to do? Carl had been very clear about her not coming around. But Jasper couldn’t stay away. She’d become like a drug he needed to have a hit of no matter what the consequences. Was their relationship toxic?


More punches. Jasper was hammering the bag now.


If it was toxic for him, it must be just as bad for Kait. Each time they parted, he saw the pain behind her eyes, the disappointment in her gaze. She wanted more from him, deserved more, but he had nothing left to give. Every ounce of himself was being spent each time he entered the ring.


He punched harder so that the bag shook and dust spewed out from it.


Carl was always telling Jasper what to do, telling him how to live his life. All he cared about was winning. Jasper could feel his bad knee threatening to buckle beneath him. He should have gone to hospital; he should have ignored Carl. But instead he’d pushed through just like always, and where was that getting him? Jasper had read the comments online. People were laughing at him, fans were questioning if his days as a champion were now numbered. And so was he. Each time he went down, it was becoming increasingly harder to get back up.


Gritting his teeth, Jasper smacked against the bag with all he had. The fabric split, and the sawdust contents spewed out on to the gym floor. Panting, Jasper stepped back from it, coughing as some of the dust gathered in his chest.


He dropped down on to a nearby bench and let his head fall between his knees. He was exhausted. His entire body throbbed with lack of energy. Slowly, Jasper moved his hands so that he could examine his knuckles. Dark blood had soaked through the protective bandages he’d previously placed around them. Wincing, Jasper began to unwind the fabric. Once his knuckles were exposed, he saw that they were red raw and weeping. Sighing, he opened and closed his fingers, feeling the burn of resistance each time he did so.


He’d pushed too hard. This is what Kait drove him to. She made him a mad man. Jasper remained on the bench not wanting to move. Not only was he exhausted, but his body was also heavy with regret. The worst part of what Kait said was that she was right. She did deserve more. She deserved to be in a real relationship. Jasper knew how achingly frustrating it was to be in a one-sided relationship; he’d been in one with fighting since he was a young man. Didn’t he also deserve to be loved and cherished by someone?


Jasper considered reaching for his phone and calling Kait, but she was probably asleep by now. Besides, what would he say? He feared he’d pushed their relationship to a point where “sorry” would no longer be enough, but he didn’t want to lose her. Clenching his sore hands together, Jasper wilted against the bench. He wished that there was some way of knowing what to do. He felt like he was fumbling around in the dark without any guidance, and worst of all, he wasn’t even sure he wanted to be a champion anymore, not when the cost to be one was so alarmingly high.


Chapter 31


Wiping her eyes, Kait gathered herself up off the floor and tightened the towel which wrapped around her. Anger soon replaced sorrow. Why did Jasper keep repeatedly treating her so badly? Maybe they truly were done. Maybe she did just need to walk away from him and never look back.


But still…


Kait couldn’t stop seeing him as the heroic man who saved her that night when her life was in peril. He had emerged from the shadows as bold and brave as any comic book superhero. Without any regard for himself, he had saved her, and in that moment, Kait had fallen for him.


“It’s just because he saved you,” Anna had brushed off her friend’s infatuation with Jasper countless times. “It’s just hero worship or something. You’ll get over it.”


But Kait wasn’t so sure. Jasper was like an infection which had managed to get into her system, and now she couldn’t get rid of him; there was no cure. Despite all his cruel words and harsh actions, she still ached when she watched him leave. Thinking about him never coming back made Kait feel like she was drowning in a bottomless pool.


Jasper wasn’t the cruel, cold hearted man he was appearing to be. He couldn’t be. That kind of man didn’t save strangers.


“Come back to me Jasper,” Kait whispered towards the closed door through which he’d previously stormed off. She wanted her Jasper back, the gentle giant she knew he could be. She just didn’t know anymore how she was supposed to get him back.


Defeated, she headed towards her bedroom where she collapsed against the bed and fell into a deep, dreamless sleep.


Chapter 32


Jasper popped several more tablets in to his mouth hoping that they’d have some effect on the pain which was currently surging through every inch of his body. His night spent pummeling the punch bag had been a mistake. His knuckles were still red raw the following morning, and he knew that neither Carl nor his trainer would be impressed. Yet again, he’d let them down. Lately he was letting everyone down, including himself.


“You’ve got this,” he told himself as he washed down the tablets with a long swig of ice cold water from a bottle freshly sourced from his large refrigerator.


“Ready to kill it today?” Carl was already in the hallway, standing expectantly beside the door.


“You bet,” Jasper did his best to sound upbeat, but he knew it was just a matter of time until Carl clocked his beaten knuckles.


“Woah,” Carl reached out for one of his hands, turning it over to assess the damage. “What happened here?”


“I got a little over enthusiastic with a punching bag last night,” Jasper shrugged.


“I’ll say.” Carl agreed as he dropped his hand. Jasper waited for the anger, for the discipline, but Carl remained quiet. There was almost something approving about his silence.


“You’re not mad?” Jasper felt forced to prompt him for a response when one wasn’t readily given.


“No,” Carl shook his head and opened the front door. “If anything, it’s nice to see some of your fierce energy coming back. I was worried for a moment that you were spent.”


Chapter 33


Sadly, Jasper had no fierce energy left to give at the gym. He lifted weights, did squats, and jumped rope, but it all just felt like going through the motions. Perhaps his pain medication had made him overly numb. Feeling detached, he sat for a moment and wiped the sweat from the back of his neck.


“Your mind is elsewhere today,” his trainer noted, his tone lacking the harsh edge it usually held.


“Yeah,” Jasper agreed with a sigh. “Sorry.”


“What made you go mad at the bag like you did?” His trainer glanced at his bloodied knuckles. Jasper leaned back on the bench and shook his head.


“You don’t want to know.”


“That means it’s a woman,” his trainer laughed wryly. “Which also means I should know be berating you for letting the fairer sex get in your head. Once there, all they do is mess up your thoughts, and you need to be focused right now. But you already knew that.”


“Exactly,” Jasper agreed softly. “I already knew that.”


“I saw the fall you took during your last fight,” his trainer came and sat beside him. His perfect blonde hair settled naturally around his shoulders as it was free from product that morning.


Jasper lowered his head shamefully. The whole world saw the fall he took on his bad leg. Everyone knew he was ripe for replacement. It was one hell of a beast of burden, and Jasper struggled beneath it.


“There’s no shame is stopping when you’ve peaked,” his trainer said gentle, his voice low so that no one else could hear him.


“That’s not what you’ve said before,” Jasper challenged with a smile.


“True,” his trainer laughed. “But I’ve seen men push themselves so hard in the ring that they can’t walk by the time they are forty. And that’s no life.”


“But I’m not supposed to think about the future,” Jasper countered, “just the next match, the next big win.”


“But you are thinking about the future. Hence why you took that punching bag to task. You’re frustrated, Duboix, about more than your career.”


“So says you.” Jasper gave him a playful nudge.


“I’ve seen it happen before. If you find something beyond the ring that you care about, cling to it. Your career won’t always be there, but this other thing, it might be.”


“Carl would fire you on the spot if you heard you talking like that,” Jasper warned teasingly.


“True,” his trainer was nodding and laughing as he spoke. “But if I didn’t say this to you, I’d never forgive myself. That knee can still barely support your weight, but you’ve got another fight lined up for next week.”


Jasper grimaced at the thought of getting back in the ring so soon. He was starting to fear that the next time he went down, he’d never get back up.


“Just ask yourself if it’s worth killing yourself over,” his trainer advised. “Because at this point, I fear that’s what you’re doing.”


Jasper exhaled slowly. It was the first time someone had been so brutally honest and voiced the fears that constantly plagued his own mind.


“How about you take ten?” His trainer suggested brightly. “Go outside, get some sun.”


Chapter 34


Kait had walked twice the distance to the gym if she counted the number of times she’d changed her mind and started walking back only to spin around on her heel and continue towards the gym, towards Jasper. She had decided to give him one last chance to explain himself. One last chance to prove that she was right about him. Because she wasn’t sure she could handle being wrong about him all this time.


When she’d woken up that morning, her mind was made up. She would confront Jasper, and if he pushed her away yet again, that was it. But what if she was just making a massive fool of herself? Self-doubt crept in and began taunting her as she walked purposefully towards the gym, already wearing her lycra shorts and top with bright purple trainers.


She saw the gym in the distance – a huge glass building which glistened in the sun. Taking a deep breath, Kait sped up. As she neared the gym, she spotted a large figure sat on a bench outside, their head bent low. She didn’t need to get any closer to know that it was Jasper. She’d recognize his strong shoulders and bursting biceps anywhere. Slowly, she approached him, her heart hammering madly in her chest. She stood before him, blocking out the sun. Slowly, Jasper raised his head. She saw his eyes widen first with joy and then surprise as he clocked her.


“Kait!” He sat up straight whilst Kait remained standing. She placed her hands on her hips and took a long, steadying breath.


“I know what you’re thinking,” she began, her words tumbling too quickly from her mouth. “You’re thinking that I’m a desperate fool to come chasing after you yet again. And maybe I am. But I don’t want to be wrong about you, Jasper Duboix. I can’t believe that you’re this cold hearted asshole who would just push me aside in favor of his career. You’re better than this!”


Kait could feel herself getting worked up. Thankfully there was no one else around in the gym’s car park to hear their exchange.


“You really want us to end?” She demanded sternly. Jasper opened his mouth, but she didn’t give him chance to speak.


“Because I don’t believe you’re that…that cold! You sent me flowers, you took me out to dinner, and when we make love you make the whole world melt away! That means something to me, Jasper! Maybe not to you, but it does to me. And yeah, maybe I’m making a fool of myself right now, but at least I’m willing to do that for us!”


Kait was breathing hard. She was just talking at Jasper whilst he impassively watched her. But she didn’t dare give him a second to speak, not until she was done.


“I came here to fight for you, for us,” she told him fiercely. “Because I would fight for us because I believe there is something here worth fighting for. It destroyed me seeing you get hurt in the ring. Not because you almost lost the fight, but because I can’t bear to see you hurt. I care about you too much. I…I.”


Kait clamped her mouth closed. She couldn’t utter those powerful words not when the feeling might not be returned.


“Why do you treat me like you do, Jasper? Do you want to push me away in to the arms of another man? Is that what you want?”


She gave Jasper a mere second to respond which he didn’t seize.


“Because that’s what will happen! I’ll forget about the moody, mean fighter I once knew and find happiness elsewhere!”


Kait could feel her resolve weakening. She wanted to cry. To curl up in to a tight little ball and sob away all her sorrow. Turning on her heel, she sprinted away from him. He called after her, but just like the time in the park, she didn’t stop and come back. She couldn’t as she was now crying. She could feel her hot tears falling down her cheeks. As she ran away from him and back towards her apartment, she could only hope that she’d done enough to make him realize that he shouldn’t just throw her away. They had something special, something worth fighting for. And Jasper was a fighter; surely he could see something worth fighting for? Surely he couldn’t just walk away from that?


BOOK: Break Me (Caged Hearts Book 2)
12.33Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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