12 Rounds (Knockout 1) - Page 64



Lara and I are in the bathroom getting ready for the night out for my birthday and she’s punching the air, trying to imitate Sean throwing punches. She hops up, throws both hands up in the air and announces, “And the winner is, by a knockout in the first round, still the middle weight champion of the world is Sean Right Hook Reilly!” She walks in a circle, arms still raised. “And the crowd goes wild! Rawwr! Rawwr! Rawwwr!”

I giggle at the way she’s trying to imitate the sound of the chaos that ensued after Sean blasted Avery Mullins with a lethal right hook to the jaw. “That was pretty intense,” I say, putting the finishing touches on my hair with the curling iron. I’m wearing it curled tonight. I usually don’t fuss with it, but tonight is a special occasion.

Lara stops moving and positions herself in front of the mirror next to me. She reaches for her tube of mascara and smathers it on her already long lashes. “Intense isn’t the word. Insane is more like it. I can’t believe he knocked that guy out in the first round.”

“I can,” I mention. “The guy has a temper.”

“Still.” Lara puts down the tube of mascara and picks up her nude colored lipstick. “Did you see the look on Mullins face?” Lara shakes her head. “They guy looked like he was about to shit his diaper.” I howl with laughter, shaking so hard that I accidentally burn myself with the curling iron. Go figure. I’ve always been clumsy. “You know I invited him tonight.”

“What?” My eyes widen and I let go of the curling iron, dropping it on the counter.

“You’re not mad are you?” Lara eyes me apprehensively through the mirror. “I mean he most like won’t come. He’s probably still in Atlantic City partying it up because of his victory.”

“Oh.” That depresses me. Part of me thought it would be amazing to be able to celebrate my birthday and his victory together. I go and say, “I’m not mad you invited him. I just wish you would have said something sooner.” It’s always been like Lara to spring things on me at the last minute. I usually don’t mind because I’m a go with the flow kind of person, but with Sean being involved it’s different. I feel like every time I see him my attraction to him enhances and my connection to him deepens. “Plus I thought you hated him.”

I notice that she rolls her eyes into the mirror. “I don’t hate him,” she professes. “I just thought he hurt you and you know how protective I am over you.”

“Well thank you,” I say. “For inviting Sean and for always worrying about me. But I think you can ease up on the worrying. I’m moving forward in a good way.”

She smiles at me through the mirror. “That’s good to know.”

“I will admit I’m a little bummed out that he can’t make it.”

“Don’t be bummed,” she says with a frown. “He did mention that he’d try to make it so there’s always a chance he might show.”

“I doubt it. He’d probably have to rush and if I just won my title fight I wouldn’t want to rush home and see some girl I know just because it’s her birthday.”

Lara shrugs and flashes me a quirky grin as she runs the flat iron through her hair one last time. “You never know.”

~ ~ ~

The line for C’est La Vie wraps around the side of the building and stretches at least a mile down the sidewalk. Lara invited her friend Phoebe from work to come out with us too, and the three of us stand across the street from the wide red brick rectangular building with the cursive metal sign hanging over top of it. Phoebe’s red brown shoulder length bob swishes as she scans the line a second time. “To hell with this. Let’s go somewhere else.” There’s a serious expression in her amber eyes.

Lara flashes us a mischevious smile and says, “Follow my lead.”

“Lara!” I hiss as she quickens her pace, walking to the front of the line. “Lara!” My eyes sweep over the line again and I see a few people casting angry glances in our direction. It’s not that I want to be a party pooper, especially on my birthday, but I’d much rather go somewhere else than piss off a line of people that stretches on for half a mile.

When we arrive at the front of the line, Lara positions herself in front of the tall, muscular, and bald bouncer with a clipboard. Her hands are on her waist and I notice her rolling her fingers, waiting for him to make eye contact. He never takes his eyes off the clipboard and utters in a low drawl, “Back of the line.”

Lara throws her shoulders back, pushing out her chest and shakes her hair. I know her. I know what she’s doing. She’s going to try and flirt with this guy to get us in. I’ve seen it work sometimes. In school. When she’s at her job. Sometimes all she has to do is bat her eyelashes and guys bend to her every whim. Then she’ll say with a laugh, “Sometimes it’s great being a female. Too many men think with the wrong head.”

Most of the time I laugh at the comment.

Now is not one of those times.

“We’re on the VIP list,” Lara insists and I grip her elbow, tugging her back, but she just shrugs me off.

“Name,” is all the bouncer says.

Lara peeks over her shoulder glancing at Phoebe who just shrugs then her eyes narrow on me. “Hadlee Flax,” she says her eyes still boring into mine.

I almost start to panic. But I don’t because then the bouncer says, “How many are in your party?”


Tags: Lauren Hammond Knockout Romance
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