Without question, that is a life-size story. One that drives newspaper sales to daily highs and is read, and noticed, by people around the globe. I’m excited, but surprised, that they would let me, a nobody, take a shot at such a story.

“Wow. I can’t believe it. The implications are huge.” Preston Knight is running for his fourth term. His re-election campaign is squarely centered around his Christian values. But even bigger than the effect such a news story could have on the man himself, if he loses his seat in the Senate the majority will shift, allowing the other party to regain control.

“It sure is. And we’re trusting this to you. Do you know how big this is?” Sleezeball leans back in his chair and clasps his hands together, a failed attempt at looking dignified.

“Absolutely...” My mind races. “I don’t want to sound ungrateful in any way…but I’m surprised you chose me.”

“I didn’t. The editor-in-chief did.” Sleezeball leans in and motions for me to move closer, as if he’s going to tell me a big secret. Even though the door is closed and we’re the only two in the room. Whispering for added drama, he continues, “And I’ve been authorized to tell you, Olivia, if you land this story, the job is yours.” He winks.

It’s the opportunity of a lifetime, and yet I sit here feeling jittery for some reason. “That’s amazing. I can’t wait to start.”

“Good, good, I’m sure you’ll do great, Olivia.” Reaching into his drawer, he pulls out a file in an inconspicuous manila folder. “One more thing.”

I don’t know why, but my heart drops. Something just told me there was more. More that meant something big.

Opening the folder, I’m confused as he begins to turn pages and pages of blown up photographs. All of them, the same subject…Vinny. In the gym, on his motorcycle, coming out of the vitamin store…he turns and turns until he comes to one that makes my heart stop…me and Vinny kissing in front of the building. Not more than two hours ago.

“I don’t understand.”

“Our source believes your new friend, Vince Stone, is Senator Knight’s illegitimate son.”


The familiar picture in Vinny’s file, it wasn’t an actor, it was the Senator. Blood thunders so rapidly through my veins it feels like an out of control train that will eventually jump its track and meet its final destiny with a brick wall. My breathing becomes labored and for a second, I think I might throw up all over the pictures. Clutching at my chest, I feel the color drain from my face so fast that even Sleezeball picks up on it and gets nervous.

“Olivia. Are you okay?”

No response.

“Olivia.” Standing. Louder now.

No response.

“Olivia!” Yelling. He comes around and touches my shoulder, startling me and I almost jump out of my chair.

“Are you okay?”

“Yes….um….yes, I’m fine,” I lie.

“Are you going to be able to handle this assignment?”

My response is delayed, but I finally give him the answer he’s looking for. “Yes.”

“Good, why don’t you take some time to go through the research. Let me know if you have any questions.”

I stand, a bit unsteady on my feet, but I make my way toward the door without falling.


I look back, not really seeing anything at all when I turn. Though at least the response appears normal.

“Get the story. Get the job. It’s that easy.”

Yeah, sure. Easy.

Chapter 22


I blow through three sparring partners in less than an hour. I’m so pumped full of adrenaline, I feel like I could take Nico at this point. Jumping up and down on the balls of my feet wearing nothing but my headgear and a pair of shorts, I impatiently wait for Nico to fasten the next victim’s headgear. I’ve seen the guy around the gym. He sucks. Normally I could take him with a few jabs and two heavy leg strikes, but I’m not feeling normal today. I’m wired. Without any extracurricular help to get this way.

“Come on, it’s taking you longer to get his headgear on than he’s going to last in the ring.”

“Don’t get too full of yourself, kid.” Nico responds, but I can tell he’s enjoying himself, taking pride in how good I look today. He doesn’t really mind my arrogance. Mostly because he’s full of himself, too.

My fourth sparring partner finally gets in the ring and shit was I wrong. I must have overthought it. Underestimated myself. It only took me one strike and one jab and he’s splayed out on the floor. So much for light sparring.

Nico laughs and shakes his head. Extending his arm to the poor guy on the floor. “What am I going to do with you today?”

Still bouncing, I respond hastily. “Get me a real partner.”

Nico looks around, there are a few guys working out, none of them even close to a contender. Raising both arms from at his sides, he responds in question, “Who?”


He laughs. “I don’t think so, kid.” He begins to climb out of the sparring ring.

“You afraid?” I yell loud enough to get the attention of everyone in the gym. It’s gonna take some assistance to get him to do this.

Nico turns and raises an eyebrow. “Don’t ask for things you can’t handle, Vinny.”

“Not sure who’s the one that can’t handle it anymore, old man.”

The guys that were working out stop what they’re doing and respond with a series of oohs and aahs, a couple of “you gonna take that Nico” thrown in for good measure.

“Give me your headgear.” Nico turns to my last sparring partner then back to me. “Don’t say I didn’t try to walk away.”

Smiling, I bounce around the full perimeter of the ring, putting on a big show for the muscle heads that have stopped to watch us.

Headgear on, Nico lifts his hands and faces me, a smirk on his face, “You’ve had this coming for a long time. This is gonna be fun.” And then he strikes. Unexpected, hard and fast…he connects with my ribs. I stumble back two steps but somehow manage to stay on my feet.

So I respond, winding up for a roundhouse kick that lands on Nico’s shoulder. The sheer momentum from the windup catches Nico off guard and he stumbles, forced back three steps, his back hitting the rope as he struggles to stay on his feet. I expect him to lunge at me, but then he stops cold. I trace his line of sight and find Elle, one hand on the bottom of her belly, her face showing signs of distress.

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