Then I come to the candid shots and my smile quickly fades. In photo after photo, there’s a different girl under Vinny’s arm. Walking on the street, outside of a bar, in front of the gym. It seems things haven’t changed much over the years. I actually take my time to look at the women because I’m curious to see if any of them are repeats. Apparently, Vinny loses his interest after one night.

There’s no denying the women are attractive. There are brunettes, blondes, redheads, short, tall…it appears Mr. Stone doesn’t have a specific type. Unless you call provocatively dressed a type, that is. The bevy of women clinging to Vinny in the photos begins to get on my nerves, so my careful study of each shot soon turns into a quick flip. Until I get to the last couple of photos. One is of a handsome man who appears to be about Vinny’s age. He looks familiar, only I can’t place why. Startling pale blue eyes and a masculine, cleanly shaved jaw captivate my attention and I find myself staring. Lack of sleep does that to me, makes my gaze linger longer than usual. Flipping the print over to read the back, which normally contains data on the photo, I’m surprised to find it blank. Perhaps it’s an opponent of Vinny’s?

The last photo in the file is of an older man. There’s a resemblance to the younger man in the previous photo and I hold them up, studying them side by side, thinking they may be father and son. The older man is nice looking, distinguished, even more familiar than the younger man in the photo before. Perhaps he’s an actor, someone I’ve seen on television? He’s wearing simple slacks and a sweater, but you can tell by the way he holds himself that he’s confident. Definitely an actor. Maybe the last few were just misfiled.

Closing the photo file, I attempt to forget the gorgeous fighter in the pictures. The one with the rugged jaw that always seems to have the perfect amount of five o’clock shadow. It’s not an easy task. I type up my notes, although there’s not much to write since I didn’t actually get to interview the subject. Three quarters of a page of basics is all I can come up with, most of that from memory.

I hate myself for stealing one last look before I turn back in the research photo file to Sleezeball. But I just can’t keep my eyes off him…which is why I need to keep far, far away from Vince Stone.

Chapter 8


It’s been two days and I still can’t stop thinking about Liv. She’s stuck in my head. I see her every time I close my eyes. And it’s not just the thought of her incredible body that keeps my mind locked in place, although that perfect ass is definitely seared into my brain. Liv’s different, always was. Smart, funny, sees life in a way that’s pure. Gave me prospective. Opened my eyes to see good when bad was all I’d ever known. It took everything I had not to pounce on her back in the day. The way she looked at me with those big round hazel eyes, she made the boy I was feel like a man.

I remember purposely failing a few tests, even when I could have passed, just so I could have an excuse to be with her. Hang out with the god damn library even. She was so young and sweet…and innocent. So unlike anything I had in my life.

Liv was different back then. Is different. I know it from just being around her again the other day. She’s the type of girl you bring home to your mother. If your mother wasn’t a f**king crackhead, that is.

I’m just finishing up my workout when I catch the front desk guy, Sal, pointing a woman in my direction. Not just any woman, a hot piece of ass. Now this is what I need to get my mind over little miss big eyes.


“Mr. Stone?”

I’m done with my workout, but I start one handed pushups as she approaches anyway. Might as well give her the full show. I stand and take off my sweaty shirt, using it to wipe my face. Her eyes go right to my abs. It’s like taking candy from a baby.

“Who wants to know?” I smile at her while I ask.

Her eyes come up to mine, and she flips her hair back a bit before she extends her hand to me.

“My name is Summer Langley. I’m with the Daily Sun Times. I was wondering if I could talk to you for a little while. We’d like to run a story on you and your upcoming title fight.”

“Sure.” I hold the handshake longer than necessary as I speak to make my point. “As long as you don’t mind me getting you all sweaty.” I wait until I get a reaction from her face, and then point my eyes at our sweaty joined hands for her eyes to follow.

“Not at all.” She grins back at me and I know we’re on the same page.

“Come on, we can take this conversation somewhere more private.” I lead her to the small kitchen in the back of the gym and put out my hand, offering her to go first through the doorway. It gives me a good shot of her ass in that tight little skirt of hers. It’s nice, but too skinny. Nothing like Liv’s heart shaped, perfect ass. Fuck, I gotta stop this shit with thinking about Liv. Especially when I have a hot number standing right in front of me, smiling at me like it’s already a done deal.

“So, you’re a writer?” Liv’s a writer too.

“Yep, I’m actually an intern right now. I’m competing for a full writer position. It’s down to two of us, so I’m hoping I get something juicy from you to help put me over the top.” She emphasizes the word juicy and almost purrs at me. Oh, I’ll give you something juicy alright. At least I won’t have to work too hard for this one. I think she’s almost as ready as I am. Maybe more so. But that’s okay, even though I usually like to hunt for my dinner, sometimes it’s nice to just call in for delivery too.

We sit and skinny Summer takes her pad out of some expensive designer bag that probably cost more than my last car. She smiles at me with perfectly straight white teeth that I’m sure cost her old man a fortune.

“So, Mr. Stone. Tell me about yourself. Were you born and raised in Chicago?”

“Yep, been here all my life. Went to South Shore Elementary and High School.”

She jots down some notes on her pad. “Oh, that’s where the other reporter is from. I’m surprised you two didn’t know each other.”

“What other reporter?”

“Olivia Michaels. The reporter who had this story originally.”

Fuck. Me. Liv did say she was at the gym doing research. Guess she failed to mention that her research was me. “What happened to the other reporter?”

“I’m not really sure, but she gave up the assignment.” Summer smiles at me like she’s ready to eat me. “But I’m glad she gave it up. I can’t wait to get to the juicy part.”

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