Fists & Knives - Chapter 24
“Louis and I have finally figured out how you are going to pay me back for not being where you were supposed to be yesterday.”
Harry glared at Louis for helping Arnold, but Louis merely shrugged as I placed his sandwich in front of him. Arnold hadn’t yelled as us nearly as much as I thought he might have for ditching our designated path yesterday and going go-karting instead. He actually hadn’t even really acknowledged me at all, which I didn’t necessarily have a problem with. He was perched beside Louis at the bar, seemingly relaxed. For once, he wasn’t wearing his black suit.
Harry was leaning on the counter behind me with his own sandwich in his hand. “Well spit it out already, how much do you want?”
Arnold chuckled. “Well, I don’t want you to just pay me. I thought I would make this fun for all of us. Louis found a tournament starting in two weeks.”
“Niall actually told me about it. He’s competing,” Louis added with a mouth full of bread.
“Prize is somewhere upward of $50,000 dollars. We’ve entered you into it. I expect you to win,” Arnold concluded.
Harry scowled. “Well who the fuck else is competing?”
“Same people as always. Suasso, Wallis, Horan, Lattimus-”
“Lattimus is in?” Harry asked quickly. I couldn’t tell if he asked because he was worried or excited about it. The last time I heard anything about Marcus was when Harry was telling me about the bribe after our get-away from his bodyguards at The Cave.
“Lattimus is in,” Arnold confirmed.
“There are a few new guys too but I did some research and it’s no one you can’t take out in a few rounds,” Louis added, stuffing his mouth with another bite of his sandwich as he did. I decided to make my own chicken salad today and put it in a sandwich and so far, all three of the guys were barely taking time to even breathe between bites. I took that as a good sign.
“You know I hate these damn tournaments,” Harry grumbled. “I don’t see why we have to be put on a pedestal and labeled ‘the best.’ It’s stupid.”
I giggled. “Sounds like someone is scared…”
A low growl came from Harry and he rolled his eyes. “I am not. I just think it’s stupid.”
Arnold finished off his sandwich and stood up, running his hand over his mouth to get the crumbs off. “Well it doesn’t matter what you think about it because you’re doing it. This is your punishment. I’ve set up a training schedule for you for the next two weeks and you’re going to stick to it, understand?”
Harry rolled his eyes again. “I HAVE been training. Every day.”
Arnold’s eyes flickered to me. “I’m talking about training with no distractions…”
Harry gawked at Arnold and crossed his arms across his bare chest. As his body moved, I spotted a small mark on his collarbone from where I had been kissing and sucking last night. I hoped no one else noticed. “K is not a distraction.”
I started to laugh but suppressed the sound quickly when Harry’s eyes met mine. He and I both knew that I was totally a distraction. If he was training, I was on the treadmill watching. He would start to get cocky and show off and then end up getting “hurt” somehow and complaining until I gave him a kiss to make it better. I loved it, but he definitely hadn’t been training his hardest with me around. Once Arnold left the house, Harry rolled his eyes once more. “Fucking tournament…”
“Keep rolling your eyes like that and they’re going to get stuck…” I mimicked him from one of the first times we met. Harry chuckled softly and slapped my bum.
Arnold also had a new schedule for me. It revolved around going to the store and getting food for the fridge, which I thought was funny because we really didn’t ever run out of ingredients enough for me to go grocery shopping every day. My grocery time was right at Harry’s training time, so I figured it was just Arnold’s way of keeping me away so Harry could train. In all honesty, he probably could have just asked me not to be in the gym while Harry trained. It’s not like I wanted Harry to lose this tournament. I had mixed feelings about the fights… there were so many in one week. What if Harry got hurt? It bothered me to think about any amount of blood running out of his nose or maybe from a cut across his face. I was such a sappy, overprotective girlfriend. I usually loved blood.
Liam drove me to and from the grocery store every day and almost acted as a bodyguard for me. I thought it was funny that a bodyguard was necessary. Outside of the culinary world, I was known as “Harry Styles’ girlfriend” and people always wanted to take a picture with me or get me to sign something. Why? Why was I important? One day, the crowd in front of the grocery store got so bad that I ended up having to walk with my back against Liam’s chest as he used his hands and pushed through people in front and beside us. I was beginning to get used to seeing my picture in the magazines (not like they talked about anything except my style… all I was doing was shopping for bread…), but it still struck me as odd. Why did I matter so much just for dating Harry Styles?
Harry and I would hang out when we could, only really staying inside to ourselves and avoiding paparazzi. When we felt adventurous, we would sneak out in the middle of the night and just drive around the city, looking at the lights and talking about anything and everything. One night, Harry stopped at a gas station to grab us coffee, but all turned to hell when someone started taking pictures and shouting Harry’s name. Despite it being 3 in the morning, the sleepy strangers in the gas station swarmed him and his picture was in the paper the next day. Needless to say, Arnold was pissed. After that, we were officially on lockdown until the tournament.
Harry wasn’t to compete until late into the night of the first day of the tournament. He and I sat at the very back of the stands and watched other guys compete almost all afternoon. Boxers who weren’t as good, like Suasso, were finished off almost immediately and kicked out of the rest of the tournament. I mentally gave them props for trying. It must take a decent amount of mental strength to get into the ring with someone stronger than you. Probably a bit of delusion, too.
“Harry, you’ve got 30 minutes,” Louis said, looking at his phone in his hands and standing up. Harry watched Marcus Lattimus get a few more good hits on someone named Kerry Carmondy and then stood up. He laced his fingers into mine as we walked out of the arena and to the big, black doors that I had met Harry at the night of his match against Sammie Suasso. We pushed through them and walked into a long hallway with closed doors on all sides, occasionally passing a scantily clad group of ring girls or a bruised-up boxer being supported by a medic and getting fussed at by a coach. As we passed the girls, they all popped their hips and puckered their lips. “Hi Harry,” most of them hummed seductively as he passed, half of them ignoring me completely. The other half would glance at me and glare or look me up and down and smirk. One even made a disgusted look as she looked over my outfit - plain black jeans and one of Harry’s oversized flannel shirts - and without Harry seeing, I mimicked her actions overdramatically, making a face disgusted face back at her before we disappeared into a door with the name “Styles” on it.
The room had dark red walls and three lockers along the wall in one of the corners. There was a TV in another corner and a black mini-fridge beside it. Across from the TV was a leather couch, and in the third corner was a worn punching bag. Louis immediately dropped down onto the couch and was absorbed in his phone in seconds. Harry kissed me lightly on the cheek and directed my hand toward the couch before letting go of it and walking to the lockers. I sat next to Louis and watched Harry as he stripped down and pulled out some black shorts from his bag. He slipped them on and wiggled his butt at me as the waistband slipped over it. I giggled.
“If you think I can’t see that butt wiggle just because I’m looking at my phone, you’re wrong,” Louis said, raising an eyebrow and looking up at his friend.
Harry shrugged and approached his warm-up punching bag in the corner of the room. “I would have done it even if you were staring straight at me.”
Louis shook his head. “You’ve gone from Harry Styles - Ass Kicker to Harry Styles - Ass Wiggler.“
“Heeey,” Harry grumbled as both Louis and I laughed. He punched the bag harder. “I’m still going to kick ass today.”
“Speaking of, you’ve got ten minutes,” Louis informed him, standing up and walking to the door. “I’m going to go chat-up that brunette ring girl.”
“That brunette made a face at me when I walked by,” I told Harry after Louis left.
“Because I was with you,” I said matter-of-factly. “Probably jealous.”
Harry chuckled. “She has a lot to be jealous about, but you dating me isn’t one of those things. Maybe she liked your hair or your shirt or your beautiful face.”
“Doubt it,” I snorted. “She made this face at me like she smelled bad eggs.”
Harry kept punching the bag. “Did you hit her?”
“No, I was holding your hand.”
“I would have let go so you could hit her. Or throw a knife at her. Whichever you do so prefer.”
I grinned. Harry glanced at me for a second in between punches and then stopped to look at me again. He smirked and walked to his equipment bag.
“What?” I asked.
“Nothing,” he said casually, digging through his bag.
“Bear, tell me.”
“Nothing!” He repeated, pulling my red bandana from his bag. “I just think you’re gorgeously gorgeous.” He walked to me and dropped onto his knees in front of me, handing me the bandana as he did.
I smirked. “You can’t put it on yourself?”
Harry pouted. “I have to rest my arms for my match.”
“Oh, bullshit…” I mumbled playfully, wrapping the cloth around his curls and tying it behind his head. He put his hands on my knees and used them to push himself up and kiss me as I finished the knot in the bandana. His hands ran over my hips and up my thighs to my stomach as he turned his head and I forced my tongue into his mouth. He sucked on my tongue lightly and groped my chest in his large hands, squeezing harshly and pushing me back onto the couch. He pulled his lips from mine and started to kiss down my neck and my chest, lifting my shirt and kissing my stomach as he pushed me down further. He fumbled with the button and zipper of my jeans and pulled them down around my thighs despite my breathless protests.
“You’ve got like three minutes, Harry.”
“I can finish you off in two,” he breathed over my thighs. I could feel the goose bumps spread all over my skin. He pulled at the fabric of my underwear with his teeth and hooked the sides of my underwear with two fingers, starting to pull the fabric down.
“Bear…” I warned, glancing nervously over at the door. His hot breath became heavier and heavier as he neared the area between my legs and finally ran his tongue right between my lips, putting pressure on my clit when he reached it. I held my breath and clenched my eyes shut, trying not to reach for his hair and mess up the bandana I had just tied. My mind was counting down the seconds until he had to leave, but the numbers became jumbled as Harry flicked his tongue back and forth and even dared to stick two fingers inside of me. I arched my back and gripped the leather couch the best I could to steady myself, glancing over at the door once more to be sure no one would suddenly barge in. I lost sight of the door seconds later when my eyes watered and a rush of warmth spread throughout my body, but mainly in my lower region. The look on my face made Harry laugh.
“I told you all I needed was two minutes,” he said smugly, grabbing one of his towels out of his equipment bag and surprising me by cleaning me off. He then threw the dirty towel into the floor by his lockers. As I stood, he pulled up my underwear and jeans, buttoned and zipped them, fixed my shirt, and kissed me on the top of my head.
I was still in a little bit of a shock as I watched him gather up his gloves and slink on his black silk robe. “Okay, that might have been incredible but was that necessary now?? You couldn’t have saved that for later?? I probably look so hot and bothered right now,” I whispered quickly, running my hands through my hair to fix it.
Harry laughed. “I like seeing you hot and bothered. Plus, making you moan like that gives me a little confidence boost. Maybe I’ll fight better now.”
I widened my eyes. “I moaned???”
Harry looked at me like I was crazy and kissed my head again. “You don’t remember? You couldn’t stop for that whole two minutes.” He intertwined our fingers and pulled me into the hallway. Unlike before when I was making faces at the bitchy ring girls, I was trying as hard as I could to hide my red face now. Did I want them to know that Harry Styles just ate me out? Of course I did…… not…… I just didn’t want them to see how worked up he got me. That was for Harry and Harry only.
I was too busy thinking about trying not to look flustered that I didn’t realize when Louis grabbed my hand. Harry spun around and grabbed my face, planting a sloppy kiss on my mouth before looking me in the eyes and grinning excitedly. His own eyes were filled with a kind of ecstasy that made the green glow a little brighter.
“Cheer loud?” He asked, kissing my free hand.
“Of course,” I replied.
“I’ll meet you at home after the fight.”
I nodded. “Good luck, Bear.”
“I love you,” he whispered, his eyes not leaving mine.
I puckered my lips. “I love you.”
He kissed me quickly once more. “I love you more.”
“Oh, jesus,” I laughed. Even the man guarding Harry’s door to the ring was laughing.
“Something funny, mate??” Harry blurted angrily, glaring at the large man.
The guard shook his head but continued to laugh. “Nothing at all, Styles. Calm down. Just different to see you… well… like this…”
Harry gritted his teeth but shook off the comment, bouncing on his toes to try and keep his blood pumping. I stuck my tongue out at him as Louis pulled me away from him and back through the black doors. We had three minutes until the fight started and the crowds were growing by the second. I knew we had reserved seats but I didn’t know where or how much pushing we might have had to do to get there. I didn’t want to miss a single second of this fight.
I was pleased when our seats were up at the top of the arena – the same seats that Liam, Zayn, and I had for the fight against Mateo. “Harry said you liked the high seats better,” Louis told me as we got comfortable.
I frowned. “When?”
“I don’t know. You guys went to sleep one night and he said you told him that you didn’t like being close to the ring. You can see better from here or something.”
Did I talk to Harry in my sleep? Or maybe just being around him put a trance on me that made me unaware of what I was saying or doing… like moaning when he was eating me out. I would have to look into that.
The arena was so full that people who were trying to stand on the stairs were ushered out. “They oversell tickets sometimes if they know it’s going to be a bigger fight,” Louis explained as we watched two guys a few rows in front of us start to yell at each other about how they both had the same seat. “When people ask for their money back, they only get half of what they paid.”
“That’s stupid,” I said, watching an arena worker grab one of the arguing guys and pulling him up the stairs to the ticket booth. My attention snapped to the ring when I heard cheering and saw four, sparkly ring girls strut up into the ring with the emcee following close behind.
“Whoooooo’s ready for a fight???” He asked melodically into the microphone. “In this corner of the ring, we have the man… the animal… Carson “The Bull” Bulaney!”
The Bull? I laughed to myself as a wide man sauntered up into the ring. He was stocky but his shoulders were broad and his arms were almost too long for his body. He beat his gloves together and “pawed” at the floor of the ring with his foot, snorting and snarling like a bull as he did. Like a bull. He was actually pretending to be a bull.
“And in the other corner…”
The announcer didn’t have to say anything else before everyone was quiet. The stomping started somewhere across the arena and picked up quickly. I didn’t hesitate to join in and stomp, gradually picking up my speed and pounding harder into the stands beneath my feet. Louis laughed as he watched my face light up but didn’t stomp. I guess he had seen Harry’s entrance so many times that the excitement was gone for him.
Harry pulled himself under the ropes onto the ring and his eyes immediately searched for me, a fierce grin spreading across his lips when he saw my face. He beat his gloves together and shrugged off his robe. A pang of jealousy shot through me as some girls in the front row shrieked and waved their arms around for Harry to notice them. The jealousy dissipated when Harry winked at me and puckered his lips quickly as if to blow a kiss, completely ignoring the rest of the crowd.
The first round of the fight seemed to go by quickly, Harry getting in a lot of hard shots on Bulaney and allowing Bulaney to take a few decent shots at him. Ultimately, Harry won the first round. Midway through the second round, there was no doubt in my mind that Harry was going to win this entire match for sure. I could tell he knew it too, his hits beginning to look a little more showy and his face lighting up like he was play-fighting an old friend for the fun of it. With seconds left in the round and Bulaney looking weak, Harry spun around and bounced to my side of the ring. He grinned up at me and waved, and then faced more of the crowd and beat his gloves together triumphantly. Everyone seemed to have their eyes on Harry as he over-confidently strutted around the ring, so no one was prepared for him to turn around and take a heavy hit in the face from Bulaney.
Louis and I nearly leapt out of our row as Harry stumbled backward and fell onto his back. He rolled onto his stomach and clutched his face. “The Bull” snorted and scratched his toes into the ring. The bell rang for the round. Louis shouted at the top of his lungs. “GOD DAMMIT HARRY GET THE FUCK UP!”
“Is he okay??” I asked, watching as Harry pushed himself upward.
“He’s fucking fine, but he just lost that damn round because he was a cocky shit and was laying down when the bell rang.” Louis ran his fingers through his hair and shouted again.
Harry refused to look at anyone as he grabbed some water and wiped the blood from his nose. I could tell from his stance that he was furious, but I couldn’t tell if he was furious with himself or with Bulaney. When he stepped back into the middle of the ring for the third round, he bounced on his toes and glared at Bulaney with a fire in his eyes. Bulaney seemed to take a step back and shudder at Harry’s new vicious demeanor.
As soon as the bell rang, Harry swung. He missed, but it took me a moment to realize he wasn’t swinging to hit just yet. His black gloves skimmed Bulaney’s skin, forcing Bulaney to step backwards and eventually into the corner of the ring. When Harry had him where he wanted, he punched for real, jabbing his gloves into Bulaney’s stomach and face for a good minute. He let Bulaney recover for a few seconds, but immediately cornered him again and punched him until he was unconscious.
I was worried for a moment that the crowd might boo Harry like his last unfair fight, but I guess this one wasn’t as bad because everyone was still cheering as Harry stood over Bulaney. Louis pushed me out of the stands and hurried me out of the arena to the black car that was waiting for us. A few paparazzi snapped pictures of me as I passed by. Arnold showed up moments later, climbed into the front seat, and immediately, we were off.
“Dammit, he could have lost that,” Arnold growled, slapping the median and rubbing his forehead.
“He was just cocky,” Louis said.
“He was distracted,” Arnold corrected, turning his head to look at me in the back seat. I glanced away from him and out the window. “Kennedy, I don’t know how else to say this. I know you care for Harry and I know he cares for you. But… I just…”
“If it helps him win, I can stop coming to the fights,” I said quickly, but I didn’t know why. I didn’t want to stop coming. I wanted to be there to support my boyfriend. That aside, I was actually beginning to enjoy the fights.
“No, it’s more than just not coming to the fights,” Arnold said, looking at the road ahead.
I frowned. “I’m not following…”
Arnold sighed as if he was irritated. “Harry grew up fighting because he was angry. He got good because fighting was a way for him to release that anger. Now that you’re around, he’s not angry. He’s not fighting as well as he used to because he has nothing to be angry about. That’s not really a good thing because the angrier he is, the better he fights.”
I glanced at Louis and waited for him to say something. I don’t know what I wanted to say, but something. It was becoming obvious to me that these people who were technically Harry’s family were just using him for money. They didn’t care about his mental health or his happiness. They just wanted him to fight well and make them rich. Arnold especially. Louis wasn’t as bad about it, but he still kept his mouth shut a lot of times when I thought he could stand up for his friend.
“I don’t understand what you want me to do…” I said slowly. “Do you want me to leave? Like, leave the house? Get a different job?”
“Well…” Arnold started.
Louis finally spoke up. “Oh for fucks sake, we’re trying to piss him off, not break his heart into a billion pieces.” So maybe he did care for Harry occasionally.
“So what do you think we should do then?” Arnold snapped at Louis.
Louis thought for a moment of ways to piss Harry off. Okay, maybe he didn’t care about Harry. I couldn’t tell. “What if you got together with your ex? What’s that guy’s name? Harry hates him.”
“Clark?” I asked.
“Yeah, that douche. For lunch or something? Don’t tell Harry. Let him find out about it in the papers.”
I gasped. “No!! That’s going to break our freaking trust! That’s going to paint me up to look like a horrible person! What the hell???”
“Do you want Harry to win this tournament or not??” Arnold bellowed.
I didn’t want him to win if it meant making him mad. He made a ton of progress with his anger. He finally fell in love with someone – with me. But boxing was his life. How could I hold him back from that? I wanted to help him because I loved him, but I loved him enough to only want happiness for him. How could I intentionally make him angry at me? How could I ruin all that we had become?
“Do you understand what we’re saying? Do you understand what you have to do, Kennedy? To help Harry?” Arnold asked, snapping me out of my thoughts.
I nodded slowly and stared out the window. “To help Harry. I’ll meet with Clark.”