Brutal Game

By: Cara McKenna


Flynn climbed into his car just after one on Saturday night, waking the grumpy engine on the third crank. It had to be ten degrees out, and just the short walk from the bar’s exit to the curb had chilled his sweat and stiffened his spent muscles. He could feel frost in his hair and an ache growling in his wrists and fingers. Still, he didn’t bother with the heater—it was a quick drive.

It was snowing, barely. Sick as he was of shoveling, he almost wished for a final storm. It was late February, the charm of New England winter gone with the abandoned skeletons of Christmas trees weeks before. The streets were crusted with brown-gray ice and these flurries would do jack to cover it over. Salt and gravel crunched under his tires as he pulled onto the street, South Boston all but abandoned this time of night, save for the odd car in the distance and scattered drinkers making their way home with clumsy, nervous steps along the slick sidewalks.

Flynn was beat, literally. Not defeated, but he’d taken a couple hard shots in his final boxing match, one to the temple and one to the chin, and his neck was sore, like whiplash.

You’re not twenty-five anymore, his body bitched, but he ignored it. He’d be home soon, in his warm apartment, with a warm woman curled up and waiting on his couch or in his bed. Maybe already asleep with a book on her chest. Maybe amenable to having that book plucked away, replaced by the weight of her lover lowering down, his lips on hers and sleep be damned.

Heat crept through him, not the radiator’s doing. It kept the chill at bay as he slammed the car door and headed for his building, a hulking old brick behemoth.

Fight nights were Fridays and Saturdays. Laurel nearly always came to one or the other, whichever her waitressing schedule didn’t clash with. Tonight she’d worked, and would’ve finished up around ten. She lived just a few blocks from the tourist-trap restaurant she worked at but she always came to his place on fight nights, letting herself in with her key and waiting up for him.

He tested the knob, pleased to find it locked. She’d been sloppy about that when she’d first started hanging out in his absence, and he didn’t like it. Made him paranoid and protective, even if his building was pretty safe. The thought of anything bad happening to her, let alone in his place, with him not there…

He felt a flash of the heat that possessed him during a fight and pushed the worry from his mind as he opened the door.

Flynn’s apartment was a studio—bedroom, living room, and galley kitchen all in one high-ceilinged square space, plus a full bath. Laurel was sprawled across his bed, a pillow on her belly and a closed book atop that, sock-clad feet flexing idly.

“Hey, you.” Her smile was dozy and sweet, hair a coppery tumble he’d be more than happy to mess up if she’d let him.

“You win?”

He dropped his gym bag on the loveseat by the door. “Always.”

“How many matches tonight?”


“You must be wiped.” She knew better than that, though. She knew what fight nights did to Flynn, the way the adrenaline turned to lust the second he stepped out of that basement gym. He might be exhausted, but his body didn’t plan to rest until his cock got its way.

“I’m gonna shower,” he said. “I’ll kiss you when I stink less.”

“I like your violent musk, but suit yourself.” She opened her book.

“How was work?”

She kept her eyes on the page. “It was work. Go get cleaned up.”

“Yes, ma’am.” He gathered a fresh tee and shorts and some flannel bottoms from the dresser then headed for the bathroom.

He needed this shower. He’d been up against his toughest rival in the final fight of the night. He’d won but that bastard always gave Flynn a run for his money, underlined the fact that he was thirty-three now, no longer invincible. They fought for glory and for fun, not for money, but that was no reason not to go hard each and every time. Flynn spent his days working construction, which wasn’t kind to his body either, and in the past couple years he’d come to feel it. He ached in ways he hadn’t before, even if his lust for the sport hadn’t cooled a jot.

Something caught his eye as he set his clean clothes on the toilet tank—an old red towel slung over the shower curtain. Hunger rose inside him, exhaustion forgotten.

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