Breaking Bones(6)

By: Amanda Washington

He pulled my arms in closer to my chest and turned my fists. “We’re not doing that kind of boxing. I’m gonna show you how to defend yourself if someone comes at you on the street. For the next time you decide to go off and do your own thing.” He gave me a pointed look. “Chances are you won’t be wearing gloves.”

I shrugged. “I could be, though. Boxing gloves are in this year.”

That earned me a smile. “Hit the bag, Ari.”

I took a swing, made contact, and the bag moved maybe an inch. Fail.

“You dropped your shoulder,” Bones admonished, readjusting my stance.

When? How? All I’d done was swing. “No I didn’t.”

He cocked his head. “Yes, you did. Here, step into it and swing like this. Move your arm, not your shoulder.” He demonstrated the move and I tried not to gawk at the way his muscles flexed. “Your turn.”

I did my best to mimic his swing. This time the bag moved a little further.

“Did you see that?” I asked. “I’m a badass. You can have my autograph though.” And I planned to write it with my fingers… right across his chest.

“Keep it up,” he said, stepping toward his own bag.

I threw half-hearted punches as I watched Bones dish out some serious punishment. As his bag swung to and fro, he seemed to anticipate every rotation, stepping around and countering its rebounds like a pro. It was an incredible sight, and it took everything I had in me to focus on my own bag enough to give it the occasional punch. I was probably drooling, but I didn’t care. The man was so hot all he had to do was beat on an inanimate object to make me pant.

Desperate to match his thug status and prove I wasn’t some wimpy loser, I stepped up my game, punching harder and harder. My bag swung wider and wider as odd battle cries tore from my throat, like I was channeling that butterfly guy. Screw that. I was gonna be the next Ronda Rousey. But before I could even say “cage match” my bag swung too hard and plowed into me. I panicked and flung my arms around it, locking it in a hug. It swayed. I swayed with it.

Bones glanced over at me and arched an eyebrow.

I patted the bag, hoping he’d mistake the red of my face for exertion. “We just made up. I kicked his ass, he apologized. We’re cool now.”

“So… you’re dancing?”

Yep. I was still swaying with the bag. I released it and stepped away, eyeing the bag lest it come at me for another round. “How is this supposed to teach me to protect myself?”

“The more you hit the bag, the more comfortable you’ll get with swinging punches. The key is not to hesitate. When you get a shot, you take it.”

It sounded like he was repeating something he’d heard. “So, if someone attacks me, this will help me punch them?”

He took another swing at his bag. “Or kick them, or poke out their eye, or whatever. When it’s about survival, you fight as dirty as you need to.”

I considered his words while sizing up my bag and pretending it was an attacker. I hit it, kicked it, and kneed it in the crotch.

“That’s better,” Bones said.

“You been in a lot of fights?” I asked.

“As many as necessary.”

“That wasn’t an answer.”

“Sure it was.”

His crooked smile and elusive answers made me want to punch him. Then kiss him. Then maybe punch him again. Trying a different angle, I asked, “Do you like to fight?”

Bones’s brow furrowed as he hit his bag a few more times. “I’m a bodyguard, Ari. It kinda goes with the job.”

Another non-answer. “Yeah, okay. But say you weren’t a bodyguard. Pretend you could be anything in the world. What would you want to be?”

Bones’s gaze cut to something above my head before he looked away. I followed his glance to the dark glass bubble hiding a security camera. They were all over Vegas.

“I like being Angel’s bodyguard,” he said, pulling my attention back to him. “I have everything I need. Nothing else I could imagine doing.”

His declaration made me both jealous and sad. Jealous because he seemed genuinely content with his life. He knew what he wanted to do, and he was doing it. But at the same time, it made me sad because I realized he had no life dreams or goals. Sure, I was a waitress, but I had hope of being something more. There was zero hope in Bones’s eyes, and he seemed fine with that. I wanted to know why, but before I could launch my barrage of questions at him, he stepped away from his bag and nodded toward the door.

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