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About FIGHT FOR YOU....
Nicky Ragusa lives his life inside the cage, circuiting the underground ring to escape his fate as the mafia prince. When Jackie Marks crashes into his life, heâll take the fight outside the cage.
Every time my fist smacked against the bag, I expected a surge of pain, but nothing came. I was numb. All I did was hit the bag for days, trying to get my head somewhere else, anywhere else but my reality.
âNicky, I think you killed it. That plastic thing isnât going to ever see its little punching bag babies again.â Coach stood next to the bag, looking at me with his eyebrows creased and a bead of sweat glistening on his forehead like it always did when he was nervous.
âJust lemme get a few more punches in. Thatâs all I need.â I took a few more jabs at the bag. I wanted to feel something. Anything. But still there was nothing.
Coach grabbed my wrists, stopping them in mid air. âNicky, youâve had enough. Itâs late. Tracyâs called at least twenty times to tell me to get my ass home. Itâs past nine. Iâve missed dinner and putting the kids to bed.â
He gripped tighter onto my wrists. âItâs time to leave. The fightâs this weekend. Youâre ready, kid. You know that as well as I do.â
I slumped my shoulders and shook my head. Iâd been at the gym a lot longer than I thought. Every part of my body groaned from those tiny movements. Finally some sort of feeling. âYeah, say that when el Lobo has his foot in my ass or some other move he pulls out. I need to be ready for him. That fucker fights dirtier than he looks.â
Coach sighed, dropping my wrists. âYouâre your fatherâs son, Nicky.â
I stared at him. The defeat in his eyes. He didnât mean the words as an insult but they hit me harder than punch ever could. My father was never who I wanted to be.
âYouâre right, Coach.â I turned away slowly and walked to the weight bench, sitting down. I slowly peeled back the tape that bound my hands. They were so worn from the dayâs wear that they looked more gray than the bright white they were when I first got to the gym after work.
Coach walked over and patted my shoulder. âYouâre a good kid, Nicky. You just have a hard head sometimes.â
âYeah, yeah.â I didnât look up from my hands, just focused on unwrapping each one, instead of looking up at the disappointed glint in his eyes. It was the same conversation we had every night. Heâd ask me to come to stop by his house, make some crack about his old lady making too much food anyway and how the kids wouldnât bother me too much. Iâd, of course, say I had some work to catch up on from the office or that my mom was making pasta and asked me to stop by. None of which were true and he knew it.
But tonight he didnât fight me.
âAll right, Nick, think ya can lock up when youâre done? You know, the old lady has been on my ass out being out late every night and with the fight this weekend ...â his words trailed off. I didnât need to look up to know that he was raking his fingers through his salt and pepper crew cut, the way he always did when he was nervous. Iâd seen it a million times when I was in the cage.
âYeah, Coach, youâre fine. Go, be with Tracy and the kids. You donât need to babysit me. Iâll be fine.â
I stopped unwrapping my hands and looked up at him, forcing a smile. Did I really want him to leave so that I would be alone? No. Sure, I could have called up my cousin Dominic, but he would probably still be at the Candy Shop. Some guys enjoyed going to the strip club every night. To me, it would always be the place that my father did his backroom deals with some battona on his lap. I knew all of this because he started taking me when I was in middle school. He said I had to learn the family business young if I was going to take over.
âYeah, Coach, Iâm positive. Now go on. Donât make me kick your ass.â I patted him on the back.
âNot before the fight, Nick. Save that for the scumbag wolf, will ya?â He stepped back, holding his hands up. I imagine that at some point Coach was a good fighter and could probably still hold up with the best of them, but now in his early forties, he wasnât as spry as he used to be and I was pretty sure I could take him out with one kick. Though Iâd never try, but if someone else did Iâd kill them. That was a fact.
He nodded and stared at me, shoving his hands in his pockets. I knew he wanted to say something else, but we both knew that he wouldnât. That wasnât his style. He kicked the shit out me in training and in the cage. Other than that, he tried to stay out of it too much. Thatâs why he had stayed in my life so long.
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