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Pulse (The Beat and the Pulse #2)

By:Amity Cross

Pulse (The Beat and the Pulse #2)
Author: Amity Cross





In Between

Ren

I thought I was in love.

I wasn't sure what it was supposed to feel like, but I was positive it wasn't this.

I stood in the middle of Altona Memorial Park, staring down at the place where they buried my mum, trying to understand where it'd all gone wrong.

The wind picked up and I hugged my coat closer, trying to block the chill. Melbourne was notorious for windy days and sudden downpours and the sky was as black as my soul. Summer was gone, winter had all but passed, but it wasn't the only thing that had left me feeling cold.

I glanced around, but I was alone.

"Hey Mum," I murmured. Nothing but silence greeted me in return and I wondered if there really was such a thing as the afterlife and if there was...if she could hear me.

"So, it's almost been a year since I found Dad. Did you know he had another family?" I sighed, glancing away from the headstone. "I guess you did."

The day I'd turned up at Beat I'd been shoved into a storage closet like a fucked up Cinderella, I had a half sister who almost destroyed my life... Scratch that, she did destroy my life. I could tick off all the things that had gone wrong since I stepped into Beat, but I'd run out of fingers to count them on.

"Josie, Seth, Dean, Lincoln … They're all great. Really nice and supportive. Things are getting better with Dad. I'm like the son he'd never had. I'm his ticket to the big time he never got for himself." I sucked in a deep breath, filling my lungs to the brim, then let it all out in one long whoosh. "So much has happened, Mum." I stared at the headstone like it would talk back to me.

"I'm one qualifying round off placing in a pro MMA league. Bet you didn't think I'd get into that, huh?" I knelt down on my knees and began rearranging the flowers I'd bought. Some three-dollar carnations I'd plucked from a bucket of water at the grocer around the corner from the studio. People said carnations were cheap and tacky, total Grandma flowers, but Mum had liked them. They were a few dollars for a small bunch and all we could afford, so I assume she was always just trying to be nice, but old habits died hard.

"I'm also competing in an illegal underground fighting racket, but that's another story. I know. I'm in so much trouble." Satisfied with my mediocre florist skills, I stood, wrapping my arms around my stomach. "There's all these people saying all these incredible things to me. They're giving me things and I'm winning all this money, but I can't hear or see any of it. I'm not a nobody anymore, I'm a somebody, but I don't know if it's what I want."

I wish she was here. It was always us against the world. Me and her together. I thought it was going to be Ash and me … but he was gone. He left and he never came back.

"What should I do, Mum?" Tears prickled at my eyes, but even here where nobody could see me, I refused to let them fall. "They're all counting on me and being amazing and supportive...but I feel empty."

Fighting was never my dream. I never had one of those, so I wasn't sure if this was how it felt to have one come true.

"How did you do it?" I asked the air, hoping and praying for a reply. "How did you get over your broken heart? Because right now, I can't see a way forward."

Nobody was answering and I was all alone out in the cold cemetery, a sharp breeze cutting through my jacket and chilling my skin.

How could I hold on, when everybody else always let go?

Chapter 1

Ren

Guard. Duck. Feign. Punch. Guard.

I ducked as Dean took a swing, holding my stomach taught, using my entire body to support my weight. Feigning right, I swung left, my gloved fist connecting with his forearm.

"You're getting faster," Dean said with a laugh as I put my guard back up.

"That's the point," I replied.

"You're already quick, Speedy. Don't go getting too big for your boots."

"Don't listen to him Ren," Lincoln called out. "He's full of it."

"Full of what?" I asked with a grin.

"Shit, obviously."

"Fuckers," Dean exclaimed.

I took another swing while he was distracted and clipped him on the jaw. He stumbled back a step and shook his head as we started laughing at him.

"Fuck, Ren," he cried out. "Watch it, hey?"

"Cry baby," I replied. "It was soft-"

"Soft like you," Lincoln finished.

"Gimme a break," he moaned.

"You're too easy Dean," I said. "You cry like a baby every time."

A lot of things had changed in six months.

If you wanted to get technical about it, a lot had changed in the previous six months too. Ash had left and taken my broken heart with him. Hammer could be alive or he could be dead. Six months of silence had left me empty and hollow, ready to crumble at the slightest provocation, but I had one thing left that was mine and had always been mine from the beginning. Fighting.

Dad had seen my inability to cope after Ash had left and without so much as a word, he brought me into his sessions with the Twins and everything had snowballed from there. We didn't talk like father and daughter should, I was just another fighter and that was the thing that had finally brought us together.

He'd asked me if I wanted to start fighting in some competitions and my only answer had been a shrug. Then I found myself at my first professional bout with rules and regulations and it was a challenge I was determined to step up to. If I didn't fight, then my dark soul would consume me. Soon one fight turned into twenty and here I was, somehow winning and accumulating points that had allowed me to almost qualify for the big time.

Like I said, a lot had changed in six months.

I was training full time with the Twins now, which meant that Monica oversaw my meals and wasn't that a fucking party. Monica, the bitch who paraded around Beat like a princess, reminding me about how she'd almost broken my life. She had broken my life, but it could've been so much worse.

She'd utterly destroyed Ash's, but I was beyond trying to formulate any kind of sympathy towards him. It had been his choice to overstep the line. I'd begged him not to, not to leave … and he ignored me.

///



Ash Fuller was a blip on my radar. Liar.

"Two weeks until your next bout Ren," Dean said. "You better watch yourself until then."

"Or what?" I retorted. "You'll swat at me like a twenty pound weakling?"

"Empty threats," Lincoln said with a wink. "He wouldn't do anything to you even if he could. The wanker hasn't got a bad bone in his body."

"You're making my balls shrink," Dean said with a groan.

"Lunch," Dad called out from the opposite side of the studio, clapping his hands to get our attention.

The Twins slapped each other on the shoulder, excited at the mention of food. Men.

I shook my head, my mood simmering at a healthy level of okay. There were good days and bad ones and sometimes there were mediocre ones, which were a mixture of all of the above. Today was panning out to be one of the okay ones. Time is what I needed. In the grand scheme of the universe, a lot could happen in six months, but six months was still a blip compared to the rest of my life.

"Ren?"

I glanced over my shoulder at the sound of Monica's voice. I suddenly wanted to asphyxiate on my own vomit.

"I'm sorry. About everything." She fidgeted nervously, the once mean girl of Beat looking all demure like a snake in the grass.

It was like a daily ritual with her. If she could get me alone, she tried to apologize again and again. So I tried not to be alone with her, which was more about her safety than mine.

"And thank you for … " She hesitated when all I did was glare back at her.

"What the fuck are you talking about?" I asked, wringing my hands into the towel so I wouldn't wring her neck.

"You haven't told Dad yet."

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