WELCOME BACK, RIPTIDE!
IT’S BEEN TWO months, exactly sixty-two days, since I returned to him. A thousand four hundred eighty-eight hours of wanting, longing, and needing him. It has been even longer than that since thousands of women, men, and fans across the world watched him fall.
This is it. The first fight of the new Underground season.
He’s been training like mad. He’s put on more muscle. He’s more ripped than ever, and I know this season he’s ready to take what’s his.
The audience in the Washington, D.C., fighting arena consists of about a thousand people, and when the winner of the current match is announced, the crowd grows restless.
We all know it’s his time to be called. His assistant, Pete, sits tense and alert to my right. He’d told me he’s the “draw”—that most everyone in the arena is here for him.
I know I certainly am.
The air is charged with excitement and scented with perfume, beer, and sweat. The two previous fighters are exiting the ring now, one of them assisted by his team, and my heart pounds as I sit motionless in my seat, in the first row, at the very center, just where my man wants me. So here I am, waiting, my body hyperaware and my heart pounding his name. Remington, Remington, Remington . . .
The speakers crackle as the announcer turns on the microphone, and I almost jump out of my skin.
“Ladies and gentlemen, we all remember our crushed souls—our crushed spirits!—when the crowd favorite lost the championship final last year.”
The crowd boos in memory, and my throat clogs thinking about how Remy’s broken body had been carried out of the ring.
“Have no fear, people. Have no fear!”
“REMY!!!!!!!!!” someone screams.
“Bring him out already!” another yells.
“Oh, we will. Have no doubt about it; we will,” the announcer somberly says, painfully drawing it out for the crowd. “After much speculation and many rumors, it’s completely official. The man is fighting this season, and he’s taking no prisoners, people! Here he is, ladies and gentlemen. Here. He. Is! You all know who I’m talking about?”
The crowd roars, “RIP-TIIIIIIIDE!”
“One more time, ’cause I can’t hear you!”
“That’s right, ladies and gentlemen! Here’s our favorite bad boy with that infamous smile and those deadly fists, ready to carve R.I.P. into anyone who stands in his way this year. The one, the only, Remingtoooon Tate, your RIPTIIIIIIIIIDE!!”
Wild excitement rushes through me as the crowd stands and roars like never before.
“My god, the fans are thirsty for him,” Pete breathes.
And so am I. My god. So am I.
Across the ring from me, women are waving panties in the air. Panties! Another lifts a sign that reads PULL ME UNDER, RIPTIDE!
My mouth is dry, and a thousand and one winged things flutter in my stomach when I see a flash of red.
And then, he’s closer.
Trotting out of the walkway and to the ring.
To his ring.
My body enlivens with sensations as he breaks through the crowd.
Some fans have escaped their seats and make a grab for him, but he easily shoves his way through the throng, his face shadowed by the hood of his red satin robe. Remy. My Remy. The man I love with every ounce of me.
“Riptide, you put the sex in SEXY!”
“Remy, I want you to f**king impregnate me!”
He climbs into the ring with a fluid jump, and then he removes his RIPTIDE robe, slowly, without hurrying. Hundreds of female screams ring in my ears as he goes to his corner to hand the robe to Riley, his coach’s second.
Riley pats his muscled back with a smile and tells him something. Remington throws his head back as if he’s laughing and then takes the center of the ring, spreads his long, ripped arms out, and starts doing his slow and cocky I-know-you-all-want-to-fuck-me turn.
I will never, ever, get used to the sight of him in that ring. My heart whams excitedly into my rib cage while all my insides pulse with need, and my chest feels like a balloon about to burst in excitement. Hard, lean, and perfect, he is all dangerous, all beautiful, and all mine.
My eyes absorb every inch of what every other woman here is drooling for, and I helplessly let my gaze run up and down his perfect athletic form. My eyes lovingly caress his tan and kiss the inky Celtic bands over his biceps. I admire his torso and his long, strong legs, his sculptured arms, his narrow waist and broad shoulders. Every muscle in his perfect body is so defined that you would know exactly where one structure ends and the next begins if you trailed your fingers along his magnificent form.
And as he turns even more, I see the washboard abs with eight squares—eight! Yes, it is impossible, but he’s got them . . . and his face.
Oh god, I can’t even take it.
The scruffy jaw. The brilliant blue eyes. The sexy smirk. The dimples. He’s got a smile on his face; his expression, one that tells you he’s got a whole lot of trouble planned for the evening and you don’t want to miss it, is playful and boyish.
A collective gasp spreads out in the rows behind me as he moves to face us.
The butterflies in my stomach burst awake when those dancing blue eyes start scanning the crowd, silently laughing at all of us. He’s clearly amused by our obsession over everything Remington Tate!
Beside me, a middle-aged blonde with too much Botox jumps up and down and screams like a lunatic, “Remy! Give me a taste of that Riptide!”
The impulse to drag the woman down by her hair seizes me, but at the same time, I know you can’t look at him without dissolving into a pool of lust.
He is a stud. He was made to mate. To procreate.
And I want him like my next breath.
I want him more than any one of these screaming women wants him.
I want every fragmented part of him. I want his body. His mind. His heart. His beautiful soul.
He says he’s mine, but I know that there’s a part of Remington Tate nobody will ever have.
I am his, but he is untamable and unconquerable.
The only one who can defeat Remington Tate is himself.
He’s up there, ever elusive and mysterious, a black box of mystery without end. And I want to get lost in him, even if I never come out the same.
Pete elbows my ribs and whispers in my ear, “My god, it’s unfair he gets all the attention and this”—he signals at his skinny self—“gets nothing.”
I smile. With his curly hair and brown eyes, Pete’s always dressed in a black suit and tie. He’s not only Remy’s personal assistant, he’s also like his older brother and one of my closest friends.
“Nora likes you just as you are,” I taunt him about my younger sister.
He smiles at that and wiggles his eyebrows as he nods pointedly back toward the ring, where Remington finishes his turn and almost completely faces me.
My nerve endings stir and tingle in excitement as his twinkling blue eyes glide down the length of my row, where he knows I will be. I swear every part of me quivers in anticipation, waiting for those eyes to find me.
He electrifies me. Invisible currents leap between us. His smile blazes through me, and suddenly, the inside of my chest, where my heart beats, feels like a burning torch he’s just lit.
His eyes hold me clasped in the loving heat of his, and I can see his quiet joy tonight, his possessiveness, the territorial stare that tells everyone in this room that I. Am. His.