The crowd was loud as hell against Pip’s sensitive ears. There were a thousand reasons why Pip rarely left the safety of King Jonathan’s land while in this plane. The inability to tolerate loud noises was a minuscule excuse. Humans smelled funny. Pip had to venture past his comfort zone tonight, though. He would never forgive himself if he missed this event. Fights this big rarely came to New Orleans. Most big-name boxing matches were reserved for places like Vegas. Tonight, in the rarest of opportunities, Pip’s favorite boxer, Savage Holiday, had a match to retain the light heavyweight championship. It was the biggest moment of Pip’s life.
Boxing was the only sport he followed. He had fallen in love after catching one match on TV at the bar. Savage had been fighting that night too. As a fox, Pip had been immediately mesmerized by the way Savage bounced on the mat. Pip had wanted to hop too. That was the first sensation that captured his attention. Then the camera had focused solely on Savage. Pip’s breath had stopped. Everything had gone still. He was beautiful in a rugged way—like a warrior. Pip had stood on his barstool to get a better look. He hadn’t even realized he had done it until the bar’s owner Raff had fussed at him. Pip had flashed Raff an apologetic smile, but then he had gone right back to staring. Savage was solid muscle and sad eyes. Dark hair and firm-looking lips. Pip wanted to see him smile. Tonight, he was somewhere in this building. Pip just wanted to set eyes on him. That was all. Celeste had given him a ringside ticket because she was the most amazing mom in all the worlds.
The announcers read the names, weights, titles, and accolades. Pip swung wildly between covering his ears from the noise and standing in his seat. His gaze locked on Savage’s form as he made his way toward the ring. Everyone else disappeared. Outside the ring, Savage paused, doing his final checks with the officials. With a satin robe covering him and the hood hiding his face, Pip couldn’t see him. He stared so hard, his eyes itched. Savage turned his face slightly. It was enough. Their gazes met. Pip didn’t think it was all in his head. Savage didn’t smile. His expression gave nothing away, but he also didn’t break eye contact until someone said his name. The hair stood on the back of Pip’s neck. Pip’s lungs deflated when Savage looked away. Wow. Savage was breathtaking. His eyes were green. Pip would never forget this night. That one moment had been enough to last him the rest of his life. Amazing.
Bounce. Bounce. Breathe. Savage looked for his opening. Breathe. His opponent, Mitchell Brown, was well known for not having any tells. Still, Savage watched. He would find his opening. Savage had negotiated a deal where he could fight on his turf. He wouldn’t lose his strap in his hometown. Mitchell dropped his shoulder. An evil chuckle rang through Savage’s mind. He struck. Mitchell went down. Savage bounced on his toes, waiting. Watching. Mitchell didn’t move. The count seemed slower than usual as time moved at a crawl. He fought the urge to look ringside. The bell rang. The ring official raised Savage’s arm. Months of nonstop training for two minutes of fight time. The perfect scenario.
Savage’s gaze couldn’t be controlled any longer. It moved ringside. His stare found the same yellow eyes focused on him as they had been before the match. The tiny guy with strawberry-blond hair bounced in place, clapping. So he was there for Savage. Savage smirked. The hair stood on the back of his neck. He tried shaking off the spell those yellow eyes weaved. Savage couldn’t look away. His trainer, Ace, stormed the ring. He jumped up and down, hugging Savage and lifting him off his feet—the big bastard. Savage’s gaze slid back toward yellow eyes. He was getting away.
Savage yelled in Ace’s ear, “I need a favor.” He forced Ace to look yellow eyes’ way. “Do you see that guy in the blue Henley? That’s my friend. Don’t let him get carried away by the crowd.”
Ace slapped Savage’s back so hard, he knocked the air from Savage’s lungs. “On it.” Ace leapt from the ring and chased after Savage’s prey. Savage’s stomach muscles clenched. He had no idea why he had done such a thing. Savage told himself he would meet with a fan. That was something fighters did all the time. He would give some autographs. Learn the guy’s name. There was nothing weird about this at all. He was driven by the high of his win. Nothing else. That didn’t explain why Savage’s gaze kept finding the tiny guy, latching on, and refusing to budge. This time, the guy was gone, and Ace jumped back into the ring as Savage answered reporters’ questions.
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