Fire And Ice

My expectations were so low they were dragging along the ground behind me as I exited the building. A light breeze carried enough force to cut right through my thin trainer’s jacket as I stared around the parking lot and wondered how on earth I was going to find Dawn. And, more importantly, what was I going to say once I did.
A quick movement in my peripheral vision caused me to turn my head to the right, just in time to receive a stinging slap across my left cheek. It wasn’t a particularly hard blow, but the cold and the reasons behind it gave it the force of a hammer.
“You son of a…“ Dawn’s words began in a shout but faded to a whisper before they trailed off to silence. Her eyes were red-rimmed and jagged white trails marked the progress of the hot tears that had fallen down cheeks made pink by the cold. “I can’t believe… I came all the way over here for you. I thought you’d appreciate the support. Maybe even see it as a sign of how badly I wanted us to work. Instead I find you in the middle of getting arrested and then get to see you kissing some floozy, right in front of me! God, how stupid am I?”
“Dawn… can I explain?” My arms hung uselessly by my sides while all they really wanted to do was wrap her in a tight embrace and never let her go. The wind picked up and my teeth began to chatter as her eyes regarded me from underneath a deep red toque. “Please?”
“Sure, why not?” She crossed her arms and her chin jutted out towards me. “It’s too late to catch a ferry back to Vancouver so it’s not like I have anywhere to go tonight.”
“I’m… do you have a place to stay tonight?” My thoughts were derailed by her last comment and guilt burrowed its way further into my gut.
“I’ll figure something out,” she said dismissively.
“It’s almost midnight on a Saturday night!”
“I believe you were about to explain why you were kissing another woman less than two feet away from me after I came all the way over here to surprise you,” she pointed out with one eyebrow arching ever so slightly upward.
“Right,” I said, clearing my throat nervously. I stuffed my hands into my jacket, hoping to give them relief from the cold but finding little success. I knew I was only going to get one chance at this and I was growing more and more convinced that I was about to screw it up. “So the woman who kissed me after the fight –”
“The floozy you kissed, got it.”
I had to bite my tongue to stop a sudden flash of anger unleashing a torrent of words that would have done irreparable damage to whatever remained of the bond between us. I didn’t deserve to be treated like that and the meetings with the cops and Gregor had ground my patience into the dust. I tried to remind myself of how it all must look from Dawn’s perspective but it did little good.
“Her name is Samantha Garrett,” I said slowly as I looked away and blew great puffs of white clouds from my nostrils. “The last time I saw her, before this weekend, was more than five years ago. I didn’t even recognize her when she spotted me at the weigh-ins.”
“I suppose that’s when the romance magically rekindled?” Dawn practically spat the words at me and something deep inside me finally snapped.
“Romance?” She took a step backward as I turned to face her. “I spent one night with the woman five years ago! We hooked up and didn’t bother exchanging phone numbers – hell, I didn’t even remember her name when she approached me! She means nothing to me and yet somehow she’s managing to screw up my chances with the woman I do care about!” I paused to suck in a few breaths of lung burning air and lowered my voice before continuing.
“Yes, she kissed me. Yes, I kissed her back – because I thought she was you. It didn’t make much sense but things were happening real fast in there and my thoughts weren’t exactly crystal clear. But then some part of me realized it wasn’t you – maybe the smell of her hair wasn’t right, maybe it was the feel of her hands on my shoulders, who knows? Who cares. It wasn’t you and that was all that mattered.”
Dawn stared at me in silence for several seconds without giving any indication what she was thinking. When she finally spoke her voice was quiet and barely under control.
“Why should I believe you?”
“Honestly? I have no idea. I’m not sure I would believe me if I were you.” A gust of wind caused me to start shivering. “But I do know that I’m standing out here in the cold trying my best to make you trust me, instead of being in there where it’s warm and telling the TV cameras how great Alex did tonight. I know that you were out here, waiting for me, when you could have walked out those doors and kept on going without looking back. That has to mean something.”
“Maybe I just wanted to see you one more time so I could kick your ass.”
“Also a possibility,” I allowed. “Listen, I need to go tell Alex that we can double his payout tonight if he agrees to do his next few fights for Gregor. It’s a dirty deal but I’ll leave it up to him to decide if it’s worth it or not. I really don’t know what he’s going to say – he’s got some pretty strong morals. I feel like a jerk even asking him. Anyway… I hope you’ll stick around so we can finish sorting this out. I’m not asking you to believe me right now, just to give me some more time.”
I gave her a final, lingering look before turning and heading back inside. My eyes were on the arena in front of me but my ears were listening for footsteps behind me. I reached the doors and it took everything I had not to look back at her. I didn’t want my last sight of her to be from so far away.
I slipped inside and the heat of the building warmed my skin but my heart remained numb.

The End

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