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Excerpt for The Finisher by , available in its entirety at Smashwords

















The Finisher

By Dee Shore



























Dedication

To my 20 year old self. Without our crazy mistakes, we wouldn’t be here. Thank you for always be true to who you are. But man, you were out of control. Still those insane moments have lead us into a truly remarkable life. I love you for who you were. And I love you for who you’ve become.









































This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, organizations, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.


Book originally published in 2007. I’ve made it available free for everyone as a thank you to the indie community. Edits have been done from its original content.


TITLE: The Finisher

AUTHOR: Dee Shore

EDITOR: Silvia Schedler
SERIES: Ringside Series Book One

GENRE: Sports Romance, BBW, Wrestlers
WORD COUNT: 16,048 - Novelette


All rights reserved by nerdandlace.com .


Smashwords Edition License Notes

This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your enjoymentonly, then please return to Smashwords.com or your favorite retailer and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.




























Chapter Soundtrack

PLAY CHAPTER SOUNDTRACK



Chapter One: Bang Bang by Jessie J, Ariana Grande & Nicki Minaj

Chapter Two: Freedom Fighter by Creed

Chapter Three: Middle Finger by Phoebe Ryan

Chapter Four: Remind Me To Forget by Kygo & Miguel

Chapter Five: Here Comes Goodbye by Rascal Flatts

Chapter Six: Electricity by Silk City & Dua Lipa

Chapter Seven: End Up With You by Carrie Underwood

Epilogue

About The Author



























Chapter One

Bang Bang by Jessie J, Ariana Grande & Nicki Minaj


“Listen, I really have to get going, but I will have my assistant arrange something for the charity auction. Have a good day.” Sage shoved the phone at Presley and walked out of his dressing room.

Sage “The Finisher” Trinity had hundreds of perks being one of Wrestling Entertainment Association’s superstars. Not only did he have his own private dressing room, he had other people doing everything for him. Well more like his personal assistant Presley Ford. AKA personal slave.

Yay… so exciting. Not!

Right after she arranged to auction off an autographed t-shirt and ringside tickets, all proceeds to benefit the local breast cancer research fund, Sage barged back into the dressing room.

“Get a table at Wild Ginger tonight.” Sage never asked for anything to be done, he demanded.

“Wild Ginger? Are you insane? That place is booked months in advance.” Presley looked at him as if he had four heads.

“So?” Sage dropped on his top of the line La-Z-Boy, and put his feet up. If the man wasn't at the gym, he could probably be found napping on his chair; Sage loved that hunk of leather.

Presley sarcastically laughed, “Sometimes you can be a real butt hole. You’re acting as if Wild Ginger is just your average restaurant. Are you aware that this is the very same place that turned Barbara Walters away and then made her wait three weeks for a reservation?”

“They've got the best sushi in town.” Sage stuffed a handful of nuts into his mouth, and sent a grin her way.

“Sage,” Presley rubbed her temples, feeling a headache developing, “you’re allergic to rice.”

“Your point?”

“Sushi is made with rice.” Presley figured that was a common known fact. Apparently not. Go figure.

Sage paused for a second. “Stacy loves sushi.”

“Correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't you tell me you were breaking up with her? Tonight?”

Sage confided in Presley about pretty much everything. And when he had told her that he had decided to break off his three month relationship with the woman that thought they were in France when they drove past Paris, Texas, Presley had been more than happy to assure him that he was making the right decision.

You know, I am all about womanhood, but lord ladies being dumb as a brick is not attractive.

“I am,” Sage said confidently.

“Then why do you want to take her to an exclusive restaurant? You’re better off taking her to a burger joint. Excuse yourself to go to the bathroom and leave her there.” Presley wasn't the kind to be mean. However, she made an exception for the I-need-another-pair-of-red-bottom-heels plastic doll.

“I’m not taking her. You are.” Sage popped another handful of nuts into his mouth.

“No. Sage. NO! You are not going to make me break up with another one of your girlfriends!” Over the six years she'd worked with Sage, Presley had become a pro at the art of breaking up with women. She lost count after the twelfth break-up.

“You’re good at it. None end up hating me. Come on, you know you want to do it for me.” Sage batted his thick lashes at her.

“You are pathetic.” Presley stepped on the footrest of his La-Z-Boy, and closed it on him.

“Hey! That was rude. I was giving you a compliment,” He tried to sound hurt and failed miserably.

I can see through his bs. He’s not fooling me.

“My ass! How about YOU call the restaurant. YOU make your own reservation. And YOU break up with YOUR girlfriend?” Presley may be used to breaking up with his women, but it was embarrassing for her to have to deal with a crying woman when she wasn't even a lesbian.

“How about I fire you?”

Presley snorted. “Go ahead. I‟ll sit home collecting unemployment. Plus, you wouldn't last a minute without me.”

“Oh, so confident.” Sage walked across the room to grab a bottle of water from the refreshments table they had set up for him.

“You know you can't hack it without me.” Presley crossed her arms over her chest; glaring up at him. Sage may be six-foot-seven, and two hundred and ninety pounds of solid muscle, but Presley was never intimidated by him.

“I did this job on my own long before you came along. Don’t think you are indispensable,” Sage said smugly.

I want to smack the smugness out of his face!

“Really? Well okay. I’m taking the rest of the day off.” Presley shoved her tablet, cell phone, laptop, and arena radio in his hands and turned to get her purse.

“Where ya going?” Sage stood there with a surprised look on his face.

“For a pedicure or sightseeing. Maybe I'll even go into a bar to pick up men.”

“It's noon!” Sage pointed at the clock over the door outraged.

“It's five o'clock somewhere.” She dismissed his comment with a wave of her hand.

“You are not allowed to call me until tomorrow morning, and that is only to tell me that you were wrong and desperately need me.” She tried to say the words with a straight face, but it was impossible. The grin on her face spoke a thousand words, and she was enjoying the hell out of it.

Two hours, tops. And he’ll come begging.

“You think I can't hack it?” Sage said, looking down at the buzzing phone.

“Good luck with that.” Presley walked out of the room, and when the door closed behind her, her smile was beaming. She knew it was a matter of time before he came running out the door, begging her forgiveness.  

As she walked down the hallway, she ran into two of Sage’s best friends and fellow wrestlers, Matt and Eric Carlson. WEA’s tag team champions, brothers, and his childhood friends.

“What's going on, men?” Presley had a handful of close friends in her tribe, and these two were at the top of the list. How could you not love two super tall, super muscular, super good-looking males with hearts of gold?

Men like these should be cloned and mass marketed.

“We got lost,” Eric said.

“Again? Why don't you guys get a new driver? Or better yet, drive yourselves?” Presley shook her head at the idiots.

I mean, they are great, but they’re still idiots.

“Cause he’s Eric’s brother-in-law. Whoops!” Matt rolled his eyes.

“I can't fire my brother-in-law. My wife would chop my balls off.” Eric actually looked scared.

Presley patted him on the head. “You big log, scared of your tiny wife?”

“It's not the size—it's how evil she can be. And she’s vicious.” Eric wrapped his arm around Presley’s shoulder and started to lead her back into the locker area.

“Actually I'm heading out.” She stepped out of Eric’s brotherly embrace.

“You're heading out?” Matt asked, looking confused.

“Yeah, I'm taking the rest of the day off.” Both men looked at her as if she had suddenly gone crazy.

“What?” she asked batting her lashes all pretty.

“You're leaving him? Alone?” Matt asked, shocked.

“He's a big boy, and can handle himself. Besides, I’m proving a point. So he’ll need to do his own dirty work tonight.” Presley wiggled her eyebrows mischievously.

Eric almost fell over laughing, “And today has suddenly turned out to be a good day. I'm gonna go torture him.” Eric quickly disappeared down the hall.

“Ya know last time you got sick and had to stay at the hotel he almost lost his mind.” Matt chuckled.

“I'm aware.” Presley didn't care, and had a point to make regardless of the consequences.

“He couldn't find his clothes for the show.” Matt grinned at his words.

“I laughed myself into a coughing attack when he showed up on my screen wearing only his black boxer briefs.” Getting sick had been worth seeing Sage in his underwear glory. The look of horror on everyone's faces was classic.

“He told everyone he was trying a new look.” Matt laughed in between each word. He loved telling that story.

Matt was the younger brother. He’s wild. He’s reckless. And not afraid to use his looks to his benefit. Eric is older. He’s married and responsible. A bit serious but, you know, Matt learned it from someone. So keep that in mind.

They also grew up with Sage. If anyone enjoys Sage's misery more than Presley its those two. Matt in particular. For obvious reasons.

Presley laughed as hard as Matt. “Oh my God, he's such a dork. He just told me he didn't need me, so I’m showing him that he's lost without me.”

The moment the words left her mouth, Sage came running up to her.

“Here.” He shoved the handful of smart devices at her chest. “I’m sorry! REAL sorry! I am a butt hole, and I need you.” Sage said it all in one breath.

Presley looked at Matt and winked.

Would it be too immature to break out into a victory dance?

“Good. Glad we settled this.”

“They won't stop ringing, dinging, or buzzing,” Sage looked all panicky at the electronics in her hands. “I think I even hung up on my Mom.”

“Hanging up on your Mama? Shame on you.” Matt playfully smacked Sage’s hand.

“Trust me; I ain't going to hear the end of it.” Both men nodded.

Presley quickly grabbed his cell phone and pressed one button. Ah presets, I LOVE technology!

“Hello, Mother Trinity?”

“Presley?” Sage’s mother, Mother Trinity, answered.

“Yes, how are you?” Presley loved Sage’s mom. She was the kind that actually walked around the house wearing an apron, and there was something always cooking in the kitchen.

“I’m fine, dear. Did my son hang up on me?” By the tone of her voice, Presley knew Sage was going to get an earful from her.

Good! He deserves it.

“He didn’t mean to, Mother Trinity. He dropped the phone by mistake, that's why I'm calling you back. I’ll hand the phone to him.”

“You are such a lovely girl; I wish my son could find a girl just like you. Not the playboy bunnies he’s always chasing after.”

Presley choke snorted at her comment, and avoided the subject. “Well no one is lovelier than you are. I’ll see you next week?”

“I’ll be there, and so will Mr. Trinity. I can’t wait to see you,” she said in the loving way only Mother Trinity could manage.

“I can’t wait to see you guys either. Here’s Sage. Byyyye!” Presley shoved the phone at him.

“Mom...” Sage grabbed the phone and stepped away to talk to her.

“Damn!” Matt said, sounding disappointed. “I thought he was going to lose it again.”

Presley couldn’t help but laugh, “Don’t worry. It’s still early.”

“Hey, wanna grab a bite?” Matt asked.

At the same time Presley’s phone went off. “Ugh, I wish I could. Drink later? I have to go deal with the agent.” Presley rolled her eyes. She couldn’t stand Sage’s agent.

“You got it.”

“Later.” Presley ran off to take care of business. Her days were never dull.




Chapter Two

Freedom Fighter by Creed


“You are The Finisher, one of WEA’s greatest talents! People love you and chant your name. Get the job finished!” Sage yelled at his reflection in the mirror. It was his ritual to get his mind into character.

“Get it finished! You are The Finisher!” He roared again, before pouring a bottle of water over his head and walking out of his dressing room for the night’s main event.

Sage was up for the Heavyweight Championship of the world and had to wrestle a legend in order to win it. He didn't show it, but Sage was excited; it was the first time in his career he was up for the belt.

There was a camera waiting for him as he left his dressing room door. They were going to film his backstage walk to the stage and air it before the commercials.

Right behind the cameraman was Presley, holding up a large index card with the words ‘FINISH HIM!’ written with black marker; she always knew how to make him smile.

“No smiling. Presley, would you put the card away?” The camera glared at her.

“Sorry.” But she really wasn't sorry. She loved causing trouble. Mischief was her middle name. Major reason why her and Matt hit it off instantly.

“Wanna redo it?” Sage winked at Presley.

“No time. We'll catch you walking down the hallway,” the camera guy said resetting his shot.

“I’m ready when you are,” Sage said, and laughed when Presley flashed another index card that read ‘OH BABY, FINISH ME!’

“Presley!” the camera man said in a warning tone.

“Who died and made you director?” she asked innocently.

“Okay here we go. We're going live.” The camera man ignored Presley and got to his count, and the show was on its way.

When Sage’s theme song, Freedom Fighter by Creed, started playing around the arena, the crowd roared and went wild.

‘Let’s finish the job’ signs were being waved. T-shirts with his face on them covered the sold out forty-thousand seat venue. Camera flashes came from every direction. Kids, women, men, old, and young, all chanted, “Finisher! Finisher! Finisher!”

He lived for that moment.

He lived for those sixty seconds.

Wrestling was his passion, but without the fans there wouldn't be a WEA, and he loved every single one of them.

After doing his famous entrance dance, he strutted himself down to the ring.

He knew in the end he would be WEA’s Heavyweight champion, but the crowd didn't and he could hardly wait to raise the belt up high and show off his long time achievement.

He could feel his body tensing, getting himself ready for the physical work ahead of him.

Not that Sage was a weak man; he could bench press three hundred and fifty
pounds without breaking a sweat. Yet, as fake as people thought wrestling was, there was still a lot of hard physical work that went into it.

It wasn't easy lifting a two-or-three hundred pound man over his head and swinging him across the arena repeatedly without feeling the aches and pains after the matches. But regardless, he loved his job. He wouldn't change it for anything in the world.

“ONE! TWO! THREE!” The referee tapped the ring three times and all through the arena they announced him as the new WEA Heavyweight Champion.

He could literally feel the love pouring from the crowd, but more importantly all his hard work had finally paid off.

It felt good!

After celebrating with the fans around the arena, Sage made his way backstage; his body was aching and needed some much deserved time in the whirlpool. It had been a long and brutal fight, and he needed some rest before he could move. However, he also knew that the whirlpool and relaxing would have to wait.

It was tradition to go out and celebrate every time someone received a belt. It was PR gold to see him out after a winning match. Social media ate it up. And this was not just any belt; it was the WEA Heavyweight belt. He could already hear Matt asking where the party was.

“Oh my God! Why didn't you tell me!?” Presley punched him on his shoulder as he walked backstage, and pulled him down for a tight hug.

“And miss this reaction? Hell no.” Sage picked her up and hugged her tightly. He could honestly say that asides from his parents, Presley was his biggest fan and supporter. It didn't matter that she was on his payroll. He knew, her support was true.

“Finally!” She gripped him around his neck and hugged him tighter. If anyone deserved to celebrate as much as him, was the crazy woman wrapped around his neck. She's worked for this moment just as hard.

Sage laughed, enjoying the moment. “Woman, you’re gonna break my neck.”

Presley wasn't a small woman, not at all. She was taller than the average woman, and had an intimate relationship with cake. But he highly doubted she could break his neck.

“I doubt it.” Presley smiled up at him, as he set her back on her feet.

“The men already texted me—we’re going out to celebrate. They left right after their match and are back at the hotel getting ready.” Presley always referred to Matt and Eric as the men.

“Hey Sage,” said Flash coming up behind him. Flash was a WEA Vixen.

The Vixens were WEA female wrestlers. They were all exceptionally beautiful, and in one way or another Matt had personally gotten to know each of them.

“Hey yourself, Flash.” Sage looked down at the perfect figure of the woman standing in front of him.

“Congratulations, hot stuff. Nice belt.” She seductively traced the WEA emblem on the belt with her index while keeping her eyes glued to his.

“It was about time,” said Sparkle, another Vixen, coming up next to him and wrapping her body around Sage’s left arm.

“Why, thank you, darling.” Sage had a huge grin spread across his face. He loved the female attention.

What man with a pulse wouldn't love the attention of two perfect tens?

“You are very welcome.” Sparkle batted her eyelashes up at him, and pressed her perfectly round breasts together. Of course Sage happily took a peek at them.

Hey, I’m a guy. Of course I’m gonna look.

“How about you ladies join us for a night around town?” Sage figured that if they were going out to celebrate, they should do it right.

First thing on the list, women. Check!

Not that Presley wasn't a woman. But she was more like a little sister. So women were needed.

“Like for sure. Meet you at the hotel lobby in an hour?” Flash happily suggested.

“An hour,” Sage nodded in agreement.

“We’ll be there,” Sparkle assured him.

“Bye.” Sage stood back and admired their backsides as they walked away. “That is what I call a perfect view.”

“Yes, just lovely,” Presley said as she read something from her cell phone. “Car should be here in ten minutes. Better get a move on it if you want to meet the ladies in an hour.”

Sage was in and out of his dressing room in record time. And soon after that, they were pulling up to the hotel.

“I think I’m going to stay in today. I still I have a bunch of stuff to go over.” Presley had had been hiding behind her laptop since they boarded the car back to the hotel.

“Unacceptable. We’re gonna celebrate my title. We need to party. It’s tradition.” Sage

“I'll probably be up half the night. There are a lot of things that need my immediate attention. Your website needs to be updated. There's the push for your new merchandising, and need to make sure the social media campaigns...” Sage covered her mouth, cutting off her words.

“You are coming out and that's the bottom line.” He couldn't possibly go out to celebrate without his right hand. The person that had been with him every step of the way.

“Sage, I have a lot to do. You should know—I do work for you. Just go out and have fun.” That’s when Presley flashed him the smile he knew too well. He hated that smile. It was the smile she gave him when she was hiding something from him.

“What is it?” Sage asked trying to get to the bottom line.

“What’s what?” Presley pretended to look confused. Yeah, I know her that well. And I can see through her act.

“I know you're hiding something from me, so spill it.” Sage didn't give up that easily.

“What could I possibly be hiding from you?” Presley slammed shut her laptop and put it in her bag.

“Why slam the laptop then?”

“Because you're being annoying.” She looked him straight in the eye, and when the car came to a full stop she swung the door open and left him with his words in his mouth.

“Pres, stop!” He rushed after her, but was mobbed by a group of fans that had been waiting outside the hotel. Presley disappeared into the lobby, but Sage didn't worry; he knew someone that would get her to come out when she wasn't listening to him.

After attending to his fans, Sage made his way into the hotel and pulled out his cell phone. And dialed one of the few numbers he had memorized.

“What's shaking, my brother?” Matt answered.

“I need you to do me a favor. Presley...”

“Ah the queen,” Matt said with a sinister laugh.

“More like the pain in my ass, but yeah the queen”. I need you to make sure she's at the lobby and ready to go out in thirty minutes. That woman is not listening to me. You think you can get her to do that for me?”

No one came close to Matt's swag with the ladies. All his life, he'd never met a woman who could say no to him, and Presley was no different.

“Consider it done,” Matt said before hanging up the phone.

Sage grinned, and stepped into the elevator.

Presley knew how to handle him, but he also knew how to handle her. And he always got his way.

















Chapter Three

Middle Finger by Phoebe Ryan


I can’t believe I’m going out with the idiots!

Somehow Matt had convinced Presley to go out partying with the men that night… it was more like she didn't want to hear him whine that he needed to get laid.

It’s really annoying listening to men about needing attention for their one eyed snake.

Regardless twenty minutes later she was standing in the lobby waiting for them. Her eyes almost popped out of her head when she saw Sage strutting himself out of the elevator.

Her throat went dry.

She loved the man; she could finally admit that to herself. Presley didn't know when she fell in love with him, maybe she always had, but she was completely head over heels for Sage.

I don’t know why? He’s an idiot. But I love the idiot.

For a moment she allowed herself to think back to the first time she ever laid eyes on him. They had met at an elevator. They had had a massive layoff at her company, her dream job, and she was one of the unlucky ones to have been let go. And the layoff had been effective immediately.

She had been carrying a box that contained all the things she had at her desk, when the elevator doors opened to pick up more passengers a few floors below, and in walked Sage. She could still remember how electrifying his presence was. Presley had never seen a more beautiful man. Tall, muscular, handsome; she couldn't think straight.

Bad day?” Sage asked eyeing her box.

Yeah,” was all she managed to say. Her tongue had suddenly gone heavy on her.

Looking for a job?” he asked.

Guess I am,” Presley said sarcastically. Just the idea that she had to start looking for work had her in the worst mood she’d ever been in.

Allow me to introduce myself. I’m Sage, Sage Trinity.” He wasn't even a household name then, and he still had that air about himself. The air that said he was going to become something huge.

Shaking her head, Presley brought her thoughts back to the present and for another moment she allowed herself to fantasize about him and her together.

She knew that she didn't come in the perfect package, on a good day she was a size 16. On top of that she was above average, 5’9”. Most days she felt like a sasquatch.

Not that she thought herself to be attractive. All her life, she heard about her ‘pretty face’. And how her long blonde hair was a source of envy to humanity. She just wasn’t what the media considers beautiful.

Still she considered herself a catch. Damn right I am!

Any man would be lucky to have such a dedicated woman at his side. And it killed her to know that Sage would never see her as anything other than his employee and friend.

Trust me, I know I am wasting my feelings on him. You just can’t help who you love.

She watched as he strutted, and closed the gap between them. There he was wearing a pair of fitted jeans, a tight long sleeve shirt that hugged every single one of his muscles. Sage looked good enough to eat.

“I knew you'd come,” he said with a grin.

“Yeah, yeah, Matt is too cute to say no to.” Presley checked her lip gloss in a small mirror she carried in her oversized purse.

“You got a thing for him?” Sage asked, almost appalled, with a hint of anger? Even looking somewhat annoyed.

I know, I’m imagining things.

Presley snorted. “Name one woman you know that doesn’t have a thing for him?”

After taking a moment to think, Sage answered, “My mom.”

“Not true, she thinks he’s dishy. Her own word.”

“I am suddenly disturbed,” Sage shook his head.

“Can't blame the woman.” Presley winked at Sage playfully.

“Don't you look nice tonight?” Sage admired her outfit.

Presley’s idea of dressing up was wearing her best jeans, a cute top, maybe blowing out her hair, and applying a thin dust of make-up. She left all the glamour to the stars and around her there was tons of glamour.

“Please, I wore the same outfit last week.” She waved away his comment with her hand.

“Well, don't ya look nice,” Matt said, coming up next to Sage and looking Presley over.

Presley just rolled her eyes, “I’m just going to save my comments. It's a waste of time with you two. Where's Eric?”

“The wife dropped in for a surprise visit,” Matt answered, wiggling his brows.

“So we won't see him for a couple of days?” Sage laughed.

“More like you'll probably see him coming out of his hotel room to get food next week.” They shared one of those ego male boosting laughs.

Men are so dumb.

“I need to get myself more female friends.” Presley rolled her eyes at the guys, and caught the sight of Sparkle and Flash walking up to them wearing dresses so tight and short, it left nothing to the imagination.

“We're here!” the ladies announced, almost as if they were expecting confetti and balloons for their arrival.  

“Hey there, ladies.” Sage's eyes almost popped out of their sockets scanning their outfits, and Presley felt sick to her stomach.

Why do I do this to myself? The man is a pig!

“Look at you hot mamas.” Presley knew how to mask her feelings. She's had years of practice.

“Thanks!” Flash said, and turned her attention to Matt. “So where are we going?”

“Where we going, Pres?” Matt turned to her and asked.

“Bamboo. I called ahead, they’ll be expecting us,” she automatically answered.

“That place is exclusive.” Sparkle looked excited beyond herself.

“It is.” Presley mentally stabbed her in the eye. Jealousy makes me so mentally violent.

“She's that good,” Sage complimented Presley.

“Where’s Stacy?” Sparkle asked, looking around. Sparkle being one that had been after Sage for a long time, and Presley wasn't one bit surprised she was asking about Stacy. You know the road block between her and her muscular ‘prize’.  

“We broke up.” Actually Sage sent her a text message to break it off. The woman was so mortified she picked up all her things, and took the next plane back home. On his dime, of course.

“Awwwww, that's such a shame. She was such a nice person.” Presley had to give Sparkle credit, she was a good actress. But she could see right through her. Sparkle was ready to pounce and make her move.

“Things happen.” Sage shrugged. “But let's not talk about Stacy; we’re going out to celebrate.”

“Speaking of celebrating, the limo is waiting.” Presley didn't waste any time and headed out for the limo. She couldn’t wait for this trainwreck to be over.


---


This is my worst nightmare!

The night had turned out to be a bigger disaster that Presley's had anticipated. All night she had sat at a table, feeling like the fifth wheel. Sparkle and Sage were pretty much all over each other and Flash had glued herself to Matt.

“Lovely,” Presley muttered to herself as she finished her sixth glass of Jack Daniel’s on the rocks. Or was it her seventh drink? She had lost count after her fourth.

“Having fun?” Sage asked as he came up for air in between his games of tonsil hockey with Sparkle. Was Sparkle even her real name? Then Presley realized she really didn't care what her real name was.

“A blast,” Presley said, sucking what liquor was left off an ice cube.

“Another Jack on the rocks for the lady.” Sage signaled the waiter.

At that moment a dance version of one of Presley's all time favorite songs started flowing out of the speakers, and her heart stopped for a second. The song spoke about two people that were perfect for each other, but they were not meant to be. It was the song that Presley had played endless nights, on repeat, thinking of Sage and how she would never have anything with him but friendship.

“Hey listen, Presley's favorite song!” Sage said, smiling. “I can't tell you how many times I've passed by her room and this song has been playing.”

“Didn't you have it as your ringtone once?” Matt asked, as amused as Sage was.

“Yeah.” Presley felt her eyes filling up with tears and before she made a fool of herself, she got up and walked straight into the ladies‟ room.

She knew she had no reason to cry.

She knew they weren't meant to be, and she had honestly come to terms with that fact. But after more than a handful of drinks her normal senses were failing her. The alcohol is making me feel girly things and stuff.

“You are an idiot,” she told herself as she looked at her reflection in the bathroom mirror.

“There’s a club out there filled with men, and you’re wasting all your energy on one that
doesn’t even know you’re female? Give me a break Presley!”

Taking a deep breath, she continued hyping herself, “You are going to go out there. You are going to dance, you are going to laugh, and you sure as hell are going to flirt with as many men as you can! Got it? Good!” She pointed at her reflection on the mirror meaning business.

She cleaned her face, reapplied her lip gloss, and walked out of the bathroom with a new confidence.

Watch out boys, here I come!


---


It had been a good hour since Sage had last seen Presley, and he was starting to worry. She wasn't one to disappear on him.

“What's the matter?” Sparkle kissed Sage.

“Nothing.” Sage had no reason to tell Sparkle what was on his mind. As he saw it, she was just going to end up being another woman in his bed that he’d never take seriously, nor date.

“Oh my God!” Flash looked in the direction of the dance floor.

“What is...Shit!” Matt turned to look at what had gotten Flash’s attention.

“What's going on?” Sparkle's mouth dropped, transfixed at whatever they were gawking at. “Wow!”

Sage turned at the same time as Sparkle and his eyes almost popped out of their sockets. He actually rubbed his eyes to make sure he was seeing correctly.

Presley, his Presley, grinding into some guy to the beat of a raunchy reggae tune.

I’ll be damned. Hit me in the head and call me a moron.

“Who knew she could move like that,” Flash said with disbelief in her tone.

“I fucking didn’t.” Matt sat there, staring at Presley.

Sage had never seen her that way before—sexy, sensual, almost vixen-like.

He figured only gymnasts could bend the way Presley was bending, and dancing; certainly not a woman of her size.

“Where has she been hiding those moves? I may steal some.” Sparkle laughed as she spoke.

“I am sooooo with you on that.” Sparkle and Flash high-fived each other.

“Would you ladies be quiet? We're watching art on the dance floor.” Matt put his hand up to his heart and swallowed hard.

But Sage didn’t say a word. He just watched Presley dance provocatively to the beat of the music.

To Sage, Presley was the perfect woman. Beautiful, smart, funny, tall, kind, sweet, tough, and more importantly she didn't take his crap. She told him how it was, and that was the bottom line.

But sexy? Never crossed his mind.

Sure, her intense baby green eyes would make him do pretty much anything. And she had a smile that melted every muscle in his body.

But Presley sexy? Not at all.

How could he see her as sexy, when he saw her as the sister he never had?

“Cool it, brother.” Matt put a hand on his shoulder.

“I’m fine. Why would you think that I'm not?” Sage looked at Matt like he had three heads, confused.

“Because your jaw is tensed and you're actually sitting there growling. So cool it.”

I’m growling?

“Seriously, I’m alright. I promise.” But then the corner of his eye caught the guy feeling up Presley's behind and Sage found himself on his feet and making his way to the dance floor.

“Hey Sage!” Presley greeted him with a huge, drunken smile.

“Hey Sage? Where the heck have you been?” Hopefully he wasn't growling again.

“Well, I went to the ladies’ room, and on my way out I met Vinnie here, so we’ve been dancing, and talking, and drinking.”

“Sage, I'm a huge fan.” Vinnie stretched his hand out to Sage.

It took Sage all the effort in the world to shake his hand. He wasn't one to be rude to a fan, but he suddenly discovered that he had no problem breaking a few heads if it had anything to do with his drunken assistant.

“Having fun?” Sage asked, trying to be nice to the man.

“Presley is a hell of a woman. I don’t know anyone that wouldn’t have a good time with her.”

Sage couldn't disagree with Vinnie; Presley was a hell of a woman.

“Oh please. I just like to have fun,” Presley’s eyes shined with mischief.

“Vin, you mind if I borrow Pres for a few?”

“Nah man. Go ahead.”

“Thanks.” Sage tried—the key word tried—to calmly lead her off the dance floor, but he practically dragged Presley away from the guy.

“What the hell is wrong with you?” Presley fought against his grip, but Sage didn’t let go until they reached a random private room he found out back.

“What the hell were you doing on the dance floor?” Sage growled the words between his teeth.

“Ever heard of dancing, and having fun?” Presley rubbed her wrist and looked up at him, looking as if she was seconds away from smacking him right across the face.

“You call a guy feeling up your ass fun?” Sage didn't understand why, but he was finding it impossible to keep his temper under control.

“Yeah, as a matter of fact, I do.” Resting her arms at her waist, she glared up at him.

“He had his hands all over you. What the hell was that all about?” Sage glared back.

“I get it,” Presley said with a smile.

“Get what exactly?” Sage nearly roared.

“Biased bullcrap. It's okay for you to be all over women, but it's not okay for a man to be all over me.”

“You are a woman, and you were causing a scene.” Sage was outraged, remembering where the man's hands had been.

“A scene? I was dancing, not screwing him in the middle of the dance floor.” Presley looked like she was a second away from punching him right in the face.

“With the way you were dancing with him, you might as well have been.”

And then Sage felt it, the back of Presley’s hand across his face.

“Fuck you!” she yelled at him. “Fuck you!” she repeated herself. Rage filled her eyes.

Sage just stared down at her, frozen at her actions. Presley was a strong-willed woman, but had never disrespected him. Ever. Yet she had...He didn’t know how to react. He didn't know what to say.

As he watched her storm out of the room, something inside of him stirred. He didn’t know what it was, and he didn't know where it had come from. The one thing he did know was that he couldn't stand the idea of Presley hating him.


---


“He is impossible!” Presley yelled at her empty hotel room. She was seeing red, so dang upset. She couldn't believe he had talked to her as if she was his possession and needed to give him an account of everything she did.

“I quit. I quit. I quit!” she said to no one. When she went to take a seat, she missed her bed, falling on her ass.

“Great! Just freaking GREAT!” Presley just sat there and threw her arms up in the air, an act of giving up. She gave up on him, she gave up on her feelings, and she gave up the idea of something that she would never have. All that time and effort wasted on someone that obviously took her for granted. Someone that didn’t see all she had to give. It was as if he was waiting for something or someone amazing to fall in his hands. Presley knew she wasn't that amazing someone and that broke her heart.

A single teardrop rolled down her cheek; that was all she allowed herself. She was done waiting, and crying. She deserved someone that saw her, and appreciated everything she had to offer. Someone that accepted her just the way she was.

Getting off the floor, she dusted herself off. This was the end of her one-sided romance, and the beginning of looking for someone that would allow her to love him, and for him to love her back.

“That's enough,” Presley told herself, and at that moment there was a knock at her door.

“Go away. I am not in the mood for people.” She didn't care who it was, she just wanted to be alone.

She had a new plan, and she had a new attitude, and she needed to sleep.

For the first time in a long time, she had an agenda. An agenda to flirt, and get herself everything she deserved.




















Chapter Four

Remind Me To Forget by Kygo & Miguel


Sage tossed and turned all night thinking about his argument with Presley. She’d never been that pissed at him before.

How he’d acted.

How he had talked to her.

He just couldn’t understand why he had.

Am I losing my mind?

Had he been out of line? Yes, but that had not stopped him. The sight of another man touching her made him sick to his stomach, and made him see red.

That morning he had an early TV appearance. Right after that they needed to head to the airport to fly out for the next stop in the WEA tour.

Sage had taken advantage of his temporary insomnia, and had all his bags packed and was ready when Presley knocked on the door.

“Morning.”

She didn't reply; she stood at the door and instructed the bell man to grab the bags and take them out to the limo. As a matter of fact, she didn't even look at him.

“Pres, about last night. I was a shithead. How can I show you how sorry I am?” And still she said nothing. Presley just walked past him, did a last check in the closet and drawers, and headed for the door.

“Wait!” Sage reached for her, but she moved far out of his grasp.

“You are not allowed to talk to me unless it is business related. Got it? Good. The limo is waiting.” And she walked out the door.

Sage stood there scratching his head, and no sooner than he could form a thought, Matt barged into his room.

“What the hell is up with Pres? She just walked past me, and told me I look like sex in jeans. I think I feel violated, but in a really good way.” Matt laughed.

“I don't have a clue.” Sage threw his hands in the air.

“What the heck happened last night? You both stormed out looking like a pair of bull dogs. Well you looked like a bulldog; she looked like a really angry Chihuahua, maybe a poodle.”

Sage sat back on the bed. “Man, I still don't know what happened. One moment I was watching her dance. The next I was dragging her off the dance floor.
There was some yelling, she slapped me across the face, there was some more yelling, and then she stormed out.”

“And I thought I had issues.” Matt shook his head.

“Now she's not talking to me, and why the fuck is she hitting on you for?”
Sage asked, appalled.

“Cause I'm sexy,” Matt said without skipping a beat. “Anywho, gotta go. The brother is waiting. See ya tonight.”

With that Matt left him alone again with his thoughts. But he had no time to think. He had an on-air interview to get his head around, and that was more important than anything else at the moment.


---


The interview had of course been a success. Sage had impressed everyone with his wit and his charm, and he wasn't even at his best. He had been distracted by Presley, who instead of paying attention to him, had decided to flirt with every man that walked past her.

As a matter of fact, she didn't even look, smile, or even flash him one of her funny index cards.

To say that Sage was pissed was an understatement.

I AM pissed!

He felt like breaking necks but he didn't. He waited until they were back in the limo to unleash his hell.

“Someone woke up horny today.” Sage had been reading the newspaper casually when he spoke.

He expected her to yell or scream at him, but Presley didn’t. She simply snatched the paper out of his hands, made it into a ball, and threw it out the window. Then she sat back in her seat, and crossed her legs.

“My personal life is none of your business.”

“Your personal life is not any of my business? Hell, it is as if you’re gonna hit on, or worse, sleep with everyone in sight.”

“I think you have me confused with yourself. I don't have the word ‘whore’ written across my chest.” Presley wasn't even looking at him as they argued. Her full attention was on her tablet.

When he knew he couldn't win that argument, Sage came up with a brilliant idea. “I have a new rule.”

“New rule?” This time Presley glanced at him, looking almost bored.

“Yes, a new rule,” Sage said smugly.

“What is your new rule, your majesty?”

“No fraternizing while we are working.” Sage was very satisfied with his new rule.

“Fine.” Presley shrugged. “But that goes for you as well, I’m assuming. You know equal employment laws and all that entitles.”

Damn it! He didn't see that one coming, “Fine. I'll follow the same rule.”

“Would you like this to be a written memo, or would a verbal agreement hold?” Presley grinned at him. That same grin she always gave him when she was up to no good.

“Verbal will do.” Sage cursed under his breath this time.

She’s a mental terrorist! How have I put up with her all these years? I deserve a damn award.

The rest of the ride to the airport, and flight, were very quiet. Presley buried herself in work and paid him no mind. She didn't even look at him once, and that was pissing him off more than anything.

He missed her eyes. And he didn’t even want to think about why.


---


As the car pulled into the stadium where the next WEA event was taking place, Presley reached for her phone and dialed Matt’s number.

“Hey, hot stuff,” she purred when Matt answered.

“Hot stuff? Why, yes I am.”

Presley could picture Matt standing wherever he was, with his proud muscular chest.

He’s hot. No reason to deny how the girly parts reacted to him. “I see you made it okay.”

“Yeah, we’re just pulling up to the arena. Listen, I need help putting together a profile for one of those online dating sites. You think you could help me?” Presley looked at Sage out of the corner of her eye. If giving him a coronary was her goal, she was beautifully succeeding. Smoke was coming out of his ears in anger.

“You want Sage to kill me?” Matt laughed, but still Presley knew he wouldn't do anything to upset Sage.

“No. I just wouldn't know what to write.”

“Hell, no, I’m not helping you. I like having both of my legs.”

“You'll help me? Oh, thank you so much hot stuff! I'll have to find a way to repay you.” Presley dropped her voice to a seductive whisper, because she could play this game. Just because she didn’t flirt with every guy that crossed her path, didn’t mean she didn’t know how.

“He's listening to this conversation, isn't he?”

“Maybe,” she said with a giggle.

“Shit, Pres, he's gonna kill me.”

“We'll see about that. You make my life so much better!” Presley blew a kiss into the phone before letting him say another word. The moment the car came to a stop, Sage pretty much jumped out.

“I’m going to sneak in a workout before tonight's meeting.” Sage ripped off his tie as he walked away.

Wittle muscle man is angry, again. Whoop de doo. Not. My. Problem. She now had time to do her normal routine without having to worry about him hovering.

She was able to quickly set up his dressing room, set out a few different attire options for the event. She made sure he had tons of water, snacks, towels, and a few different outfit choices for after the match.

Then she headed on over to the hotel to check in, and leave their luggage.

And finally back to the arena for the big show.

Event nights were normally hectic; meet-and-greets, meetings, pre-show tapings, and interviews all within a couple of hours. Presley normally found herself running around like a chicken without a head, and that night was no different.

Except that Sage had decided to give her a hard time about pretty much everything, including getting ready for his own match.

“You know what, Sage? Do what you want. Want to act like a two-year-old? Not my problem. I am not the one that has to go out there and wrestle.” Presley glared down at him, sitting on his La-Z-Boy throne. “I think I'll go out there naked.” Sage grinned at his own joke.

“Fine. Go out there naked, and risk your sorry ass being sued, fired, and ridiculed.”

“Ridiculed?”

Presley put up her pinky, and looked down at his pants, then smiled up at him.

“Hey, listen, I've never had any complaints about my cock.”

What is it with men and the size of their penis? You don’t see women standing around with rulers measuring their breasts.

Presley rolled her eyes. “There's a rule about muscular men, Sage. The more muscle, the smaller the penis.”

“There's a rule about women with big mouths. The bigger the mouth, the deeper it goes.” Sage wiggled his eyebrows at her.

Presley knew he was taunting her; she just couldn’t be nice to him. She found it literally impossible. “You are such a fucking pig.”

All amusement gone from Sage’s tone he said, “This pig signs your paycheck. You better respect me.”

“Respect you? Maybe when you show me some respect.” Presley grabbed the first thing she found, his boxer briefs, and flung them at him.

Sage caught the boxers before they landed on his head. “I am your boss. What I say goes. Take it or leave it.”

“Okay. I. QUIT!” Presley grabbed her oversized purse and started shoving in all her belongings.

Sage snatched her purse from her hands. “What’s gotten into you?”

“I can't be your lapdog any more. You’ve become impossible, and I simply can't do it anymore.” Presley was trying to be as honest as she would allowed herself to be.

“You can't leave. You just can’t,” Sage said in an almost pleading tone, but Presley knew better. Sage was not the kind of man to beg anyone to stay.

Normally, he was glad to see women leave.

“I can, and I will. Please understand.”

“You'll be back.” Sage was sure of his words.

“No. I won’t. I need to get away from all of this, and you.” Presley had to take a few breaths to stop herself from crying. She hated making such a harsh decision without giving it much thought. But in the end, Presley knew this was the right thing to do. Why prolong leaving, when she was going to leave regardless?

“Why are you doing this?” Sage asked, looking as crazed as she felt. At that moment someone knocked on the door and announced, “Ten minutes, Sage.”

A good full minute of intense silence filled the room, before Presley finally spoke. “You need to get ready.”

“Yeah,” was all Sage said.

“I have to go.”

Sage nodded.

“Wear the black. I've always thought it was your best.” Presley grabbed her purse, and looked back as she reached for the door knob. She had so much to say, but didn’t.

She walked out, and closed the door behind her. Presley had never felt that empty in her life.






























Chapter Five

Here Comes Goodbye by Rascal Flatts


“Here is the WEA’s Heavyweight Champion, THE FINISHEEEEEER!!!”

Most nights, listening to his name over the arena and the roar of the crowd gave Sage serious adrenaline rush. Not that night.

Presley had walked out on him, and he couldn’t snap himself out of the sudden funk he had fallen into.

His heart wasn't in it, and he hated it. He wanted to give it his all for the fans, but he couldn’t. He'd never been one to allow his personal problems to affect his performance, and he honestly had not expected Presley’s leaving to affect him as much as it had.

He should have pulled out of the match, but because they were introducing a new storyline, he took the ring.

Regardless of how he was feeling, the match was going according to plan.

Sage was to get hit with a chair, a garbage can, and a ladder amongst many other very painful items you could imagine. Yeah, he was going to be hurting later, but it wasn't anything he had never done before.

As his opponent, The Warrior, picked up his body over the announcers table, the words of his coach popped into his head.

Remember, in wrestling, the one getting hit is the one to use more force to avoid injury.”

Sage quickly looked around him to see that everything was in place, but something wasn't right. He could feel it.

That’s when Sage saw it. One of the monitors was still on the announcers table.

“Monitor on the table!” Sage tried to communicate with his opponent, but it was too late.

The Warrior couldn't hear him over the roaring crowd, and slammed him onto the table.

And in a blink of an eye, Sage found himself surrounded by darkness.


---


“Shit! I left my cell phone,” Presley realized as she arrived at the hotel. She headed back to the arena. Her cell phone was her lifeline to everyone while she was on the road. She felt naked without it.

When she walked back into the arena, all the backstage monitors were broadcasting Sage and The Warrior’s fight. Presley stopped to watch The Warrior run Sage into one of the announcers tables. She winced, thinking of how painful that must been. But then something was wrong.

Sage wasn't moving.

Her world stopped.

She saw The Warrior call over the paramedics, and they quickly cut to commercials.

Presley stopped breathing at the thought of Sage getting hurt.

“He's not responding,” she overheard over someone’s arena radio, and suddenly chaos erupted around her.

An ambulance was being pulled into the arena, people running from one place to another, and a stretcher was wheeled in.

“Oh my God!” Presley snapped out of her trance, dropped everything she had been holding and ran down the ramp to the ring.

From that moment on everything around her was a blur. Somehow she found herself in the back of an ambulance.

Once at the hospital, she waited for anyone to tell her about Sage’s condition, but no one could tell her anything. Sage’s parents had called and were on the next plane out. And Matt and Eric showed up from out of nowhere.

“Pres, how is he?” Eric wrapped his arms around her, and held her tight.

Eric looked like your average, overly good-looking, dumb muscle head. But he was far from that. He was brilliant, and had a heart of gold. He was a genuine person. It comforted Presley to have him there with her. She appreciated his embrace.

“I don’t know. They took him to the operating room, and no one has an update.”

“Are you okay? Do you need anything?” Matt asked with honest concern.

For the first time in the six years she'd known the playboy Matt, that was the first time she saw him scared shitless.

“I’m fine,” Presley lied.

I’m terrified. I’m afraid of losing the only man I’ve ever loved and he’ll never know. Because I rather fight with him than tell him how I really feel.

“Do you need me to call anyone? His parents?” Eric offered.

“They're on their way. And that bloody phone hasn't stopped ringing.” Presley did her best to smile.

Eric snatched the phone out of her hand. “I'll deal with the phone.”

Presley almost lost it. “Thank you.”

“I cleaned his locker room, and took everything back to the hotel,” Matt said.

Okay, she lost it. Presley covered her face, and tears streamed down her cheeks.

It was all a bad dream, Presley was sure. Sage was always careful, and had never had a major injury. Sure a sprain here and there, but that's as far as his injuries went.

“How could this have happened?” She wiped away her tears with the back of her hand.

Matt hesitated before he spoke, “They were on the announcers table, and one of the monitors was still there. The back of his head hit the monitor.”

“Shit! Shit! Shit!” Presley wanted to yell at the world. The love of her life was in the operating room, and in who knew what condition.

“He'll be okay, sunshine.” Eric pulled her into another tight hug.

Presley wasn't so sure about that, and she wasn't going to be sure of that until Sage was walking out of the hospital, if he ever...No, he had to make it out.

Losing him altogether wasn't an option. He had to be okay.


---


An hour later a doctor dressed in blue scrubs walked over to them. “Ms. Ford?” “Yes. That's me.”

“I'm Doctor Epstein. I‟m Chief of Neurosurgery.”

“How is he, Doctor?” Presley stood to face the doctor and pushed her hair off her face. She realized she must look like hell, but honestly didn't care.

“He‟s stable. He suffered an intracerebral hemorrhage. We were able to find the rupture and stop the bleeding.”

“Oh God. Is he going to be okay?” All Presley's fears came face to face with her.

“We won't know for sure until he comes to. We do need to keep him in intensive care for observation.” As the doctor spoke he removed the operating room hair cap he had been wearing.


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