Page 25 of She’s All Mine

“You’ve been holding out on me, Tank.” Morry makes a tsking sound as she comes over to stand next to me. “You never move that fast in the ring.”

“I don’t need to.” He shrugs before he jumps easily into the ring. My mouth falls open as he lands with a loud thunk on his feet. No, I don’t think Tank would have to move much if he didn’t want to. I haven’t even seen him fight and I can already tell he easily dominates the ring. He seems so focused once he’s inside those ropes. It’s like the outside world ceases to exist. It reminds me of the way he is when he’s with me and other girls look at him with dreamy eyes. He doesn’t even notice them. He just sees me.

Tank turns and walks over to the corner. He doesn’t need to try and intimidate anyone. His appearance is intimidating on its own.

“Come here, Treasure.” He motions for me to climb up on the ring apron.

“Knock the crap off, Tank. Start warming up,” Morry shouts. She wanders off for a moment and Tank moves over to where I am, offering me his hand. I take it and he pulls me up into the ring with him.

“I’m already warmed up.” He pulls me into him, making me giggle. He cuts my laugh off with a kiss. “Watch me. I bet you could give me a few tips.”

“Whatever.” I smack his chest. It’s sweet he wants to include me, but I know nothing about boxing.

“I’m serious. Watch my leg work. How I move. If anyone is quick on their toes it’s a dancer. Think of what I’m doing as if it’s a dance. I’m sure you’ll have all kinds of things to teach me.”

“Okay,” I breathe out. Tank doesn’t know it, but teaching has always been something I’ve wanted to do. Teaching dance would be a dream come true. This man keeps opening my eyes in so many ways. The life that had been mapped out for me by my parents is changing.

“Now I want a kiss.” Before I can tell him he can have one, he’s taking it.

“That’s enough of that for now,” Morry says. She throws some wrap-looking things up to us. Tank catches them. “Teach your girl to wrap you,” she tosses out.

“That’s never going to happen. I’m always going to take your pussy bare,” Tank whispers so that only I can hear.

“Tank.” I smack his chest. I can’t believe he said that. He fakes that my hit actually hurt him.

“I think she could take you,” Morry jokes.

“She could.” He smiles, his voice dropping low again for only me. “Anytime and anywhere.” I roll my eyes at him as I climb down from the ring and stand where I think I can get the best view.

“Show me what you got, big fella,” I yell as Tank warms up. Sweat is starting to bead on his chest and he bobs and weaves while throwing punches. I stare at him in awe, watching him work like he’s a well-oiled machine. The origin of his nickname becomes clear. He is indeed a tank. I wait for his opponent to step in the ring, already feeling sorry for whoever it’s going to be.

I’m shocked when I see a kid that can’t be but thirteen step into the ring with Tank. I glance to Morry, whom I’ve taken up residence next to. Well, she technically took it up next to me by coming to stand by me.

I watch as Tank goes a few rounds with the kid, letting him get in a few hits while showing him what he did wrong.

“He’s good with him.”

Morry nods in agreement. “Because he used to be him.” My heart feels heavy thinking about how Tank might have grown up. My mom and dad were jerks at times, but they kept a roof over my head. There might have been a lock on the refrigerator, but they fed me and kept me safe to a certain degree.

“Has Tank told you much about his past?” Morry asks.

“No. Not really. He said that you and his foster mother saved him by introducing him to boxing, but not much more than that.” And I never pressed because I don’t like talking about my past. I figured that if I didn’t want to talk about how I grew up, I didn’t have the right to ask those questions of Tank.

“He’s not embarrassed by it, so I don’t mind telling you. He had a shitty childhood. He ran away from home quite a few times because his mother was a drug addict who spent more time looking for her next fix than taking care of him. He would get caught and sent back. Finally, the state stepped in and put him in a foster home. When Patty got him, he was a mess. He wanted to fight everyone.”