“Thanks, Ma. I’m going to spend the day there snooping around and I’ll stop over when I get a chance.”

“Hey, how’s the training coming? Your fight is soon.” She sighed into the phone. I know she hated the violence and could never understand why I chose to enter the cage.

“Really good and now that Mia and I patched things up, I can finally focus on kicking that guy’s ass.”

“Make sure you stay focused. I don’t want to see my baby hurt.”

“I’m like a brick wall, Ma.”

“Don’t be too cocky, son. Your father is calling me. He wants a cup of coffee. He’s lucky I love him.”

I wanted a love like theirs – long lasting and unbreakable.

“You’d go pick the beans if he asked just to make that man happy.”

“Let’s not give him any ideas, Michael. Call me later, okay?”

“Love ya. I’ll talk to you tonight.”

“Love you, too.”

Mia wrapped her arms around my neck, kissing my cheek. “That better have been your mother or I’m getting that needle ready as soon as we get there.”

I grabbed her hands and leaned into her kiss. “It was. You’re dying to stick a needle in my dick, aren’t you.” I laughed.

“Just remember that it’s always an option.” She laughed against my ear and I closed my eyes and let the happiness sink in.

I stood, grabbing my keys off the counter. “Let’s go, Dr. Jekyll. I’m driving.”

“We can take my car.” She stayed by the table.

“Nope, I’m the man, so I drive.” I opened the door and waited for her.

As she walked by me she said, “Let’s not start the macho bullshit.”

“My dad drives my mom around all the time. I just grew up with some beliefs. Let’s not kill them yet. You relax and talk and I’ll be your chauffer.”

She sighed but nodded. I opened the truck door for her and waited for her to get situated before I closed her in and jogged around to my side. Her eyes were glued to me as I made my way around the truck.

“You really have the chivalry thing down,” she said as I sat.

“It’s one thing my ma always taught me. How to be a gentleman when necessary.”

We held hands and listened to music, stopping on the song ‘Happy’ by Pharrell to sing along. How could I not shout the words at the top of my lungs?

“Is this it?” I asked, as I pulled into the parking lot.

“Yep, I know it’s not pretty but it gets the job done.” She shrugged.

“Yeah. This place doesn’t look like much, Doc.”

“I know. The people that come here deserve better.”

“I hope you don’t pay a lot in rent.” I stared at the old brick façade. A tiny sign that read GS Health Clinic hung above the door but the average person driving by would miss it entirely.

“No, we rent the space for pretty cheap. The owner gives us a deal because he likes what we do.”

“Does the inside look any better?”

“It’s old but clean. We spend the money we have on rent and supplies.”

“Let’s get inside. I want to check it out.” There wasn’t an open spot in the parking lot and that told me that there was a need for this clinic.

“How do you know the people really can’t afford medical care?”

“They have to bring in their government assistance paperwork and proof that they’ve been denied Medicaid.”

“Seems fair and keeps it legit.” I followed Mia into the building and a bustling waiting room. People of all ages and races sat patiently in the space.

Mia stopped and smiled at the woman behind the desk. “Cammie, this is Michael. He’s going to hang out here today.”

Cammie looked at me with the warmest smile on her face as she held out her hand. “It’s always nice to have an extra set of hands around. Especially ones as big and strong as yours.” She laughed as she stroked my fingers.

“I’m all yours,” I said, as I looked at Mia.

The stress that was clearly evident on her face at the hospital was gone. Her demeanor at the clinic was different… she was radiant.

“You just offered yourself up to the devil,” Mia said, laughing.

“I can handle her,” I said, winking at Cammie.

Her face flushed before she cleared her throat. “We have a full house today. Lots to do, Mia. You leave this hunk in my hands, child.”

Mia picked up the schedule and studied it before she replied, “He’s all yours. I know you’ll take good care of him.”

“Hmm mmm,” Cammie said.

Mia kissed my cheek and started to walk away. “You’re just going to leave me here?”

“You’ll be just fine. Cammie knows the most about the clinic. Pick her brain if you want to know about the finances.”

“Okay, I’ll be waiting for you, Doc.” I patted her ass before she stepped out of reach.

“One second,” Cammie said, as she held her finger up. “Mr. Johnson,” she called into the waiting room.

Leaning against the desk, I watched Cammie interact with the patients. She had a way with people, making them feel important. She was the beating heart of the clinic. She’d be my link to getting this place on track and keeping it running like a well-oiled machine.

“So, what can I help you with, Michael?” Cammie asked as she swiveled her chair in my direction.

“I want to talk about funding, Cammie. I want to help the clinic financially and see about having Mia here full-time. She loves this place.”

She clapped her hands. “Wow, I think I just fell in love with you. If Mia wasn’t my girl, I’d snatch you from her.”

I laughed at the ease at which she spoke to me.

“You know anything about accounting, handsome?” She winked.

“I do. I have a business and I do the books.”

“Perfect. I’ll let you in the office and you can take a look. It may be easier and quicker than if I told you everything. We’re so busy today that I couldn’t give you my full attention no matter how badly I wanted to.”

“That would be fine, Cammie. I can see what’s going on and how I can help.”

She showed me to a tiny office in the back. I could hear Mia speaking with a patient in the next room. The words were muffled but it was her voice. Cammie had the office organized and the files up to date, which made the task of determining their financial need easier.

They had a couple thousand dollars in the bank and Cammie said that rent was the biggest expense. The place needed to be rehabbed from the inside out.

I searched the filing cabinet for the rental agreement. They paid a thousand a month, which was cheap for retail space. I made a list of needs with an estimated cost to get the place in check with some extra financial padding. The first step would be purchasing the building and the land it sat on, then giving the place a facelift.

It certainly was doable and wouldn’t take much financially to make this a stable non-profit that wouldn’t have to scrape by to make ends meet.

Rubbing my eyes, the door opened and Mia walked in. “How’s it going in here?” she asked, wrapping her arms around my neck and settling in my lap.

“Good. I have a plan and just spoke to my Ma and the landlord.”

“Oh?”

“We’re going to make it happen, Mia. I already have the wheels in motion.” I leaned back in the chair, lifting her to move with me.

“You don’t waste any time, do you?” She rubbed her nose against the tender skin of my neck and inhaled.

I cupped her ass and squeezed. “You’re going to owe me something big for all this.”

“What do you want?” She smirked.

“I’m going to think long and hard about that before giving you a definitive answer.”

“You do that. I just wanted to say hi. I have to go, there are a bunch of people out there waiting to be seen.” She patted my shoulder before trying to climb off my lap.

I pull


ed her back down, running my lips down her jaw. “I want some sugar first.”

She laughed and rolled her eyes. “Only a kiss.”

“What else would I mean?”

The kiss was soft and sweet. I smiled as she winked at me before walking out the door.

I spent the afternoon jotting down notes, making lists, and calling everyone I knew to help make this place the best it could be. It would be Mia’s dream and her little bit of serenity.

Chapter 25

It was finally the night – Michael’s MMA match.

I wanted to look stunning.

Picking through my closet, I found my favorite black pencil skirt, a white cami and my kick ass Jessica Simpson peep toe heels. I spent extra time on my makeup and straightened my hair.

I felt tense as I drove to the arena to see him before his fight. I sat in the car for a few minutes to calm my nerves before I made my way to the doors. My stomach gurgled as I followed the extra tall security guard through the backstage area to a door that read “Michael ‘The Iceman’ Gallo.”

After knocking on the door, I smoothed my skirt, wiping my hands against the soft material. My legs were wobbly as I waited for someone to open the door.

Why in the hell was I so nervous? I didn’t like the thought of Michael fighting another man, but my stress level was high enough that someone would think that it would be me stepping in the cage.

The door cracked opened and Rob smiled. “Hey, Mia,” he said, opening the door.

“Hey, Rob,” I said, as I entered the dimly lit room.

“Yo, dude, Mia’s here,” Rob yelled causing me to jump. “Sorry, didn’t mean to yell in your ear.”

“Oh, it’s okay. I’m just jumpy.” I saw Michael sitting in a chair looking more stiff than normal and turned to Rob. “Is he okay?”

“Yeah, he’s doing great. He gets moody before a fight.”

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