I'll Save You

Aurora Miles is in training to become a world-class MMA fighter, just as her late mother was. But when Niall Horan receives a vicious death threat, Aurora is hired as the band member's personal bodyguard. In order to avoid any public suspicion, Aurora and Niall have to pretend they're dating. The problem: Aurora and Niall are just friends, and Harry Styles may or may not have deeper feelings for his band mate's bodyguard...
How will Aurora and the boys survive an entire world tour without everything falling apart?
*Note on the death threat. Although I am the one who wrote it (as I am the author), it is not heartfelt at all. I love Niall, just like I do all the members of One Direction. I do not intend to offend or hurt anyone, the threat is just for the sake of the plot.*

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1. Blood, Sweat, and Tears

                -Aurora's POV-

                The gym was filled with the stench of blood, sweat, and tears, like it was every day.  It was engrained into the very being of the building, pulsing throughout the walls like its own life force.  Grunts of effort and the sound of padding hitting padding echoed.  Shouts of both taunts and encouragements rang in the dimly lit training area.  Something crashed onto a floor.  Congratulatory cheers sounded from the group of people that surrounded the fighting ring.

                “Good job, Rory,” a tall, sturdily built man nodded in quiet approval, his weathered face framed with dark brown hair.

                “Thanks, Uncle Jack,” I smirked as I nimbly leaped over the wires of the ring.  I landed smoothly on the hard floor, rolling my shoulders casually as a young boy handed me a water bottle.  Gulping down the fresh drink, I wiped a drop of sweat from my forehead.

                 I handed the bottle back to him with an absentminded thanks before heading over to where a punching bag was set up.  Stopping by the bag, I checked the relatively thin boxing gloves protecting my hands before I settled into a light footed fighting stance, bouncing on the balls of my feet.  Pausing for only a sort breath, I immediately launched into a vicious assault, pounding into the bag like I was so used to.

                “Jack!” a voice from across the gym snapped vehemently.

                At the disturbance, I dropped both of my arms and rested a hand on the punching bag in order to turn and watch as a thin-faced, sleazy looking man with graying hair stomped over to where my Uncle Jack stood nearby.  My hazel eyes narrowed at the newcomer, who seemed to have something against my uncle.

                But, like always, Uncle Jack remained calm and friendly.  “Ah!  Arthur, my dear friend, what is it that you need?” he wondered politely, a twinkle shining through in his dark blue eyes.

                “That fighter of yours nearly broke Thomas’ nose!” the angry man, Arthur I think his name was, spat and pointed a grubby finger in my direction.

                I bristled at the accusation, crossing my arms over my chest and narrowing my eyebrows.  Taking a step forward, I opened my mouth to give the wretched man a piece of my mind, when Uncle Jack reached over and clamped his hand down on my shoulder, giving a slight squeeze.  It was his silent way to keep me from lashing out.  I rolled my eyes, but willingly remained quiet.

                “Calm, dear friend!” Uncle Jack held up his free hand.  “I’m sure this is all just a misunderstanding.  Why don’t you and I go grab some coffee and discuss this in a civilized manner?”

                “That girl purposefully aimed for Thomas’ nose!” Arthur continued spitefully.  “She’s a dirty fighter that doesn’t deserve that title of hers!”

                My eyebrow twitched.  I ground my teeth together in an effort to keep myself from lunging at the insufferable man.  Uncle Jack’s grip on my shoulder tightened, and I looked over at him to see that his own face had tightened in either annoyance or anger.

                “As I remember, Arthur,” Uncle Jack sneered his name, “you are the one that demanded for Aurora to fight against Thomas.  My student is a born fighter.  You put an opponent in front of her, and she’ll fight.  That just how she works.”

                Arthur seemed effectively miffed and ready to leave out of embarrassment, but I wasn’t about to just leave it at that.

                “Besides,” I added.  “Not like it’s my fault Thomas can’t block to save his life,” I commented cheekily, smirking at the way Arthur’s face reddened.

                He promptly turned on his heel and marched away, back to where a boy of about nineteen was sitting surrounded by several people, drops of red liquid falling from his gingerly held nose.

                “Good riddance,” I rolled my eyes, about to turn back to finish my training on the punching bag.

                Uncle Jack cuffed me on the back of my head.

                “Hey!” I protested, facing him as I rubbed at the spot he had hit me.  “What was that for?”

                “What was that for?” he repeated in exasperation.  “That was for showing that kind of disrespect to your opponent.”

                “He started it,” I argued, planting my hands on my hips and glaring up at my uncle, who was nearly a head and a half taller than me.

                “And you didn’t have to finish it,” Uncle Jack noted.

                “Sure I did.”

                “No you didn’t.”

                “Yes I did.”

                “Didn’t.”

                “Did!”

                “Didn’t!”

                I groaned.  “I swear!  It’s like I’m back at the house!”

                Uncle Jack chuckled good-naturedly, reaching over to ruffle my curly honey blonde hair.  I ducked out of his reached and stuck my tongue out at him.  He cocked an eyebrow in challenge and I rolled my eyes.

                “Puh-lease, Uncle Jack,” I scoffed playfully.  “You can’t handle me anymore,” I bragged, crossing my arms over my chest.

                “Since when?” he grinned as he began to pack up the various supplies around the punching bag.

                “Since I made it to the MMA World Championships and you didn’t,” I replied simply.

                “Don’t let it get to your head, kiddo.”

                “Too late.”

                Letting out a chuckle, he rolled his eyes at me.  “We’re ending training early today.”

                “Yeah, yeah, yeah,” I waved it off.  “Dad wants me home early for a ‘family meeting’,” I air-quoted as best I could with the boxing gloves on.  “I’ll be back tomorrow to help clean up the gym,” I gestured to the slightly littered place as I tugged the gloves off.

                “Okay, kiddo.  Now go take a shower.  You smell.”

                “Gee, thanks,” I grumbled sarcastically, but willingly headed into the girls’ locker area.  Stopping at locker zero, I put in the combination and opened it up, pulling out a drawstring bag before continuing onto the showers.

                Switching on the hot water, I set my bag up on a shelf where it wouldn’t get too wet before carelessly flinging my mesh gym shorts, tank top, and undergarments off and stepping under the warm spray.  I quickly washed and rinsed my hair, working through all the tight ringlets that cascaded down to just above my shoulders, before shutting the water off and toweling myself dry.  Riffling through my drawstring bag, I grabbed a pair of dark wash skinny jeans and a toxic green tank top.

                I was still drying my stubborn hair as I headed back to my locker and tugged on my clunky skating shoes and my totally badass leather jacket.  Tossing the towel into a laundry bin that was in the corner, I shook my head a few times like a wet dog before grabbing my skateboard from my locker and heading back out through the gym.

                “Bye Uncle Jack!” I called as I rushed out.  “Bye everyone!”

                In response, I got a chorus of ‘bye, Aurora’.

                Past the gym, I stepped into the small waiting room/lobby that was occupied by several tired looking mothers.  A counter was situated across from the door, where an elderly woman was currently looking through a stack of papers.  Behind the counter was a huge, wall-sized display case.  In it was a complete set of karate belts, a framed photo, and the MMA World Champion title belt.  The karate belts had all belonged to my late mother, who had originally bought and ran the gym before she had died.  The picture was of her, nearly three years ago, when she had won the MMA World Champion title belt.

                Ever since her victory at the MMA International Competition, more people had started to come to the family’s gym in order to receive training in martial arts and the likes.  But the gym was still in danger of foreclosure.  My grandma, uncle, twin brother, and I all worked whenever we got the free time.  Unfortunately my dad was always ‘too busy’, my little brothers didn’t care, and it was always getting more and more difficult to keep the family business alive.

                “Bye, Grandma,” I stepped behind the counter and hugged the elderly lady that worked there before kissing her on the cheek.

                “Bye, Rory,” she smiled back sweetly.  “Take care of yourself.”

                “Always,” I assured her.  “Come on, Blitz,” I called to the German Shepherd that was chewing on a toy as he lounged on a dog bed behind my grandmother.

                Immediately, the handsome dog dropped his toy and stood up, happily trotting over to me with his tongue lolling out slightly.  With a nod to the mothers waiting there, I ducked out the front door and onto the familiar sidewalk of the town.  I hurried off, riding my skateboard at a fast pace while Blitz trotted obediently at my side.

                The town I lived in was known as East Locklin, a tiny little speck on the map.  It was a small, homey place, with the only inhabitants being those that lived here their entire life.  My graduating class of this year only had ninety-seven people in it and I knew the first and last names of nearly every single shop owner around.  All in all, I lived in a very small town.  Sometimes I loved it.

                “If it isn’t the filthy tomboy,” an all too familiar voice sneered.

                Sometimes I hated it.

                Subconsciously, my head turned to where the voice had come from.  Blitz growled, but remained walking by my side.  Lounging against a low wall across the street were my three least favorite people of all time: Lexie Malone, Sarah Ginnis, and Dakota Smith.  All three of them were model pretty, with luscious brown hair, shapely figures, perfectly made-up faces, and, quite frankly, huge boobs.

                I hated them.  And they hated me.

                From their spot by the wall, they sneered and smirked at me.  Rolling my eyes, I forced myself to move faster, getting as far away from them as possible.  Their taunts and insults followed me as I skated my way down the street.  Because of the rarely nice, late fall weather, people were opting to walk instead of taking the bus or cars, so I had to nimbly weave between the small crowd.

                It took me about twenty minutes to reach home from the gym, Blitz happily following me the entire way, occasionally barking at a squirrel or car.  My house was a relatively small Tudor style home, a two-story with a decently-sized yard complete with a once-white picket fence.  I opened the front gate and kicked my skateboard into my hand, making sure to close the gate before my other dogs, Admiral the Great Dane and Dynamo the Welsh Springer Spaniel, could get out.

                Almost instantly, both dogs came running around from the back yard, which was completely littered with my little brothers’ various toys, with their tongues lolling out and their legs coated in mud.  Blitz raced off to tackle Dynamo, while Admiral circled around them.

                Rolling my eyes, I smirked at my three little babies.  “And I guess that means that someone has to give you guys a bath today,” I groaned as I made my way up to the front door.

                As soon as I opened the stained white door, my peaceful day was utterly shattered.  The scream of my littlest brother resounded through the cluttered, stained, and littered halls and rooms of the once-clean house.  A crash, probably our last vase, ricocheted off the walls.  Shouting could be heard from the kitchen, where I could vaguely see splatters of mysterious food substances.

                “Yep,” I sighed, rolling my eyes.  “Just a normal day in the Miles Residence.”

                “That’s my spot!  He’s in my spot, Dad!” my littlest brother, an eight-year-old with a severe superiority complex, shouted.

                “I’m older,” the calm, level-headed voice of my older twin brother replied stoically.  “I’m allowed to sit wherever I want.”

                There was an enraged scream, and I could practically see my youngest brother lunging at my twin.  But, of course, my twin, Zephyr, was about three times bigger than my littlest brother, Czar.  So the little munchkin had probably just been caught by my twin brother.

                A chuckled sounded from my other little brother, a mischievous eleven-year-old prankster named Thayer.  “Ring his neck!  Get him!” he shouted, urging the others on as I made my way into the kitchen to see the scene playing out.

                Zephyr, a well-built and muscular teen with close-cropped black hair and a serious face, had Czar, an under-sized munchkin with sandy blonde hair and dark brown eyes, in a choke hold.  Thayer, a lanky pre-teen with brown hair and blue eyes, was standing on the kitchen counter, shouting and rooting as if he were at a sports game.  Meanwhile, my dad, a middle-aged man with black hair that was graying at the temples, leaned against the counter, rubbing the bridge of his nose.

                Bringing my fingers to my lips, I let loose an ear-splitting whistle, effectively gaining all four of their attention.  “I’m home,” I let out a half-hearted wave.  “Now, what did you want to talk about, Dad?”  I sat down on one of the counter stools, my brothers taking a cue from me and settling down themselves.

                Thayer folded his long legs into a crossed-legged spot on the counter, Czar promptly climbed up into my lap with his face in a sour pout, and Zephyr sat in the stool next to mine.  We all faced Dad, who looked older and more tired than usual, which was really saying something.

                “I’ve got some bad news, you four,” he started, running a hand down his face.  “We’ve all had a rough few years, since your mother died, and you all know I’ve never kept anything from you guys.  And I’m not going to keep this from you guys either.”

                “What is it, Dad?” Czar wondered, for once using a voice quieter than shouting.

                “I lost my job today,” Dad admitted.  “And if we don’t get enough money soon, then we’ll have to give the gym away.”

                “What!” I protested.  “No!  We can’t lose the gym!”

                “I’m sorry, Aurora,” he replied softly.  “But if we can’t keep it running, it will be too much of a burden to try and keep it at all.”

                “Zephyr and I could get jobs, Dad!” I offered.  We would all do anything to keep our mom’s gym.  It was probably the most important place to us.  We just couldn’t lose it now.

                “Even Czar and I could help out, Dad,” Thayer added.  “We could get newspaper routes!”

                “Ugh,” Czar grumbled half-heartedly.  “Yeah, we could, Dad.”

                “Don’t give up on the gym now,” Zephyr nodded.

                Dad sighed, but smiled at us gently.  “I appreciate it, guys.  But you are too young to have this kind of pressure on you.  I’m going to go to a job interview tomorrow.”

                “What for?” Zephyr, always the voice of reason, wondered.

                “Just some construction crew over in London.”

                “London!” all four of us shouted at the same time.

                “But, Dad, that’s nearly three hours away!” I argued.

                “Yes, I know,” he sighed.  “But don’t worry, we won’t be moving.  I’ll just have to leave earlier and get home later.  I’m going to need you three to work together and help each other get to and from school.”

                “What?” Czar cried.  “But I don’t want them to take me to school!  I want you to!”

                “Sorry, pal,” Dad apologized.  “You guys are also going to need to cook for yourselves.”

                “Come on, Dad,” Zephyr joined in.  “Aurora and I are already busy enough.  We can’t just watch these two twenty-four/seven.”

                “It’s going to be hard for all of us.  But we’ll make it through this together,” he assured us in that comforting tone of his.  “Now, apparently the dogs got into the garden today...again.  Someone needs to give them a bath.”

                “Not it!” Zephyr and I said in unison.

                “Not it!” Czar repeated quickly, causing Thayer to groan.

                “I hate you guys,” the eleven-year-old muttered as he slid off of the counter.  “I’ll go grab the hose.”

                “Keep it outside this time,” Dad called as our family meeting dispersed.

                Thayer went out to rinse the dogs down with the hose, Czar trailing behind him just for the benefit of teasing his brother, while Dad called and ordered pizza.  Zephyr and I both headed upstairs to our shared room.  Yes, we share a room still.  The house only had three bedrooms, and the room Czar and Thayer shared was too small to add Zephyr to the mix.  So we were stuck together.

                “We can’t just leave it at that,” I insisted as I collapsed on my bed.

                “What are we going to do, then?” my twin questioned.

                “Well, we could promote the gym more,” I suggested with an unsure shrug.

                “And get more members?”

                “Yeah,” I nodded.  “That could work.”

                “Whatever happens,” Zephyr added, “we just got to stay together.”

                “Agreed.”

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