Tonight was the fight and I couldn't be any more ready. The boys have been quite clingy and seem to come to the gym more often than usual, especially Louis. For the past two days he's come to the gym at least two times a day. It's weird because he doesn't say or do anything out of the ordinary.. per say, he just listens more and focuses on training with me.
Today I was working a lot harder and everyone knew to leave me alone. Dan kept the boys in other areas while I trained for hours on end. Tonight was going to make me 7,350$. 4,350$ more than it had been three days ago, meaning that all I had to earn left was 950$.
"Toni," Dan called suddenly, ripping me from my thoughts.
"What?" I demanded, lowering my hands and momentarily turning away from the punching bag.
"The boys are leaving." He said quietly.
I rolled my eyes and put my focus back into training.
"That's not all." Dan said after a second.
"God damn it," I threw my gloves down and spun around," what?!"
Dan was stunned by my outburst at first, but shook it off. He usually knew better than to distract me from training, especially before and big match.
"Louis wants to, and I quote, 'pick up from where we left off yesterday'. I told him to just go, but he insists that you will see him." Dan said quickly.
What is that damned boy's problem?
"Yeah, whatever," I sighed defeatedly," send him in."
Just as the door to the gym closed it reopened, this time Louis strolled in with Zayn behind him.
"I only agreed to see Louis," I said turning to rewrap my hands," what are you doing here Zayn?"
Neither of them replied after a long moment of silence, so I was forced to turn around and make eye contact.
"Well?" I demanded, crossing my arms over my chest.
Zayn and I slowly walked into the dimly lit room, noticing that 2/3 of the lights had been shut off; the only lights were the one over the ring and the two in the hallways that led into the locker room.
"Well?" Toni demanded, crossing her very toned arms over her chest.
Zayn and I exchanged a worried look and took a step closer to Toni. We were only worried because it's not everyday that we have to confront a champion underground boxer.
"We know." I said quietly.
With those two simple words I saw Toni's guard falter.
"What are you going on about?" Toni sighed, her tone showing annoyance, but her eyes showing fear.
"We've been- well, I've been watching you closely and even Dan says that you've never trained this hard before. I got Zayn to help me hack into your computer after hours while you trained me...and he read your emails."
"What the hell!" Toni exploded.
She charged at me, but Zayn jumped in front of me just in time, holding his hands up, palms faced towards her.
"Before you say anything or do anything you'll regret-
"I sure as hell won't regret this." She hissed between gritted teeth, raising her fist once more.
"Wait!" I exclaimed.
Toni's eyes met mine and I saw her soften a little.
"Let me explain."
Toni lowered her fist slowly and her eyes flickered from me, to Zayn, and back. In response, he stepped away from me and I stepped forward. She was tense, but I watched her take a few deep breaths before momentarily closing her eyes.
"This better be good." Toni said finally
"I was worried about you. You were acting to strange when we came the other day, especially when Dan mentioned the money. I suspected that something was wrong, so I wanted to spend more time with you to make sure you weren't sneaking off to do something stupid."
I paused for a moment, watching as Toni's body tensed and un-tensed quickly; she was still very mad.
"I asked Zayn to hack into your computer, hoping that we would find something that could tell us what was wrong. You must've left your emails open because that's the first thing that he found."
"So, what? Are you gonna interrogate me about it now?" Toni said, laughing humorlessly.
"We want to help-" Zayn was silenced by the angered glare that Toni sent him.
"We just wanted to find out what was wrong and help you." I said for him.
"You know what," Toni raised her voice, but stopped and took a deep breath," get out."
"Toni, please." Zayn spoke up.
"Let us help you." I added.
"I said get out." She said a little louder.
When we hesitated she dropped her hands and stepped towards us angrily. Zayn and I exchanged scared looks and raised our hands in defense as we both stepped back. Toni's been training non stop for the past three days and we knew better than to test her.
"And if you tell anyone about this I personally promise that you wont have one bone in your bodies that isn't broken." She hissed.
We gulped in fear and stepped back even farther until we felt the door up against our backs; there wasn't a doubt in my mind that Toni could take me and Zayn at the same exact time.
"Got it?" Toni demanded.
I nodded furiously as she looked at us both with the brightest flame of anger in her eyes, I saw Zayn nod in the corner of my eye just like me, too.
"Good," she said stepping back a little," now get out."
"C-Can we at least work something out so-
"I said get out, now. I will not repeat myself again." Toni snapped, cutting me off before I could say anything else.
I looked at Zayn, seeing what he thought. All he did was nod and turn around towards the door, I followed suit and took one last glance at Toni. She was seated on the edge of the boxing ring with her head in her hands and, judging on how fast her chest rose and fell, I could tell that she wasn't happy..or mad.
I waved Zayn on and turned back to walk over to Toni. I moved silently and didn't attempt to make a sound as I sat down next to her. Not knowing what could happen, I took the risk and put my arm around her shoulder. She flinched at my touch at first, and peaked from under her arm to meet my gaze. When she saw it was me she pulled her hands down and away from her face and sighed.
"What are you still doing he-
"Shh." I cut her off and pulled her into my side, rubbing her right arm comfortingly.
She didn't even look at me harshly or comment, she just took a deep breath and leaned against me, putting her head on my right shoulder. We didn't talk for a few minutes, but the dead silence made it seem like an eternity.
"Can I just ask you one thing?" I asked quietly, being the first to break the silence.
"Sure." Toni shrugged.
"Why do you have to push so hard? All I want to do is help you." I said simply.
"Because..." she trailed off and shrugged.
"Because look what opening up gets you. You have the lads and I by your side, no matter what the circumstances. I wouldn't be sitting here if I didn't care, Zayn wouldn't have helped if he didn't care... none of us would've had you stay with us if we didn't care about you, Toni." I pulled away from her a little and watched as her shining green eyes met my dull blue-green ones.
"You can push us all you want," I said quietly," but I, for one, will never leave you behind to struggle. Especially not all on your own."
Toni eyes seemed to search mine, probably looking for any sign of doubt, with a look of confusion.
"Why?" She asked after a moment, referring to why I, or any of the lads, should care.
"Everybody deserves to be cared about by at least one person." I said with a smile.
A corner of Toni's full lips pulled up in a sort-of-smirk; I got her to trust me, at least I think.
"I trust you, Toni. Would it be wrong of me to want the same from you?" I asked.
"I," she took a deep breath, centering herself," I do trust you."
The thought of her ever trusting me someday made me feel complete and content, actually hearing her say it made me unbelievably happy and whole inside.
"So tell me what's going on." I begged in a desperate whisper.
"I just owe a very important someone a very high amount of money." She said simply.
"Why did you take it in the first place?" I asked.
"It was when I was just an amateur and my dad was too sick to help out. I needed money because I wasn't fighting for much money and the gyms business had gone down. The bills were over due, but they weren't too much. I had grabbed a few serving jobs and a job at an animal park, earning as much as I could before it was too late." Toni explained, stopping to look at me for a second to make sure I was paying attention. I nodded in approval, and she continued.
"I had three days left until the bank would take away the gym. I told my dad I had everything under control, he was looking death in the eyes and didn't need the stress. I had already started the training for the UBL and had a few connections at that time. I asked the handler for some cash, promising to pay him back the moment I got it all set for him. I lost track of time after my dad died...taking on 9 fights a week, some being one right after another. I had worked extra time here with customers and handled every single bill, paying every single one making me safe for the next 6 months. I had barely enough by the time I was done, at least 450$ after two weeks. Max sent me that email, reminding me of it.. I had had 12,000$ stashed away and he took it one day. I have 7,350$ coming from tonight's fight if I win, and only 3,000$ if I lose, Assuming I win, I'll have only 950$ left to gather by the end of this week."
"What happens if you don't get it? I mean, that's only two days away." I pointed out.
"Max and his boys will be here for me." Toni said quietly, looking down at her hands that rested in her lap.
"What does that mean?" I asked.
Think about it, Louis. He's the damn Handler of the UBL, a league of boxing with no rules. Toni said it herself one night, people die in her field of interest and work.
"He'll try to kill you?" I asked, stunned.
She shook her head quickly, but sighed.
"He'd come close enough, giving me time to recover and get him what he wants. However, I would have to actually go and give it to him, versus mailing it or leaving it somewhere for him."
"What's that matter?" I asked.
"Even if I got it to him, in that situation, it would be late... And he would have the ability to take me down just for making him wait."
"So, this guy could kill-
"Toni!" Dan called, interrupting our conversation as he walked into the gym.
"What?" She called back.
"Let's go, fight's in an hour. We gotta get there early to check the balance and make up for lost time." Dan explained.
Toni stood, taking a second to look back at me.
"Please don't say anything." She mouthed.
Before I could respond she reached around me, grabbed her bag, and took off after Dan. Leaving me to think about how I could possibly save her from this inevitable meeting with this notoriously dangerous man.