I was up, dressed, packed up, and in the gym at 3:45, am of course. Dan wasn't here yet, but that didn't surprise me. I was always the first one here and the first person to get things done, which is why I never listen when he gives me time limits.
I took the time to go into my dads old office, my current one, and take a seat in his favorite old leather chair that stood behind the glass desk. Despite my dads usual tastes, he had always kept the gym up to date with the latest and greatest modern accessories. I reorganized the bills that we scattered on the desks glass surface and shook the mouse to the computer that hadn't been touched in a while. The Mac screen lit up quickly with my user already logged on, the monitor picture being set as me and my dad after my first match when I was 5.
I clicked through as many emails that my head could take the time to read and remember and responded to a few, most being customers asking about hours or the different packages that the gym offered. The one email that stood out was from an unfamiliar address.
Subject: No News Is Good News
Date: Date not set
To: Toni Medeiros
Considering you haven't been underground in a while and your recent activity in the hospital I assume that something's come up. No matter, you're out now and I expect my money to be earned and paid by the end of this month- July, by the way...you never did care about dates considering how well you keep up with time limits. With that said, I'm giving you a limit; you have 1 week from today to have my money in my hands. Today is the 24th, the date it's expected is the 31st. May I remind you that you aren't as tough as you, or anyone else, may think. I want my money back Medeiros, fail to give it to me and a broken leg will be the least of your concerns. I hope to see you soon.
P.S. Nice work taking care of that girl Maggie, that's one less boxer that I have to deal with.
Owner and Handler of the UBL (Underground Boxing League)
I quickly switch off the monitor and struggle to sift through the pile of papers littering my desk.
It has to be somewhere. I knew it was, I put it there not even a week ago.
It took me a few minutes to find the manila pouch that was hidden in my usually locked drawer. On the front was a number that I had hurriedly written. 12,000$. Considering what was in there it was unusually light. As I opened it, much to my dismay, I found it empty except for a small, ripped piece of paper with writing on it.
Good job, now where's the other 8,000$?
"God damn it!" I yelled in frustration. That bastard's been in my gym! In my office! What the hell am I gonna do? I needed that all for the bills and everything else that the gym required. It's gonna take me a lot more than a fucking week to get 8,000$. I'm gonna have to close the gym for the next week, or only allow those enrolled in a program to come in. I don't have time to train people, and I definitely don't have the money to add another employee into the mix. I need that money or Max'll have my head on a silver fucking platter.
As the sound of the front door closing filled my ears I slammed the drawer shut and shut off the computer completely.
"Toni?" I heard Dan call, followed by the sound of keys hitting glass.
The clock on the wall read 4:25; the one time I need more time he decides to show up according to plan.
"Fuck," I muttered under my breath.
"I'm all set, I'll meet you in the gym." I called back quickly.
I ran out of the room quickly, not bothering to close the door and dashed to the gym.
"You're here early." Dan said as I walked in, not bothering to turn around as he pulled out equipment from his bag.
"Yeah, I uh- I had a few things to deal with." I said out of breath, but not because of running. My body was buzzing with nerves and unneeded stress and worry.
"Sounds like you got started without me." Dan chuckled as he turned around.
"I guess you could say that." I said nervously as I spun to grab my wraps and gloves before he could see me.
"Something wrong?" Dan asked from somewhere closely behind me.
"No," I said taking a deep breath," I'm fine."
I turned around to face him and flashed a quick smile.
"You ready?" I asked, walking towards the ring.
"Yeah." Dan said quickly after a quick moment of silence.
As Dan slipped into the ring behind me, I put my gloves down in the corner and picked up my jump rope that was left in the center.
"Two minutes, no breaks," Dan instructed," let's go."
I held the ropes accordingly and swung the rope so I could jump it. The whole exercise was easy, but my nerves made me shake and the whole thing much more difficult than it needed to be.
Snap out of it, Toni! You got work to do, you'll never get that damned money if you sit here doing nothing but stressing like an idiot.
With that I put my poker face on and jumped faster until I felt the burn in my arms and legs that I wanted.
"Good work," Dan nodded," keep going."
I watched as he bent down to pick up the pads and slip them on his hands. After a minute he held one hand up, telling me to stop and motioned for me to go grab my gloves. It didn't take long for Dan to start pushing me, using anything from hooks and jabs, to the Parry, to the more difficult 'Pull Counter'. Some moves, such as the 'Dempsey Roll' and 'Gazelle Punch' were supposed to be difficult to combine or even do separately, but for me it was a series of simple moves that came naturally. Dan was working harder too, somewhat struggling to stay up with the amount of force I was putting behind every punch.
"Great work, you're doing great." Dan repeated from time to time.
We worked on perfecting my Pull Counter and Check Hook, which were Dan's favorites because every time we practiced them I got better and he was forced to, too.
A chorus of wolf whistles caused Dan to stop and look at the gym door. Using that as my advantage I hooked my leg around his and knocked him to the floor.
"Thanks," Dan strained with a cough.
"Never let your focus leave your opponent." I said simply.
As Dan got up I ignored the intruders and went to get a drink from my water bottle.
"Hey fellas, how's it going?" Dan laughed.
I took the time to look over quickly and see Harry, Liam, Zayn, and Louis watching me with both frightened and envious eyes, Niall had his face shoved in a bag of crisps.
"Hey Toni." They smiled.
"Hi." I nodded quickly, causing them to lose their smiles and look at me skeptically.
"You deal with them, I'm gonna go work with the speed bag and weights." I said to Dan, not showing the others any more attention than necessary.
"Oh, alright." I heard Dan say as I slipped out of the ring and walked in the opposite direction.
I watched Toni as she walked away, there was something about the way she walked that made her tension quite obvious- on top of her need to ignore us.
"What's up?" Liam asked Dan, nodding towards Toni.
"I honestly don't know, I'm just here to train her and get paid." He sighed, looking after her with obvious worry.
She was punching the speed bag with an abnormal amount of force and speed being exerted on her part. She didn't look angry, but stressed.
"At least her attitude's in check, we don't have much time for it at the moment."
"What do you mean?" Harry asked, looking at Dan as he averted his eyes from Toni and back to us.
"She's got a big comeback in her plans, my current job is to find her a big match."
"Well, have you?" Liam asked.
"Yes." Dan said reluctantly.
"But?" Zayn asked.
"But it's against a champ that came into the ranks after Toni dropped out." Dan explained.
"How the hell did someone take her place so quickly? She was out for like a week?" Liam exclaimed.
"The UBL isn't exactly legal, Liam. People aren't held back by weight classes as much and they sure as hell don't let time fly when they have the opportunity to make more money. When you become a champion, like Toni, you earn a high level of respect and street credit; nobody messes with you and you make double the money the longer you remain at the top."
"UBL?" I asked, confused as to what it stood for.
"Underground Boxing League." I heard Toni's voice call out.
We all turned quickly and saw her walking towards us, water bottle and gloves in hand.
"How much?" Toni asked, looking at Dan.
"Three and climbing." He responded.
"How long?" She asked.
"Two days." He said flatly.
"I need at least 6 by the time the fight comes around, after that another for around the same." Toni said, a flash of worry disappearing in her eyes just as quickly as it showed.
"Wait- six hundred?" Niall asked, finally coming up for air from the bag of crisps that he just had to have.
"Thousand." Toni said plainly, not bothering to look away from Dan's studying eyes.
Niall chocked on his crisps when he heard her response and looked at each of the lads.
"Wow, that much?" He asked stunned.
"Yes, now," she ripped the bag from him hands and threw it in the trash bin," go get changed and start working."
"Yes ma'am." Niall said quickly, hurriedly walking towards the locker room, obviously intimidated by the boxer.
Something was wrong with Toni, she seems to be going back to how she was when we first met, and by the looks it, the boys noticed it too.
Whatever it is, it's got her pretty stressed.. and I'm gonna find out and help her.