Once we had walked to the repair shop to pick up the bike, we drove over to the boxing club. I was silently led into the building, my hand tight in his. The lights flickered on weakly, barely illuminating the room. My eyes quickly adjusted to the dim light. My body was suddenly tugged into Harry’s side, an arm snaking around my back. His fingers curled around my side, squeezing me softly.
“Should we have another training session?” he asked lowly into my ear. “In private. Before the lesson starts.”
The thought of being alone with Harry in that ring brought a devilish smile to my face. I nodded quickly, watching as a grin curled onto Harry’s face.
“Come on then,” Harry encouraged, tugging me into the changing rooms with him.
“Come on, Rosalie!” Harry encouraged, swiftly dodging my punches. “Again. Quick stabs.”
I pulled my arm back to quickly attempt a blow towards Harry. His body instinctively jumped to the side, his mitts still raised in front of him.
“Quicker, Rosie,” he ordered, jumping from foot to foot on the spot. His damp curls stuck to his head, sweat trickling down his face. Veins ran down his tense biceps, damp patches beginning to emerge on the material of his t-shirt around the neck and under the arms.
My arm snapped back, elbows in as I raised my gloved fists in front of my face. I glared at my component, watching the corners of his mouth turn up in amusement.
“Come at me, Brookes,” he teased, trying to flick back the damp curls from his forehead.
I considered his order, a devilish grin taking over my features. Harry took his bottom lip between his teeth, still moving from foot to foot.
“I dare you,” he whispered.
I quickly lashed out, landing a punch straight to his left mitt. Harry stumbled back at the impact, but the smile never faded, only to grow larger.
“Good,” he spoke. “Try again.”
He repositioned himself a few feet in front of me, mitts raised, chin up. I moved from each foot, gloves raised in the air ready to attack.
“Balance, Rosalie,” he told me, nodding down to my feet. I repositioned them, my right behind my left, raised eyebrows towards Harry.
“Better. Now try again. But not so much of an impact this time. Control it, Rosalie. Don’t let your strength get the better of you.”
I nodded quickly, taking in a deep breath to calm myself slightly. I held it in my lungs until I felt they would explode. The air rushed past my lips, my chest deflating. Harry gestured with his mitts for me to attack again, a reassuring smile on his lips.
My right fist flew forward, smacking against Harry’s right mitt. I took another blow to his mitt, left fist to left mitt. I repeated the action over and over, Harry’s grin broadening with each attack. My eyes shot from each mitt, intently watching my fists pound into the plastic to Harry’s hand.
“Keep it under control, Rosie,” Harry ordered.
I hadn’t realised my attacks had grown harder, a shaky expression on Harry’s face. I slowed down slightly, but my fists never stopped, continuously attacking Harry’s mitts. I felt drops of sweat trickle down my temples, my muscles ripping, heart pumping. I hissed out through my gritted teeth, eye never blinking as I watched my gloves strike the mitts.
“Okay, Rosalie,” Harry started, taking shaky steps back from me. “Calm down.”
I didn’t know what I was doing anymore. A mixture of pain and fright consumed Harry’s features. I landed a hefty blow to his left mitt, causing him to stumble back and land heavily on the floor. Seeing him frightened and shaking on the floor instantly made me stop. The colour had drained from his cheeks, gaze refusing to meet mine. I let my arms fall to my sides, tears threatening to spill. I hated whenever he reacted like this towards me. I hated the fright in his eyes. I hated being so much stronger than him.
Harry saw the shame splashed on my face. He got back up to his feet and pressed his mitts against my jawline to tilt my head up. I couldn’t stop the smile spreading across my face as he planted a sweet kiss to my nose, silently telling me he understood. That’s all I needed.
“Do you want to carry on?” he asked softly.
He kept the strong eye contact between us, barely blinking at all. Drops of sweat lingered on his forehead and under his eyes, cheeks red with the heat in the room. I finally considered his question, slowly shaking my head. I could feel anger bubbling under my skin. I wasn’t risking it. I refuse to put Harry in danger.
“Okay,” he whispered. “We’ll try again next time.”
His mitts fell from my jaw for him to rip them off, his arms snaking round my body. We were both boiling hot, sweat pouring out from our bodies, but neither of us cared. Harry pinned his forehead to mine, his pair of arms holding me securely to his chest.
“You’re doing so well,” he whispered to me, lips grazing mine as he spoke. “I’m so proud of you.”
And with that he leaned into me, his lips brushing mine. I let out a shaky breath as my bottom lip was taken between his. He knew he couldn’t kiss me, but he could tease me. It was the closest he could get to pleasure with me. But he’d take it. For me. Because he understands me.
As the moment soon grew heated, my gloved hands caged over Harry’s shoulders as he teased my lips, Harry began swaying from foot to foot to rock us. It was a soft motion, comforting my ripping muscles and my anger wanting to explode from me.
He soon let go of my bottom lip and buried his face into my shoulder, sweet kisses trailing up my neck as he swayed us softly. I held my breath as his mouth neared my mark once again. I let out a whimper as his tongue swiped across it, my eyes scrunched closed. Harry hesitated to see my reaction before carrying on, blowing softly on the wetness on my skin. My stomach flipped over inside of me, my feelings towards his man controlled by the man himself, no one else. That’s the one thing Samuel can’t control in my life: who I fall in love with.
Harry’s lips felt around my neck, checking to see if I had any uncomfortable reactions in certain places. He’d stop if I whimpered and hesitated before trying again, leaving his own teeth marks in places on my neck every so often. But there was one thing we’d forgotten, our intimate moment occupying our minds. Harry still had a class to run.
The boxing club door swung open, a parent and his child the first to witness us standing in the middle of the ring, Harry’s lips locked to my neck. The father of the child stood there, eyes wide with shock as he took in the sight of my boyfriend’s face buried in my neck.
I shoved lightly at his shoulders, an irritated groan forced through his lips at my reluctance for his touch.
“What...?” he moaned, once his head had risen from my neck. But his sentence died away when he turned his head to follow my gaze. “Shit,” he mumbled.
He spun around completely as the father and son stared at us in shock. I couldn’t stop the uncontrollable chuckles, the awkward situation almost amusing to me.
“Mr Bolton...” Harry spoke, striding out of the ring. I was left in the ring alone to laugh as Harry approached the man and child, trying to distract them from what they had seen moments ago. Harry cleared his throat before making small talk with the boy.
“How are you, Adam?” Harry asked the young boy, ruffling his hair softly. The child seemed unfazed by what he witnessed, grinning widely up at his boxing instructor. As Harry was distracted by Adam’s story about practising his defence techniques on his little sister, I giggled to myself in the ring. I cupped my neck softly, grinning at the feeling of Harry’s lips on my skin.
“Come on, Adam,” Adam’s father eventually said, interrupting his son’s story to Harry. “Let’s get you changed.”
Harry and I exchanged a glance, Harry’s bottom lip wedged between his teeth to tease me. I supressed a moan as Adam and his dad made their way into the changing rooms. Harry stared at me before slowly making his way over to the boxing ring. I watched him, my arms crossed and my head cocked to the side. My head tilted up once his tall frame shadowed mine. His hands tugged roughly at my hips, pulling me against him.
“God, you’re sexy when you’re all sweaty and hot,” he murmured into my ear. “I want to kiss you so badly,” he groaned, trailing wet kisses across my neck. I tugged at Harry’s curls, feeling the warm tingles rise to the surface within me, but I was too distracted by Harry’s groaning in my ear to notice them.
That’s when the door flew open. A group of kids ran into the boxing room, pulling me and Harry apart again.
“For fuck sake,” he murmured under his breath. “We’ll continue this later,” he growled before jogging out of the ring and towards the kids, giving me a seductive smirk before welcoming the kids.
I was instructed to sit onto the table at the back of the room, Harry smirking over at me from the ring as the boys burst into the room after getting changed into their sportswear. I jumped up onto the table, leaning back against the wall as the kids all ran into the ring at once. Harry’s attention averted from me to try and calm the ecstatic boys surrounding him at waist height. I laughed at Harry’s struggle to stop the boys from messing around, his attempts to call out above the level of noise proving harder than expected.
“That’s enough messing about,” Harry spoke, his strict tone making me grin. His stance quickly grew strict, back straight, a deep frown masking his face. “Now I want to see everyone warming up. What happens if you don’t warm up before a sport, Theo?”
“You pull a muscle, Harry,” Theo replied.
“Good, Theo. Now remember stretch every part of your body, starting from your head, down to your feet. You got that?”
“Yes, Harry,” the kids replied in unison before breaking away from Harry to do as they were told. The frown Harry was wearing instantly disappeared as our eyes met, a glint of cheekiness in his eyes.
I watched for several minutes as Harry strolled around the large ring to all thirteen boys, making sure they were all doing what he had told them. I’d rarely seen this strict side to Harry. I privately wanted to see more of it, his control over others letting off sparks in my body. Normally my whole life has been about being in control, but seeing Harry using it to aid and teach others gave me a spark of hope towards doing that myself one day, using my abilities for the good of others.
“Now once you’ve made sure you’ve stretched every part of your body,” Harry spoke, pacing around each child, “I want you to partner up with someone.”
The kids suddenly ran to their friends, arms slung over shoulders, loud chatter echoing in the room. Once Harry had calmed them down, his eyes scanned each child with their partner.
“Who doesn’t have a partner?”
The whole room’s attention averted to a small boy sheepishly raising his hand.
“Joe,” Harry started. “Why don’t you partner up with...my umm...friend here?”
Harry glanced over to me, a corner of his mouth turned up. I stared back as Harry gestured for me to join them. I bit at my bottom lip, slowly sliding off of the table. I didn’t really want to get involved. Kids were so fragile they’d break so easily if I lost control. They wouldn’t be able to defend themselves. I’ve done it before. I got out of control and hurt a fragile little body. And I’ll never forget it.
“Come on, Rosie,” Harry encouraged, arm outstretched towards me. I sheepishly made my way over to the ring, slipping in under the bottom rope. Harry quickly helped me up to my feet, a wide smirk adorning his face. He introduced me to the class before instructing the kids to grab a pair of gloves and mitts between them to remind themselves of the attack strategies they’d learnt in the previous lesson.
As the boys filed out of the ring to the equipment at one side of the room, Harry, Joe and I were left alone in the ring. Harry’s arm slipped around my body, fingers clasped around my side. The young boy shifted awkwardly on his feet in front of us, chin pressed to his chest.
“He’s shy,” Harry whispered to me, tugging my body closer to his. “I’m sure you’ll get along just fine.”
I glanced at him, receiving a cheeky smirk from my boyfriend.
“I’ll get you some gloves,” Harry spoke, nodding down to the small boy before joining the other boys crowded around the crate containing the equipment needed. “One at a time!” Harry bellowed. “Line up and I’ll give them out!”
I slowly turned back to the boy, his tiny frame a vast comparison to the strength I possess and what I’m capable of doing in a different state of mind. Joe was slim, the smallest of the group. Dark hair adorned his head, a pair of blue shorts and a white tank top worn on his skinny body. He looked so vulnerable. I didn’t want to do anything I would regret. But seeing this small child only made me want to protect him, not harm him.
I crouched down before him, putting a sweet smile to my lips.
“Hey, little man. I’m Rosalie,” I spoke softly.
“I’m Joe,” he mumbled, finally lifting his head from his chest.
I gave him a warm smile, knowing what it’s like to be the victim of the group, the outsider. Years I spent being bullied in that foster home. I just wished I’d taken up a sport like this when I was that age, before the night at the lake when my true identity was shown to me. It showed me this young boy had courage, but it needed to be worked on.
“Here you go.”
A pair of red gloves was passed to Joe and plastic mitts were thrust towards me. Harry stood over us, his hand on the back of my head. Joe silently pulled his small hands into the larger gloves, arms limp by his sides once they were secure. A soft kiss was planted on the top of my head before we were left alone, the other boys now back in the ring. Joe eventually lifted his gaze to meet mine, smiling weakly at the grin I was clearly displaying as I raised the mitts up between us.
“Let’s see what you’ve got, little man.”
I was on my knees opposite Joe as he practised his attacks against me in the ring. The whole room was full of loud chants of encouragement and the slapping of plastic against plastic. I grinned as my left mitt was smacked by a surprisingly strong right hook. The forceful impact of the attack shocked me. Joe grinned at my astonished face.
“You’ve got some serious muscle power, little man,” I spoke proudly.
“Thanks, Rosalie,” he replied, a wide grin across his face.
I repositioned the mitts back in front of him, gesturing for him to try again. Joe moved from foot to foot, gloves in front of his face as he eyed me up. I laughed at his intimidation, a smirk creeping onto Joe’s lips.
My right arm suddenly snapped back, Joe’s left glove connecting with my mitt. I smacked my mitts together, one eyebrow raised at my component.
“Now show me how strong you really can be,” I encouraged. “Try your hardest, little man.”
A grin grew across my face, punches sent flying to my mitts. Joe’s face scrunched up as he pounded his gloves against the plastic of my mitts.
“Balance, Joe,” I instructed over his continuous strikes he was making to the mitts. “Right foot behind left. That’s it. Now focus on the targets, Joe. Well done. Keep it up.”
I restrained against Joe’s attacks, beads of sweat emerging on his forehead as he unceasingly punched forward, left glove to left mitt, right glove to right mitt. I noticed a few boys glancing over to us, only widening my grin further.
“Alright, Joe. Calm it down a bit,” Harry spoke, placing his hands on the boy’s shoulders from behind. Joe’s fists slowed down slightly, breaths puffed out of his mouth. “You’ll pull a muscle,” Harry told him. “Keep it steady.”
Joe nodded, his body shrinking up again. I watched his confidence fizzle away, eyes avoiding the boys behind me. I turned around on my knees, catching them sniggering over to Joe. I glared at them before quickly turning back to Joe. I placed my mitts on his upper arms, smiling as his head lifted back up from his chest.
“Ignore them,” I spoke softly. “You’re much better than them, Joe.”
I let a warm smile light up my face, but my heart sank as Joe gave me a small nod in response, raising his gloves to hide his teary face. I let out a silent sigh before repositioning myself, mitts between us. I had lost Joe again.
We continued the lesson, Joe silently practising defence techniques with me. I was only able to coax a flicker of his mouth as he smiled or a slight laugh from him. He would occasionally nod or respond shortly to my instructions. I had finally managed to pull him out of his shell, but the pressure of others forced away his confidence again, leaving me with a vulnerable boy once more.
Once Harry finally ended the lesson, I took off my mitts to aid Joe in taking off his gloves before he gave me the first warm smile since the beginning of the lesson.
“You did well today, Joe,” I spoke softly. “Keep it up, little man.”
“Thanks, Rosalie,” he mumbled, giving me one of his rare smiles. Suddenly a pair of skinny arms flung around my neck. I stumbled on my knees, but soon regained my balance, rubbing Joe’s back soothingly.
“You’re the first person who’s ever been nice to me here,” he mumbled into my ear, “apart from Harry.”
I enveloped him in my arms, but kept them loose around his skinny body, worried I’d squeeze him too tight. I finally pulled his tiny frame from my arms, holding him at arm’s length, hands on his shoulders. I squeezed them softly, noticing the other boys all running into the changing rooms.
“Go and get changed,” I told him, a wide grin occupying my lips. “Ignore what the others say, Joe. You’re much better than them.”
Joe nodded, giving me one final smile before running off out of the ring and into the changing rooms. My eyes watched him until he disappeared behind the door, a smile touching the corner of my mouth.
A tall frame suddenly stepped in front of my kneeling form, hands clasping my head to tilt it upwards. I grinned up at my boyfriend, placing my hands over his on my cheeks.
“We have a few minutes alone,” he murmured down to me. “Let’s make the most of it.”