AN 1: Thanks to everyone who read and followed chapter one. Glad you're enjoying the story. Additional thanks to Hubby for the edit, and help with this chapter.
The bitch had to be lying. There ain't no fucking way she was telling the truth.
"Bullshit," I muttered, sliding my phone back into my gym bag. I sat hunched over on the locker-room bench, my head in my hands. "It's gotta be bullshit."
"Oi. Murphy. You alright, mate? You look like a ghost," Browne said.
"Yeah, it's all good, mate. Think I winded myself is all." Josh was good guy but he wouldn't have a fucking clue about this. "Just gimme a minute and I'll be sound."
A minute. An hour. Whatever. It didn't matter. This wasn't real. The phone call wasn't real. I sure as hell knew the news wasn't real.
Things like that didn't happen to me. Love 'em. Leave 'em. Maybe if she was good in the sack she'd get a phone call. Anything more just wasn't my style.
I hadn't given Megan a second thought, apart from to notice how well she'd taken the brush off. I was glad I didn't have to give her the usual spiel about how training left no time for relationships. The drawback to being me was afterward girls became obsessive, telling me they were willing to make it work and if only I'd agree, they knew we'd make a great couple.
Megan weren't like that. Or so I'd thought, until she'd called me. I figured she'd been thinking of me non-stop since the night we'd shagged.
"Hey, is this Kian Murphy?" Her voice sounded shaky. Not like I remembered it.
I knew I had to end things quickly before they got out of hand. "Listen, Meg, I had a really great time with you and all, but I just don't think my schedule will allow me to see you right now."
She laughed, but it sounded forced, like she was afraid.
"Actually, I wasn't calling to ask you out again. I wouldn't be calling at all if I didn't have to."
Well, this is a first…
More silence followed, until curiosity got the better of me.
"Then why are you calling?" Even though most birds I knew had a habit of calling someone for no reason, I figured there must have been something she wanted.
"The thing is…" Her voice trembled. Whatever she wanted wasn't good. The sentence tumbled out of her mouth in one long breath, "I'm-pregnant-and-it's-your-baby."
"What?"This is some sort of joke, right? Browne knows her mate, they've set this up together to screw with me."There's gotta be a mistake."
"No, there isn't. I took a test a couple of days ago, and would have called you sooner, but I've been trying to get my head around it. And before you ask, you're the only person I've slept with in the last few months. There's no mistake."
"Then the test is wrong."
She let out a bitter laugh, and said, "Pregnancy tests don't work like that. If it's positive, you're definitely pregnant. It's only when the test is negative that there might be an error."
"You haven't even been to the doctors. How can you know for sure?"
"I don't need to go to a doctor, I'm sure."
"I won't accept it until you've seen a doctor."
"Fine. I'll call you back later when I've been to my G.P," she said, and then hung up.
I looked up and saw the locker-room was empty. Training would be starting soon. Davi Silva, our trainer, would cut me some slack though. I was the Welterweight Champion and every gym in the country wanted me. Silva couldn't afford to piss me off.
The more I thought about it, the more I realised it didn't matter if Megan saw her doctor or not – she was pregnant. There's no way she'd've called if she wasn't sure. But was the baby really mine? She had no problem jumping into bed with me, what was stopping her shagging any other random guy she met? How did I know she hadn't got pregnant by some loser, and called me up because I was the better option? Hell, she could've been pregnant on the night we'd met, and thought I'd be an easy mark.
But Megan hadn't seemed like the type to sleep with someone like me then sell her story to the local rag. If I'd've thought that, I'd've stayed well away. After years of hooking up randomly in clubs, I could spot a gold digger from a mile away. Megan wasn't like that. The baby was mine.
I looked up to see Browne standing in the locker-room doorway. "Silva wants you to break in the new guy."
"Gimme a minute."
I stalked the hallway of the gym in a daze, until I walked smack bang into the receptionist, Ruby.
Fuck.She was the last person I wanted to see.
"Hey Kian. I was looking for you earlier." She pouted, and did that thing with her eyes I used to find sexy, but now made me wanna scream. "I was wondering if you were coming out with everyone else tonight. It'd be nice if we spent some time together."
I clenched my fists to my sides. Ruby had been bugging me for the last two months. No matter how many times I told her it was a one-time thing, the woman just kept coming back for more.
"Out of my way," I said as I pushed past her and walked into the training room.
Browne smirked as I came over, and he saw Ruby looking at me with a scowl on her face.
"She's got it bad man."
"Don't start with me today, pretty boy."
"Alright, don't get your knickers in a knot."
"Fuck off, smart arse."
Before we could carry on, Silva rushed over to see what the hold-up was.
I paced the floor as I waited for Browne to discuss something. When he was done, I said, "You wanted me to break the new guy in?"
The new guy was Bill Bagley, former Middleweight Champion of a promotion up in Manchester who'd moved to the Midlands, because we were the best and he knew it. His first fight was in a month, and Silva wanted to whip him into shape for the main event. I hated the prick.
"Yeah, Bagley needs to work on his ground game."
I gave Silva a look, but he was having none of it, and I knew I had to suck it up. Well, I wasn't gonna make it easy on the guy. Baptism by fire was more my style.
Stepping into the ring, I slipped in my mouth guard and focused.
For a bigger guy Bagley was surprisingly quick on his feet. I was quicker, mind. Within a few minutes, I'd taken him down. With my legs wrapped around his to limit his movability, I synched in a loose kimura.
"Bagley, if this was a real fight, Murphy would have you tapping by now. You've got to work out his weakness, and exploit it."
Hearing the challenge in Silva's words, I tightened my grip. This guy was going to learn the hard way.
Bagley struggled beneath me, but instead of focusing on the hold, the earlier conversation with Megan replayed in my mind.
All I could think about were those life-changing words, and my grip slackened. Bagley rolled over me, causing the hold to lose its pressure, clambered to his feet, and then came at me with a volley of ferocious punches.
"Submissions specialist my arse, ya pussy."
Without thinking, I sprang to my feet, and lunged at him blindly.
"The fuck did you say?" I said, pinning him against the turnbuckle with my arm to his throat.
Bagley batted my arm away and pushed me back. "You heard me, pussy."
Before I knew what was happening, my fist went flying into his nose, spraying his face with blood. He fell to the ground, letting out an anger-fuelled roar.
With one hand on his nose, and the other on the ground steadying himself, I slid under him and wrapped my legs around his mid-section again. I grabbed his arm and synched in another kimura, this time not releasing it until I heard the bone snap.
"Who's the pussy now, eh bitch?"
A pair of arms grabbed me from behind, and dragged me from Bagley as the first-aiders rushed over. In a haze, I was pulled away and shoved into a room.
When I'd calmed down a bit, I realised I was locked in Silva's office, and I realised how utterly screwed I was.
Letting out a deep breath, I dropped onto the leather couch. It'd be a while before Silva came to see me. He'd want to make sure Bagley was okay. That and he'd need to cool down himself. That'd give me enough time to think up an acceptable reason why I'd just broke the tosser's arm.
The thing is, along with Browne, Silva was my closest friend. He knew me better than anyone. He'd been my trainer and mentor since I'd started fighting. I'd've never won a championship without him. He was a former boxer, like my dad, and took no shit from anyone, least of all me. Sure, he kept me on side and let a lot slide, but he was also the one who always called me out on my bullshit.
Knowing I'd disappointed him made the situation worse.
I began pacing the small office, and spotted a photo on Silva's desk. It was of him holding his daughter Catarina when she was little. She was eighteen now, but Davi still treated her like a princess. She was his whole world.
Kids had never been on my radar before. You didn't get many coming to fights, and I certainly wasn't the favourite of the ones who did.
I looked at the picture again. All I could see were a pair of huge brown eyes staring up at me. The realization I was going to have a kid hit me like a punch to the gut. I was going to be a father. I wasn't sure if I was ready or would ever be.
"What the hell happened out there?" Silva entered the office and sat down on the couch.
"I don't know. I just lost it."
"What do you mean, you do not know?"
"I mean, I don't know what happened. One minute he's calling me a pussy, the next I'm beating the shit out of him."
"That's not good enough," Silva said. "You broke his arm. There's no way he's going to be able to fight next month. We're going to have to rearrange the whole damn card to make up for his absence. Doug wants to see you at his office on your day off to discuss what happened."
FUCK.Doug Taylor was the local promoter who arranged all the MMA events in the area. If he wanted to see me, I was in deep shit.
"You told him?" I couldn't disguise the outrage in my voice. It was like when I was a kid, and dad came home and mum told him all the naughty things I'd done.
"I'm sorry, Kian, but I had no choice," he said in an even tone, before his voice softened. "I just want to know what's going on. Earlier you go into the locker-room to take that phone call, and come out looking like you're going to pass out. And now you flip out over a bit of name calling. Evenyouaren't usually thisvolatile. Tell me what's wrong."
I knew Davi was like a dog with a bone when he thought something was bothering me. He'd known me for almost ten years. We travelled together and hung out on our days off.
Knowing it was best to get it over with and tell him, I bowed my head.
"You're not gonna like this, and I don't want you flipping out until I'm done."
"Would I ever do that?" Davi insisted. He had a point. During my time on the circuit, I'd done some stupid things. Everyone was always quick to claim I was going off the rails or that the pressure of the business was getting to me. Davi was the only person who listened to what I had to say.
"All right. Do you remember the night we went out for your birthday?"
Davi laughed. "You don't forget something like that."
"Right. And we went to that club with the live band. You know, the place where Browne hooked up with that girl in the silver-hot-pants-thing?"
Davi nodded, so I continued.
"When he went back to the hotel, some of us went to the chippy. I saw that girl's mate in there and chatted her up to cut the queue. She called me out on it, so I offered her a ride home, and well…"
Davi rolled his eyes. "Let me guess, you spent the night with her and never called back. Now she's desperate to see you again, and you don't know how to give her the brush off?"
I let out a harsh laugh. "Yeah, well, there's a little more to it than that. She called me again because she needed to tell me something…"
I wasn't sure what to say next. Davi was pretty good about most things, but I had no idea how he'd react to the news that I'd gotten some girl I'd hooked up with pregnant.
He beat me to the punch and said, "Please, God, don't tell me she's pregnant?"
I hung my head. I knew I'd disappointed Davi again, and it was more than I could take.
"Jesus Christ, Kian. You've done some pretty stupid shit, but this takes the cake. What the hell were you thinking sleeping with someone without protection?"
"I didn't think, and that's the problem," I said, feeling like shit for making such a rookie mistake. "We were getting it on, and she was so hot for me."
Davi shook his head, and put his palm to his brow.
"You're an idiot, you know that? Pregnancy is the least of your worries if you go around sleeping with any woman that so much looks at you. Didn't you stop to think that you could catch an STD? You'd be out of action until the condition was treated. Or worse, if it was a viral infections, like herpes, that would be it. Career over. Or does being an MMA fighter make you immune to the clap? You need to take a piss test before you leave."
"Don't start with the lecture, man. I know I fucked up on a grand scale. All I need to know now is how to fix it."
"What exactly did she say on the phone? Does she want you involved in the baby's life?"
"We didn't get that far. I refused to believe it, and told her I didn't want to hear anything else until she'd seen her doctor."
"You really are a class act, Kian. Don't you get how hard it must have been for her to call you up and admit she's pregnant? Then you go and react like that. I'd be surprised if you ever hear from her again."
"I guess that's the problem solved, isn't it?" I replied without even thinking. As soon as the words left my mouth, I regretted them. Even if Megan never called again this wasn't the end. Now I knew she was pregnant, I'd keep seeing the picture of Davi and Catrina, imagining it was me with mychild.
"No, this isn't the end of it. You're going to call her up, apologise for being such an idiot, and then ask her what she wants to do next."
"Say I do call her up and she forgives me. Then what? I don't know if I'm ready to have a baby. I don't know if I'll ever be ready."
"Who's to say she'll even want you in the baby's life?"
"Why wouldn't she? I'm its father, it's my right."
Davi shook his head. "Yes, because you've really acted like the perfect parent so far, Kian. You're on the road more than you're at home. She's the one who's going to be left behind raising the child alone."
"I'll give her money every month, that's all she needs, isn't it?"
"Are you really so naive to think that all it takes to bring up a child is a cut out of your pay cheque every month? It takes a hell of a lot more than that. You have to teach this child everything it needs to know to become a successful and well-grounded adult. You have to love and nurture it. I'm talking about school sports days, friend's birthday parties, parent-teacher meetings, helping with homework. Do you really think you can do all of that from the gym?"
"Other people do. You and Taylor managed it just fine."
"For Christ's sake. This situation is nothing like mine or Taylor's. Doug is married to the chairman's daughter; if he wants time off to look after his sick kid, he can have it no questions asked. I'd fathered my girls and split from their mother before I even retired from boxing. They're almost adults now, they don't need me holding their hands anymore."
"What you're saying is, if I want to have any part in my child's life, I've got to give up everything I've worked for my entire career?"
"No, I'm not saying that. But parenthood is about sacrifices, Kian. What you need to do first though is put your stupid male ego away, call her up, apologise and then take it from there. Ask her what she wants to do next, and make sure you let her know you're one-hundred percent willing to support her in all of this."
"You know what? Screw this. I can't deal with all this bullshit tight now." I got up from the couch and shoulder barged Davi out of the way when he tried to block my path to the door.
The rest of his words were lost as I stalked the corridor, and passed the locker-room. I was almost at the end of the hallway when Browne appeared.
"Hey, Kian. Wait up man. Are you alright?"
I ground to a halt, but didn't turn to face him. "Get lost, Brownie."
"Is this something to do with Ruby? Did you beat Bagwell up because you're pissed off at her?"
"No it fucking ain't. You know, the world don't revolve around that tramp. Just fuck off, alright?"
"Okay, don't get your kickers in a knot."
The phrase was one Browne used to mean it was okay, and he'd back off, but the mood I was in made it grate on me, and I span around to face him.
"Shut up will ya," I said, giving him a hard shove backwards.
"Don't start this shit, Murphy. Just 'cos something's got you all pissed off, don't take it out on me."
"Whatever." I shoved him again and strode away.
Walking aimlessly, I headed to the nearby park. I needed to be away from everyone. When I found a bench out of the way of people, I dropped down on it, and buried my head in my hands.
What the fuck am I going to do?
I didn't know the first thing about kids. The last time I'd even seen a baby up close was when I'd been forced to go to my cousin's christening ten years ago.
This is insane.
Davi was right, kids needed more than just money throwing at them. How could I be a father if I wasn't around? Kids needed someone to look up to, like I looked up to my dad. But I was hardly role model material.
The sound of screaming pulled me from my thoughts, and I saw a guy walking towards me with a little girl in his arms. She looked about three and had her head buried in his neck.
"Mind if I sit?" he asked.
"Sure," I said, shuffling along.
The girl stopped screaming, but she was still upset, and tears fell down her cheeks.
"She fell over and grazed her knee," the guy said, even though I hadn't asked. "And of course, she had to have an accident when it's my weekend to look after her. Her mum's going to kill me."
The guy turned his attention back to his daughter, who was complaining about the cut on her knee, and I was left with his words.
Would that be me in a few years' time; only seeing my kid at weekends? Or would Megan having the baby be easier to deal with if I knew I didn't have to be there all the time?
Dad had been away a lot when I was growing up, and even though we were pretty close now, I still wished he'd been around more when I was a kid. Could I do that to my own child?
I didn't have a fucking clue. I had no idea what type of father I'd be, but I realised sitting on a bench in the park wasn't going to help me figure it out. Davi was right, I needed to call Megan and sort things out. Even if it was just to say I wanted to be part of my kid's life, it was a step in the right direction.
I headed back to the gym and debated for a minute if it was a good time to call Megan. But I was just making excuses to put it off for longer. If she didn't answer, I could leave a message and try again later.
My body shook as I picked up my phone and hit call back. When she didn't answer straight away, I was tempted to give up and leave a message. Then she picked up.
"Hello." Her voice sounded like she'd just woken up or something.
"Hey, it's Kian."
"Hey." She seemed surprised.
"Sorry about earlier. I acted like a total dick, and you shouldn't have to put up with that."
"Thanks. I appreciate you saying that. I understand why you reacted like you did. It was unfair of me to spring the news on you like I did."
She sounded drained, like she hadn't slept in days. I wanted to make her feel better. She already had so much to deal with and I'd made it worse.
"It's all right. What else could you've done? I've been thinking, and whatever you want to do about the baby, I'll support you. If you want money or help with anything, just let me know."
"Thank you, that means a lot to me," she said. Her voice sounded a little less strained. "Erm, I've got an appointment with my doctor tomorrow, I don't suppose you want to come with me?"
"Yeah, sure. I haven't got training or anything. Want me to pick you up?"
"No, it's okay, I'll meet you there. Is the eleven-thirty okay?"
"Sure, that's fine."
"All right then, I'll talk to you tomorrow, Kian. And thanks for calling. It really does mean a lot to me that you're willing to support me through this," she said, sounding genuinely touched by the fact I'd phoned her.
"It's nothing, I just want what's best for you and the baby."
Megan gave me the address of the surgery, then we ended the call and rang off.
I let out a long breath. Speaking to Megan was the right thing. I was glad everything seemed okay, and she wasn't angry at me for acting like a dick.
Then a realization hit me. Tomorrow I was going to talk to Megan about the baby –our baby.
AN 2: Thanks for reading, if you enjoyed this chapter, please consider leaving feedback.
And, if you want to win a $25/ £25 Amazon Gift Card, head on over to my blog for my blogiversary giveaway, and details on how you can join my mailing list and street team – for more giveaway, snippets, updates and sneak peeks!