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Series: On The Ropes
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Also by this author: Fighting Shadows, The Fall Up,
I was born a fighter. Abandoned by my parents, I spent my life forging my own path—one guided by my fists and paved with pain.
Untouchable in the ring, I destroyed everyone who faced me, but that’s where my victories ended. Outside the ropes, I repeatedly failed the few people who loved me. Including my best friend, Liv James—the one person I’d die to protect.
Even though I didn’t deserve her, Liv never stopped believing in me. Never gave up. Never let go. After all, she understood what I’d lost, because she’d lost it too.
Liv was everything to me, but she was never truly mine.
That was going to change.
I lost my first love, but I refused to lose my soulmate.
Now, I’m on the ropes during the toughest battles of my life.
Fighting to be the man she deserves.
Fighting the solitude of our pasts.
Fighting for her.
“Mia!” I shouted.
It was worthless. She’d been deaf since the day I met her.
She’d never once heard my voice.
She’d never heard the deep rumble of my laugh when she was excited, signing so fast I could barely keep up.
She’d never heard my content sigh when she barged into the locker room after a fight—just her presence soothed the lingering madness brewing within me.
She’d never heard me whispering my deepest fears into her ear as she fell asleep on top of me.
She’d never heard the reverence in which I cried her name each and every time I took her body.
And she’d never once heard the ease in which the words I love you tumbled from my lips as I stared into her deep, jade green eyes.
But as I screamed her name while watching her petite body seizing in the passenger seat beside me, I’d never needed her to hear me more.
“Mia. Oh God. I’ve got you, baby.”
She was still thrashing violently as I made my way around to her door, yanking it open while pleading with whatever god was willing to help.
When she stilled, a whole new level of silence filled the air around us. It wasn’t the absence of sound.
It was the absence of life.
“Mia, breathe!” I roared as her chest remained agonizingly still. “Help me!” I screamed at the closed emergency room doors, but no medical savior rushed out with the miracle I so desperately needed.
My hands shook wildly as I released her lifeless body from the seatbelt.
“I’ve got you, just hang on. Please just hang on, Mia,” I whispered lifting her into my arms and sprinting through the sliding doors. “I need a doctor! She’s not breathing!”
Nurses rushed towards me in slow motion as the seconds without air in her lungs passed at a terrifying speed.
A doctor appeared with a gurney and quickly took her from my arms.
The immediate loss was staggering.
Hope became my only solace.
She needed help that I wasn’t capable of giving her, but that didn’t stop me from following close behind as they rolled her away. I was on the verge of self-destructing; letting her out of my sight wasn’t an option.
I stood motionless in the doorway while doctors and nurses swarmed around her. Their mouths moved frantically, but without my hearing aids I was worthless to make out the words their faint voices carried.
I never wore my hearing aids when I was with Mia. There was no point. She rarely spoke with her voice.
We’d spent four years building a relationship with our hands.
Those hands had told me animated stories that made me laugh until my face hurt from smiling.
They’d fought with me relentlessly, but always ended the night raking down my back in silent ecstasy.
Her fingers had fluidly signed I love you more times than I could ever count—or forget.
But as I felt the nurse attempting to physically remove me from the room, my eyes became fixated on her limp hand dangling off the side of the bed. It was the only sight more frightening than watching her flail mid-seizure.
It ripped the heart straight from my chest.
That hand was supposed to be full of life.
It was the very essence of Mia.
Sucking in a deep breath, I held it until the room began to spin.
It provided me no relief even as it forced me to my knees.
There would be no distraction from this.
I was going to lose her.
Yet another woman I couldn’t save.