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Chapter 24

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I smiled, waving goodbye to Poppy as I left work. My Vans scuffed along the pavement as I started the walk home. I rummaged around in the bag over my shoulder, pulling out my Ipod and unwrapping the headphones. The buds were placed into my ears, flicking through the songs until I found a good walking beat.
My vision aimlessly wandered along the road, not taking much notice of my surroundings. The breeze picked up slightly, lifting my hair from my shoulders. I turned a corner, taking the short cut I always did across a car park. But I had to take a second glance as my eyes fell on a large black vehicle. One of my headphones was removed as I strolled a little closer. It had to be his car. I recognised part of the number plate.
I spun round on the spot, searching for the tall curly-haired guy that made my heart flutter. My disappointment surprised me a little. My gaze flicked to the building that the car park belonged to. It was some sort of gym. I found myself curious, wandering over to the entrance. My hands pressed to the glass door, struggling to open it. Once inside I wrapped my head phones up and placed my music back in my bag. The reception area was large. A number of doors leading off into different parts of the building. The white walls were littered with fitness posters. A woman at the desk smiled at me, a gesture which I reciprocated.
"Can I help you, Miss?"
I turned my head, having to tilt it up to see a rather tall, muscular man. His large frame intimidated me. I think my nervousness was apparent, as his stern face soon transformed into a friendly smile.
"I, umm..is Harry here?" I asked hopefully.
He looked at me for a second, his eyes taking in my full appearance. Confusion flashed his features before he spoke.
"Styles?" His deep voice questioned.
I nodded.
"Yeah. He's..." His head turned from side to side. "Come with me."
I followed the man into a massive training room. The smell of testosterone filled my senses. There were numerous people scattered round the space. All of them working out, lifting weights, doing press ups, taking swings at punching bags. My eyes were drawn to the middle of the hall, a large boxing ring in the centre. Worn ropes surrounded the raised fighting platform.
"He's right over there, Love."
He pointed over to a corner. I thanked him, expecting him to walk away but he seemed interested in the situation. I began to walk over to where two guys were stood barefoot on blue mats. Harry's curls were instantly recognisable, some small ringlets stuck to the nape of his sweaty neck. The sleeves of his grey t shirt were rolled up his strong arms. My eyes scanned down his long legs which were covered by dark blue shorts. He kept his back to me as the other man sprung on his feet.
"Again!" Harry's raspy voice shouted.
The guy stood opposite him took a swing at the strike pads Harry held out. He easily absorbed the impact, instructing him to make a left hook.
I didn't interrupt. Instead I wandered over to a table up against the wall, lifting myself up to sit cross-legged on the surface. I removed the strap of my bag, placing it beside me. My eyes intently watched the actions being carried out before me. Harry's muscles flexed as he continued to take hits to the strike pads on his hands. His back was to me, but the guy who was throwing the punches curiously peered round Harry in my direction.
A giggle escaped my mouth as Harry hit him round the back of the head with one of the pads.
"Don't take your eyes off your opponent." Harry told him.
They laughed, playfully nudging him in the shoulder.
"Well, what if it's to look at her." He replied, smiling.
Harry swiftly turned to see what he was talking about. A confused frown etched into his sweaty features before he focused on me. The deep dimples in his cheeks popped, a grin gracing his face. I gave him a small wave.
"Let's take a break." Harry told the guy who he was training with.
The gloves and strike pads were removed from their hands. Harry bent down to retrieve a water bottle from the floor before strolling over to me.
"Hello, Beautiful."
He stopped in front of me. His height towering above.
"How'd you find me?" He asked enquiringly.
"Oh, I recognised your car outside. I was walking home from work." I replied.
A blush crept onto my cheeks as he stared at me. He only had to look at me with those sparkly green eyes and butterflies erupted in my stomach. I quickly chose to change the subject, not certain how much more of his intense gaze I could handle.
"You're a personal trainer."
"No." He shook his damp curls, smiling.
"No?" I replied.
"I'm a boxing trainer."
My eyes widen slightly.
"Wow." I mumbled in disbelief.
He chuckled, gripping the hem of his top and bringing the material up to his forehead. I couldn't help but linger on his stomach as he gave me a nice view of the toned muscles. I had a feeling the action was carried out more for my benefit than his. My suspicions were confirmed, a cheeky smile spread across his plump lips as he brought the clothing back down. His forehead free of glittering droplets. I shyly smiled as he winked at me. Harry took a swing of water from his bottle, his tongue gliding over his lips as he replaced the cap.
"How come you're a boxing trainer?"
His eyes locked on mine, smile dropping slightly. Harry moved round to sit beside me on the table. When he didn't reply, I playfully nudged his shoulder. He lightly chuckled before turning to me.
"The job helps me manage my anger problems." He spoke quietly. "Well, it's supposed to anyway."
We sat talking for a little while longer as Harry cooled down. I noticed a few people repeatedly glancing at us. Their slightly confused expressions made me question if they had ever seen Harry act this way round a female before. I knew from rumours and hearsay that his reputation with women wasn't the best. Harry's raspy voice broke me out of my thoughts.
"You wanna have a go?" He smiled.
"Come on." He laughed.
Harry stood up, placing the bottle beside me. His fingers went to the zip of my hoody, pulling it down and ridding me of the clothing. Harry then bent down, removing my shoes. I giggled, wriggling my toes as he pulled my socks off. Large hands held my hips as he lifted me from the table, my bare feet touching the cool floor. My fingers were entwined with his as he led me over to the ring. I watched as Harry climbed onto the edge offering a helping hand, tugging me up after him. The ropes surrounding the ring were held open for me to duck through.
I walked round the surface, wondering how many boxing matches had been held here. My vision quickly drew back to Harry who was grinning as he intently observed me. His body leaning against the ropes.
"Do you fight?" I asked.
Harry shook his head.
"They, err...They told me it was too dangerous for me to fight. That's why I train instead."
I tilted my head to the side, not completely understanding his explanation. He noticed.
"Apparently I punch out of my weight class." Harry paused. "It wouldn't be safe for my opponent."
My mouth made an "o" shape, not being able to respond verbally to him. I had assumed Harry was just angry when he took his aggression out on other males. That's how he was able to use his strength to beat someone who was of a larger build than himself. But I didn't realise it was something he possessed normally, without being provoked or angered. My mind flicked back to when I took Harry to my house. The night he had taken a substantial beating from Jake. Harry was drunk and outnumbered. He wasn't able to defend himself because he wasn't coherent enough.
I gripped the ropes surrounding the ring as I slowly walked round the edge, back to Harry. I found myself drawn to his arms, curiosity taking over. My right hand hesitantly reached out to him. Fingers only managing to wrap round part of his toned arm. I could almost feel the strength Harry emitted. The power behind every punch he had given. I couldn't help but feel intimidated by him. Harry's frame was built much larger than mine, his height towering over me. If he ever turned on me I wouldn't stand a chance. The eerie thought chilled through my body. It was almost as if he had read my mind, his head dipped down to my ear. My forehead rested against Harry's shoulder, fingertips pressing into the warm skin as he spoke.
"I would never hurt you." Harry whispered.
I closed my eyes, his words giving me a sense of protection and safety. We were interrupted by someone clearing their throat. My head darted up to see the man who had led me to Harry earlier. He had a smug grin plastered on his face before Harry told him not-so-politely to go away. He laughed before strolling off towards the door.
"Have you done anything like this before?" Harry asked.
He helped me in putting on the gloves as he spoke.
"No, but I feel tougher already."
Harry laughed at my comment.
"Well, I think we both know you can slap the shit out of someone twice your size."
"Hey." I protested whilst laughing.
I playfully hit him in the shoulder with my right boxing glove. He pretended to wince, rubbing over the area with his hand. A small giggle escaped my lips as I nudged him to stop. Harry moved to stand directly in front of me.
"Right, so this is a simple defence. You bring your forearms up like this to deflect a punch. It's called a block."
I watched as Harry drew his arms together, bringing them up to protect himself.
"Like this?"
I attempted to copy him.
"Yeah, but try not to raise them too high. Otherwise you risk exposing your middle."
He playfully poked me in the stomach to prove his point. I laughed as Harry moved to stand behind me. I was vaguely aware we were being watched by multiple pairs of eyes from round the hall, but my focus stayed with Harry. My back lightly touched his chest as he brought a strong pair of arms round to my front. His large hands gripped my elbows, repositioning them lower.
"That's it."

Tom's POV
A few of the guys watched on as Harry continued to teach the girl how to block. It was weird, none of us had really seen him like this before. He was being cautious, perhaps overly so as he grinned at her. She flicked her head, attempting to rid her vision of the hair that fell over her eyes. Harry's laugh echoed before he reached forward to her, tucking the loose waves behind her ear.
"Is that her?"
I turned to see Danny, his expression questioning as he nodded towards them.
"The girl? Um...Bo?"
"I think so."
When asked if Harry was seeing someone, he would normally laugh, shaking his head. He was never really one for serious relationships. To be honest, I don't think I'd ever seen him in anything vaguely considered a relationship. But when asked the question again a couple of days ago he reacted differently. He became stern, a little defensive. Obviously the thought of one girl in particular crossing his mind. The only information revealed was her name and even that he was protective over. Bo.
We stood and watched. They were playful with each other. I had never seen Harry look so happy. His eyes constantly trained on her as she swung a right hook to his hand.
Harry was always the one to pull first when we went out to a bar. I guess the ladies were drawn to his dark demeanour. The bad boy image he emitted proved to be an alluring attribute when attracting the opposite sex.
I curiously sat back against the wall, taking a sip from my bottle of water. Danny went back to his training as I watched them interact further. Bo definitely wasn't Harry's usual type and it made me wonder where they met. How could two people so different be completely captivated by each other? They shouldn't be compatible.
The only way I could describe the relationship in front of me, was darkness and the light.
Harry leant down, whispering something into the girl's ear. Her face flushed slightly, looking to the floor of the ring. Harry chuckled before placing a kiss to her cheek. She retaliated by lightly punching him in the stomach. He managed to dart his arms out at the very last second as Bo jumped up to him. His hands cupped her thighs but the action must have caught him off guard as they went tumbling backwards.

Bo's POV
Harry stumbled back, falling with me on top of him. I giggled, apologising as he let out a groan, his eyes squeezed shut. My body wiggled before he caught hold of my forearms.
"Hold still." He laughed.
His long fingers fumbled to remove my gloves. Once they were off I gripped his wrists, pinning him to the ring floor. Green eyes sparkled up at me, a smirk crossing his full pink lips.
"I surrender." He joked.
My fingers pressed into his warm skin.
"Do I win?"
His smile faded slightly. The intensity of his gaze made me feel weak. A certain darkness could be felt as he focused on me alone.
"You win." He whispered.
But we were soon broken out of our own little world. My cheeks blushed slightly as I looked to the side. I was still on top of Harry. A knee either side of his waist. I had forgotten we were in the middle of a gym. The ring in the centre of the floor attracting numerous pairs of eyes as I pinned Harry.
"Oi, Oi!" A guy cheered. "Get in, Styles!"
"That's it." Harry abruptly spoke.
I let out a small shriek as he rolled me off him. He stood, bending down before gripping my hips and lifting me over his shoulder.

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