Suicide Zone

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Bree eyed the penalty box.  It was only a bench seat positioned at the side of the track, but it was where roller girls who’d pulled something illegal got sent for a minute.  Perhaps if she looked at it hard enough she could avoid going there during the bout, because her mood could best be described as savage.  She felt like pushing, punching, elbowing, head-butting.  She felt like ignoring safe contact zones and doing some damage. 

Last night with Ant had been out of bounds, off the track, and she only had herself to blame.  She’d acted like fresh meat who didn’t know her arse from her elbow in a jam.  She knew better.  She’d known players like Ant all her adult life.  They were heart crushers.  They were sanity wreckers.  They were a plague of bad skin and hideous weight swings.  They were the stain of regret that never quite washed off.  They were a good reason to skate alone, because they’d whip you into a brick wall soon as a better option showed up, or you challenged their notion of the world.  

She did not need a man like Ant in her life.  A colleague.  A competitor.  A stickyfoot.  He made Tom, with his demands and his assumptions, look like a safe option, a reasonable person.

But she’d wanted him.  She’d wanted his big sticky paws all over her.  And now she wanted some violence with a capital Vee.

She arrived at the track way too early, but she’d been so restless there’d been no point sitting around at home.  She sat in the stands and watched an intake of newbies in a fresh meat tryout.  They were running an obstacle course relay around thick ropes, chairs, scuffed witches hats and tatty boxes.  Each participant had to use a variety of skills from sidestepping and tip toeing to jumping and manoeuvring at speed.  If she’d have been in the mood there were plenty of laughs as skaters who thought they knew a thing or two found their expectations and skills levels challenged and discovered how much harder being a derby girl was than it looked.

The league needed all of these girls for their fees and all of their friends and family to fill the stadium.  And it needed sponsors for teams and for bouts.  Knowing that only made Bree feel guilty on top of cranky.  She’d promised to help find a new sponsor for the Tricks, but had done nothing about it.  Partly because she didn’t know how long she could keep up the double life of weekday financial market analyst and weekend derby doll without coming unstuck, but mostly because she had no idea where to start to find the money they needed to keep competing.

The newbies moved on to learning how to take the knee and fall small—keeping their hands in close to their bodies so not to get run over, and getting to their feet quickly without using their hands to avoid causing a bigger stack.  Bree knew these skills like she knew how to blink and swallow, but not last night.  She’d fallen big last night in an ugly way, emotions all over the place, by losing herself completely in Ant’s honesty and unexpected chivalry, and then forgetting what mattered in his rough kisses and heavy hands.  She shouldn’t have liked what he did so much.  He’d used his size to move her around like she was a puppet.  He’d used his confidence to appeal to her.  And she’d let him.  She could’ve stopped him at any time, she knew how to hit to hurt, but his sudden interest had thrilled her, made her blood pump fast and her senses fly off into the sunshine.  She’d wanted that exasperating man’s hands on her body and his tongue in her mouth.  And she’d wanted more.  She’d wanted clothes off and lips on, and a lost weekend of sensation and experimentation where she could be her whole self finally without judgement. 

But that wasn’t going to happen.  No way, no how, not freaking likely.  And much as she wanted to blame Ant for starting something she couldn’t finish, she knew that wasn’t fair.  She was the one who’d jumped the starter’s whistle.  But the jam between them had to be a onetime only thing, a bout best forgotten, because to continue to play was a fast, flat track to career headache and certain heartache.

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