Thirteen

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Part One

I look at the time on my phone. Six a.m. on the dot. Hope gymnasium is well known, right in the centre of town. Living up to its high prestige, it homes the best of the best, from bodybuilders and footballers to fitness models and boxers. I have no doubt that Jake is one of the best in his field. After researching more on his new career, to date, he hasn't lost a single match. His almost instant success has catapulted him through the rankings, paving way for him to easily conquer national champion status.

Watching wearily from afar at the entrance of the bricked building, the feeling of not belonging starts to overwhelm me. Both men and women with impressive physiques enter through the automatic double doors. I can't remember the last time I stepped into a gym, nor have I worked out in months. Especially with the weight I've lost over the last couple of years, physical weakness alongside my demotivation has proved to be the biggest barrier between myself and exercise. Trying to push aside the insecurities that are urging me to turn around, get in my car and go home, I instead force my legs to walk in after these people.

I'm here, where are you? I text Jake as I enter through the doors. It's a great way to keep me looking down at my phone rather than at the intimidating figures striding alongside me.

The gym is huge. The sound of steel clunking and crashing together is audible above the hip-hop music playing through the huge speakers angled at every corner of the tall concrete walls. It's not a commercial gym made for the everyday gym-goer, rather the atmosphere is more professional, everyone knows exactly what they're doing and they look like they're about to fight a bear.

My phone pings with a text from Jake.

First floor, come up the stairs, I'm in the boxing ring. Tell reception you're here to see me, they'll let you through.

As if on queue to his message, what looks like a personal trainer calls over to me from behind the reception desk.

"Can I help you?" She smiles, revealing a set of perfectly white teeth that gleam against her tan skin. Her brunette hair falls onto square shoulders, the toned muscles of which must have taken her years to build and perfect.

"Yeah, I'm here to see Jake," I say, conscious of my petite, weak arms compared to her strong ones.

"Ah yes, Flo is it?" She replies, to which I nod, a little surprised. "He said you'll be coming," she smiles a little wider. "Head on in, I think he's upstairs."

Walking through the barrier that she opens for me, I start for the large set of stairs that runs along the perimeter of the furthest wall and bends to reach the first floor. Right on the landing stand two enormous men with their arms crossed over their chests, both wear an all black outfit of a t-shirt and trousers. Their muscles bulge into the fabric, threatening to tear it at its seams. Hiding whatever is behind them by their freakishly massive builds, I can't see the first floor, or Jake.

"Alright love?" The more intimidating one of my left meets my eye. He's white and bald with a sternness to his demeanour.

"Yeah, I'm here to see Jake."

"Name?" The other asks, his facial features a little less rigid.

Are they even more of Jake's body guards? Is Kevin not enough?

"Flo Brine," I speak hesitantly.

They both turn to each other to exchange a look, the less scary one almost smirks. After the most awkward moment, they step aside to reveal the first floor. Right in the middle of the grey concrete is a square boxing ring, and right in the middle of the ring stands Jake. Actually, he isn't standing, rather he's quick on his toes to dodge an incoming jab from his opponent. His arms are flexed and held up to protect his face as he shuffles around him before he's able to swing a punch. The other guy isn't as quick to avoid it and gets hit square in jaw. The headgear worn by them both protects from much pain I'm assuming, but still, it was a good enough punch that leaves his opponent dazed for long enough that Jake was able to through another and send him to the ground.

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