Page 77 of Coercion

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“That’s all talk.Don’t be a pussy.”

“Tell me one thing first.”Will jumps, curling his hands around the ropes at the top.Mountain Man takes an involuntary step backward.I would, too, if Will was looking at me that way.“Did you think you could touch her and get away with it?”

“I did get away with it, motherfucker.”

Will grits his teeth and swings himself over the ropes, and this is it.This is my moment.I won’t get another one.

I shake the ropes off my wrist and scramble out of the seat.Two fast steps and I’m off the folding chair.I wrench it shut with both hands.Flip it over.Wrap my fists around the legs.

I propel myself toward Mountain Man and swing the chair at his head with every bit of strength in every muscle in my body.

The folded seat connects with his head alotharder than I thought it would.Vibrations shoot up into my hands and arms, all the way to my shoulders.Mountain Man stumbles, swaying forward, his hands coming up to throw a punch or or grab the ropes or I don’t know what.I want to drop the chair, but instead I plant my feet and swing it again.

He falls, his knees hitting first, then his giant torso.The impact shakes the springy floor of the ring.I feel so powerful that I could almost believe the vibrations will get stronger and stronger until the whole warehouse comes down.

But no, that wouldn’t be good.I didn’t want to destroy a building.I just wanted to protect Will.

And…wow.I’ve never hit anyone with a chair before.I’ve never hit anyone with anything before.

“Bristol.”Will moves slowly into my field of vision, his hands out in front of him.“Sweetheart.Are you okay?Are you hurt?”

I don’t understand why Will Leblanc, of all people, is being so cautious when he’s the one who was about to fight Mountain Man to the death.

Then I realize I’m still brandishing the folding chair.

I wave it around a little bit and give Will a shaky smile.“Got him.”



I can hardly breathe,let alone think.Bristol lets out a disbelieving laugh and wrinkles her nose at the chair like she’s just discovered it in her hands all over again.

“What should I do with this?Should I—”

The warehouse door opens again with another loud, hollowbang.

“Where is he?”Sinclair shouts.

I look away from Bristol long enough to see Sinclair and Emerson running across the warehouse toward us.Em has a slight edge on Sin.He reaches the ring first and without breaking his stride he makes a flying leap up to the ropes, then hauls himself over.

It looks way too easy.Yes, he’s constantly leaping onto and off of his surfboard, but that’s nothing like the ring.

Or maybe I’m still under the influence of a lifetime’s worth of adrenaline and I don’t know what the hell I’m talking about.

“Are you okay?”He looks from me to Bristol, his eyebrows going up at the sight of the chair.“Bristol?Any injuries?”

“I hit Mountain Man with a chair.”She uses a conversational tone that could mean she’s going into shock.“I’m not sure about next steps.”

Sinclair lands inside the ring and spots the length of rope on the floor.“What the fuck was this guy doing?Hey, Bristol?More than fine for you to put down the chair.Anywhere on the floor’s fine.”

Bristol nods and releases her grip on the chair, which hits the floor at her feet and bounces once before it settles.Then she scrambles over it and rushes into my arms.

I inhale the citrus scent of her skin and the clean-laundry scent that’s specific to our house, Jesus, we have ahouse, and she’s lived in it for long enough that it’s all over her.Bristol trembles, her arms tight around my waist, and I run my palms over her shoulders and her back and thread my fingers through her hair and generally try to get my shit together.

Sinclair reaches for his phone in his back pocket.“Much as I hate to involve cops, we should probably call to check—”

“The hell.”On the floor behind Emerson, Mountain Man groans.“What thefuck.”He pushes himself up with surprising speed, one hand clapped to his head.