Right Kind Of Wrong Part 1:
Never Give In
Author's note: Ryan McCarthy and the rest of the cannon characters from the movie Never Back Down don't belong to me. Everything else does. This is going to be the first part of my series called Right Kind of Wrong which is where I pair all my favorite bad boys up. I hope you like it. This story is set in Orlando, Florida and since I don't live there, its possible I might have made some factual errors. If you find them, please forgive me and do tell me so that I can correct them. Thank you! Please read and review.
Ryan wiped the sweat of his face using his T-shirt. It was only 6:30 in the morning but he felt like he was boiling under the warm Orlando sun. Not to mention that running for five miles would do that you no matter what the time of the day was. Still, Ryan thought as he looked out at the shimmering blue waters of the lake, at least there weren't many people around. He normally ran and did his workout every morning around his private stretch of the lake but lately he'd seen a few guys hanging around the edge of his property. Apparently, 'Private Property' didn't really mean anything nowadays. Ryan knew that they weren't hanging around to get his autograph but were carefully recording his workout regime. The Final Beatdown, the biggest and toughest mixed martial arts competition in town, was going to happen in three weeks time; the participants were resorting to paranoia and spying on their opponents.
He wasn't going to give anybody the opportunity to have the upper hand over him. So he'd ditched his usual training ground and decided to use the public jogging track because no one would expect to find him here. He knew from years of experience that those idiots would be hanging around all day thinking that he'd come back later. They were nothing if not persistent, they were certainly being paid enough to wait there for a month, and whatever information they gleaned would be richly rewarded. Ryan knew all to well that even the slightest advantage over your opponent could be crucial to winning. He himself was so paranoid that he didn't even let his friends see him workout. He didn't want them to know what his weaknesses were. He didn't want to them to ever see him tired or exhausted after a workout either. It would ruin his image as the toughest fighter in Orlando. Still, whenever he was in the mood and wanted to show off at parties, he would do some pull ups or challenge someone to a fight. He always won of course.
Anna was a crucial step in winning again, Ryan acknowledged to himself. He had deliberately kept away from her after dropping her home from the lake. He wanted to fret and stew over it for a while and at the same time, come across as the good guy for giving her space. By now, however, he was pretty sure that she would be feeling a little irritated about him avoiding her. Maybe he would catch hold of her in school today and ask her to go to big beach party happening on Daytona Beach tomorrow evening. Since it would be Saturday, she wouldn't be able to make any lame excuses about home work. He could turn up the heat and, Ryan's lips curved with satisfaction; with the electric attraction between them already it wouldn't be too hard.
It was a doubled edged thing, this attraction between them. That time on the lake shore, after she'd pulled back, he'd felt a savage surge of anger. It had taken all his self control to hide it from her. For a second there she had looked afraid of him and Ryan had felt a bone deep satisfaction. Something inside him thrived off fear and he'd always been feared in his school, by his friends, his girlfriends, his competitors. The only person who hadn't been afraid of him was Jake and that made Ryan furious. It had been some small comfort to know that Anna had been afraid. It showed that he had power over her. And that he wasn't going to let a stupid thing like being attracted to her get in the way of his plans. But, there was something he hadn't counted on and that was her ability to push past her fear to stand up to him. That might prove to be problematic in the future...
His thoughts were interrupted by a loud burst of laughter. Scowling, Ryan turned his head in its direction and found it erupting from a group of three heading towards the car park. The group of three comprised of two well built tall men and a petite woman. There was something familiar about them…with a small shock Ryan realized it was Jake and Anna. And with them was Jake's martial arts mentor Roqua. Immediately a million questions raced through Ryan's head, the uppermost being whether Jake was still training with Roqua? Had Jake really given up fighting or was it just a pretense he kept up because he wanted to participate in the Final Beatdown? Or worse, fool Ryan into thinking he was out of shape and then put up a solid fight whenever Ryan threw down the gauntlet? It had happened before. A lot of guys had thought that they could challenge him and Ryan had proved them wrong every single time. But this was Jake, the only guy who had defeated Ryan! What was going on? And wasn't Anna supposed to be mad at Jake? Ryan had seen Anna getting upset when Jake had cancelled their plans and driven off with Baja with his own eyes. Had she forgiven Jake already?
But before he could make any sense of the situation, he saw Jake and Roqua heading towards a car. And Anna waving them off. Now this was interesting, Ryan thought coldly. A plum opportunity had fallen straight into his lap. And he planned to make every use of it.
Anna pulled out her hair tie and shook her head. It felt good to run again, especially with Jake. Back in Iowa, the two of them used to go jogging in the morning regularly. Anna had always grumbled about it but she used to go with Jake anyway. After he left, she didn't really have the heart to go anymore. And today, when Jake had barged into her room and told her to get into her sweats, Anna had thrown a pillow at him. He'd caught it, grinning and thrown it right back after telling her she only had ten minutes to get ready before he came back with a jug of water. Anna had grumbled, cursed and muttered about evil brothers, but when she'd looked in the mirror, she wasn't surprised to see herself smiling. This was just like old times.
And then Roqua had joined them and Anna hadn't known what to think. But after a little while, both she and the normally taciturn Roqua had warmed up to each other. Of course, the continuous quips Jake and Roqua exchanged had made her almost double over with laughter. She liked Roqua and she knew that he played a very important role in Jake's life, a sort of father figure who filled in for his late father. And she knew that Roqua was equally fond of Jake. Meeting Roqua had helped to melt away some of the resentment Anna had felt about the new people in Jake's life. She had, in fact, deliberately decided to stay back so that Roqua could discuss something important with Jake. Though the two men hadn't made it obvious, Anna could sense that Roqua needed to talk to Jake about something important and that he didn't feel comfortable about doing it in Anna's presence.
So Anna had made some excuse about meeting a friend from her school here and shooed them off. Now, finally alone, she thought it felt rather nice to have some time to herself. Especially since she wanted to think about Ryan. And how to face him after the whole lake episode. She hadn't really seen him around school lately and she wondered if he was avoiding her. But that was stupid right? Why would he want to avoid her? She wasn't one of those clingy females who attached themselves to a guy like a bad yeast infection. Maybe it was just a coincidence. Anna certainly hoped so. She didn't like the idea of his avoiding her any more than she liked the idea of facing him.
"You stalking me Red?"
Speak of the devil! Anna turned her head towards the owner of that wonderful drawl and nearly tripped over her own tongue. Why wasn't their a law in this state prohibiting Ryan from taking his shirt off? His shirtless beautifully muscled golden chest was a threat to the mental health of women everywhere. Especially, when it was made hotter by him wearing only a pair of low slung black pants and having two tattoos, not to mention that incredible eight pack. Anna mentally counted the sculpted muscles on his stomach. Yup, definitely an eight pack. And the tattoo low on his left hip? Anna peered at it. Godspeed. Now that was interesting. The other one was a dragon tattooed in red and green around his right bicep. She thought absently that those tattoos were incredibly lucky, intimately placed as they were on that beautiful body. And where her thoughts were leading was definitely dangerous.
So she replied "I was here first" and winced at how prim she sounded. "What are you doing here anyway?" she amended, suddenly very conscious of how sweaty and messy she was. She didn't know that that was just was Ryan had been appreciating. The exercise had made her skin glow and her cross back black vest and black sweats showed off a toned petite body that definitely deserved a wolf-whistle. Not to mention that her hair looked sexily mussed up, like she'd just been thoroughly kissed. He felt a sudden dangerous urge to kiss her and make the illusion genuine.
"They occasionally let me out of my cage for good behavior" Ryan drawled, his blue eyes bright with laughter. The man was definitely far too gorgeous for his own good, Anna thought to herself, especially when he smiled.
"And we all know how rare those occasions really are" Anna replied, her lips twitching with as she suppressed a smile. She had to admit that though he disturbed her greatly at one level, he somehow managed to amuse her and make her laugh. There was something about him that set her at ease even while it disturbed her deeply. Shaking her head at herself, Anna thought that if she wasn't careful, Ryan would make her go off the deep end.
"They happen often more than you think" Ryan grinned, fluidly slipping into the bench next to her and taking up most of the area. It wasn't because he was big built, in fact Ryan's body though muscled was lean and sharply defined. It was just that wherever Ryan was his dominating presence didn't leave much room for anyone else. Even now, with his legs sprawled out and one muscled arm resting on the back of the bench, dangerously close to her shoulders, he looked confident, in control and arrogant as all hell.
"So one of the requirements is that you have to be shirtless?" Anna inquired dryly, though her heart was suddenly pounding in her chest. Why couldn't he put on his shirt? She wondered peevishly. Didn't he know how distracting his shirtless torso was? Anna never thought she'd see the day when a half naked guy would disturb her so much but Ryan was a special case. Ryan disturbed her too much already when he had his clothes on, so what chance did she have at sanity when he was only wearing a pair of low slung black track pants?
"So you noticed" Ryan grinned devilishly, his dimple flashing.
"Its hard not to" Anna retorted, looking pointedly at his chest. And because it was way too distracting, she blurted out "Look, could you please put on your shirt? It's distracting me" she waved her hand in the general direction of his torso.
"Could you please take off your shirt? Its distracting me" Ryan replied shamelessly, mimicking her actions. Anna just stared at him for a second, completely undone by his outrageousness. And then the whole thing was so utterly ridiculous and Ryan looked so unrepentant that she burst out laughing.
"Touché!" Anna sputtered, wiping tears from her eyes. "you're completely outrageous!"
"So they tell me" Ryan replied, his eyes roving over her smiling face. She had no idea how sexy she looked when she laughed, Ryan thought to himself. In fact, she had no idea, how sexy she looked period. But he was aware of it, a little too aware of it actually. And he needed to do something so that he was in control again. Now would be a good time to ask her to the Daytona Beach party.
"There's this beach party happening" Ryan began casually, "tomorrow evening. At Daytona Beach."
"I heard about that" Anna was suddenly on guard, her amusement vanishing. Was he planning to ask her to it? And more importantly, would she agree? She wasn't sure. It's best to play it cool, she thought to herself. "Its all everybody can talk about in school."
"So, are you planning on going?" Ryan wasn't used to this whole tip toeing around to ask someone on a date. He'd never had the problem of asking before. Girls would generally just ask him themselves. But this was Anna. And he needed to be careful. "It's going to be a lot of fun."
"That's what Jake told me. I guess I will be going:" Anna replied, each word said with the utmost caution. "What about you?"
"I didn't know whether I wanted to or not." Ryan lowered his voice to an intimate pitch, pulling out the big guns, "but now that you're going to be there, I think I'll come"
Anna nearly swallowed her tongue. "Then…uh…then I guess I'll see you there."
A small frown creased Ryan's forehead. Was she deliberately playing dumb or did she really not understand he was asking her out? To hell with being cautious! He was going to ask her straight, "So will you come with me? To the party I mean?"
"l-like a date?" Anna stuttered, mentally wincing. Of course like a date, you dolt! She was completely aware of what he was doing but she didn't know what to do! Going with him would be giving him the green signal and not going with him was just postponing the inevitable. With a flash of precognition, Anna suddenly knew that Ryan and she were going to be involved with each other no matter what. But she needed a little more time to adjust to the idea. Anna wasn't one to do things by half-measures. Once she was committed to something, nothing could make her changer her mind. Which was precisely why she always thought long and hard and before being involved in anything. And here Ryan was pushing her when he told her he'd give her the space she needed!
"Yeah like a date" Ryan replied, impatience coloring his tone. Taking a deep breath, he turned towards and took her hand, gazing deep into her eyes, "I would really like it if you came with me to the beach party with me."
His touch was sending electric signals sparking through her, especially when he started stroking his thumb over the sensitive skin on the back of her hand. Anna resolutely gathered her wits together. She didn't think she could spend so much time alone with Ryan and not lose her already precarious footing. Every instinct was screaming at her to keep her distance and yet….and yet her heart was telling her to say yes, to go with him, to stop being such a coward and take advantage of the opportunity. "I can't" she replied, feeling disappoint spread within her, "I promised Jake and Baja I'd go with them. We're going in Max's car…" she trailed off, hoping that Ryan would understand and not challenge her. Boy was she wrong.
"You would rather go with them than with me?" he asked incredulously, his eyes hardening with anger "after the way Baja and Jake treated you! What the hell's wrong with you?" Ryan knew he was making a mistake but he didn't care. She put him through the whole wringer of asking her out just so that she could turn him down. It had been a power play and he hadn't realized it until it was too late! Now he was completely furious and he wasn't going to let her get away with it that easily. Anna felt her own temper flare up in response to his. The whole Jake and Baja episode was still a sore spot and by pressing on it, Ryan had done the one thing that would ensure Anna's not going to the beach party with him. What a massive ego he had! Anna seethed. He wasn't upset about not spending time with her but rather that she should choose to go with her brother and his friends. And to then imply that she was incredibly stupid to turn down his offer was like pouring oil over an already raging fire.
Refusing to tamp down on her anger, Anna spat out, "How dare you! How dare you of all people say anything about Jake and Baja when you've been avoiding me like the fricking plague for the past few days!"
"You're giving yourself way too much importance" Ryan snapped out icily before he could stop himself. He had never known anyone who could make him as angry as quickly as Anna did
Her eyes literally sparking with anger, she jumped up from her seat, "Funny, I could say the same thing about you" she bit out sarcastically, "Your precious ego is bruised not because I want to go the stupid beach party with my brother and his friends but because I did the unthinkable by turning you down! How incredibly stupid of me!"
"It damn well is!" He sprang up from his own seat, taking advantage of his height to glare down at her. "And this isn't about my ego! Its about yours! Why don't you be honest and admit that you're angry because I've been avoiding you!"
"So you admit it!" Anna moved a little bit away from him, so she could glare at him without having to look up at him. Damn his bloody height! "You admit that you have been avoiding me!" Her body was literally trembling with anger. "And you have the bloody audacity to waltz up to me and then ask me on a date! You think that I would ever go out with you after you-"
Ploughing his hand through his hair in frustration, Ryan muttered, "to hell with this" he yanked Anna to him and brought his mouth down on hers with a force that shut her up. For a moment she went absolutely still, then she started hitting him with her arms and legs and struggled wildly against him. Ryan held on, one lean arm holding her tight against his body while the other was clutching her hair. And then, as if someone had pricked a balloon, the fight whooshed out of her. Ryan immediately sensed the change and fractionally loosened his grip on her. Still holding her against him, he eased the pressure of his kiss till it became soft instead of angry. Softly, expertly, he brushed his lips against her, again and again, till her body softened and melted against him. Her clenched fists moved from his shoulders to the back of his neck and she stood up on tip toes so that he wouldn't have to bend so much. Her feet snuggled between his as her lips parted and they kissed softly for a moment, forgetting everything else about them. The kiss deepened and Anna sighed softly, her fingers playing with the golden strands of his hair. Her anger had mysteriously vanished and suddenly she was overwhelmed with Ryan, his crisp scent which arose from his cologne mingling with sweat. Davidoff, Anna thought dreamily, her favorite…and then she stopped thinking as Ryan gently nipped on her lower lip, before kissing at the hurt. He kissed the corners of her mouth, something that made Anna smile. And kept on kissing the corners as her smile widened with each corresponding kiss. Rubbing her nose against his, Anna realized absently that somewhere along the line, he'd lifted her up so that her feet were hanging an inch above the floor. And then when he returned to her mouth, his lips gliding against her, Anna thought he could be holding her above his head and she wouldn't care. She already felt like she was floating.
"Anna" Ryan said softly, looking into golden eyes that had become a little hazy, "Come with me tomorrow." Kissing the tip of her nose, he added, "Please" he gently rubbed her scalp with his fingers, enjoying the texture of her silky hair. He liked the feel of her in his arms, Ryan realized with a start. It was alright, he told himself, what happened just now didn't matter. It was just a game and only a game. He wasn't even aware of how his other hand was gently stroking her back or how soft his blue eyes looked as he smiled down at her. Anna felt like she was in a trance. Unfortunately, his words had snapped her out of it. She struggled in his grasp a bit, pushing at his arms till he set her down. She knew that his eyes were no longer soft and that his jaw had tightened at her pulling away from him. She even saw the flash of anger that had scared her earlier. Now it left her unafraid. For some reason, after the big blowout they'd just had, she didn't think she'd ever be scared of him again.
"Is that why you kissed me?" she asked quietly, her heart pounding as she waited for his answer. He opened his mouth to say something then closed it and ran his fingers through his hair again. "I kissed you," he replied, his voice as quiet as hers, "because at first I wanted to shut you up. And then I couldn't stop."
Well, at least that was something, Anna thought, believing him unquestioningly. Her instincts told her that he was speaking the truth. "But my question still stands," he added.
"I can't" Anna replied, her voice soft but still firm. "Not for any other reason than the fact that I've already promised Jake, Baja and Max that I'd go with them. I admit I wanted a little distance between us too and that hasn't changed because of what just happened. I think I need it all the more now" Taking in and then releasing a deep breath, she added, "I am sorry for making you ask me. My only excuse is that I needed to know what you want"
"I think I've made it pretty clear" Ryan retorted, his voice as sharp as steel. "You want a written declaration?"
"No," Anna replied, this time making an effort to be patient, "I want what you promised me earlier. Time." She clarified so that there was no misunderstanding, "I'll be the first to admit that you confuse me. And scare me"
"I haven't done anything" Ryan replied, icy anger threading through his voice.
"I don't mean you specifically but what's going on between us. I've only known you for a few days for heaven's sake! This is the second time we're meeting! Ok the third time if you want to be more specific" she corrected herself when he opened his mouth to protest, "I need a little time to know you better"
"Which is why I'm asking you out tomorrow so you can." He repeated, struggling to hold on to his patience.
"Well I need to do it on my own terms" Anna replied, thrusting her chin up, "and if you can't deal with that, then tough."
Ryan was never one to back down from a challenge "Oh I can deal with that and anything else you toss at me." Before she knew what he was doing, he grabbed her cell phone from her pocket and dialed a number into it, coolly ignoring all her protests. After a second or two, he ended the call and tossed the phone back to her. She caught it with a frown and glared at him, "what the hell are you upto?"
"I've got your number on my cell now" he replied, a hard smile curving his lips, "So I can get in touch with you anytime I want." With lightening quick speed, he changed the topic before she could protest, "How are you planning to get home?"
"Its just a short walk from here so don't even think about dropping me home" she bit off, too irritated to think twice about her presumptuousness.
"I wasn't planning to," Ryan grinned and then strode up to her picked her up and dropped a quick hard kiss on her lips. "See you at the party tomorrow" and then strode off towards the car park, leaving a bemused Anna to stare after him.
Anna watched him go, admiration mixing in with anger as she took in the long beautiful lines of that body. Only after she was sure he was out of sight did she sink down to the bench, fingers pressed to her kiss-reddened lips. And a small smile hiding behind them.
Author's note: I'm so sorry I was so late in putting up this chapter. I just have a lot of project work to do in college and I haven't had the time to sit down and write. Anyway, the next few chapters might take a little more time as well as I'll be busy till 20th march. Ill still try and write and put up more chapters if I can. Thank you for reading this chapter. I hope you like it. And yeah, happy valentine's day!