When she stepped onto the floor, Mike nearly erupted.
He knew he had screwed up. He knew sleeping with another woman was the worst mistake he had ever made in his entire life. And he had beaten himself up for it every day since.
But this was too much. Sarah had already divorced him, taken their daughter and son, their house, left him with nothing. She had squashed him like a mosquito on her arm.
Even when the infidelity had occurred, it had only been a desperate manifestation of his insecurity, of how small she made him feel. She was a successful, respected editor for a prominent magazine. He, a lowly mailroom worker. She was smart, beautiful, talented, the instant favorite of everyone who met her. He was always the plus-one.
And now here she was in front of him, fists clenched, a sharp look in her eyes. She knew that this underground fighting circuit was all he had, his only form of release both during and after their stressful marriage.
And now she had come to take that too.
He turned to Jack, “What the hell is she doing here? This is ridiculous, man. I'm not doing this.”
“You're not backing out now.” Jack replied, “We've got seven hundred on you.”
Mike had been fighting for a few years now, and he'd gotten pretty good. He wasn't one of the best in the league, but certainly respectable. He just wasn't ready for this.
He turned to see Sarah pulling off her shirt, revealing a pink sports bra and her toned core and upper body. He had always known she was in good shape; all that exercise, that crazy diet, but he had never thought of her as imposing. Here, in the dim light of the fight floor, it was different. He felt a lump building up in his throat.
She looped some wrap around her hands. A couple of the guys raised their eyebrows. Of course she looked great, just like always. Hair pulled back, tight jeans. She was 36, but glowed for her age. “I'd watch out if I were you, Mikey!” one of the guys shouted, “she's been coming in for a few weeks and she's a vicious bitch!”
Sarah raised her fists. Mike raised his. They stepped forward and circled.
“Hey babe,” she said.
“You shouldn't be here,” he replied.
“What, you're the only one who can fight? Last I checked, it's not your choice what I do.”
Mike gritted his teeth. She smirked a little.
“I'm going to break you, hun. You'll be begging by the time we're done here.”
“We'll see,” he growled.
He faked her out, quickly popping a step forward. She jolted back a little.
He couldn't help but feel the corner of his mouth lift just a tad. She may have been the queen, but this was his territory.
Before the thought had even finished crossing his mind, she was on him. She took a swift jab at his head with her right, which he was able to dodge, then another with her left, which he blocked with his forearm.
Seizing the opportunity, he dropped to one knee and launched a full-force punch into her stomach.
Then all the blood left his face.
She had stumbled back a little with the impact, but that was about it. No doubling over, not even a grunt. Her hard abs had all but absorbed the hit, and as he kneeled with his fist extended, still dazed by what had happened, she grabbed the back of his head and sent a knee rocketing into his chin.
The crowd gasped as Mike fell backwards, scooting on all-fours to the other end of the circle. As he rose to his feet, there were a few 'whoops,' chuckles, and claps.
Sarah stood poised, fists raised. She stared right into his eyes, and the look was one he knew. It said, 'You're cute. Now let Mommy work.'
Mike felt his blood boil. That bitch. He lifted his fists. He was going to chew her up and spit her out. She’d be sorry she ever turned up on his turf.
He charged at her, throwing a fist into her left cheek and knocking her head sideways. She recovered quickly, snapping back to block his follow-up shot with her forearm and pound him in the gut.
As he bent to clutch his stomach, she sent a kick cracking into his chest. He stumbled back, but regained his composure just in time to take another fist to the face. Flailing, he lashed out with his left arm. She swiftly hooked it in her own arm and locked it in place, pulling him in close. Left arm free, she buffeted his chest with a hailstorm of punches. They were quick enough that she completed several before he was able to react, strong enough that he felt his muscles growing tender.
He shot a punch at her head with his right first, but she caught it in her hand, clenching with enough force to make the bones of his fist creak. His eyes grew wide. She smirked again. Having trapped both his arms, she cracked her skull down on his in a vicious headbutt. He was instantly seeing stars.
He dropped to his knee, woozy, limp. She bent down, level with his face.
“Is that all you got babe?”
He dizzily let his head droop. She placed the tips of her fingers under his chin and tilted his face upward, eye to eye.
“Look at me. Are you done already? Are you really this weak?”
He dropped his head again. She lifted it again.
“Look at me. You’re even weaker than I imagined. It’s better the kids have their mother as a role model than their father.”
Mike cracked open his mouth “You-”
She wrapped her hand around his throat and placed a finger on his lips.
“Sshhhh. No talking.”
She raised him, still wobbling, to his feet.
“I’m not done with you yet.”
Mike could feel his temperature rising. This couldn’t be happening. She couldn’t be defeating him, controlling him so thoroughly. Not here.
“Are you going to stand or am I going to have to hold you there while I beat you senseless?”
Mike locked his legs. This was not going to end this way. He wouldn’t let it.
He swatted her arm away from his neck.
“Ooh, there we go! Now put up your fists, come on!”
Mike raised his fists. He hopped from foot to foot. He strained his mind, focusing through the blur and the dizziness; focusing on her.
He roared and shot a punch, she sidestepped and sunk a fist into his abs. But he wasn’t about to take another beatdown. He wrapped his arms around her and dove forward, bringing her down to the floor on her back with him on top.
He barred his right forearm across her neck, pressing down with enough force to constrict her breathing. She gasped and tugged at his forearm with her right hand. He gritted his teeth, grinning.
“Alright, hon. Enough games. It’s time to teach you a lesson. One I should’ve taught you a long time ago.”
He pulled back his left arm for a punch. She grabbed his right forearm with her free hand and pulled downward with the force of both arms. Slowly, she inched his arm away from her neck.
Forgetting about the punch, he brought his left arm down and pressed against his forearm for reinforcement.
She still had the momentum, and his arm still inched down from her neck. Focusing all his might, he finally brought his arm to a halt. But he didn’t know how long he could hold it, and she was breathing again.
Concentrating on the struggle to keep her pinned, he failed to notice that he had brought his lower section into a vulnerable position for momentum, or that she had slipped her knee between his legs. He failed to notice, at least, until she crashed it into his balls.
He screamed, pulling his arms away from her neck to clutch at his manhood.
She was instantly upright again, pulling him up by his hair.
No sooner had she brought him back up to his knees than she tugged his head down again and shot her knee up, popping him in the head.
He crumpled to the floor once more.
He wanted to lay still, but he knew he couldn’t. He shuffled quickly across the floor, away from her, and rose shakily to his feat.
The crowd was dead silent.
Mike hobbled, stumbled in place. He struggled to regain his composure.
Sarah rested a hand on her hip and watched her ex husband teeter.
She would let him come to her, if he ever got ahold of himself.
Finally, going for broke, he charged again.
He swung left, right, popping her in the face, stomach.
She took both the hits, rolling only slightly with the impact.
A tiny fleck of blood dripped down from her cheekbone.
His fists were burning.
He punched her again in the face, again, again.
His fists were mush now.
He grabbed her shoulders and plowed his knee into her stomach. Her abs were rock.
He stopped to catch his breath, resting his hands on his knees.
She looked down at him, amused.
“You look good babe. I’d almost fuck you again.”
“I’ll… I’ll kill you, bitch.”
Something flickered in her eyes.
She raised her hands, palms forward, ready to lock fingers with his.
“That could be fun. Show me who’s boss.”
He stood up straight, eyeing her hands. He glanced at her face; smug, calm. He had to end this now. Stepping forward, he locked hands with hers, accepting the test of strength.
He put his whole body into it. He pushed in as close as he could, his head next to hers, and clenched down with everything he had. He needed to do this. To force her hands back on her wrists, her body downward. He needed to overpower her, defeat her. He shook with effort.
But his hands were already crushed. His head was dizzy. And his body was sore all over.
She brought her mouth to his ear and whispered.
“Bitch? You don’t speak to me like that.”
He felt his wrists bend backward.
And that was when he knew he could never beat her. Not at this, not at anything. This body, this person in front of him, sweaty, muscles tight, was superior to him. There was no forcing her back. In seconds, he would be brought to his knees for the last time.
He thought of the shame of defeat, the pity of his friends, the redoubled torment of his soul.
He glanced at her eyes again. She looked back, unblinking. She knew.
He didn’t have any other choice. Leaning in as best he could, in as quiet a whisper as possible, he begged for mercy from the woman he had once pledged his life to.
“Please, Sarah. Please don’t do this.”
She smiled. “Let’s hear that louder.”
She spun him around and locked his arm behind his back. Reaching around front, she grabbed him by the balls. She rested her head on his shoulder.
“What were you saying?”
She squeezed. He screamed.
“PLEASE! Please don’t.”
“AAUGH! Don’t break me!”
“Let’s see if you can be good.”
She tossed him to his stomach on the floor. He tried to push back up, but she placed her foot on his back and forced him down.
“Did I say you could move?”
She sat on the small of his back and hung both of his arms over her knees.
She wrapped both her hands under his chin and pulled his head up towards her chest.
“Yes. Yes, yes.”
“Who owns you?”
She pulled tighter, lifting his chest from the ground.
“Should you have been a better husband?”
“Are you ever going to call me bitch again?”
“NNng. No Ma’am.”
“Do the kids need a weak man to look up to?”
“What do they need?”
“Aaah! A strong woman! They need a strong woman to look up to.”
“That’s right. Now what should I do with you?”
“I… please let me go.”
“Oh, I should let you go?”
“YES! Yes Ma’am. Please.”
“Do you think you deserve to be awake right now?”
“No Ma’am. But please. I’ll be better.”
“Do you understand what I can do to you if you do or say anything I don’t like?”
She undraped his arms from her legs and pressed his face into the ground as she rose to her feet. The crowd parted as she walked away from his crumpled body, slipped her shirt back on, and took a swig of water.
She walked over to Jack. He blinked, pulled out a wad of cash, and handed it to her. She flipped through it and looked back up at him.
He swallowed. “Oh! Um…” he pulled out another wad of cash. She took it and slipped it into her bra strap.
A few of the guys bent down to help up Mike.
“No,” she said. They froze in place.
“Get ready for the your next fight or whatever. I’ll handle him.”
From the floor, Mike could see Sarah’s feet, blurry, stepping towards him. He didn’t know what she planned on doing with him, but he knew now that it was his place to comply.
She was his master. And the biggest mistake he’d ever made had been refusing to realize it sooner.