Drive (Prequel to the Hard Drive Series)
Contemporary/Sports/Sweet Romance Novel
Thomas has it all. When a fight takes a
devastating turn, will it all stay the same?
have it all for a college student – the beautiful girlfriend, the loyal best friend,
the supportive parents and every agent in the area pounding down his door.
But looks can be deceiving. Tori, his
girlfriend, is more concerned about his career in MMA than about him. Quinn,
his best friend, is jealous of Max’s every move. And is a life in mixed martial
arts what he really wants?
When Max suffers a devastating injury in the
octagon, will his life and those in it stay by his side as he recovers? Or how
fast will his perfect world unravel?
of bodies mulling around the floor flickering on the bare concrete walls.
Everything was dim except for the punishing spotlights that rained down on the
octagon in the middle of the cavernous room. Seven fights had already occurred
there. The ash grey mat peppered with sponsors’ logos was already smeared with
churn. He was certain he was going to hurl, which would be difficult since he had
hardly eaten anything in the last week so that he could be certain to make
on his shoulder. He met his coach’s warm brown eyes.
the back. “Understandable. But you’ve got this. You’re more than ready.”
glancing briefly at his brand-new fight shorts. “I hope you’re right, Chuck.”
done in there, you’ll want to go back. You won’t ever want to stop fighting.
Trust me. Just relax. You’re up, right after intermission. You’d better get
your gear on.”
bag. He pulled free a pair of fingerless MMA gloves lying on top and tugged
them on. He examined them briefly, silently grateful the athletic commission
approved them. Any little thing was making him anxious at this point.
belongings, he scooped out his mouth guard case and popped it open. Max slipped
the chunk of rubber indented with his teeth marks into his mouth and nudged it
into place with his tongue. Following Chuck, he approached the curtain and held
and Gentlemen” echoed off the walls of the building. Max’s heart thundered
along with the bass. He’d always loved this song. And now, he was walking into
the cage to it. He didn’t turn as he heard the rustling of his teammates
gathering behind him to escort him to his fight. Knowing they were there was
the octagon seemed to take an eternity. The officials patted Max down from head
to toe then asked to see his mouth guard. He popped it between his teeth
obediently then sucked it back into his mouth. Once they were satisfied, Max
turned to Chuck and closed his eyes.
rubbed the cool petroleum jelly on his face while barking final instructions
over the loud music. “Keep your hands up! Don’t stop moving! Fight smart!” Max
hardly heard a word Chuck said over the pounding of his pulse. His thoughts
were focused solely on what was about to happen.
opened his eyes, shooting one last glance at his teammates before stepping into
the metal structure. The smile from his best friend, Quinn, boosted his confidence
introductions a little longer than Max liked. The crowded cheered louder for
his opponent than him. It didn’t surprise Max. The guy had a three-and-oh
record. Max wasn’t supposed to win.
from their respective corners to go over the rules with the referee. Max
listened intently. He ignored the fact that the bald, heavily tattooed guy he
was about to go to war against was staring him down, trying to psych him out. Let
him try. I’m not falling for it.
their corners. Max bounced from the ball of one foot to the other. It was time.
His heart leaped in his throat as the official shouted out, “Fight!”
mat hesitantly, scanning his opponent as he did. The steel-gray eyes that met
his glared as the bald fighter threw a jab. Max blocked it, readying himself
for the following cross. It never came. Max frowned for a split second as the
other fighter danced around. This is how he wants to do it? I don’t think
Max charged after the bald man with his fists flying. He threw jabs and crosses
with lightning speed, catching the retaliation shots on his cheek and temple.
None of them were enough to daze him.
block the blows to his face, Max dropped to one knee and lunged, wrapping his
arms around the other man’s waist and burrowing his head into the other
fighter’s stomach. Lifting, Max dropped him onto the mat, instantly scrambling
into side control. The bald man struggled for all he was worth, bucking his
hips to throw Max off.
wrenching it into a Kimora behind the fighter’s back, who tapped to the
submission in seconds. Being tugged off the man by the referee, Max rocked back
on his heels in disbelief.
first win. It was amazing. Chuck was right. He already wanted more, and he
hadn’t even stepped out of the octagon yet.
Chuck’s voice calling him back to the corner. He hopped to his feet and
returned to the wall, watching the officials make the final decisions. It was
only a matter of minutes before the ref called him back to the center of the
ring and raised his arm in victory. It was an incredible feeling.
time to Quinn and his own training, Tori was either nowhere to be found or
content to sit on the sidelines. She never spoke a word of protest when he was
too tired to come over to her place to spend the night. She actually encouraged
him to rest and sleep instead of spending time with her.
didn’t like it. He was training for his next fight. Knowing he was going to
fight made her excited. He certainly didn’t want to disappoint her, even though
he wished she saw him for more than his MMA skills.
rigorous training, the ten weeks of fight camp flew by. The evening before the
fight, both Max and Quinn weighed in on the dot. Not that Quinn had any words
of thanks for Max continuously hounding him. Instead, Quinn showed off to the
rest of the team then led them away to get something to eat, leaving Max
Tori had spent the whole week making plans to pamper Max all night. She made
him burgers for supper then snuggled with him as they watched his favorite
comedy movies. He woke up at the crack of dawn for a jog to settle his already
churning nerves, returning to Tori’s for a breakfast of eggs and bacon. Then,
giving her a quick peck on the lips, Max hurried off to join the team at the
fitness center to warm up before the fight.
record and Quinn didn’t, Max was first on the card. His stomach erupted with
butterflies. Glancing over at Quinn, Max growled. Quinn was laughing and joking
it up with the other guys like he didn’t have a care in the world. Max huffed
as Chuck shooed him toward the curtain. It was showtime.
attempted to shout to Max over the thundering music. It was the same message.
“Keep your hands up! Keep moving!” And once again, Max never heard a thing the
coach said. He glanced warily into the octagon. At least this guy was smaller
than the last. He quickly hugged Chuck and jogged into the cage.
Max down as the referee barked out instructions. Max fought to roll his eyes. Not again. He hopped back to his corner
as he waited for the word he was dying to hear.
opponent, waiting for the moment to strike. Suddenly, the other fighter charged
with a few blinding combos. One jab connected squarely on Max’s chin. He shook
it off, ducking another cross. Sinking to his knee, he lunged for the man,
wrapping his arms around the guy’s waist and dropping him to the mat.
of his opponent. He punched at the guy, watching as the fighter covered up and
rolled to his side to protect himself. Max wasted no time, catching the other
fighter’s arm and hugging it tight to him. He threw his legs over the man’s
side and, holding tight to the arm, lay back on the mat. Max had barely arched
his back before the other fighter tapped out to the armbar.
two men and sent them back to their corners. After a brief deliberation among
the officials, Max’s arm was raised in victory.
to free his hands from the tape. Quinn’s fight was up next, and he didn’t want
to miss it. Throwing his hooded sweatshirt over his head and tugging it into
place, he raced to join the rest to walk Quinn in. As Welcome to the Jungle blared through the exhibition center, they
followed Quinn to the octagon.
curtain, Max cringed through the fight. It didn’t go well. Quinn took heavy
strikes to the face and body. He was nearly choked out at the end of the first
round, only surviving by the mercy of the bell.
Quinn got his lucky break when he kicked out as his opponent escaped his guard,
catching the guy under the chin. The blow somehow knocked the fighter out, his
body dropping unconscious to the mat long enough for the referee to call it.
relief. His best friend had won, but Quinn looked like he had been through
back, Max packed his bag and slipped out into the exhibition center. It didn’t
take long to find Tori. She nearly jumped into his arms the second he stepped
past the security guard. He melted into her embrace. “You won!” she gushed.
Quinn’s fight,” Max muttered.
You’re the superstar, not Quinn.”
friend.” Max pulled from Tori’s arms and crossed his over his chest.
you would see me. Not the fighter. Me.”
long, hard moment. Then, she wrapped her arms around him again. For the first
time since they had started dating, he could see the soft gaze of love in her
eyes. “I’m sorry. He’s going to be all right. You were just trying to help. You
know he appreciates you sticking up for him.”
time. Smiling, he kissed her on the forehead. Finally, they were in love.
Andersen lives in Iowa with her husband, Brian and her three children – her
sons, Jake and Jon, and her daughter, Alex. She graduated from the
University of Iowa with a Bachelor of Arts in English and from Kirkwood
Community College with an Associate of Arts degree in Communications
Media/Public Relations. Along with writing (which she loves to do),
Tricia practices mixed martial arts, coaches and participates in track and
field, reads, sews and is involved in many of her children’s activities.
is the host of the Blog Talk Radio show Freshly Booked, a part of Writers