July 31st, FedEx Forum, Memphis TN
Refueled – LIVE
“So that’s how you want it?”
The Gold Standard and the Behemoth, Clay Byrd, stared one another down in an intensely charged and awkward exchange between the two BA members. Clay leaned in slightly closer, making sure that Sektor could hear and understand him loud and clear.
The two continued to glare at one another, neither budging an inch. Eventually Sektor cracked a smirk and gave his team mate a nonchalant shrug of the shoulders. Clay allowed his eyes to stay glued to Sektor’s as he began to turn, ensuring that they were the last thing he saw before he walked away down the corridor. Sektor ran a thoughtful thumb and forefinger over the handlebars of his moustache as he watched Clay leave, before his smirk soured into an intense leer. He began patting the LSD title on his shoulder as he continued to stare into the direction which Clay had left.
“So this is how it’s gonna be, huh?” he said to himself, nodding slowly and chewing his own mouth.
The low, crumpling, sound of the leather of his belt could be heard squeaking as his grip tightened. His top lip began to curl, baring his clenched teeth as his smouldering look intensified.
“I guess it’s plan B then…”
“You smoke too much.”
I looked up, a Marlboro dangling from my lips. “Yeah, so?”
Regan Marsden was an exquisitely beautiful woman. Above average height with dark auburn hair that tapered down her neck. She’s slender, with just enough curve through the waist and hips. Her skin is very fair and flawless, large sparkling eyes which are an unusual shade of hazel, close to golden brown. She’s a sports agent, of sorts, from Missouri. Seems she had a stake in MVW and wanted to discuss my young apprentice Adam Ellis. Her tone on the phone was enough to tempt me in, just to get a look of her and I wasn’t disappointed. Still, this was a business meeting and there was a lot to be read in those eyes. This woman was strong, focussed and determined. I decided to take the aggressive approach.
Regan smiled. “I have a theory about people who smoke too much.”
“Please, enlighten me,” I said, exhaling a prodigious amount of smoke in the garden air of the bar.
“Smokers are lonely. Cigarettes are their best friends. No matter what, they can always reach into a pocket and find their little friend, Mr Smokey.”
Her tone was soft and flirtatious, making dangerous eye contact with those unique eyes of hers.
“I’m not a lonely guy.”
Regan leaned forward, chin resting in her hand. “Sure you are.”
I inspected my shirt and flicked off a piece of ash. “I’ve just found myself to be the only consistently reasonable person I know.”
“The two of you must be very happy,” she half mocked as our drinks arrived. A glass of red wine for Regan and a black coffee for me. Under normal circumstances I would order a double Bourbon, maybe even triple seen as she’s already lured me here under the pretence of footing the bill. But I had an LSD championship to defend against Zion, and I was in the middle of my period of precise training and conditioning. Catching a buzz around lunchtime wasn’t on my list of things to do today.
I looked around. The garden area was busier than I anticipated it to be, which made me nervous, as crowded areas always did. I hated being recognised, as rare as that is these days, but there’s always some nerd who recognises the moustache. I looked back at Regan as she finished leaving a soft, red impression of her lower lip on the outer rim of the wine glass.
“You certainly didn’t pull any punches yesterday,” she said, her tone as cool as mint julep. She was referencing our conversation on the phone, which had taken me by surprise.
I stared into the ashtray as the butt of my cigarette gave up the ghost.
“Was I too hard on you?”
I looked up and met Regan’s eyes. She was smiling in a way that made me curious.
“Don’t flatter yourself, shamus. I’ll let you know when you’re too hard.”
She certainly had a way with a phrase.
“There you go again, twisting my words,” I flirted. “How do you expect us to get anything accomplished with you talking like that?”
Regan tossed me a mocking pout like it was a bone. “I’ll be good, if you insist. But you’re brushing off an extremely sincere effort.”
My blood was warming. From her looks to the way she talked, to the dark scent that kept wafting from her in the breeze, I was beginning to get a little hot under the collar.
“What can I do for you, Ms Marsden?” I asked, getting down to business.
She straightened her back as she placed her glass down, as though preparing to go into business mode.
“You sounded very surprised on the phone to hear that Mr Ellis had an agent,” she explained, smiling with enjoyment as she looked across the table.
“That’s because he never told me,” I bluntly replied, trying to hide any bitterness.
“Well then you can imagine how surprised I was when I saw him appear on the High Octane Television network a few weeks ago?”
I shrugged my shoulders, failing to see how that is my problem.
“I got Adam that gig. Way I see it? It has nothing to do with you.”
The caustic look evaporated.
“Oh contraire,” she exclaimed, a twitch of her beautiful right eye telling me that I’d provoked a reaction. “When I see one of my clients competing for a company without my knowledge, it is very much my business. Especially when I am yet to receive a penny for it.”
I leaned forward and took a sip of coffee which tasted like dishwater. Louie, owner of my local bistro, could teach these people a thing or two about brewing a pot of Joe. I was playing coy with her, I had a strong hunch this was all about money, why else would she be calling me down here.
“I think we’ve already ascertained that I had no knowledge of yours and Adams prior engagement. Nor do I give a fuck. So, without sounding rude, can we cut to the chase here and you just tell me what it is you want?”
“Oh I’m sorry. I know you’re a busy man, but I didn’t realise you were in such a rush to get away from me,” she smirked, again flirting with me down the stem of her glass as she wrapped her ruby lips around it.
In truth, I’d only agreed to this meeting because Missouri is roughly half way from Miami to Detroit.
“Well sweetheart? As much as I’m enjoying your company, and I am! I do have an LSD championship to defend in Detroit on Saturday,” I explained. If she knew anything about me at all she should know that retaining that title is number one, two, three, four and five on my list of priorities before fraternising with exotic women. In spite of what my critics say about me.”
“Ah yes, Mr Zion,” she gasped, with a little too much excitement for my liking. “He’s made quite the impression down at MVW.”
“So I believe. I’m glad he’s been managing to keep those sad eyes of his alive down in the minor leagues,” I scoffed.
“I’m sensing sarcasm.”
“I wasn’t being subtle.”
“I do love a confident man,” she exclaimed, practically biting her lip. “I assume you have no concerns heading into the ring with him?”
“Oh I have plenty of concerns. Which is why I’m eager to get to work. Zion has just come off a deflating loss and failed to capture the World title. I have no doubts this played into my bosses motives for giving him a shot at my title. He probably assumes that Zion will have no steam and is expecting me to pick the bones of his decaying carcass.”
Her eyes narrowed with intrigue as she began to raise her glass. “But you don’t see it that way.”
I shrugged. “Zion is one of the most annoying little pricks I’ve ever come across in this business. He talks out of his ass, he buys his own hype. But what does he have? Is heart, and lot’s of it. He’s what I like to call a banana skin. Unlike my so-called Best Alliance team mates, I don’t plan on slipping up.”
She went to open her pretty little mouth but I halted her by pointing an accusing finger, softly so as not to intimidate her.
“You’ve changed the subject,” I laughed, keen to get back on track.
Her hands elegantly came up in self defence as she smiled softly.
“Fair enough,” she began, loosening her hair with a gentle shake of the head. “I may have a proposition for you. But first I need to understand your angle with Mr Ellis?”
“Well it’s not money, if that’s what you’re getting at.”
I could tell by her frown that she was surprised, but even then I struggled to see any lines in her flawless skin. She must have been mid-thirties, so either she’d had cosmetic work, a miracle cream or was blessed by good genes.
“No?” she asked, her tone mirroring her surprised look.
“I just wanna train him. I simply wish nothing more than for my legacy to continue once my career comes to a close. I have no children, so to speak, so Ellis could possibly be the one to carry on my name.”
Her eyes narrowed and I could tell she was trying to get a read on me.
“I assume you’ve been following my company?” I asked, representing the only wrestling franchise worth a fuck.
“Well if you’ve been paying attention you will have noticed that the Best Alliance is fracturing. Just this past week we had to cull one of our members.”
“Ah yes, I saw what you did to Jiles,” she said, smiling as though the thought of it got her all hot and sweaty in the parts I couldn’t see.
“Well a team is only as strong as its weakest link. We were all warned by the boss that someone would be culled. Guess he was it. But the way I see it?”
She leaned her head forward, curious as a cat as to what I had to say next.
“They’re all weak!”
She remained quietly, waiting intently for me to continue. She certainly was interested and I was beginning to wonder why.
“I can never trust a Best Alliance member. But I should be able to rely on them. Seems like that’s no longer possible. The one man who’s supposed to help me defend my title at Bottom line is succumbing to his own selfish ambitions, which in truth, I respect. But it does not help my situation.”
I find myself playing with slick Daddy, my go to way of calming myself when I’m agitated. I was trying not to let my concerns over my own team mates bother me. I’m keeping positive, believing that I can turn this situation in my own favour, but I haven’t figured it all out yet.
“So right now I need people around me that I can rely on. I hold Ellis’ career in the palm of my hand,” I say, showing her my open palm before clenching it tight. “I can just as easily crush it.”
She nodded slowly, clearly catching my drift but I could tell she wasn’t a hundred percent sold.
“So you’re putting all your eggs into one basket?” she scoffed, almost accusing me.
“No. He’s just all I have right now.”
A smirk soon crept its way across her mischievous face. “What if you could have more?”
I packed my cigarettes on the palm of my hand as I studied her, sensing I would need more nicotine to help me digest whatever it was she was about to sell me.
“I’m listening,” I reply, firing up the zippo and bringing the flame towards Mr Smokey’s head, taking a deep drag and blowing the smoke away from her face.
“What if you and I form a partnership? We could combine your wrestling prowess with my scouting and business skills. Let’s face it, you don’t have time to be sitting in bleachers looking for a diamond in the rough. You’re a champion!”
This was beginning to feel like a dragon’s den situation.
“I could help find the seeds and you can help them grow. We could build our own wrestling dynasty. Our own brand! We could have everything we ever wanted, together!”
I couldn’t help but laugh.
“I already have everything I want. And anything else I want is already within my own power,” I explained, fueled with nothing but self belief in my own abilities.
“Come on, admit it, you know that it makes sense. You say you don’t care about money but when you do retire? This could be your next venture.”
I allowed the smoke to float out of my mouth, inhaling it softly through my nostrils as I watched her work.
“Sounds like you’re trying to sell me the dream, Ms Marsden. Look, you seem like a very capable woman. But with all due respect I have yet to see your credentials,” I explained, feeling increasingly uncomfortable.
She delicately rested her face in her hands, giving me the same come to bed eyes she had been at the beginning of our meeting.
“I’m more than happy to show you them.”
“There you go again,” I laugh, never one to be seduced by a woman. Who am I kidding?
“Look, I have contacts everywhere. I can have a team of physios, nutritionists, sports-scientists, personal trainers, state of the art training facilities, you name it it’s all at your disposal. You’d have everything you need to become the dominant champion you want to be.”
I gotta admit, that last part had my attention. Having this much efficiency in my training schedule would guarantee an increase in my productivity. If she was true to her word and could find me a few more high potential athletes then I could have my own Alliance watching my back whilst still being a member of the BA. But it all seemed too good to be true.
“That’s certainly a strong pitch, Ms Marsden,” I say, noticing her proud smile. “But I’m never one to go jumping into bed, figuratively speaking.”
“That’s not what I’ve heard.”
Later that night…
I rolled off of Regan, our naked skin momentarily fused together by sweat. I was breathing hard and my legs were numb as every inch of me was tingling.
“I’ll take that as a yes,” she gasped, just as out of breath as I was.
I’m a weak man.
What can I say? I needed a place to say and opted against Lee’s advice of keeping my ‘fingers out of holes.’ She’s a very convincing woman. First thing in the morning I promised myself that I’d be back on the road heading to Detroit, ready to put in the grind for my LSD title defence. Regan has allegedly called some contacts in Detroit and there should be a whole team waiting there for me to help with the preparations.
We shall see.
Meanwhile I was laid there, having had intercourse with a mysterious and beautiful woman who I’d known less than a day. That wasn’t the unusual part. I’d just jumped into bed with someone whom I’d made a business deal with. She pledged to provide me with all of the infrastructure I needed to help me achieve my goals, as well as sniff out new talent to join my entourage. All I had to do was give her a cut of any royalties we make and train the mother fuckers. Seemed like a no brainer at the time, but I never trust a woman, especially one as charming as this one.
“You certainly know how to sweeten a deal,” I coyly replied, starting to regain control of my breathing.
Out of nowhere she decided to go deep with some pillow talk.
“Tell me something,” she said. “Something interesting about yourself.”
I couldn’t tell whether this was all part of her sales routine or if she was generally interested in getting to know me on a personal level. I figure I’ll play along.
I retreated to my pack of smokes, no sooner stumping out the old one and reaching for another. “I was married once. How’s that?”
“Only once? That’s not very interesting.”
“I never said I was interesting.”
Regan poised her cigarette over the ashtray on my chest as she rested her head on my arm, flicking it delicately. “So, what was she like?”
“Beautiful, intelligent, sexy….and rotten to the core.”
Regan smiled. “So why did you marry her?”
“I lost a bet.” I took a drag and wished I hadn’t brought up this particular subject.
“So…do you hate all women now?”
I shook my head and reached for a cup of water on the nightstand. “Women are like tequila. It’s the greatest thing in the world until the first night you overdo it. After that, the slightest whiff of it makes you want to vomit. For a long time, you can’t even think about it without getting queasy. After a while, you take a little sip and you’re surprised to find that you can keep it down. Eventually, you go back to drinking it, but you never, ever forget that first miserable night.”
“Nice analogy,” Regan said.
“Glad you enjoyed it,” I said, stumping out my smoke, feeling the heat from the bottom of the glass ashtray on my chest. “So tell me, what’s your philosophy on love?”
I could see her biting her bottom lip.
“I dance with love,” she said wistfully, and then finished the thought. “–until it starts to lead.” She looked up at me seductively. “And I love to dance.”
I laughed, before another thought popped into my head. “So where does a name like Marsden come from?”
Her smile became less sincere. “I was married. Once.”
Turnabout was fair play. “What was he like?”
“Oh, you know. Handsome, intelligent, sexy…and rotten to the core!”
“What a coincidence.”
Regan reached for her wine from her side of the bed, cradling the merlot in her hands.
“He was my tequila. Now I drink wine.” She took a sip. “I won’t make that mistake again.”
Regan set the glass down and leaned back onto my chest, looking up at me from a vulnerable position. “I let myself be controlled by someone. I didn’t like it. Now I’m in it for myself,” she said, looking back at me defiantly.
I raised my glass of water. “Here’s to looking out for number one and sticking our necks out for nobody.”
Regan relaxed and smiled, then reached back to lift up her glass once again.