Real, Book 3
New York Times bestselling author Katy Evans expands upon the intense love story begun in Real and Mine—this time from Remington “Riptide” Tate’s point of view.
Underground fighter Remington Tate is a mystery, even to himself. His mind is dark and light, complex and enlightening. At times his actions and moods are carefully measured, and at others, they spin out of control.
Through it all, there’s been one constant: wanting, needing, loving, and protecting Brooke Dumas. This is his story; from the first moment he laid eyes on her and knew, without a doubt, she would be the realest thing he’s ever had to fight for.
There will be hundreds of days in my life that I won’t remember. But this is one day that I will never forget. Today I marry my wife. Brooke “Little Firecracker” Dumas. I promised her a church wedding. And a church wedding is
what she’ll get.
* * *
“I swear if you frown any harder at the door, it’s going to collapse under your stare,” my PA, Pete, calls from the couch.
I swing around to where he and Riley have been watching me pace around the living room of Brooke’s old Seattle apartment. Apparently those two are amused as fuck by me. Dipshits. I don’t see what’s so amusing. Turning back to the bedroom door, I continue pacing.
For the life of me, I can’t imagine what’s taking her so long. It’s been exactly fifty-eight minutes since she locked herself up in our bedroom to get ready, when Brooke-my fucking Brooke — usually gets dressed in five.
“Dude, it’s her wedding day. Chicks take a lot of time to get prepped.” Riley thrusts his arms out in the air in a gesture that implies That’s life!
“Like you’re an expert now,” Pete jabs.
“It’s the dress!” Melanie, Brooke’s best friend, says, exploding out of the master bedroom with a trail of white stuff that looks like a veil. “It has all these buttons . . . and what are you three doing here anyway? Remington, I talked to Brooke about it. You guys should leave and we’ll meet you at the altar.”
“That’s fucking ridiculous,” I say, laughing. But when Mel- anie keeps staring at the three of us, and especially me, with an expression someone might use on a couple of dogs they want to scat, I scowl and head to the bedroom door.
I curl my fingers around the doorknob and speak through the closure slit. “Brooke?”
“Remy, please don’t come in here!” “Come to the door, then.”
When I hear shuffling, I press closer to the edge and drop my voice so the dipshits on the living room couch don’t hear. “Why the fuck can’t I see you right now, baby?”
All this entering and exiting the room by Melanie, with me separated by a locked door from my soon-to-be wife? I don’t like it. And separated despite that she’s supposed to be getting dressed for me.
“I guess because I want you to see me walk up to you,” she whispers.
God, that voice, right there. Makes me want to throw the door down and kiss the hell out of her, then do stuff to her under that dress she’s trying to put on-the things that husbands do to their fucking wives. “I will see you walk up to me, baby, I just want to see you now too. Open the door and I’ll do your buttons.”
“You can undo them later and then do me.” The cheeky statement is followed by a soft “Gaaah,” like someone-a very little someone-is amused about something on the other side of this door.
“Excuse me, Riptide,” Melanie says as she returns, and waves me away from the door. “You boys should head out to church. We’ll see you there in thirty minutes.”
I scowl when she slides inside the bedroom like a goddamn worm through a tiny slit, preventing me from so much as glimps- ing Brooke. Using much the same method, the much-larger Jose- phine steps out with something squirming against her chest. My son looks at me from the crook of her arm and falls still; his lips are curled in such a way that he almost wears the same amused expression Pete and Riley do.
He takes the hand he’s got stuck inside his mouth and slaps it flat and wet to my jaw. “Gah!” he says, then squirms and flings himself to me.
Catching him, I nuzzle his stomach and growl, which elicits another “Gaaaaaah!”
When I lift my head to look into his eyes, he’s fucking delighted. And so am I, but I growl again like I’m not and grumble at him, “You think I’m funny?”
His eyes are all mischief. His head is smaller than my palm as I cup it and buzz the fuzz on the top of his head. My four-month-old, Racer, the son Brooke gave me? He’s the most perfect thing I’ve ever done in my life.
I never thought I’d have something like him. Now my life revolves around this dimpled squirrel, who pukes on all my fucking T-shirts, and my Brooke. And, god, where do I start with her?
Pete slaps my back with a loud thunk. “All right, dude, you heard them. And watch it-he’s going to get all that baby stuff on your suit!”
Clamping my jaw, I pat Racer’s head and he grins at me. He has one dimple, not two. Brooke says it’s because he’s only half-mine. I contest he’s all mine, and so is she.
Smiling back at him, I return him to Josephine, who assures me, “Go peacefully, Mr. Tate, I’ve got this.”
She’s supposed to be a bodyguard, but I don’t know what the hell she is now. She strolls outside with Racer and does some nanny work too. He sticks his fingers into her hair and pulls and she even seems to like it.
After a glance at the kitchen clock, I level my gaze at her. “I want her there in fifteen minutes,” I say, and she nods.
A limo is waiting for my bride, but Riley’s got the keys to Melanie’s convertible, parked just outside without the top down. We all leap inside. I drop down on the front passenger seat and then stare up at the window of our temporary apartment. I can’t understand what the big fuss is about wedding-dress buttons. As far as I’m concerned, I should ride, in the car, with my wife, to the fucking church, where we marry. Period.
“Rem. It’s not like she’s going leave you standing at the altar, man,” Riley says, laughing.
“Yeah, I know,” I whisper, turning back around. But sometimes I just don’t know. Sometimes all my chest feels knotted and I think about waking one morning to find Brooke and my son gone, and dying is too easy to describe what I want to do.
“Twenty-eight minutes, she’ll be walking up to the altar in white, just for you,” Pete says.
I stare out in silence.
Brooke has been excited about this all month. Wondering if this, if that, if a cake, if not a cake. I’d say yes to anything that made her voice more excited, and she’d kiss me like I like. So now she seems in control, getting dressed, ready for her day, and I feel like a mess because she’d said she didn’t mind us driving together to the church. And then her best friend put stupid-girl ideas in her head. I ride alone. To a church I never go to. To marry my wife. She’s right behind us, but I’m not good. I’m fucking anx- ious and this is an anxiety that would have been appeased if she’d opened the door and just looked at me with those gold eyes-my mind would have gone still and all the roiling in my chest would have gone quiet.
But it’s not happening.
Now I have twenty-seven infernal minutes to go . . . and my mind is playing tricks on me like it does when it starts swinging like a pendulum, and the only way I can seem to stop it is with her.
Tapping my foot, I stroke the ring in my hand. Then I pull it off and it helps to see her name on its inscription: to my real, your brooke dumas.
The Day I Saw Her
The Seattle crowd roars as I come trotting out onto the Under- ground walkway.
Far at the end and directly in my line of vision, the ring awaits. Twenty-three feet by twenty-three feet, four ropes parallel on each side, four fucking posts, and that’s about it.
That ring is a home to me. When I’m not on it, I miss it.
When I train, I think about it.
Every step I take in its direction pumps me up and gets me going. My veins dilate, my heartbeat works to feed my muscles. My mind sharpens and clears. Every inch of me readies to attack, defend, and survive—and give these people the thrill they’re all yelling for.
“Remy! I love you, Remy!” I hear them yell. “I’ll suck your cock for you, Remy!” “REMY, POUND ME, REMY!”
“Remington, I want your Riptide!”
Stretching out my fingers, I grab the top rope and jump over it into the ring, taking a look at the people surrounding me. The lights are shining. My name is on everyone’s lips. And all their excitement and anticipation spins around me in a fun little whirlwind. They’re yelling and waving pink shit at me. They want me up here. Right here. Just me, some asshole opponent, and our fists. I whip off my robe and hand it to Riley, my friend and Coach’s second, while people rise to their feet and scream louder as I turn to acknowledge the crowd. They’re all standing. All looking at me like I’m their God of War and tonight is the night I will give them vengeance.
I fucking love it.
I fucking love those yells, the women screaming about the kind of shit they want me to do to them.
“Remy! Remy! ” a crazy-sounding female shouts to the top of her lungs. “You’re so fucking hot, Remy!”
I turn in amusement, and my gaze runs down the crowded aisle and snags on her. The one with long mahogany hair, and amber eyes, and pink, plump lips that immediately part in shock. I feel stupefied.
My instincts kick in, and I take in the stranger with one quick sweep. She’s young, athletic, and dressed demurely, but there’s nothing demure about the way she runs her wide, disbelieving eyes all over me.
Holy god, I feel like she’s just run her tongue all over my cock. When her eyes lock on mine, I raise a brow in a question, silently asking her, Did you just shout at me or no?
Her cheeks flood a nice shade of pink, and I realize it was her friend who yelled, her friend who pales compared to her. This one doesn’t strike me as the kind to be courting the attentions of someone like me. But she’s got all my hunter buttons engaged, and now I want her and I’m going to have her.
I wink at her, but I can instantly tell she’s not feeling playful.
She looks appalled.
“Kirk Dirkwood, the Hammer, here for all of you tonight!” the guy with the microphone yells.
My lips curl as I turn to watch Dirkwood hop into the ring and remove his cover, and I flex my arms and curl my fingers until my knuckles pop out. My body feels good—every muscle is warm and ready to contract. I know I’m good as fuck, but I want this girl to know it. I’m feeling very, very possessive, and I don’t want her to look at anyone but me. I want her to see I’m the strongest, the fastest. Hell, as far as I know, I want her to think I’m the only man in the whole damn world.
Kirk is big and slow as a snail. He throws the first punch, but I can see it coming from the moment he even starts thinking about moving. I duck and come back with a punch that knocks him to the side and rocks his balance. She’s watching me, I know it. The heat in her gaze makes me fight harder and faster. Hell, I own this ring. I love everything about it. I know its dimensions, the feel of the canvas under my feet, the heat of the lights on me. I have never lost a single Underground fight. People know that no matter how badly I get beat up, I always get back up and finish the battle on my terms.
But tonight? I feel immortal.
The crowd starts chanting my name.
“REMY . . . REMY . . . REMY.”
It’s my ring. My crowd. My fight. My fucking night.
Then I hear that voice again. Not her, but the woman she came with. “Ohmigod, hit him, Remy! Just knock him dead, you sexy beast!”
I oblige and knock Kirk down on the canvas with a hard thump. Yells erupt all over.
The ringmaster grabs and lifts my arm, and I swing my head to look at her, curious to see the look on her face. I’m panting and possibly bleeding, but none of that matters. All that matters to me is checking her the fuck out. Did she fucking see how I knocked him out? Is she even impressed, or no?
She returns my stare, and my gut twists all around. God, she’s making me hard. She wears these nice clothes, and I swear she’s the classiest thing I’ve ever seen in a place like this. Still, whatever she’s wearing, it’s too much and needs to come off.
“REMY! REMY! REMY! REMY!” people yell.
Their chants grow in intensity while her startled golden eyes devour me like I’m devouring her.
“You want more Remy?” the announcer happily asks the crowd. “All right then, people! Let’s bring out a worthier oppo- nent for Remington Riptide Tate tonight!”
Hell, they can bring out anything they want, man or monster. I’m so primed, I could take a couple at once.
In my peripherals, I’ve got her pinned down, nice and tight. In that frilly shirt. Those body-hugging pants. I’ve already cataloged her at about a 120 pounds and five feet seven, at least a head shorter than me. In my head, I’m already measuring her breasts in my hands and tasting her skin with my tongue. Suddenly, I notice she whispers something to her friend, rises to her feet, and takes off down the aisle.
“And now, to challenge our reigning champion, ladies and gentlemen, is Parker ‘the Terror’ Drake!”
I stare in disbelief as she walks off, and a knot coils tight around my gut as the rest of my body tightens in preparation to chase.
The crowd comes alive as Parker takes the ring, and all I can do is watch her leave my arena while every molecule in my body screams at me to go get her.
The bell rings, and I don’t play the little feinting and waiting game that me and my opponents always do. I stare into Parker’s face and give him a look that says, Sorry, dude, and go straight for the slam and knock him down.
He falls splat and doesn’t move.
The crowd is stunned into silence. The announcer takes a mo- ment to speak as I wait, frustrated as fuck, my heart pounding in anticipation as I wait for Parker to stay down and the counting to begin.
Come on, motherfuckers . . .
I’m fucking winning the championship this year and I won’t be disqualified . . .
Just call it a knockout and let her hear . . .
“Holy cow, that was fast! We have a KO! Yes, ladies and gen- tlemen! A KO! And in record time, our victor once again, I give you, Riptide! Riptide, who’s now jumping off the ring and— where the hell are you going?”
The crowd goes crazy as I land on my feet on the aisle and their screams follow me all the way to the lobby. They are screaming for me while my body is screaming for me to catch her. “Riptide! Riptide!”
My heart pumps like crazy. She’s walking fast, but I’m fucking running. Every one of my senses demand I chase, capture, and have this girl. I grab her wrist and spin her around.
“What the—” she gasps, her eyes wide in shock.
She’s so beautiful my lungs freeze. Smooth forehead, long lashes with spiky tips—those gold eyes, that dainty nose, and those marshmallow lips. I need to taste that like yesterday. My mouth waters as a wild, primitive hunger opens up inside me.
“Your name,” I growl. Her wrist is tiny in my hand, fragile, but I’m not about to let go. Oh, no.
“Brooke what?” I snap, tightening my hold.
Her scent works me into a lather. I need to find the source of that scent. The back of her ears? Her hair? Her neck?
She tries to pry her hand free but I tighten my hold because she’s not going anywhere but my bedroom.
“It’s Brooke Dumas,” a voice behind me says, and then the crazy friend who was with her throws off a number, which my idiot brain doesn’t grasp, for I’m still hung up on her name.
My lips curl as I meet that pretty gold gaze. “Brooke Dumas,” I say gruffly out loud, slow and deep, my tongue twisting around the name as I savor it. Such a strong, classy fucking name.
Her eyes widen in shock—and she gives me a hungry, doe-eyed look that lets me see she’s a little excited but a little afraid.
It makes me crazed. I need to touch, smell, taste, claim. I burn with the need to tell her she should be afraid of me, and at the same time, all I want is to pet my hand down her long hair and promise her I’ll be her protector.
Yielding to the impulse, I slide my fingers into the nape of her neck, fighting to be gentle so that she won’t run, while only one thought remains in my head: Take. Her.
My gaze never leaving hers, I set a dry kiss on her lips, slowly, trying not to scare her, but just so she knows who I am, and who I will be for her.
“Brooke,” I say against her soft lips, then I draw back with a smile. “I’m Remington.”
Her eyes meet mine, and they’re metallic gold and liquid with something I recognize as wanting. My smile fades as I look down at her mouth again. It’s so pink and soft I bend my head to take it even more deeply. My blood rushes through my veins as her scent drowns me. I want this woman. I can’t wait one more second without tasting her, taking her.
One second she’s warm and trembling in my arms, quietly tipping her head back for more, and the next, the crowd engulfs us and some fucking lunatic is screaming in my ear.
“Remy! I FUCKING LOVE YOU! Remy!”
Brooke Dumas seems to snap into motion and quickly squirms free.
“No.” I reach out to snatch up a piece of her white shirt. But she and her friend wind through the throng like wiggly, little bunnies, and I’m in the crowd stuck with two fans who—
“Riptide, my god, please let me touch your cock.” “Riptide, you can take us both together!”
As they rub their hands down my abs, I think, FUCK! and pry their arms away, then I charge after her. When I reach the elevator, the gate is shut and I hear her noisily ascending up to street level.
Growling in anger, I slam my palm to the closed door, then dodge an incoming group of fans and bulldoze my way back into the locker room.
I don’t know if I’m angry, frustrated, or . . . I don’t know. Where the fuck is she going? She was looking up at me like she wanted me to eat her; I don’t even understand fucking females and never fucking will. Scowling as I charge to get my stuff, I slam my fist into a locker.
“Take care of your knuckles, Tate!” Coach snaps as he gathers all my things into a red duffel.
I loathe being told what to do. So I slam my other fist into another locker and dent it like I did the first, then I glare at the old man and grab my headset, my iPod, and a sports drink. Following my crew out to our Escalade, I’m pissed as fuck at myself for letting her go.
“That KO was unbelievable, dude, you knocked him down within three seconds!” Riley says, laughing.
I stare out the window at the lights of Seattle and tap my fingers on my knee.
“All right, so what was that all about? Are we going to dis- cuss the elephant in the car?” asks Pete from up front. “The one with the long hair? You seemed hell-bent in chasing, Rem?”
The car falls silent when they realize I don’t plan on discussing Brooke Dumas with them.
Pete sighs. “All right, now that that’s settled. We got you a couple of girls.”
“A good assortment,” Riley adds. “A blonde, a brunette, and a redhead.”
And as soon as we get up to the suite, there they are. They’re waiting for me. Three girls with different-colored hair, waiting in next-to-nothing clothes, ready to fuck the Riptide.
Their eyes light up when they see me.
“Get rid of them,” I flatly say, then shut myself off in the master bedroom.
Showering in record speed, I then pull out my laptop and look up Seattle, Brooke Dumas, hoping for her number.
Grabbing my headset, I cover my ears with my Dr. Dre head- phones and play loud music while I search, search, search, and then—
Scrolling down, I scan several articles about Brooke Dumas. Ones claim she’s a sports rehab specialist who interned at a Seattle academy. Prior ones mention her being a track athlete. A sprinter. Odd things happen in my chest. I reread that part, and, yeah. A sprinter.
“Iris” by Goo Goo Dolls
“I Love You” by Avril Lavigne
“Kiss Me” by Ed Sheeran
“Will You Marry Me” by John Berry
“Everything” by Lifehouse